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Caps Return To Practice

But they are minus several players this morning at KCI. Just took a quick count and I don't see Tom Poti, Mike Green, Alexander Semin, David Steckel or Donald Brashear.

Poti, of course, tweaked a groin muscle in Philly; Green still is battling a sore shoulder; Semin has a back issue; and Brashear got into a couple of fights with Flyers' tough guy Riley Cote, so perhaps he's nursing something as a result; Not what's wrong with Steckel.

Chris Clark and Jeff Schultz, the two long term injured players, are out there. Sergei Fedorov and John Erskine are also out, but that's not a surprise.

More later.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  December 22, 2008; 10:05 AM ET
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Next: Caps' Injury Situation Worsens


Brashear is probably out because of the slash on his leg.

Posted by: SA-Town | December 22, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

It did not look like cote is as much a tough guy as he thinks he is.

The Caps need to do some major healing.

Posted by: uncatim | December 22, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Ouch so many injured :(

from the previous thread: It's good to put that lost past us, but it's wrong to dismiss it just as a great performance by Nitty.

A lesson should be learned: we don't have anyone that can stay consistently in the crease with a team like Philly. Laich can try but he's not very good at it... he's mostly taking a beat (when he really wants to try). What we'd like is a Hartnell, or Malone, or that breed, people that can't be pushed around. We don't have that, so we need our big guys (Brash, Steckel, Ferh) to practice that over and over.

You can make a thousand shots but if the goalie can see them all, and if there is no one there for the rebound, any goalie will look like a wall. And that's why we lost. There were so many juice rebounds, but Philly does an incredible job at clearing the crease, plus we're not that good in staying in it.

This is not really a problem in the regular season but it will become a problem in the playoffs.... or with a team like Philly.

Last point I want to make about last loss: you have to give Philly some credit. It wasn't just their goalie, they're a good team, they're fast, they don't give up, they are physical (but not dirty this year), they get it done.

It was very cool to see them pressured so much in their end zone :D but don't forget that they destroyed us 7-1. Too little to show for a game against a legit SC contender.

Posted by: mauree | December 22, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Yes, we are banged up. I think there's several people that need to be put on LTIR because of reinjuries - Semin, Erskine, Fedorov, Poti all come to mind. I think that's the only way to keep them off the ice long enough to recover fully. We won't have a prayer in hell in the playoffs if these guys don't sit down and heal now.

Is it posssible to bring guys up from hershey to deal with injuries during the roster freeze?

Posted by: kittypawz | December 22, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

From previous post

I believe the World Juniors games are being aired on the NHL Network, if you are lucky enough to have it.

Posted by: _Mark | December 22, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

I hope I'm wrong, but its really looking like Green was hurt more than he said on thursday, probably shouldn't have been playing friday -he definitely shouldn't have been asked to play 29 minutes. I hope the staff can keep him out of the games long enough to actually heal.

Posted by: finnmeg | December 22, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Unleash Hershey on the New York Rangers.

Here we go again....

Posted by: SA-Town | December 22, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I guess we need to keep an eye on Toskala's groin for Sunday.

Posted by: uncatim | December 22, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

@SA-Town: Why not? It's as good an option as any right now.


@mauree: Don't entirely agree on the crease-clearing. We had cases where we picked up two or three rebounds and he STILL saved them all. 48 shots on goals tells that tale pretty clearly. I was at the game and I watched. We had guys in the crease. It just wasn't meant to be. By the latter half of the game we just gave up. I stand by my assessment.

Do concur that Flash and Fehr need to crash the crease more. The other person who should crash the crease is Brashear - he's a huge guy and you can't move him once he does. When he crashes the crease, good things happen - and he's in the middle of any resulting scrum, which to my mind is all to the good because it keeps the opposing team honest.

But we've got to move on and look at the Rangers game, and frankly, with all the injuries, it is not looking all that rosy. Unleash the Hershey, indeed.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 22, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Absolutely right, Mark. The NHL network is available as part of the $14.99 sports package that also includes the NFL network, some FSN college channels, and some other crap I don't watch.

I occasionally get to catch a Terps game on FSN, but I'm basically just paying $15 to catch all the Caps games that aren't on Center Ice.

Posted by: JohninMpls | December 22, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I wish it was the playoffs already.

Posted by: _jordan | December 22, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse


Unleash Hershey on the New York Rangers.

Here we go again....

So what? The team is deep. Over the last 3 years...

Red Wings - 25 players
Ducks - 26 players
Canes - 25 players

This year the 26 players have played on the Caps (not including Pothier or Brett Leonhardt.

I'm not saying the Caps are going to win the Cup this year. I'm just trying to make a point, that most teams that win the Cup need to utilize players in their system.

Posted by: Yoshietree | December 22, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse


It's more of a frustration with the constant injuries...not a lack of confidence in the farm.

Posted by: SA-Town | December 22, 2008 11:05 AM | Report abuse

26 players seems a litle short to me. I am sure someone has the numbers right at hand, but I was thinking 28 or 29. Could just be me though.

Posted by: _Mark | December 22, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Bourque, Sloan, Helmer, Collins, Varlamov, Lepisto, Osala, Mink, Alzner to name most of the guys that were not on the opening night roster and have played a game or more.

Posted by: _Mark | December 22, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

tarik, please clarify. you noted:

Chris Clark and Jeff Schultz, the two long term injured players, are out there. Sergei Fedorov and John Erskine are also out, but that's not a surprise.

do you mean that clark and schultz are out there practicing but feds and erskine are not? thanks.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | December 22, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

And the other Alex, Giroux.

Posted by: _Mark | December 22, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: _jordan | December 22, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse


ok I trust your judgement since you were at the game (and well, you're very knowledgeable). What I meant is, not only we need to be in the crease, but be a pain in the arse. From the tv it seemed that they tried, but were pushed away (but will believe you if you say otherwise). Also yeah, we got some rebounds, but I clearly remember so many shots with juicy rebounds and *crickets chirping* there.

Anyway, agreed on moving on. Tomorrow's game is HUGE actually, and it really sucks if we play depleted once again. Attention please! The Rangers are a solid second in the conference.

Posted by: mauree | December 22, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

The Rangers are 5-5-0 in their last 10 and would probably not be in the top three if it weren't for the shootout.

Posted by: _jordan | December 22, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

People keep saying how the Philly D played bad.

Do you realize that at one point HALF of our shots were on the powerplay? Mostly all were from the outside with little or NO rebound shots. Their D played well when they needed to. They limited our 2nd opportunities and did not allow our guys in front of the net.

Please, get off the whole slash to Brashear thing. He did get away with a bit of a boarding penalty when he took a run on that penalty call. He got a roughing call for the scrum that ensued.

I think some Caps fans live in a fantasy land when it comes to our opponents. Cote, although not bigger than Brashear can fight, and fight well. Laroque called him the toughest guy in the league last year and Brashear also gave him some credit for his ability. The first fight Brashear was able to get his left free and thats it. The 2nd fight was more even.

We lost, we had 48 shots on goal but a good majority of them were from the outside, and as Mauree said, the goalie could see them.

We have a lot of work to do if we are going to compete late into the playoffs

Posted by: rdy4all2000 | December 22, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

@mauree: Thanks :) I was in the upper level RIGHT behind the Caps goal in the second row, which was pretty cool and would have been cooler if I didn't have a leaner in front of me. *rolls eyes*

True that sometimes someone wasn't home for those, but the Flyers couldn't keep the puck for sh*t - passes constantly being picked off all over the ice. It was a relentless onslaught and amazing to watch. Sometimes they were home, but we did keep trying to go through the glove side instead of passing to the short side and trying a backdoor.

@_jordan: I DON'T (((O.O))) Can you imagine living from January to September with no hockey?

Posted by: kittypawz | December 22, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse


I suppose you're right. I'll change my wish to wish that this team could friggin get healthy all at once. Depth is great and all and I love Hershey, but it would be nice to see what this team can actually do with a healthy Semin, Green, and Fedorov playing.

Posted by: _jordan | December 22, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse


Are you really comparing a boarding to a blatent slash to the ankle? Im not buying that one.

Also, Philly's D couldnt get the puck out of their zone to save their life, so to give them credit for playing a good containment game is not sitting with me. The shots were not just from the outside...They were one timers, and tick tack passes that were ending up as rockets on Nitty. We could of crashed the net more, but in my opinion when we did, we ended up in the net ourselves.

Posted by: SA-Town | December 22, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Oh, as for the number of players we've dressed, let's go through the list.

Forwards: Ovi, Backs, Semin, Nyls, Flash, Fehr, Feds, Laich, Gordon, Bradley, Brash, Steckel, Mink, Bourque, Giroux, Aucoin (16)

Defense: Poti, Green, Morrisson, Jurcina, Erskine, Schultz, Helmer, Collins, Sloan, Lepisto, Alzner (11)

Goal: Theodore, Johnson, Varlamov (3)

I count thirty skaters, and I have a feeling I missed one. Thank God we've got as many NHL-ready guys as we do.

Hey Tarik, what's the status on Sloan and Semin?

So, let's say for a minute that everybody not on the ice today doesn't play against the Rangers. What do our lines look like?

Posted by: kittypawz | December 22, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Oh. wait. I did miss one. How could I forget? Leonhardt! So, four goalies for thirty-one skaters.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 22, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: _jordan | December 22, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

@ kittypawz forgot Chris Clarke and Osala, so that's 18 forwards. 32 players seeing ice-time. I think that covers everyone...

...this is nuts.

Posted by: dcox50 | December 22, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

@_jordan: Now that I can get behind. But I don't have to have them right now -- I'd rather have them in the playoffs when it counts. :) Let's put 'em on the shelf and get 'em healthy and ready to go.

Varlamov/Leonhardt for the playoffs! (Sorry, had to. Yes, I'm kidding. Mostly.)

Posted by: kittypawz | December 22, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

from the previous, previous:

I agree that Jose has flashes of brilliance, but they are just flashes. We need consistency. While Johnny is not a "great" goalie, he is relatively consistent. Just look at their numbers - they tell the entire story. I was hoping that Johnny and Varlamov playing well would light a fire under Jose, but I did not see it in the last game. Granted, maybe that's not fair - it was his first game back and only the third period of a lost game. However, if he does not bring it next time, I am pretty much done with him.

RE: a road trip, I am all for it but just can't do it in January. Besides, I'm not sure that I would want to drive that far up north that time of year. I grew up in the great white north - I know what it's like there in January! :-) But you kids have fun - count me in next time!

With the exception of ralCapsFan (well, the first time, anyway), the rest of those guys were kidding ... please tell me you were, too? After all, mauree outed me a loooong time ago! :-)

Posted by: Boo- | December 22, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

We only ended up in the net from a D man finishing his check.

Yeah, they had trouble clearing the puck, big deal but whats that get you when the goalie can see the puck? I'd take some of Philly's D any day over the Defensive play we have going on most nights. You can have all the tick tack toe passes and one timers you want but if nobody is sitting on the goalie's lap, its all for nothing.

And yeah, I comparing a boarding call to a slash to the ankle. IMO it was a pretty dirty play by Brashear when he KNEW a penalty was already coming. He has a habit of doing stupid things out there. That was one of them that could've really cost the team some time short handed and by the way their PP was clicking, thats not what I would want to see. Ive seen less get called 5 min and game.

Ive accepted the fact that this team needs a TON of work in order to be the force it can be. Play like we have seen will not get us out of the 1st round of the playoffs.
Take a team like NJ for example, how many 1st round exits have we seen from them in recent years? plenty. Why? Because they play a great regular season game but when it comes down to the dirty play in the trenches, they fail because they are not built for that.
Brooks Laich can get to the front of the net, he is the ONLY one who does. Clark used to, but we havent seen that in the games he has appeared in this year.

Look where Philly's goals were scored? With the exception of the 1st 2, the rest were scored from in close, within 5 feet of the net. Heck, our deflections were even made from outside the faceoff dots. It just seems that not enough players are willing to pay the price in front

Posted by: rdy4all2000 | December 22, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Actually, that's 33, dcox, if we count Leonhardt in goal. 33 skaters dressed before Christmas. *headshake* Just insane. How close are we to the franchise record for that, Tarik?

Posted by: kittypawz | December 22, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: WhyGo | December 22, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse


Bobby Clark builds the team in Philly with toughness because thats what the Philly fans demand. Toughness up front is something we need for sure, and Im not going argue with that.

We can still light teams up with skill and speed though. The Flyers always cry about the calls they get on them, yet they preach that brand of tough hockey. If you dont bury teams like the Flyers on the Power Play, you will not win.

Posted by: SA-Town | December 22, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

To those complaining about shots from the outside on the power play:

At least they were shooting.

Posted by: _jordan | December 22, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse


I didn't count Leonhardt because he didn't play. But you're right, this is insane. I, along with thousands of other Caps fans, shake our heads with you on this one.

Posted by: dcox50 | December 22, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I agree, but our brand of hockey isn't made for a deep playoff run. You kill speed with contact. You kill finesse with brute force. Prime example is the Habs last season. What happened when they met Philly in the 2nd round? Lost badly. Heck they might have been swept if not for one of those penalty calls against that you only get when you play Montreal.

We've got plenty of finesse but not enough brute force. When it comes to playing in May and June, take a look at the faces of those guys, they look as if they've been through wars. We've got to get dirty and we've got to teach guys like Semin and Backstrom to pay a price to make a play. Although, if someone breathes on Semin, he might break.

Posted by: rdy4all2000 | December 22, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Any sign of Varlamov out there? That'd be sweet. Theodore won't be any good until the year his contract is up.

Posted by: Stu_c | December 22, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

rdy4all2000 clearly didn't watch the playoffs last year, where Semin was our best player and was routinely throwing his body around and mixing it up with whatever Flyer would try to push him.

And Backstrom doesn't have to 'pay the price' to make a play, because he's a smart, and very aware player. Just because a guy doesn't get buried all the time doesn't mean he's not willing to 'pay the price.'

Posted by: _jordan | December 22, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Im using these guys merely as examples.
Until I see it on a consistent basis from them, they need to be taught to do it.

So what Semin did it for 7 games? Out of 89..not counting games missed to injuries.

Backstrom all but disappears when OV isnt on. You make your own breaks out there. And if the other half of your tandem isnt performing, you better be willing to get your hands dirty because the puck isnt going to just come to you.

Posted by: rdy4all2000 | December 22, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

"We've got to get dirty and we've got to teach guys like Semin and Backstrom to pay a price to make a play"

Did you watch the playoffs last year?? Semin and Backstrom were the first to adjust.

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

@dcox50: True. But still, over thirty skaters before Christmas is just NUTS. Thank God we've got the organization we do - pulling that off and still being atop the Southeast is no small feat!

The willingness to crash the net and be a pain in the butt is why I'm liking della Rovere more every time I read about him. He and John Carlson are the two picks that I'm looking forward to the most, although Joel Broda answers the bell too.

Am I wrong/insane to want us to start Leonhardt, just once, just for the hell of it, just to see what happens? I know it's not likely to happen, but ... a girl can dream!

@Boo: No, actually, I didn't know. Must've missed that somewhere down the line. :)

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

If BJ were hurt and the Bears were stuck in a blizzard in Michigan

Id say start Leonhardt over JT..why not..heck, 3 goals is 3 goals

Posted by: rdy4all2000 | December 22, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I understand the need to "season" Varlamov in the minors, but If he is stopping pucks at the NHL level; isn't it just as well to "season" him in the NHL?

Posted by: lylewimbledon | December 22, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

@lylewimbledon - No, it isn't the same. Unfortunately, all you have to do is look at goaltenders who were brought up too fast/early and watch their careers implode to know that the AHL is the place to season goaltenders. We have seen this in the history of the Caps as well as in the NHL as a whole.

Posted by: irockthered | December 22, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

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