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Caps' Injury Situation Worsens

Mike Green, Alexander Semin, Tom Poti are all out for tomorrow's game at Madison Square Garden. So are Jeff Schultz and Chris Clark (but that's not a surprise).

Meantime, David Steckel (cold) and Donald Brashear (leg) are questionable, while Tyler Sloan (foot, knee) is ready to go. So, according to Coach Bruce Boudreau, the Caps may have to recall a "player or two from Hershey."

Some other notes and quotes:

*Semin did not practice today, and was seen leaving KCI walking very gingerly, almost limping. I'm thinking it could be a while with him.

*Green also did not practice today, presumably because of the shoulder injury that caused him to miss 11 games recently. He played hurt in Philly, and the team now wants him to take some time to rest.

*Brashear took a slash on leg from Arron Asham in the last minute in Philly, and was not well enough to practice today. Boudreau said he hopes he can play.

*Steckel was withheld from practice primarily because they didn't want him spreading his cold to the other players. Boudreau also hopes he can play.

*Poti, Sergei Fedorov and John Erskine also did not skate today and won't play tomorrow.

*There was a little good news on the injury front. Both Clark and Schultz participated fully today and are getting close to returning. Clark said he's ready now; Schultz said he's aiming for the 26th or 28th. "We're looking at Chris next week," Boudreau said.

*I'm writing about the goaltending situation for tomorrow's paper. This opinion is not shared by everyone, but I think the Caps would be at (or at least close to) the top of the East if they got consistent goaltending on a nightly basis.

But right now, the team doesn't even have a clear cut No. 1. Brent Johnson seemed to be closing in on earning that status before taking a step back in Philly. That said, Boudreau is turning to Johnson again in NY tomorrow. That right there, to me at least, says all you need to know about Boudreau's feelings about Jose Theodore at the moment.

"We're waiting for one to come up and say, 'Hey listen, I'm the guy, go to me all the time,'" Boudreau said. "But that only comes with the way you play."

For years, the goaltending situation in Washington went like this: Olie Kolzig was the starter, and someone else was the backup. Olie never felt threatened. Now, you've got two guys battling for playing time, and a prospect in Simeon Varlamov who is putting pressure on both of them.

"As a forward, when people threatened my spot, I knew I had to bear down," Boudreau said, "and do a better job. Whether it was in the minor leagues or the NHL. We follow what's going on. We know Varlamov is starting to turn it on. We know Brent had some good games there. When Theo gets his chance, he knows it's not a gift ...being the No. 1 goalie, let's go out and prove you want it."

I'll have much more on the subject in tomorrow's paper.


By Tarik El-Bashir  |  December 22, 2008; 12:02 PM ET
 
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Comments

Sweet...

Posted by: jason3555 | December 22, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse


...*sigh*

Posted by: dcox50 | December 22, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

We can only hope that Steckel's cold isnt that bad, and he wont miss much time.

Posted by: SA-Town | December 22, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

I'm not liking this early Christmas present. Is there any way I can return it??

Posted by: elicea | December 22, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully Sloan is able to play so We'll only have to recall one defenseman. Lepisto is my guess. Who would be the second blue-liner called up?

Hopefully Steckel and Brashear feel good enough to go, but my guess is Mink will be the first to get the call up, followed by Osala if they have to call up a second forward.

Posted by: dcox50 | December 22, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Lepisto and Helmer come off the top of my head as who too recall

Posted by: elicea | December 22, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

how much do you think it would cost to clone an Ovechkin or 3?

Posted by: rh71 | December 22, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

@ rh

Remember, we have a salary cap!

Posted by: rdy4all2000 | December 22, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Tarik,

Given the proximity to the holidays, do the injured guys not travel?

Sean

Posted by: jerry2178 | December 22, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

so brashear did get injured by that slash by asham?

Posted by: _stevo | December 22, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Jeeminy Christmas. :P Here we go again. At least they're shelving the guys to get them healthy. Can we please put a couple of them on LTIR?

Not sure about bringing up Lepisto again. He made a lot of mistakes when he was here last, and we just don't have a lot of room for those. Also, we'd be running close to the 10-game thing, wouldn't we? If Brash is out, would I be crazy to say that I'd want Kip Brennan if he's available? Helmer I've got no issues with.

Tarik, what about Sloan? Where's he at?

I should note that Dean Arsene in Hershey is healthy, as as Greg Amadio. Of the two, I'm thinking maybe Amadio.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 22, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

New name- The Washington M.A.S.H. Units! At least it's December and not April!

Posted by: lylewimbledon | December 22, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I see Seimn going to LTIR. Reading that quote posted on OFB and Japers' it doesn't sound like he'll return any time soon

I say Lepisto mainly because his style of play is similar to that of Green's.

I wish Laing could/would be recalled..

Posted by: elicea | December 22, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Yick!!!

Tell Steckel to drink lots of tea and get lots of rest. :-p Having a cold at Christmas time has got to blow chunks. :-( Poor guy!

As for the rest - Dear Santa: All I want for Christmas is my healthy Caps back! I know you ROCK THE RED too, so hopefully we're on the same page here... Love, ~IRTR

Posted by: irockthered | December 22, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Semin is very injury prone, obviously.

We know is value but I would think the Caps or any other team would think very hard before deciding if they want him back at the end of his contract.

Posted by: rdy4all2000 | December 22, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Technically, the clones would be rookies, so we could sign them all for the max Rookie contracts, which would require us to place Feds and Semin on LTIR and keep Clark there.

But for 3 more Ovechkins, I'd be willing to do it, I think.

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | December 22, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Why is it that when Brashear skates after a guy who militiously two hand slashes at his knee he is kicked out of the game? Yet the man who did the slashing doesnt even get fined or suspended? This league is absolutely rediculous. Now they want to cut back on head injuries? How about intent to injure? Alexander Semin was cross checked, Brian Pothier was taken out by an elbow from Milan Lucic, and now we have Brash favoring a leg because someone lumberjacked it. The league has absolutely no control about it, and someone within the organization needs to step up, and take the fine for questioning the Ref's decisions on all of these plays. That, or the Caps may have to start taking their skates off and stabbing people with them.

Posted by: capsfan55 | December 22, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Now, if they are clones, would they be considered rookies? Technically they would be in the league for the 1st time, but they are already vets...

Now we are getting into sometime deep

Posted by: rdy4all2000 | December 22, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't mind having this guy on the team ;)

http://www.japersrink.com/2008/12/22/697704/the-ultimate-washington-ca

Posted by: elicea | December 22, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Now, in the movies, the extra clones almost always turn out to be a bad thing in the end. There is always a twisted evil one and someone gets killed and then the roaches come and take over... I don't know about clones, they give me the creeps.

Posted by: _Mark | December 22, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

"David Steckel's contract" put a smile on my face.

I think the boulder that Poti uses on the end of his stick might interfere with the Semin hands, though.

Posted by: _jordan | December 22, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

they are going to need to put semin on LTIR when clark comes off. they will need the cap relief to keep alzner up here until poti/erskine/schultz return. the other option is to send down alzner and recall a couple of other cheaper d men. tough situation but thats the reality of the cap right now.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | December 22, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: lylewimbledon | December 22, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Frankly, I'd put Erskine, Fedorov, AND Semin on LTIR, if only to make some of them take the time off to heal.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 22, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

karma police.
these guys can't catch a break, unless its a bone.
the goaltending is what worries me most.

Posted by: oo7 | December 22, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

They should put Semin on LTIR now, and just tell him, "Sorry, Sasha, but now you've got a solid month, just go heal. No pressure."

Are there any current FA on the market worth renting for a few months before waiving them?

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | December 22, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Yanic Perreault!

Posted by: _jordan | December 22, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

@ drinkingpartner

haha

Shanny is available....not under a mil though

Posted by: rdy4all2000 | December 22, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Brennan is only signed with the Bears, so the Caps would have to sign him to call him up. With the Cap so close I doubt they would do that.

Posted by: HBFan | December 22, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Bourque had a great weekend with Hershey as well did Andrew Gordon, maybe Bruce will reward one of those guys.

Posted by: HBFan | December 22, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

All I want for Christmas is a Healthy Team! Ehhhhh....wrong answer.

Posted by: joshu1 | December 22, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

I disagree with Tarik on Johnson taking a "step back" in Philly. The guy played great his previous 5 games, he may still be a little injured. Honestly, he only allowed 3 goals in 2 periods. It's not like he allowed 4 in 1 period. Very few goalies are on top of their game every night, so I disagree Johnny took a step back.

Now, if he stinks up MSG tomorrow, I may have to reevaluate my stance.

Posted by: GoCaps08 | December 22, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

is there a lemon law for goalies? can we return Joanie Theodore and get our money back? we been had.

Posted by: jamebow | December 22, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Honestly, as much as this drives me insane ... if we can get all of this bullcrap out of the way before Feb 1 and be healthy for the playoffs, I'll take that over losing Green, Poti, Fedorov, and Semin in the middle of the playoffs.

@HBFan: True, but Bourque isn't the guy to replace Brash if he doesn't play. I'd say Mink for that. Maybe if Stecks and Brash do not play ....

Ovi - Backs - Kozlov
Flash - Nyls - Fehr
Giroux - Laich - Bourque
Mink - Gordo - Brads

... yikes. :(

Posted by: kittypawz | December 22, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

@joshu1 - Hey, a gal can WISH, can't she?!

Here's my count, taken off the event summary pages for our games:

01) POTI, Tom
02) ERSKINE, John
03) OVECHKIN, Alexander
04) BRADLEY, Matt
05) FLEISCHMANN, Tomas
06) GORDON, Boyd
07) FEHR, Eric
08) CLARK, Chris
09) BACKSTROM, Nicklas
10) AUCOIN, Keith
11) LAICH, Brooks
12) JURCINA, Milan
13) KOZLOV, Viktor
14) MORRISONN, Shaone
15) MINK, Graham
16) ALZNER, Karl
17) SEMIN, Alexander
18) GIROUX, Alexandre
19) STECKEL, David
20) LEPISTO, Sami
21) HELMER, Bryan
22) OSALA, Oskar
23) GREEN, Mike
24) SCHULTZ, Jeff
25) BOURQUE, Chris
26) COLLINS, Sean
27) BRASHEAR, Donald
28) SLOAN, Tyler
29) FEDOROV, Sergei
30) NYLANDER, Michael

01) JOHNSON, Brent
02) THEODORE, Jose
03) VARLAMOV, Simeon
04) LEONHARDT, Brett

30 skaters and 4 goaltenders. This is NUTS!

I would definitely put Erskine, Fedorov and Semin on LTIR today, and possibly Poti as well; he's been out since game #311 (went out in #303). I have the spreadsheet, if anyone's interested. E-mail me privately at irockthered {at} gmail {dot} com.

Posted by: irockthered | December 22, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I personally agree with Tarik's assessment of BJ. He was not good in Philly, the first 2 goals were soft. And I don't think he played very well on the Island in his previous start either. Granted the D didn't play well in front of him, but if that was JT in that game everyone would have bashed his performance big time.

Like I have said previously, JT has a month to gain some sort of confidence. Right now he has none and the team has none in him when he gets put in there. If he doesn't regain it by the end of January, he will be placed on waivers. And we will pay him $4.5 to play in Hershey if no one picks him up, but at least we will have cap space.

Posted by: ThePat | December 22, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

agreed with Semin going on LTIR and they should do this now - but would definitely renew his contract. When he's healthy there is no better offensive player in the game and just the moments of sheer poetry he brings to the ice justify his salary. It's not all about winning, imho, it's about watching a game become alive and intelligent. Sasha brings that to the game as much, or more, than anyone else in the league.

This could be a freak injury. After he healed the ankle he was solid for the rest of the year and the playoffs. He may just be unlucky.

Posted by: WritingLight | December 22, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Why is so damn difficult to get a legit injury report with the Caps. All the other teams give an in-depth and up to date detailed statement but not the Caps. We, the fans, are left to guess about the injury and the recovery time. Get with it Caps !!!

Posted by: rock-o | December 22, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

injury reports led to homeslice knowing exactly where to hit semin to take him out. that was a surgical strike. that is why all the hush hush.

Posted by: jamebow | December 22, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Ugh. Too bad the refs didn't let Brashear go caveman on Ashem too at the end.

Tarik, I saw Bill Clement agrees with you. He claims with a real #1 goalie, the Caps would be a legit cup contender. I would agree, assuming we're not playing with Bears the rest of the season.
My favorite "goalie situation" moment is: I was at KCI a bit ago getting new edges and I asked the pro shop if they were selling more Jonhson jerseys. The guys response: "Well, we're not selling many Theodore jerseys..."

Posted by: oldtimehockey | December 22, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

BJ is a back up, you people should consider his play prior to Philly as above average for a back up, he STOLE the Boston game and possibly 2 others.

Jozy signing was a bust before the ink dried along with Nylander, Poti, Pothier to name a few.

BTW, you can't buy character.

Posted by: Cheef | December 22, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

How soon until that donkey windjammer comments on Green's shoulder?

Posted by: Steve_R | December 22, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

@Ircktherd,

While I agree that the injury list is long, Leonhardt doesn't really count as a fourth goalie. I'm all for adding him because of the back story,but he was truly an emergency temp until Varlamov's plane landed. He didn't even make it through the game before he was "cut".

We don't need to pad the list with quirky things. We've got enough players to list anyway.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | December 22, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

TEB,

With a bonafied #1 goalie, the Caps are not cup contenders.

Not until the defense becomes mistake free overnight and the team suddenly understands "Team Toughness" along with individual pain tolerance.

From the looks of this high skilled group, they think sacrifice was getting to the show and that's where it ended.
Oh, and a fat contract, that's where it really ended for at 3 of them.

Posted by: Cheef | December 22, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Johnny is the #1, no denying it right now.

Bad games happen to everyone sometimes...NO ONE is immune.

Posted by: caryh | December 22, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I think the Caps would have been better off signing Emery this past summer. Sure, he had attitude problems supposidly, but a short contract with a team option would not have been a bad idea. I was not a big advocate of Sexy Threeormore. But I also didn't think Huet was proven either.

The Caps need to figure something out. The fans have been patient, and to see them perhaps even miss the playoffs entirely would be bad for the fans, and for the Caps ticket sales.

Posted by: GoCaps08 | December 22, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree with Tarik. Johnson easily took a step back. Yes, I understand that not every player is on top of their game each night, but 3 goals on what, 13 shots?? That's ridiculous. The first two should have easily been stopped. The breakaway goal, I'll give him that one.

Theodore didn't look great either. Granted he came in under different circumstances and was just left for the dogs because the players in front of him were tired and hurt, whereas Johnson could've helped the Capitals by keeping the score at 0-0 after the first and not allowed that second goal, either.

They need a clear No. 1 if they want to go anywhere.

Posted by: dcox50 | December 22, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

If Jose is just going to play every third game and lose or come in when Johnny's achy, maybe we should just flip him for one of these overperforming backups that are all over the league this year.

Posted by: _jordan | December 22, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

@oldtimehockey - I know; he's in there for sheer silliness factor. He suited up. I was not "padding the list," just listing people who have worn a Caps uniform in at least part of one game. That is all.

STILL - can you prove to me that 30 skaters and THREE goalies is that much better than 30 skaters and 4 goalies?

Posted by: irockthered | December 22, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

I am not going to hang BJ out to dry on the factor of one lousy game. Everybody has an off night. Johnny worked his backside off over the summer, and up until now, it's shown very well.

Yes, three goals on 13 shots is hideously bad. It just is. Four goals on 15 shots is worse. We had a bad game. Now can we please look forward instead of Monday morning centering this thing to death?!

Posted by: irockthered | December 22, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

From the previous ...

Kitty:
You didn't miss it - it was a year or two ago, so I guess it missed you! Anyway, I didn't realize that you didn't know - my apologies. Guess it puts some perspective on my previous question, huh? :-)

Posted by: Boo- | December 22, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

so.. that caps promotion where you buy 100 tickets and get to sit on the benches near the team could be turned into a caps promotion where you buy 100 tickets and get to play for the team.

oh no! steve jabrolski from center preffered has gotten indigestion from 5th sausage and beer. he won't be able to complete the game (tarik saw him wobbling down the hall by the men's room). looks like they're going to have to make a call up from the nosebleed section. if steve goes on ltir, this may have salary cap implications.

Posted by: am_jim | December 22, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

What's happening Boo?

Any thoughts on who's going to center Erskine next year?

Posted by: Steve_R | December 22, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

How many teams have clear #1's right now anyway?

This years story has been all about the back-up. Look at the winning percentage of these goalies who were supposed to be #1's in the East. These hardly paints the picture of who is playing well and who isnt, but no pre-season #1 is lights out getting it done for their team night in and night out with exception of Thomas.

Thomas - 68%
B. Johnson - 63%
Price - 61%
Lundquist - 60%
Fluery - 56%
Biron - 55%
Miller - 53%
Ward - 47%
Toskala - 44%

These are starts vs. Win percentage.

Posted by: SA-Town | December 22, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

I COMPLETELY agree with Tarik when he says: ."...I think the Caps would be at (or at least close to) the top of the East if they got consistent goaltending on a nightly basis." There is no question about it. We are very close to the top as it is. Almost every time we take a step back it is a goalie problem.

Johny may have done great in 5 games, but this is not enough considering last year's performance also. When Kolzig was injured for a feew weeks and Johny had a chance to shine, he missed the opportunity to emerge as a rising star and even ecliple a stuggling Kolzig. He is almost there but not quite the star goalie we need. Maybe he or Theo will rise to the challenge but what if they don't?

Tarik, I hope you have an opinion on an ideal scenario that you can include in your piece tomorrow. What do you think should the Caps should do?

Posted by: caraveli | December 22, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

@caraveli - If they don't, then we will have to content ourselves with winning the southeast division (unless we screw up royally) and maybe getting to the 2nd round of playoffs, depending on who we play in the 1st round. It's still better than last year, and Theodore has been a placeholder since he was signed. There are no goaltenders out there available that we can afford to sign right now, and (once more, in stereophonic sound), bringing Varlamov up now could be a disaster to his career. I would rather settle for improving on last year's performance and not ruining our future goaltender than bring him up too soon.

Posted by: irockthered | December 22, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Johnny was weak on Saturday and Jose was not any better. I think Tarik is correct.
And considering the goaltender situation, the lack of a veteran, stay-at-home, defenseman really shows.

Posted by: Landshark | December 22, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Somebody dig up Maxime Oulette.

Posted by: _jordan | December 22, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

What veteran stay at home defenseman should we get? From who? For what?

Posted by: _jordan | December 22, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

So I guess the thing at this point is to hope that I get to see Johnnie in the net against the Sabres on Friday. Because that will mean he had a good game against the Rangers???

Will be curious to see if tomorrow's article has any hint of what the back-up plan is if neither BJ or JT take claim to the #1 spot.

After Varlamov's presence and performance I was really expecting BJ and JT to play lights out when they got their first opportunity. I think the fact that neither really did is what surprises me the most.

Posted by: Kim-3 | December 22, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Jordan, there in lies the problem. I'd like to see Komo for a bag of pucks, but that still wouldn't help with the cap....

Posted by: Steve_R | December 22, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Let's give out Perfect Attendance Awards!

Here's a bit of trivia for y'all... name the ONLY two Caps skaters who have suited up for and gotten ice time in every game so far this season.

Posted by: irockthered | December 22, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

When Carolina won the Cup did Ward start the season with the team and/or get a lot of playing time before the playoffs? I honestly can't remember exactly how he emerged as the #1 for them at the time.

Posted by: Kim-3 | December 22, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

laich, bradley, jurcina, backstrom

Posted by: _stevo | December 22, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Ovie and Brooks Laich?

Posted by: Kim-3 | December 22, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Brads and Brooks and Nicky.

Wait.... Two?

Nicky and Brooks then

Posted by: Steve_R | December 22, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Nevermind. I blocked the games Ovie missed while in Russia out of my mind.

Posted by: Kim-3 | December 22, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I bet we could get one of Jackman, McKee, or Brewer from St. Louis for an assload of picks and a prospect and, let's say, Boyd Gordon

Posted by: _jordan | December 22, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

@_stevo - Nope; Bradley and Jurcina have each missed one game.

@Kim-3 - Nope; Ovi missed two games to visit his grandfather in Russia.

@Steve_R - Correct. Nicky and Brooks are the only two Caps to not miss a game so far this season, and Nicky went out early for a migrane a couple of games ago.

THAT should tell y'all something about this team all by itself...

Posted by: irockthered | December 22, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

@_jordan - Why do you want to trade Gordon? Just curious...

Posted by: irockthered | December 22, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

according to the website, bradley and jurcina have played in all 34 games

Posted by: _stevo | December 22, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

@irock

I don't really want to trade him, but he seems like the kind of trade padding (proven regular skater) that would be involved in that sort of deal. We could replace Gordo with Laing or Bourque or whoever and probably not lose too much in terms of offense or even team defense.

Posted by: _jordan | December 22, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Hold it, everyone. The doom and gloom took over again, and I'm not exactly immune to it either. Things aren't perfect, no. In fact, the injury situation is a big fat pain in the rear.

Yea, more grit'd be nice, but is it an essential ingredient for a Cup? I suggest you ask Ken Holland and the Detroit Red Wings that question. It's there if we're willing to get to it - we had it last year at the end.

Cheef, you'd know about not being able to buy character, you raided your mom's drug money and still couldn't find any :)

I really think that the only thing we truly need to be able to contend is that bona fide #1 goalie, and I still think we'll find out who it is come the trade deadline, and not much before.

And when you people talk about missing the playoffs -- er, WTF people. I realize that our expectations aren't being met, but our expectations were crazy high too. We were in the BASEMENT at this time lsat year. Um, shoot, we're third in the East and top of the SE this time.

The Flyers by playing the top line in the final minutes of the game were trying to humiliate and mentally defeat. let's not fall for that BS - let's get right back up and into the saddle. All you have to do to succeed is get up one more time than you fall.

Upset, sure, but how about if we turn that on the Rangers the way we turned the Blues' crap on the Flyers? We got a Riley Cote x 2 beatdown out of that, now let's see if we can get a Rangers beatdown and a Buffalo beatdown out of Saturday. With Hershey guys, you ask? Um, there's a reason why they're at the top of the AHL right now. :)

I know I was saying yikes earlier, but let's not go overboard.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 22, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

@_stevo - I stand corrected, and am a doofus for my typo'd spreadsheet. :-p

So we do have 4. :-)

Did you know that before you looked, or after?

Posted by: irockthered | December 22, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

actually i did know that, but only because my buddy asked me that at the last home game

Posted by: _stevo | December 22, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

whoa cheef, did you call this team "highly skilled"? that would be some faint praise fot the GM who put them together, no?

go ask morrison about toughness playing with the injuries he had in the playoffs. or clark or ovie or gordon. not everyone on the team is going to be made of steel (like i'm sure you are).

so when they beat montreal twice and boston in one week, its considered "stealing" but lose to philly and it's the team has no toughness. got it.

try posting after they win a game.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | December 22, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Cote played yesterday while Brash takes day off after his team was humiliated.

Trust me, Cote could have sat out yesterday, he didn't because he has character.

I'd take Cote on my team anyday before Brashear.

Posted by: Cheef | December 22, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Steve R:
I heard that Brett Leonhardt will be centering Erskine.

Posted by: Boo- | December 22, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

@Boo: Ah, that's why I didn't know. :) Haven't been here all that long.

I think Jurcina was a healthy scratch for one game. He hasn't missed any due to injury.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 22, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

I'll go half-and-half on the goalie commentary based on a lot of thinking as I was wandering around Eastern Market yesterday.

Johnson - I like Brent Johnson but he hasn't been a #1 guy in eight years. He's had some very good games this season but he's had an equal number of poor games. There is, unfortunately, a reason he hasn't been a #1 and I don't buy the Kolzig argument completely. Boudreau has shown that he'll go with the hot goaltender - Huet over Kolzig last season - and doesn't really give two cents for seniority. I also don't believe any coach is going to sabotage his team's success for that reason.

Theodore - I don't know what his deal is right now but there's no way he is even close to a #1 option for any team in the league. I don't fully understand waivers but if he gets sent down, someone claims him, and the Caps have to pay his salary, so what? Will anyone suggest that paying his salary and losing games with him in the net is preferential? Didn't think so.

Both these guys aren't going to get any better. Both are average at best but the big curve has way too many massive valleys and few peaks. Remember the first three or four home games? Unless I'm mistaken, in at least three of those games the first shot by the visiting team was a goal (though it might have been the second shot in one game)...that's how these guys have been for the whole season - barring about a half-dozen games. A lot of their inabilities have been overshadowed by a pretty devastating offense. I don't think a 1 and 1A goaltender situation is going to get better when you get six good games out of two guys through the first 30+ games.

I'd love to see one of them step up but it's not going to happen. The Caps will either live with the idea of winning games by outscoring opponents every night, or they'll make a much needed move. In my time here, the GM and BB seem to have a pretty good handle on things but they misfired on the Theodore signing. Admit it, face it, move on.

I'll be watching the away games and at the Center cheering the home games. What I want for Christmas is to know that the Caps aren't thinking we are a year away from challenging. The time is now and it takes bold moves to survive.

Go Caps.

Posted by: saintex | December 22, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Go back and watch the Bruins game, there was ONE reason why they won. Goaltending.

Praise to the GM ? You're wrong (as usual) because there is never going to be praise given to Learning on the Job, Disrespecting players, Hiring stupid coaches and obtaining the #1 pick for being the "biggest Loser".

Wait, I suppose signing Jozy makes everything ok ?

Skill ? YES
Contender ? NO

Posted by: Cheef | December 22, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I dunno. I didn't hold it against Jose to have all those crap goals. Hartnell's bat-out-the-air goal, for instance, and the 3-on-2 that nobody picked up. I thought he did okay, overall. Everyone on the ice was having a bad game, and I didn't think that Jose's was notably worse.

Johnny, on the other hand, should never have let in 1 or 2. 3 is debatable, but it was a decent (if completely predictable) move.

But I do agree that the goaltending has got to shape up. it's too bad that we can't threaten them with demotion, though. As upset as we may be with them, we don't want to lose them.

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | December 22, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

@kittypawz - Thanks for that dose of reality, and the giggle re: Cheef. I wonder what he's Cheef of... could it be Cheef of the Flyers fans? How about Cheef of the Pens fans? Or Cheef as in can't speel Cheech as in "and Chong"?

Re: And when you people talk about missing the playoffs -- er, WTF people. I realize that our expectations aren't being met, but our expectations were crazy high too. We were in the BASEMENT at this time lsat year. Um, shoot, we're third in the East and top of the SE this time.

Actually, my expectations are being met at the moment. We're for the most part winning, and I'm good with that. Yeah, we had a lousy game on Saturday. Schtick happens. We'll get over it. Would I like to win every game from here on out and beat the Sharks for Lord Stanleys' Cup? You bet I would! Am I going to worry about it if we lose a few here and there? Nope!

We're MILES above where we were last year at this time, and we have Coach Boudreau to thank for it. He's done a great job, and his plug-and-play system from the top to the bottom of the organization is working out very well.

The Hershey guys are playing with a ton of heart, and that, IMO, counts for something right there. We have two that look like they're gonna be keepers for the rest of the season at this point, so yay for that!

I LIKE the fact that we have a team that doesn't take cheap shots on other teams and their players. We play to a high standard, and even when we're losing - badly - we don't take to slashing/cross-checking/fill-in-the-blank I'm-going-to-eff-you-up style hockey.

So what ARE the essential ingredients to make a Cap with?

Posted by: irockthered | December 22, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

@Cheef

Yes...lets talk about all the great things Riley Cote does for the league. The Capitals could use a whole 4th line of Cote's.

Posted by: SA-Town | December 22, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

irockthered:
I agree. This time last season we were in the basement. Points wise we have had the biggest turn around in the league - up 12 points (or at least that was the case a week or so ago - I have not checked since then) AND we're 1st in the SE. Given our injury situation, we are actually doing better than I would have expected.

Posted by: Boo- | December 22, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Injury Update:

Same! Greeny needs to shut it down so he is ready for next year.

Told ya

Posted by: windjammersouth | December 22, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

@Boo- - Actually, the italicized was a quote from Kittypawz, but you're both right. We've posted one hell of a good turnaround since this time last year, and I'm pleased to see it. :-)

I still say Boudreau deserves every silvery ounce of that Jack Adams awarde he got handed last season. We're doing very well this season, given the insane number of injuries we've had - and the length of time that many of those injuries are taking to heal... (Fedorov comes to mind...)

Re: Riley Cote - Thanks, but no thanks.

Posted by: irockthered | December 22, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Cheef, Cote got his face pummeled, Brash caught a two handed slash in the leg. You don't see a difference?

Posted by: Steve_R | December 22, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Must be the Monday after a loss.

Posted by: _jordan | December 22, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

@kittypawz

The Wings have one of the best in the business of screening the goal tender / deflections / rebounds: Tomas Holmstrom. He was a big part of the cup last year.

I don't know hockey long enough to know if some team got a cup w/o being great in the crease... but last year (and 2007 when the Ducks where champions at charging the net) definitely wasn't the case :D

I'm not disagreeing with you that in that it can be done, the Caps can play incredible well. But I don't recall instances when it happened.

Posted by: mauree | December 22, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

@saintex: I think you're right, but I also think that all the other pieces are there. I understand why Jose was signed over Huet (and anyone who doesn't didn't watch Varlamov - would you want to block him out of the #1 for five years?) Huet wanted the five-year contract, and I think Varlamov's got more promise. Given what he had to work with, GMGM took his best option. That is never a mistake. It didn't work, no. You win some, you lose some, and that's how the cookie crumbles. Drive on.

I haven't given up on Johnson yet. I have given up on Theodore, or mostly so - it's going to take a lot to change my mind at this point.

As for a bold move? I'm expecting one but am not going to try to predict what it is.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 22, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Nylander for Khabbibulin. Try and trade Theodore and a draft pick to Dallas for Ribeiro. Not that they'd ever go for that but they are one of the few teams who might actually take him. Other than possibly St.Louis or LA, but neither of them have anyone worth trading for. Maybe Stoll for the faceoffs. Kopitar and O'Sullivan would be nice but could be tough to get out of there.

Posted by: Stu_c | December 22, 2008 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I don't think LA is dumb enough to take Theo. They are probably still a year or two away from the playoffs, and they have pretty good goalies coming up through their system. They're not going to give up any of their young guys.

Posted by: _jordan | December 22, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

True Jordan, but Brown would be fun to watch more than once a season.

Posted by: Steve_R | December 22, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Hey! let's solve our goalie problem and get a dman at the same time.

Trade Theodore and Nylander to Chicago for Khabibulin and Sopel. This would give us a very strong number one goalie and another good dman. This would also clear up the glut of centermen and get Threeormore out of here. If needed, we could send along one of our very capable Hershey dmen to make this work.

The money works within maybe $300k. I think trading Clark for picks would solve it and give us some room at the trade deadline. We have proven that we have enough forwards and depth up front in Hershey to afford trading Clark.

This would give us more depth in back, a wall (ha!) in the net and, when healthy, still a very strong set of forwards. I think this will help Chi-town as well. They are still looking for another center, even if they are playing well right now.

Just a thought.

Posted by: waitingsince75 | December 22, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

@mauree: Hmm. I agree that we do need to crash the crease more, but who do we have that can and will do that? Brash did great when he tried it that couple of times. Osala could do that and does in Hershey a lot of the time.

I also don't think we've seen all of what a healthy and focused Caps team can do yet, so while I think you're right that they've got to do it to win, I also think that the capability might just be there.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 22, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

@waitingsince75: Works for us but may not work for Chicago. What's Sopel's cap hit?

Posted by: kittypawz | December 22, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I forgot to mention that there is a pretty serious goaltending controversy in Chicago. They are playing Huet, but everyone is calling for them to play Nick since he is playing much better. With JT making less than Huet (and not playing as well), this should quell the issue.

I think Varlamov will be ready next year, so rent-a-goalie for this year is no big deal. We signed both Nyls and JT as free agents so its not like we are losing prospects for a six month rental.

Posted by: waitingsince75 | December 22, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

@Steve,

I'd kill to get Brown and Ovechkin on the same line. They would be an absolute wrecking crew.

Posted by: _jordan | December 22, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

@_jordan - Gee, ya think? ;-)

There's been a lot of Monday morning centering today on the Flyers game. I'm past ready to move on.

I'm not going to give up on Johnson any time soon. Even with Saturday's poor performance, his SV% is still .916 - which is better than Theo's .883! And if you take out Saturday as a fluke, Johnny's SV% goes up to .920.

Even WITH Saturday's mess, Johnson is still ahead of Niittymaki in the goaltender standings (.916 to .915), and he's tied with Huet and Halak.

I'd say Johnny's doing very well so far this season. Take out Saturday, and he would have been 9th or 10th instead of 16th, right up there next to Khabibulin.

Yes, I know SV% is not the whole story. But I still think Johnny's doing just fine right now. And he has more than half the season to turn "just fine" into "whiz-bang goaltending".

I'm not worried. :-)

Posted by: irockthered | December 22, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

@waiting since 75

Chicago's problem is that they have too much money tied up in Goalies. How would bringing in Theodore's contract help them?

Posted by: SA-Town | December 22, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Sopel - 2.333m
Khabi - 6.750m

Total - 9.083m

Nyls - 4.825m
JT - 4.500m

Total - 9.325m

Posted by: waitingsince75 | December 22, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

SA-town

They add a center and have less money tied up in the net.

Posted by: waitingsince75 | December 22, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Kitty/mauree:
Actually, Clark used to crash the crease - that's how he got so banged up last season. Laich has been known to do so, as well, but does not do so consistently.

Posted by: Boo- | December 22, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

@waitingsince75 - Oh, please. Can we stop with the "trade Nylander" crap? Nylander is not going anywhere. Nylander has a no-movement clause in his contract, and NOBODY HAS TALKED TO HIM about moving teams.

Khabibulin is doing considerably better than Theodore, and so is Huet. Not only would we NEVER trade for Huet in a million years, Johnson is very nearly on par with Khabibulin, and if y'all are gonna say Johnson isn't a #1 goaltender because he's not good enough, then I don't see how Khabibulin IS good enough, if he's not that much better than Johnson!

Yes, I can buy that Johnson is injured a bit more than I'd like to see in a #1 goaltender.

Yes, I know he's never been a #1 goaltender before now.

Until last Saturday night, everyone thought he was doing great - and he WAS!

Let's not throw the man under the bus after one game.

The Blackhawks are NOT going to trade Khabibulin for anyone, since he's doing better than Huet at the moment, and we are NOT taking Huet back. Not after the way he left us at the altar. At least I wouldn't!

So the scenario you outline is highly unlikely to happen.

Posted by: irockthered | December 22, 2008 3:40 PM | Report abuse

irock -

Did you get your names mixed up? I never said a word about trading for Huet. Nylander has a house in Chicago. Those rumors persist. It is clear that we have a glut up the middle and that Nyls does not really fit the style we play.

I don't mind you disagreeing with me. But don't call me out like you did at the top of your post. Unless you are mini me to GMGM, you don't know any more than I do. Oh wait, I have a friend from college in the Chi-town front office.

Posted by: waitingsince75 | December 22, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Don't get me wrong, mine is not a "doominator"-"look how much we suck" argument.

We're very good at pressuring another team in their end zone and we're high skilled. But we do lag behind in the crease. Again, Laich stays there but he's not a "professional". Maybe if Clark gets healthy again... but I see more promises in Fehr, he's young and he fights in the corner. BB should make use of him there.

Posted by: mauree | December 22, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

To everybody who (rightly) saw the huge leap the Caps made this year in comparison to last year: Agreed. I think that this is why people are frustrated with the goaltending, injuries, stupid mistakes, etc. We are soooo close to the top. Unlike previous years, it will not take a radical transformation to get us there, such as a new coach or more depth. Since we've got all these things in place now, it would be frustrating if one weak area (such as goaltending) holds us back. But maybe we should be patient.

Posted by: caraveli | December 22, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

There's one other problem with the "trade to Chicago" scenario: Chicago's cap situation is worse than ours is. They have only $55,872 to putz around with right now; we have $107,788. It's not much, but we're still almost double the cap space that they have, according to HockeyBuzz.com.

I repeat: Highly. Unlikely. Right. Now.

Posted by: irockthered | December 22, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

@waitingsince75 - Not directed at you specifically; I've been hearing this all season, and Nylander himself has said he hasn't been approached. They have to ask him before he gets traded anywhere.

I'm just plain getting tired of hearing it, and getting snappy. Sorry about that. :-/

I know you didn't say anything about Huet, but I can't see the Blackhawks trading Khabibulin when he's their hot goalie right now... and earlier in the season, he wasn't that good, so we wouldn't have gotten anything we didn't already have.

No, I think we're just going to have to be patient, and again, I'm sorry for snapping about this. It's just something I've been thinking all day I'd be hearing from someone, and we've been over it a gazillion times on this board.

The problem with any trade to Chicago is that they are tighter on the cap than we are. They can't afford ANYBODY right now; they'd have to offload a third player to take on Theodore and Nylander, and we can't take a third player, because we're tight on the cap too.

That's all.

Posted by: irockthered | December 22, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

With the contract that Huet has, why would anyone trade for him?

Posted by: Steve_R | December 22, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Oh - and totally agreed: Nylander DOESN'T fit the style we play. But that doesn't mean we can trade him to Chicago. Chicago couldn't trade for a mouse right now. ;-)

Posted by: irockthered | December 22, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

This trade IMPROVES the cap situation for Chicago.

Posted by: waitingsince75 | December 22, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

what would happen if we sent three-or-more to minors?

Posted by: bryaningrocery | December 22, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

@waitingsince75

Here are the numbers you posted.

Sopel - 2.333m
Khabi - 6.750m
Total - 9.083m

Nyls - 4.825m
JT - 4.500m
Total - 9.325m


By your numbers, our pair are more expensive than their pair. How does that improve anything for Chicago?

Posted by: irockthered | December 22, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

what's the argument for nylander not fitting in....I see him possess the puck and control it, looking to set up a linemate. Seems like puck possession is the caps thing.

Posted by: bryaningrocery | December 22, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

economy mus be bad or work must be very slow! :oP

Posted by: windjammersouth | December 22, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Windjammer,

Still digging those Cowboy's? Fine way to send off Texas Stadium.

Posted by: Steve_R | December 22, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Also: Sopel is sitting at -4 right now on the season. He's good at staying out of the box, with only 8 PIMs so far, but with 1 goal and 1 assist in 23 games ...

The -4 puts him right above Chris Clark for our team. The PIMs - that's good. But half our team has 8 or fewer; Nylander has 18, and staying out of the box is something we need to do. But the goal stats would put him fairly low in the pecking order, too.

I'm just not sure why Sopel is considered a hot commodity for us. What is it about him that makes people want to trade for him? If it's just the low cap hit, that's not good enough, IMO. What makes him a better fit for the Caps than for Chicago?

Posted by: irockthered | December 22, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

@bryaningrocery - From what I've gathered, it's Nylander's speed - or lack thereof. It takes him too long to make decisions and act on them... that's what people seem to think, anyway.

Posted by: irockthered | December 22, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

irock.

My bad. But they have other options. Seabrook counts $3.5 against the cap. We have assets we could trade to make room.

The bottom line is that they want to move the wall to make Huet feel comfortable (big mistake IMO) and still feel Nyls is a fit. If that is the case, the teams will find a way to make it work.

I'm just saying that we could get a REALLY good goalie and make a run this year. I really like BJ but feel we need another plan in place. he is getting old and i don't think will hold up for the rest of the year on an every day basis.

Posted by: waitingsince75 | December 22, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Nyls does not create shots for himself or his linemates. We win the possession game but don't score off those possessions. I like the guy but...

Posted by: waitingsince75 | December 22, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

IROCK....exactly, other than nyls not giving bang for the buck on the score sheet, I think he's fine in the system, we need players who can hold on to the puck and keep the cycle/possesion going.

Posted by: bryaningrocery | December 22, 2008 4:13 PM | Report abuse

100% agree with Tarik regarding our goaltending. Even with just decent goaltending we'd be much higher up. How many games have we lost when we dominated the opposition for most of the game? It's rightly said that goaltending in hockey is half the team. I watch a ton of NHL games / highlights and Theo has arguably been the worst goalie in the league so far this season.

Brent absolutely took a step back vs. Philly. It doesn't matter that he allowed "only" 3 goals in 2 periods. He had very little work to do, 2 of them were bad and changed the whole course of the game. I've been a big supporter of BJ this year, but he had a bad game there.

As for Theo send him to Hershey already. Maybe he can get his game back there and come back up. He has no confidence now and the team has no confidence in him. There's no point in putting him in. It just hurts the team. Facing AHL competition and working on his game with less pressure just might make him remember how to play.

Posted by: ranndino | December 22, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

something I heard on XM this morning was that the B's might be looking at trading Manny Fernandez in the next two months. I proposed in a post a couple of weeks back that we should try for him since Tim Thomas has solidified himself.

Not goalie related, and also mentioned before but have we put any feelers out to Bouwmeester? Maybe JT, a D-Man, a draft pick, or something for JBoumeester?
I think Vokoun might be on the way out with Anderson performing strong of late also...
Not that I think the cats would let Bouwmeester go to a division rival.

just thoughts...

Posted by: caps28fan | December 22, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

forgot to put...or that anyone would accept JT in a trade right now.... in the Bouwmeester section

Posted by: caps28fan | December 22, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

@ranndino

If we got more scoring chances and second chances off rebounds, then possession is good. But possession without scores coupled with leaky goaltending allows other teams to get ahead without many shots. This is demoralizing. Look at that Phily game; case in point.

What would the score be after two periods in Philly if we scored on only 5% of those shots? We would have had 2 goals already.

Posted by: waitingsince75 | December 22, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Saw on the NHL site that Tampa recalled Ramo. Is Mike Smith hurt? Is Kolzig hurtin? Just curious.

Posted by: Kim-3 | December 22, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Fernandez, Khabibulin, Voukun.

I would take any of these over what we have (JT). Mark my words, if GMGM and BB think we can make a run this year if we have better goaltending, then they will make a move. They won't trade too much that is needed now. But we have enough spare parts to get it done.

Posted by: waitingsince75 | December 22, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Don't have time to read all the comments so someone might have already posted this. Puck Daddy has a long interview with Vik Kozlov done by the same Russian reporter who got Semin to bash Crosby.

http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy/post/Puck-Daddy-chats-with-Viktor-Kozlov-about-Ovechk?urn=nhl,130829

Posted by: ranndino | December 22, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

I dunno about Fernandez...

But I agree, right now, on the other two.

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | December 22, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

@ waitingsince75

A case of mistaken identity there, bud. The name of the commenter is below the post, not above, so you were replying to bryaningrocery, not me.

@ caps28fan

Fernandez would be nice, but I have no idea how we'd swing that. What are we gonna offer in return? Certainly, not JT. If not him then what? And what do we do with him after we get Manny? And how in hell is this gonna work with our salary cap situation? So yeah, the idea is nice, but it would also be great if I found a sack filled with $100 bills in my driveway.

@ Kim-3

Smith quit the team in frustration. The last straw was receiving yet another loss after Colorado was awarded a ridiculous shootout goal as a result of Mike accidentally dropping his stick while making an amazing save.

After a couple of decent games at the start of the season Kolzig has come back down to Earth and has been his current atrocious self.

Kari Ramo is a very good young goalie, but no goalie can help Tampa right now.

OK, just kidding about Mike Smith quitting the team. Judging from his few post game comments recently he'd really like to though. Must suck to be a great goalie on a terrible team.

Posted by: ranndino | December 22, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

@waitingsince75 - Agreed: Khabibulin would make a great second half of a goalie tandem for Johnson. The trick is making Chicago want Nylander badly enough to take JT with him, and that's going to be a tough call.

Yeah, they want Nylander, and Nylander does have a home in Chicago, but right now, it would take a third player on their side to make room for Nylander-Theodore, and a third player on our side to make room for Khabibulin.

Posted by: irockthered | December 22, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

If Semin misses multiple games to injury, is he just "embellishing his dive? (sarcasm)

Anyone think that Arron Asham will get a late Christmas present from the Donald on, oh say, Jan. 6?

I look forward to TEB's story on the goalie situation.

I can tolerate a few losses now if it means a healthy Capitals team in March and April ... and perhaps Varlamov is starting in D.C. by that time?

Posted by: Cerealman | December 22, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Tarik, I'm trying to figure out who doesn't agree with your conclusion about the Caps goaltending: "I think the Caps would be at (or at least close to) the top of the East if they got consistent goaltending on a nightly basis." Clearly we'd be in a runaway if we had a goalie that was consistently good. I've noticed the players seem to lose it when the goalies screw up. They know, the coach knows, GMGM knows, Ted knows. They only question is how to solve the situation. I would give JT60 away if anyone would take him. Package up with Nylander and maybe Fehr and Erskine and get one good D back or one good goalie back (I like Fernandez!) and we're off any running. If not we're going to struggle for the rest of the season, especially with all the injuries.

Posted by: remy117 | December 22, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

BTW, since Tampa ownership treats their club like a fantasy team and makes one stupid trade after another perhaps we could somehow convince them to take JT off their hands and relieve Mike Smith's misery by taking him off their hands.

OK, not going to happen, but imagine Mike Smith as our #1 this year. We'd be close to unbeatable.

Posted by: ranndino | December 22, 2008 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I went to the Bears game last night. As per usual, Varly played out of his mind. Now for the call ups, I'd say Bourque. I know hes small and yet to impress in the bigs, but he was by far the most dominant player out there. Helmer was solid on D and I was very impressed with the rookie Bouchard. Surprisingly, I found that a lot of these guys are not NHL ready, but I do know that theres a couple who should be with us

Posted by: bleedred | December 22, 2008 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Agree with the goaltending -- as does everyone else. But nobody is going to take JT. In fact, I'm having trouble remembering if there was another team, other than the Caps, in the off-season who was even willing to settle on the guy. And let's be honest -- unless a team is slashing and burning salaries... and yes, that can happen... it's going to take a lot more than Fehr and Nyls to get a bonafide # 1 goalie.

Posted by: sinbin | December 22, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Bring up Pokuluk
Bring back Doig, Fortin, Kiwi, Baumgartner and Kucera.

Wait there's more.............

Signing Jozy was a mistake, yet nobody questions the person that signed him.

Keep believin

Posted by: Cheef | December 22, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Great Kozlov interview there

Posted by: Steve_R | December 22, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

@ranndino - Thanks for posting that interview. This is a great quote:

"Let me answer your question this way: We have what we have. Last year maybe the coach, maybe the team itself, maybe the goaltender... But it was something truly special. This feeling of elation will remain for the rest of my life, when we had 13 games left with no margin for error, and in the very last game of the season we clinch the division title and a playoff spot, of course it astounded me. And this year, as they say, the cards were dealt, and to say you don't like a certain card or something like that... We just need to go out there and play. And it would be wrong to say that goalies don't catch the pucks, forwards don't score the goals, and defensemen don't play the game."

Posted by: irockthered | December 22, 2008 4:54 PM | Report abuse

@Cerealman - January 6th is the 12th Day of Christmas. Maybe Brash will give him twelve drummers drumming... in his HEAD!

Posted by: irockthered | December 22, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Kozlov is awesome.

I am scared that he seems open to the idea of playing in Russia next year, though.

Posted by: _jordan | December 22, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

I think that goalie confidence is what is breaking down the team. But as some have pointed out, the team is playing well overall. And man isn't it fun just to watch them? And anyway, don't be a bandwagon fan - love when they are hot and when they're not!

A little off topic but does anyone know when the next Hockey n' Heels is?

Posted by: mikesfan | December 22, 2008 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Concur that we're going to have a hard time finding someone to take Theodore. I think it more likely that he gets either waivered or bought out (leaning towards the former) and ends up in Hershey or even in South Carolina, although I'm not precisely clear on how such things work. I think it unlikely that we see Varlamov again until the playoff push, and that if we do not trade for another goalie.

I'd be happy with either Khabibulin or Manny Fernandez - having watched the Boston/Blues game last night, he was certainly decent. As long as we get a goalie who is Johnson's equal, we'll be fine. Nothing wrong with a goalie tandem, and I think Johnson can handle being half of a tandem nobly. Our problem is that Johnson can't hold up a #1 alone and Jose can't hold up a wet Kleenex.

Agreed that we have the spare parts to be able to dangle them and Nylander for taking Theodore off our hands, though.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 22, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

@IRTR

Well played.

Can't wait to see the Flyers again, but maybe I should be concerned about the health of our team first.

Posted by: Cerealman | December 22, 2008 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Is it time to worry about Carolina and all these injuries?!

Posted by: rachel216 | December 22, 2008 5:21 PM | Report abuse

@rachel216: Maybe, maybe not. Carolina's as banged up as we are, but we have a better farm. Seriously. Our only real issue is our goaltending.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 22, 2008 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Brash is out resting his left "jackhammer". He wore it out and needs a maintenance day after plummeling Cote Sat. afternnon. Hope he is ready to fly with the Rangers on tap for tomorrow.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | December 22, 2008 5:34 PM | Report abuse

brashear was the only cap who really came to play, the rest of his teammates notably a Mr Mike Green should take note.

This team was so much better defensively without Green in the lineup. Trade his dumb @ss

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 22, 2008 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Trade Green?
Uh no..how about just make him a winger?

Posted by: rdy4all2000 | December 22, 2008 5:49 PM | Report abuse

NHL Network is featuring the 1998 Eastern Conference Championship in the classic hockey program tonight.

If you will recall, that was the series where:

1. Hasek threw his blocker pad at Bondra.

2. Bondra scored on Hasek with a blueline bomb.

3. Zednik and Bondra were seemingly the only forwards willing to shoot on Hasek.

4. Brian Bellows!

5. Kolzig stood on his head.

6. Joe Juneau tapped a loose puck past Hasek to secure Washington's appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals.

7 pm CST. Be there.

Posted by: JohninMpls | December 22, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Anybody's watching the Pens tonight?
It's going to be interesting. The Pens HAVE to win, they're actually struggling for a playoffs position believe it or not, but most importantly they're ready to hit the panic button.

If they lose I think Therrien's end is near.

Posted by: mauree | December 22, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse

I'll be watching it tonight, mauree. and I couldn't agree more, with your assessment. It looks to be do or die time for them.

Posted by: elicea | December 22, 2008 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Crosby's 9 game goal drought makes me happy.
Just think a few weeks ago, everyone was saying how he could score 50.

Posted by: rdy4all2000 | December 22, 2008 6:39 PM | Report abuse

@mauree: Yup, I'm going to tune into the Pitt/Buffalo game tonight. Curiously, I'm not entirely sure who to root for. Yes, seeing the Pens lose is seeing the Pens lose, but Friday night'll be easier if Buffalo doesn't have a game in hand come Friday night.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 22, 2008 6:48 PM | Report abuse

This team was so much better defensively without Green in the lineup. Trade his dumb @ss

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 22, 2008 5:40 PM
-------------------------------------------
Nice to see you again. How was your weekend?

Posted by: Section117 | December 22, 2008 7:07 PM | Report abuse

I hate Buffalo.

But I guess I hate Pittsburgh even more.

Go Sabres. Sigh.

Posted by: Cerealman | December 22, 2008 7:09 PM | Report abuse

@mauree: I also concur with the assessment of Pitt. This is must-win for them.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 22, 2008 7:09 PM | Report abuse

i hope varmalov is one of the calls

Posted by: ergoroc | December 22, 2008 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Cote played yesterday while Brash takes day off after his team was humiliated.
Trust me, Cote could have sat out yesterday, he didn't because he has character.

I'd take Cote on my team anyday before Brashear.

Posted by: Cheef | December 22, 2008 2:58
PM

hmm. did the caps play yesterday? cote played because they had a game, super smart guy. you think brash would have sat out if they had an actual game. nice reach. if punching bags are what you want, cote is your man. he had two opportunities to send and even bigger message to his team and opposition, but he ate fists instead.
Go back and watch the Bruins game, there was ONE reason why they won. Goaltending.

Praise to the GM ? You're wrong (as usual) because there is never going to be praise given to Learning on the Job, Disrespecting players, Hiring stupid coaches and obtaining the #1 pick for being the "biggest Loser".

Wait, I suppose signing Jozy makes everything ok ?

Skill ? YES
Contender ? NO

Posted by: Cheef | December 22, 2008 3:03 PM

oh, was the bruins game the first game which allowed goaltending to be part of the game? i dont believe the game ended in a 0-0 tie so i would guess the caps had to score to win. i'm also guessing they had to play a little bit of defense to win too.

please, post when they win a game. i think i'm the only one who really pays attention to your posts anymore because i enjoy pointing out every flaw in your "arguments" (which are never based upon real facts, just five year old issues obviously based upon some grudge or unrequited love affair with the GMGM). perhaps if you posted after one of their many wins, others might find you insights less annoying. i think the team has the third most points in the east and fifth overall.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | December 22, 2008 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Bring up Pokuluk
Bring back Doig, Fortin, Kiwi, Baumgartner and Kucera.

Wait there's more.............

Signing Jozy was a mistake, yet nobody questions the person that signed him.

Keep believin

Posted by: Cheef | December 22, 2008 4:52 PM

who would you have signed to play goal? you seem to have all the answers. please enlighten us mere mortals.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | December 22, 2008 7:25 PM | Report abuse

ps. nobody questioning the signing of jose? read the boards for a couple seconds. everyone is questioning it. the difference between most of them and you is that most folks realize why he didn't want to sign huet for a longer deal given what he had in the wings. there were no other goalies out there except emery and olie. everyone also realized for every jose, there's a semin, green, alzner, varlamov, laich, backstrom, etc. so, what would you have done?

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | December 22, 2008 7:30 PM | Report abuse

I honestly cannot understand why any of you ever respond to the donkey named Cheef.

It is compeltely clear that he is the epitome of what the young folk call a "forum Troll".

There is only one way to deal with a forum Troll - do not respond to them. Just ignore any and every thing that Cheef posts from now on.

Let's go Caps.

Posted by: Snowdog | December 22, 2008 7:33 PM | Report abuse

snowdog, your are correct in your assessment of cheefs troll status. however, i would like to see if he's got the stones to answer to any of his claims. i also am interested in why he so closely follow a team he so obviously has nothing but animosity towards. normally, i'd think someone like him is just posting to get a rise out of others, but his posts are so hateful and so obviously anti-gm that i cant help but feel there is some personal or professional issue between the two...real or imagined.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | December 22, 2008 7:46 PM | Report abuse

There we go again. Poor donkeys. They just don't deserve to be compared to Chafe.

Posted by: _Mark | December 22, 2008 7:47 PM | Report abuse

So, whoever is watching the game... what do you think?

Here's my impression:

1) Interesting start by both teams, playing lots of possession. I may sound repeating but I think the Caps could benefit from alternating furious attacks with these moment of possession.

2) The Pens are suffering from our same disease: lots of skill but nobody in front of the net. I think Ovi is what help us a lot here, Crosby and Malkin seems incapable of carrying a team on their shoulder as only he can do. They also miss a "kozlov" sort of player, capable of defending the puck.
Boy the worse move they could do was let Malone go, he could really plant himself in the crease.

Posted by: mauree | December 22, 2008 7:51 PM | Report abuse

A good thought, mauree. Maybe if we play possession for a little, we might be able to lull them into security. Of course, we've had issues with getting them to shoot too, so it's hard to say which might work.

I still think that there's a lot of ways we can pick it apart, but the gorilla in the living room is still the goaltending. We can't really fairly assess a lot of things until that is hashed out.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 22, 2008 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Gee golly....

ANyone who thinks that Joe Say and Johnny are our goalies of the future is smoking some premium crack. Anyone who thinks that the team you see on the ice this season is the Caps team that will be making the next decade a fun one full of playoffs and maybe a few championships is perhaps very shortsighted. This team is just getting over the rebuilding phase. The pieces are not yet fully in place. give them time. Enjoy this, and we shall be looking back in a few years and smiling at these growing pains.

Posted by: Leeguru | December 22, 2008 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Has anybody mentioned Ben Boudreau's first goal in SC? Congratulations Ben!

http://johnwaltonhockey.blogspot.com/2008/12/boudreau-scores-and-other-rays-news.html

Posted by: uncatim | December 22, 2008 8:26 PM | Report abuse

@Leeguru: I agree, and thank you for saying that. I still think that we're missing just one key piece, and that is the goalie. As good as he looks, I still don't think he's quite ready.

Still, I get these guys who want it all, and want it now, and nothing less than victory will do, because I'm like that myself. Anything less than 100% and anything less than victory isn't good enough for me.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 22, 2008 8:28 PM | Report abuse

2-3 Buffalo. Sabres on the powerplay in the third. Haha, pens have had 0 powerplays.

Posted by: minicoop828 | December 22, 2008 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Well I don't know if this is the worse game for Crosby or Malkin, but I do know that when Ovi is at HIS worse, he's still better than what these two are showing tonight.

Posted by: mauree | December 22, 2008 9:29 PM | Report abuse

OT. Pens are lucky to get a point tonight. They're outshot 35 to 20.

Posted by: mauree | December 22, 2008 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Ot

Posted by: ludeman95 | December 22, 2008 9:35 PM | Report abuse

High

Posted by: ludeman95 | December 22, 2008 9:37 PM | Report abuse

I can't really tell if it was high stick... but as soon as I said that he sucked, Crosby scored lol

Posted by: mauree | December 22, 2008 9:39 PM | Report abuse

That was above, IMHO.

Posted by: elicea | December 22, 2008 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Man crosby must only be 5ft tall because the net is 4 and that stick was at his shoulders

Posted by: ludeman95 | December 22, 2008 9:42 PM | Report abuse

I don't think that was a legit goal. Stick looked high to me.

I hate the Penguins. :D

Posted by: Cerealman | December 22, 2008 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Could some players be overcoached? (is there such a word?). I mean, could the coaches be inhibiting the raw talent of players, like OV for example, by insisting and instilling a different style of play?

I have a hunch that this might be happening to the Caps. It will explain to me Nylander's problem and OV's lack of goal production, to name a couple. European players prefer the "beautiful game", as the Brazilian's might say. BB is more inclined to the shoot-chase-and-something-good-will-happen philosophy. OV is buying into it and his shot placements has suffered, Nylander has been reluctant and his playing time has suffer.

A wild hunch, but what the heck, everyone here is giving some crazy outlandish opinions.

On blaming the goalies. Remember they don't score goals, so the best they can do is preserve the score. The winning has to come from the other five guys ... and there lies the problem, shooting at the goalie a million times is not going to score a goal, you have to shoot at the goal where is not.

Posted by: opita | December 22, 2008 10:17 PM | Report abuse

@Cerealman - The angle we were viewing from caused some distortion of what is "high" and what isn't, but the referee on the ice the last time they showed it didn't wave the goal off, and from what I hear, the replay judges have to prove conclusively that it ISN'T a goal to overrule the referee on the ice.

That said, it looked high to me, but when you factor in the perceptive distortion - it's the sort of thing they use in movies like Lord of the Rings to make one person appear taller than another - it's possible that the stick was low enough, and the goal was good. They need an ice-level camera, behind each net and a couple right along the boards to prove otherwise.

Too bad it was Crosby, but what can we do?

@optia - Overcoaching can happen, but I don't see Boudreau doing it. He's too good a coach to not let players play their natural style. I'm not sure that Ovi's shot placement has "suffered," per se - the man has more goals at this point in this season than he did this time last year. We don't have a problem there.

However, there are days when a goaltender is "on" and there are days when a goaltender is "off". It's coincidence that Johnny had an off day when Niittymaki had an on day like woah, but it happened. We move past it. And Johnny's save percentage is STILL better than Niittymaki's, even with Saturday's game behind them both.

Posted by: irockthered | December 22, 2008 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Bit of news ...

Caps will be wearing white for the home game on the 28th in honor of Gartner:
http://capitals.nhl.com/team/app/?service=page&page=NewsPage&articleid=399583

Interesting article about Kolzig:
http://lightning.nhl.com/team/app/?service=page&page=NewsPage&articleid=399611

Posted by: --Boo-- | December 22, 2008 11:08 PM | Report abuse

OK,

Put Stecks in the game to get the Rangers sick.

Bring Varly back!

Do both...we win for the long term.

Posted by: WCAPS1 | December 22, 2008 11:12 PM | Report abuse

@irockthered
I am with you in your assesment of the goalies. As for my hunch, it is just that.
I agree, BB is a good coach and that he will not do anything intentionally that could affect his team; still, sometimes we do things without realizing it. I have no real basis for my hunch, other than BB's occasional comments that players should shoot more instead of looking for the perfect play, a real contrast between the EU and NA play style, and OV's low goal-to-shooting percentace - his shooting style seems to have changed, to be rushed, to be more like BB's liking.
But as I said, it is just a hunch and I am probably reading more than what it is.

Posted by: opita | December 22, 2008 11:16 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: elicea | December 22, 2008 11:25 PM | Report abuse

@Leeguru....ahh a breath of common sense on this thread. No offense to most...a lot have great points...but as a die-hard CAPS fan since the early 80's...some of you are rediculous.

This attitude of wow we lost so now we might not make the playoffs or the world is going to end, GET OVER IT. This isn't a 16 game football season. You are going to lose a few during the year. Opening day might have been the only day we have played with our full starting lineup...yet we are still in first in the SE and more impressively 3rd in the conference.

Anyone who doesn't think Ted and George have done an incredible job with this team since the lockout just doesn't understand the game. We are at the final stages of re-building. Our goalie choices were Huet or JT, and with Varlamov, JT for 2 years made the most sense.

My take is the a lot of the nah-sayers have just started watching the CAPS over the last couple years if not since last year. Patience is a virtue when building a team from scratch..and we are two years away from being a serious contender like a Detroit. If the breaks go our way in the meantime...we might be able to pull a '98 earlier, but a first round win in the playoffs would be a great statement for our team this year, and would keep us on the path we have been working towards. Just my 2 cents.

Posted by: CapsSkins | December 23, 2008 1:51 AM | Report abuse

@ cstanton1

Wake me up when you say something that isn't stupid and has nothing to do with you fetish-like hate for Mike Green. Did he sleep with your girlfriend or something? Enlighten us please.

Also, Brash was the only one who showed up? Have you even watched the game? They must've gotten the stats wrong. Did Brash have 47 shots on goal in this game all by himself? That must surely be some kind of record.

@ Opita

You brought up a very interesting point. I think about the difference in styles a lot and your analogy to soccer is right on. Europeans (and especially Russians) play hockey like Brazilians play soccer. When they come over here their whole philosophy of how to play the game is turned upside down. I watch both the NHL and the Russian league in all of its incarnations and the things that are praised by coaches in one league will get you benched in the other. The difference in the whole idea of how to play the game is startling. In Russia if you just shoot from everywhere it's considered a dumb thing to do, an unintelligent way to play. Russians are taught to shoot only when they've pulled the goalie out of position to such an extent that he has little chance to make a save. I notice many more KHL goals scored on pretty plays into an empty net, for example. This way of playing is valued, considered superior and a sign of real skill. Dump and chase and shooting from everywhere is considered to be inferior and primitive. On the other hand, in North America I constantly hear coaches talk about how the players should stop trying to be too fancy, just go to the net and get ugly goals. I personally prefer the Russian style, but a combination of the 2 is most effective. Having said that, Ovechkin is not a typical Russian player. In fact, he's an epitome of prototypical Canadian power forward, so I don't think Boudreau has really tried to change his game at all. He pretty much lets Alex do whatever he does well. He even says that in interviews all the time. Also, I'm not sure what you're talking about with regards to Ovechkin's lack of goal production this year. He had a slump, but he's been on fire ever since and has already passed the 20-goal mark.

Posted by: ranndino | December 23, 2008 3:12 AM | Report abuse

To follow up on what I said. This is what made the path of many Europeans and Russians so hard, especially in the early days. Imagine coming to another country and experiencing culture shock not just off the ice, but also on it. All of a sudden you're being told the opposite of what you've been told since you started playing hockey as a little kid. You try to play the way you were taught to play for 20 years and you get yelled at and benched. Now they're telling you that the way you were taught NOT to play is the way they want you to play so you pretty much have to re-learn everything. Fortunately, there was a forward thinking team like the Red Wings who let their Russians play the way they were taught to and their success slowly convinced other coaches to change open up their mind.

Posted by: ranndino | December 23, 2008 3:27 AM | Report abuse

Anyone who thinks that Boudreau is not influencing how Ovie plays knows nothing about the game played at this level. The game BB plays is very simple... get the puck to the O zone ASAP. What do you think the D throw the puck as hard as they can along the board from their zone? It's because they know that a player is standing somewhere between the red line and the O blue line and will either catch the puck, or tip it to the end zone, avoiding an icing. You then forecheck the puck and try to gain control in the offensive zone.
That also explains, to a certain degree why Ovie has so many shots; he attacks by himself alone so often because Backstrom throws the puck at him 1 to 2 zones away and can not join any offensive rush. If you don't believe me, please watch next game.
I love tha Caps but the only entertaining hockey they provide are Ovie's rush and the play in the O zone when they have control.
Other than that, Caps are awful in the transition game and have definite weaknesses in the D zone. GMGM has still some work to do before the Caps can be a contender if one looks at the game in an unbiased fashion.
As for Nylander, BB obviously doesn't see him in his system. Nylander plays a European-style passing game. To put him with Clark at the beginning of the season told the whole story of what BB has in store for Nyls.
I don't think BB is an outstanding coach but I would say he is a good one. He build a system that would suit his best player and give him wins.

Posted by: atybat | December 23, 2008 9:11 AM | Report abuse

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