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Caps endure travel problems (updated)

Looking for your morning update? Well, I got to Air Canada Centre ready to provide it. Just one problem: No Caps. No players. No trainers. Nothing, except for a security guard asking me what's up with Washington.

Plane problems, that's what's up. After last night's 4-3 OT win over Carolina, I'm told the team got on their charter at Dulles around 11 p.m. and taxied out onto the runway. But moments later, the plane turned around and headed back to the gate because of a mechanical issue.

Since the problem likely would have taken some time repair, team officials sent the players home (that's a bit of a drive for those who live in Arlington and Alexandria). The training staff had to take the sweaty equipment back to KCI so it could dry, since it probably would have frozen in the cargo hold.

The Caps finally left Dulles around 10 a.m. this morning.

They had originally been scheduled for a morning skate here at ACC for 11:30. That, obviously, did not happen.

Hockey players are creatures of habit. Getting into town almost 12 hours late definitely messes with their routine.

But Toronto Coach Ron Wilson downplayed the issue when I asked him about the Caps' late arrival and whether that creates any special challenges.

"I don't think it will have any effect," Wilson said. "Sometimes the routine doesn't mean a damn thing. Players hide behind that. If they go on and have a good game, don't be surprised if they're not flying on the morning of games, if they can get to places, the rest of the year."

Then Wilson offered this: "They probably wouldn't have skated here anyway, if you think about it. The only issue for them is that they had to be on the plane, that the plane was down the runway, see stuff coming out of an engine, and its the brief moment of terror that you have that sticks in your mind. So I will keep saying that over and over again tonight to them. 'You trust your pilots?' 'You trust that airline?'"

Then Wilson turned serious, "Those things happen. Fortunately nothing bad happened."

Caps spokesman Nate Ewell, who was on the plane, disputed that players saw stuff "coming out of an engine." He also said he didn't realize that the plane had turned around until the pilot made an announcement over the intercom.

Anyway, the Caps are finally in town and shouldn't have any problem getting here in time for the opening faceoff. The team hotel is within walking distance.

The question, though, is whether they can adapt and be ready despite the schedule shakeup.

On an unrelated note, Wilson also took a shot at Buffalo when answering the question about the Caps' travel problems.

"We bus up in the morning," he said, referring to the Leafs' trip across the border to HSBC Arena. "Part of that is because Buffalo, the city itself, can be a little depressing. You can only eat so many chicken wings. Great for media but not for your players."

Update:While there may not have been "stuff coming out of an engine", Coach Bruce Boudreau confirmed that the Dulles control tower reported seeing sparks coming from underneath the Caps' charter.

"They said you shouldn't take off right now," he said with a chuckle. "And we said, 'Okay'. We turned back and waited on the ground for a while. They thought it was minor but turned out to be something they needed a new part, and it could be a couple of hours. So we decided to go home and fly in here today."

"It definitely changes the routine, but it shouldn't really matter," he added. "They are pros. If we can't deal with that adversity, then we can't deal with much."

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  December 12, 2009; 11:19 AM ET
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Next: Tonight's lineup: Caps at Maple Leafs (Updated)


i wonder how much rest they were able to get

Posted by: gocaps01 | December 12, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

maybe this will be like the afternoon games for ovi - when he is sleepy - he always seems to come through in those games

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | December 12, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

It seems as if the discussion about Ovie's play doesn't stop ...

a quote:
"... and arguably the dirtiest marquee player the NHL has seen since Gordie Howe ..."

... Jim Kelley seems not to be the only journalist who has "problems" with Ovie ...

Hopefully, Ovie will get his goals ...

... and Neuvie his SO ...

Go Caps!

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | December 12, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Ron Wilson = priceless. That comment about Buffalo was spot on.

I'll let the comment about plane crashes slide....

Posted by: CF11555 | December 12, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

wilson sounds even more like a curmudgeon than i remember... hopefully he's right an its not going to effect the caps but getting in this late couldnt have resulted in good sleep!! hopefully they can push through


Posted by: mrszilla | December 12, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

The western NY tourism board hearts ron wilson.

Posted by: large23220 | December 12, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Gabby is my favorite Caps coach ever. Wilson is an insufferable tool.

Posted by: large23220 | December 12, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Gabby def trumps Wilson in commentary. Plus I bet BB likes wings, and I would have to agree.

Posted by: mrszilla | December 12, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if Astronaut man made the trip...

He works for NASA and came straight from work last night...didnt have time to change.

Posted by: SA-Town | December 12, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Wilson took the Caps to the Cup finals... BB hasn't taken his team outta second round in the playoffs.

for that fact alone Wilson is my favorite Caps' coach.

Posted by: joek443 | December 12, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure most of the guys won't be sad to miss the morning skate. Still plenty of time to rest up for the game. I'm guessing the NHL requires teams to travel the night before a game but i bet the team would prefer sleeing in their own bed and flying in
the am. Particularly short hops. No doubt the coaches made sure all the boys were awake for the flight.

Btw, I guess the guys leave their cars at vc or kettler and bus to the plane. They must have had to bus back and then scatter. I feel for the equipment guys.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | December 12, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I'm guessing Mikey will be in goal tonight. And even though he's a goalie, and most people think goalies are a little "different", I bet the travel issues won't bother him. He's spent his time in the minors, where weird travel schedules are a way of life.

Posted by: tess2201 | December 12, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

"Wilson took the Caps to the Cup finals... BB hasn't taken his team outta second round in the playoffs.

for that fact alone Wilson is my favorite Caps' coach."

The Caps journey to the Cup final was a fluke and blessed by superior teams being upset by inferior teams; thus paving their way to the final. Once the Caps faced a real contender (Detroit) they were dominated, sweeped in four. Shut out and silenced.

The Caps had a much better chance to win the Cup in 1986-1987 (the best team prior to NOW) but faced powerful opponents that took them out early.

Wilson was not a ‘bad’ coach but he is not in the same league as Bodreau. Bodreau has taken less talent/experience much further than Wilson.

Posted by: FLDave | December 12, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse


We hope Boudreau not only likes Buffalo wings but the wingers on our top 3 lines. (Last night's game against Carolina where all 6 of our top wingers were actually available.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 12, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse


A journalist in Buffalo, named Gleason, also has problems with Ovi's style. (Of all the last names for that guy to have.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 12, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

@FLDave - I agree with you on the fact that the Caps had lady luck on their side with some teams that were higher seeds that got upset.

However, when it came to Detroit - they were NOT dominated at all. Sure you'll remember they were swept but the first three games were decided by a goal. If Esa Tikkanen doesn't miss that empty net in Game 2 - Caps most likely win and who knows where that series goes.

When they faced a real contender they played hard and caught a bad break in Game 2. They were not dominated. Just my opinion - feel free to disagree.

Posted by: Jonathan6 | December 12, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

I was at last night's game. But I didn't post anything since we got home late.


1) The Caps' Christmas video played one of the Christmas songs by the "Trans-Siberian Orchestra". First images shown were of our resident Russians (Varly, Semin, Ovi). There were more images and action shots of our Russians (but of some of our other guys as well).

2) First period seemed to be a continuation of our play against Buffalo. Lots of shots on goal (not necessarily good ones) but nothing in.

3) Theodore was not having one of his better games.

4) I figured if the Caps could get a goal to make it 2-1, they'd have a shot of winning. (Of course, if Carolina had made it 3-0, I'd have felt differently.) Luckily, Semin scored the first goal and then his second at the end of Period 2. Way to go, Sasha (or Alex) or Jizz (as Matt Bradley apparently called him in an interview last night.) Reuniting the OBS line seemed to reignite the spark.

5) Yes, it was the "Young Guns" who carried the team last night. All four were on the score sheet. (And Flash, too, even though he's not technically one of those 4 but is a productive contemporary.)

6) The Flash/Perreault/Fehr line seemed to generate plenty of action and shots on goal even though they connected for only one and were minus for the night.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 12, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Wilson was not a ‘bad’ coach but he is not in the same league as Bodreau. Bodreau has taken less talent/experience much further than Wilson.

Posted by: FLDave | December 12, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

as Bill Parcells once said, you are what your record says you are.

before anyone starts comparing BB to Scotty Bowman, he has to get past second round of the playoffs.

fact still remains Ron Wilson is still the ONLY coach who has taken the Caps to the Cup finals.

Posted by: joek443 | December 12, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

What's up everyone, been reading the blog for a while but wanted to start posting.

I live in Cali and do the NHL GameCenter to watch the Caps. Tonight obviously it will be blacked out since it's HNIC. What are the best online feeds to try out so I can see them hopefully whip up on Toronto tonight?

Thanks and Unleash the Fury!!!

Posted by: JDintheSD | December 12, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

JDintheSD tends to be ok and there probably will be at least one good feed on

Posted by: icehammer97 | December 12, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

JDintheSD tends to be ok and there probably will be at least one good feed on

Posted by: icehammer97 | December 12, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

One final comment about Theo's game last night. While I agree it wasn't his best game, I find it interesting that most think goals 1 and 3 were not really his fault, but that poke-in at the post was. Here is where I want to defend him. If you look at the replays of #2 (slow-mo isn't even necessary) you can clearly see Theo doing what he is supposed to. He is hugging the post, stick and glove ready, and keeping an eye on the puck. He is positionally sound. The goal is scored because it takes a weird bounce up and bounces off the side of his mask. Nothing he could do about that one and I bet most goalies in the league would have played it the same and with the same result.

Posted by: gonchpup | December 12, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Ron Wilson is an excellent coach and one of the better ones the Caps have had. He coached Team USA to a Canada Cup win in 1996 just a year before he took over as coach of the Caps and has history as a winning coach. His team (the Caps) did not get lucky getting to the Finals in 1998. Kolzig, Adam Oates, Bondra and crew played very well in the playoffs and had to defeat Boston, Ottawa, and Buffalo just to get to get there to play for the Cup. They outplayed all these teams so it was not a fluke - it may have been unexpected that the Caps would beat these teams before the playoffs started but they outplayed them all to get to the Cup Finals, so it was NOT a fluke that they ended up played Detroit for the Cup.

Posted by: MReilly9 | December 12, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

FYI the NHL Network is showing Ovie's greatest goals at 6:30.

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | December 12, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

I am sure BB will have Neuvy start today. I will be very surprised and disappointed if he doesn't. I think his patience is wearing thin with Theo. Could he send him to Hershey, supposedly for conditioning, and bring Neuvy here? Neuvy needs a little more confidence on the NHL level and then he will be fine. The sooner the better.

Posted by: caraveli | December 12, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

If they left the airport last night at 11:30 the earliest that most got home was 1 am. Back at the airport at 9:30 means no more than 4 hours of sleep.

Posted by: MKadyman | December 12, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Interesting math!

Posted by: beeman | December 12, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

@ FCKoeln1

I followed your link. Funny article-alternately praising and damning our Ovi. I believe commentators just don't know what to do with him. If he were just that nice hard-hitting Canadian boy....! Instead it's as if the upcoming Olympics in Vancouver has brought out distant cold war memories and are trying to make our Ovi be the symbol of that big bad evil empire. Yet in Ovi's own words the NHL is the only place to play hockey. His hard-hitting style is very North American however little commentators want to admit that fact.

So I couldn't help myself and posted the following:

I love how the Russian coach who cam over here to watch the Russian NHL players called Ovechkin half Canadian in his game style, that he is that unique of a player. Then when I read various North American commentators they treat him as if he's to the right of Genghis Khan.

All that this polarizing commentary tells me is that Ovechkin is a unique once-in-a-generation athlete whose particular passionate, hard-hitting, goal scoring game bridges the divide between the European and North American styles of hockey.

Ovechkin epitomizes NHL hockey. And he shares his joy, passion, and exuberance for this simple game with everyone, from his teammates to the fans at the edges of their seats. He is quite simply sheer magic on the ice.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | December 12, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

@FCKoeln - I deeply resent the reference to Kelley as a "journalist." He is certainly far from that.

Posted by: zmega | December 12, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: bgfgf402 | December 13, 2009 2:31 AM | Report abuse

With all due respect to those who were a Capitals fan when this Wilson guy was the coach, I do take offense that he would take the tone he took with the Capitals and their plane troubles. I would like to think he'd be a little more tactful with his comments. Plane troubles are plane troubles. I think it would be fitting karmic balance if he should find himself on a plane "with troubles" and the last thing on his mind being "Oh, swizzle sticks! Me and my big fat mouth," all the while holding on a chicken wing.

Ovi is the man. =)

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | December 14, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

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