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Caps get ready for stretch run

As his players were filing onto the ice for their first practice at KCI since coming back from an extended road trip, Coach Bruce Boudreau stopped by the media work area just to say hello. A rare treat for us working stiffs, but apparently a good sign the team is loose as it prepares for what could be a challenging final 10 games of the regular season.

The Caps face multiple teams either trying to stay in the playoff hunt or clawing to get that eighth and final spot. Among Washington's opponents that fit that profile include Boston and Atlanta, which the Caps play twice each, and Calgary.

Of course the Caps also face arch nemesis Pittsburgh twice, including Wednesday at Verizon Center.

The good news for Washington is seven of its final 10 games are at home, where the Capitals are a league-best 26-4-4.

I'll be examing the final month of the Caps' regular more in-depth in my story for tomorrow, so check online and in print for that.

By Gene Wang  |  March 22, 2010; 10:27 AM ET
 
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Next: Theodore continues to cement status

Comments

ugh, no Caps for two more days :(

Posted by: guer_j | March 22, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

None of these games mean anything. Just dont get hurt...

Posted by: SA-Town | March 22, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

All of these games mean something. Keep your competitive level high, don't look past any opponent, and work on the defensive game (and PK).

Ask the Sharks about last year's limp into Round 1.

Learn from past mistakes and in the words of Will Ferrell - "We've got to keep our composure....keep our composure..."

Posted by: netminder71 | March 22, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

The tough part will be the decision to rest some players, while keeping the focus and the intensity up. With us playing teams fighting for their play-off lives, the games should all be competitive.

I would hate to go into the last few games where we have to make a decision on a line-ups with the opposing teams still in the fight for the play-offs.

We need to look out for our best interest when it comes down to it. It might not be very popular with some teams.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | March 22, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

@netminder

Yes, we want to play well, but I would rather stay healthy and lose, then win and lose someone to injury.

Posted by: SA-Town | March 22, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Just don't go in the hockey version of a prevent defense...that never works. Keep playing hard and win - that's how you don't get hurt and keeps the machine well-oiled.

Can't wait for Wednesday night.

Posted by: saintex | March 22, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Who's gonna play in net Wed. night? I'd like to see Varly because he needs the work and it would be a huge confidence builder to play well against the Pens. I think Theo is the man right now, but we really need to get Varly back up to speed for the playoffs. Let's not forget about last year. Theo was awful and Varly was amazing. Not saying the same thing will happen this year, but it would be nice if they were both playing at a high level.

Posted by: CAPSHOCKEY2 | March 22, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

@CAPSHOCKEY2

Theo was given one game where he performed pretty similar to how he was playing during the regular season; not good.

Right now, Theo is playing great hockey, his numbers since January put him near the tops of the league... Pretty soon Bruce will have to name his playoff starter, and get that goalie ready for the playoffs, not alternating starts.

Although the reason I believe they haven't named Theo the starter is that they desparately want Varly to go on a dominating run and have him be the goalie---so far Varly hasn't been accomadating.

Posted by: CapsandRavens | March 22, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

@ SA-Town

Hey I agree health is important. But injuries happen in the NHL. You cannot ask guys to dial back their play, then ramp it up again for the playoffs...by the time you get back into sync, you're eliminated...

The Caps do not play scared and should not back off...just because of what 'might' happen.

Posted by: netminder71 | March 22, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

All of these games mean something. Keep your competitive level high, don't look past any opponent, and work on the defensive game (and PK).

Ask the Sharks about last year's limp into Round 1.

Learn from past mistakes and in the words of Will Ferrell - "We've got to keep our composure....keep our composure..."

Posted by: netminder71 | March 22, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

exactly, all these games mean something. You don't just decide to play at a lower level and coast into the playoffs expecting then to suddenly turn on a switch and find the right rhythm. I'm real glad that the Caps will be facing some hungry teams down the stretch, it will force them to play at a high level. Maybe we don't need to start blocking shots with our faces but this is definitely not the time to worry about just getting thru a game healthy. That's when you get hurt anyway.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 22, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I completely agree...

The Pens will be a good measuring stick on how ready we are for an intense playoff style game..

The good news, is that if we lose, it really doesnt hurt us at all..The Pens should want the 2 seed.

Posted by: SA-Town | March 22, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Langkow got carried off on a stretcher last night on a freak play where he got hit and knocked down and then a puck hit him in the neck. Injuries will definitely happen and as far as I can tell, most if not all Caps injuries didn't occur from us playing too hard. They just happened over the natural course of a game.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 22, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

One more thing...re: Theo

Given his tough situation (family) and how well he has rebounded this year...does anyone think he may get the Masterton Trophy for Perseverance?

The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey. The winner is selected by a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association after each team nominates one player in competition.

I think this sums up Theo's focus on hockey this year...

Posted by: netminder71 | March 22, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Lay odds it will be Theo on Wed., Varly on Thurs. - Theo has earned the larger role and unless something drastic happens, why would Bruce mess with it? I'd expect Varly will get 1 game in each of the 2 remaining back-to-backs and maybe 1 other start.

Posted by: yosemite_sam | March 22, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

We still have the PRESIDENTS' TROPHY to play for.

CHI is "on our heels". lol. That's right, with the kind of leads we have built, 9 pts behind (1 game in hand for them) puts you on our heels!

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | March 22, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I realiaze this might be a little pre-mature , but does anyone think the CAPS will offer Theo a contract offer/extension for next season?

I would not feel comfortable going into next season without a vetern goalie at this point. The kids get hurt too often.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | March 22, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

i think 2 yrs ago when we had to win every game we got mentally drained by the time the playoffs started. But this stretch run should be different. It should get the team in the right frame of mind without driving them to exhaustion.

My only hope is Boudreau puts the right playoff lineup together and doesn't screw around with trying to insert players like Gordon. Defensively I'm sure the following 6 will play unless we start losing games.
Mo, Green, Schultz, Poti, Corvo, Carlson.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 22, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

@ Capsfannmiss

At this point given the way he has played and other bigger UFAs on the team probably not really affordable for the team. Unless he will sign for less than what he is making today...LOL

Posted by: DBnMD | March 22, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I realiaze this might be a little pre-mature , but does anyone think the CAPS will offer Theo a contract offer/extension for next season?

I would not feel comfortable going into next season without a vetern goalie at this point. The kids get hurt too often.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | March 22, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abu

I don't think so. I think the plan all along was that Theo would be the bridge to when Varly and Neuvy could take over. They'll need the money they're paying Theo now to sign Backs and Semin to long term deals. The kids are cheaper (and talented), so i think they'll go with them.

Posted by: rbpalmer | March 22, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

@Capsfannmiss...I believe the Caps had planned on Varly & Neuvyin goal next year. by not signing Theo & moving Nylander again for next season, they have the budget for the raises or re-signing of Backstrom, Fehr, Fleischman, Schultz, plus one veteran center 7one veteran D-man. Theo's recent play and Varly's 2nd half injuries/play have put some question marks out there.

Posted by: boomer44 | March 22, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

There is still something to play for--home ice advantage in the later rounds of the playoffs. The Caps have only clinched the Southeast Division. They have not clinched the Conference title or the President's Trophy; but both are within their reach this season.

Posted by: NovaCath1 | March 22, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

PENGUINS SUCK!!!!!!

Posted by: lylewimbledon | March 22, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

There is still something to play for--home ice advantage in the later rounds of the playoffs. The Caps have only clinched the Southeast Division. They have not clinched the Conference title or the President's Trophy; but both are within their reach this season.

Posted by: NovaCath1 | March 22, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

--------------------------------

Although I agree, it would take a monumental collapse for the Caps to fail in either endeavor, particularly the top seed in the conference. Now that they have beat the Pens twice this season I don't see Wednesday night's game as a barometer of anything. It is certainly not a critical game anymore.

Posted by: croftonpost | March 22, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

We definitely want to lock up home ice throughout the entire playoffs, so the Presidents' Cup is key. If we can reach the Stanley Cup finals, I wouldn't want a game 7 in Chicago or San Jose.

Otherwise, yes - avoid injuries and keep the players fresh for the playoffs. I'm sure that if we clinch the NHL's best record, Boudreau will begin giving key players nights off with healthy scratches, etc. to make sure everyone is rested and ready for Round 1.

Posted by: cali_snowboarder | March 22, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Presidents Trophy would be nice and all...but making the finals is not a guarantee. So you have to be ready home or away.

Without the massive shiny silver cup to hoist at the end...the presidents trophy would mean about as much as another WBNA Attendance Championship banner...

Posted by: netminder71 | March 22, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to see them play a "playoff type" defense, just for practice. That's one aspect of the game that, I think everyone will agree, changes during the playoffs. Our Caps haven't shown an ability to clear the crease, nor much in the PK phase of the game. Isn't about time we start? When are we going to find out if we're able to get it done, or...is it a case of "what you see is what you get"?

Posted by: scmonty1 | March 22, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Learn from past mistakes and in the words of Will Ferrell - "We've got to keep our composure....keep our composure..."

Posted by: netminder71 | March 22, 2010 11:05 AM


@netminder71: Strange...I though the most hockey-relevant Will Ferrell quote was this one:

"Flint Coliseum MegaBowl! Flint Coliseum MegaBowl!! FLINT COLISEUM MEGABOWL!!!!!"

Always remember,

"To solve any hockey problem: SCORE MORE GOALS".

Posted by: Rhino40 | March 22, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

San Jose? How about Phoenix!

Posted by: saintex | March 22, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

PHX is on fire and SJ is icecold...I NEVER would have seen that coming. SJ should be happy though, atleast they wont have to face Detroit in the 1st round.

If Pit loses tonight and we win on Wed then the Pens cant catch us in the standings.

I do worry about injuries...it would be nice to get the Pres Cup wrapped up with about 7+ days to go in the season - perhaps resting up a handful of players here and there.

Posted by: Redskins2Win | March 22, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

i hope erskine's in the top six come playoff time (gotta get my plug in for the big fella)....GO CAPS

Posted by: vermontcaps | March 22, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

There is no doubt Theo is and should be the starting goalie in the coming playoffs. He's earned It --17 straight are you kidding me. who or why would anybody suggest otherwise??? VARLEY MAY BE THE FUTURE BUT THEO IS NOW.

Posted by: duckyjimpond | March 23, 2010 1:25 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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