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Caps' record run at home ends in shootout

Alex Ovechkin snapped out of his "slump" and the Capitals launched a season high 52 shots on the Stars' net tonight. But they came up short in the shootout for three reasons, in order: 1) Marty Turco was the best player on the ice; 2) two third period penalties; and 3) Semyon Varlamov still hasn't regained his pre-injury form.

Check out my game story on the Caps' 13-game home winning streak coming to an end, then come on back for a few notes and quotes:

*Ovechkin had not scored in six games coming in. But with two goals and 10 shots, he more than made up for lost time with what was probably his best performance (NHL or Olympics) since his hat trick vs. Pittsburgh a month ago.

In fact, I believe Stephane Robidas is still looking for Ovechkin on his second goal, which came with 3:16 remaining in regulation and forced the game into overtime. The timely tally also moved him into a tie with Sidney Crosby for the league lead in goals (44).

*As good as Ovechkin was, however, Turco was better. The 34-year-old veteran made a career-high 49 saves, including 40 in the first in the first 40 minutes.

"We don't have the talent to match up with them line for line, player for player," said Stars center Brad Richards. "So that's when some nights it should be called 'goalie' not 'hockey'."

Tonight was one of those nights.

*If the Caps didn't have enough to deal with because of Turco's occasionally unconscious performance, they shot themselves in the foot early in the third. The combination of poorly timed penalties by Mike Green and Matt Bradley - plus a 25th-ranked penalty kill that didn't even look that good - cost them two goals in the span of 3:16.

The Stars' 19th ranked power play, by the way, finished 2 for 2.

*The third goal, though, was on Varlamov, and I suspect he would say as much. The rookie, who lost his first game at home to drop to 8-0-1, stopped all 16 shots he faced in the first two periods. But then he yielded three goals during a six shot span in the third. That's 13 goals on 83 shots since returning from the Olympics.

A lot can change over the final 16 games, but Varlamov, obviously, needs to get his game together if he wants to be the No. 1 in the playoffs. Because if the season ended today, that job would belong to Jose Theodore, no questions asked.

*One final thought: How great was the shot of Turco after he was knocked over by Alexander Semin in the shootout? For those of you who do not get Versus (like the Elbashirs, who foolishly thought the network's feud with DirecTV would be over BY MARCH), Turco, seated on his bottom, looked directly into the in-goal camera, shrugged and rolled his eyes as if to say, "What the heck was that?"

Practice tomorrow is 11:30 at KCI, where I suspect the Caps will be working on the PK.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  March 9, 2010; 12:07 AM ET
 
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Next: Ovechkin, Knuble take day off

Comments

That Turco look was priceless. Guess he didn't see that SO move coming from Semin...

Posted by: Pbonds | March 9, 2010 12:23 AM | Report abuse

The PK is a real problem. I think I'd rather have a below average PP and an elite PK than our current situation, esp. given our success at even strength and the importance of defense in the playoffs.

Belanger should help at the point but I'm not sure Corvo will make much of a difference.

I think a lot of things will have to happen for the Caps to overcome this weakness in the playoffs.

-the coaches making the right adjustments during the remainder of the regular season and into the playoffs (tactical, personnel, etc...)
-our PKers simply taking it to another level in terms of effort and sacrifice
-great goaltending
-committing less penalties than our opponents
-plenty of good luck
-a successful PP to counter any excessive PK failure
-etc...

A poster in the previous thread (Gould23) pointed out that the last team to win the cup with a PK efficiency below 80% was the Penguins in '92.

He also pointed out that only one cup-winning team since '92 has given up more goals per game than the league average (the Canes in '06). I'm not sure what the league average is this season but we're problem giving up right around it.

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 9, 2010 12:43 AM | Report abuse

My recommendation for the first three shooters to use for a shootout, not necessarily in that order: Ovi, Backstrom, Knuble. I can't understand why Knuble was not used. And certainly didn't understand why they used B Mo so soon. (He should be used after Green and Laich.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | March 9, 2010 12:44 AM | Report abuse

The Caps looked good today, for all but part of the third. The lines were all clicking, and I was especially impressed by Semin - I think his slump is nearly over. The only real breakdowns were the PK and Varly giving up that third goal.

Posted by: timmyv38 | March 9, 2010 12:45 AM | Report abuse

For the shootout, there are a few people I would use before Ovie. Semin, Backstrom, and Laich are probably the 3 best - although I don't know how Belanger is, never seen him in a shootout. For whatever reason, Ovie is really bad at shootouts and penalty shots - I would not use him unless it went 5 rounds minimum.

Posted by: timmyv38 | March 9, 2010 12:48 AM | Report abuse

Carlson looked really good tonight, very confident. Boudreau using him so much in the OT really said something, imo.

Posted by: BACKS | March 9, 2010 12:52 AM | Report abuse

@timmyv38

I hate to not have Ovi as one of the first three shooters in a shootout since he's Ovi. But he is bad in shootouts, I must admit.

Lately, Semin hasn't been good in shootouts either so I've been recommending leaving him out of the first 3 as well.


Posted by: CapsFan75 | March 9, 2010 12:53 AM | Report abuse

@tmac: We are at almost the league average exactly in goals/game, very similar to Pitt last year. You and me are on the same page re: worried about the PK. Just one more set of numbers, then I'm going to bed, but just looked up playoff PK stats on nhl.com, altho they only go back to 1998. Every Cup winner since 1998, except Pitt last year, had a playoff PK of at least 85 percent. Pitt was 83.3. So we've got work to do.

Posted by: Gould23 | March 9, 2010 12:55 AM | Report abuse

oops, should have said we are at league aveerage goals AGAINST per game.

Posted by: Gould23 | March 9, 2010 12:57 AM | Report abuse

Carlson looked really good tonight, very confident. Boudreau using him so much in the OT really said something, imo.

Posted by: BACKS | March 9, 2010 1:00 AM | Report abuse

@BACKS

You obviously did not see BB's post-game. He thought Carlson was not up to par in his own zone. Shrugged and suggested that he is here to stay and that he would give him minutes regardless. Clearly not a ringing endorsement, at all. If this was a playoff game, Jurcina would play instead of Carlson.

Posted by: Political_Stratgst | March 9, 2010 1:19 AM | Report abuse

Carlson did look great. He was moving the puck well, playing good defense, and I loved how he stood up for himself at the end of regulation. I hope he is a full-time Cap next season.

Posted by: timmyv38 | March 9, 2010 1:20 AM | Report abuse

CapsFan75, I do agree with you. But my view on shootout is, put in the guys who are best at it. Backstrom is probably the best on the Caps, but neither Semin or Ovie has ever had much success - 31% and 28%, if I remember right. I don't know if we have any other players who usually do well on shootouts - but I wouldn't be surprised if BMo could.

Posted by: timmyv38 | March 9, 2010 1:26 AM | Report abuse

@timmyv38

I recall Kozlov used to be good at shootouts.

Frankly, hardly any one on the Caps is good at shootouts, except Nicky B.

B Mo just hasn't been hitting anything lately so my confidence level in him for shootouts is also down.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | March 9, 2010 1:29 AM | Report abuse

@Gould23

Our goals against total is close to the Penguins. Actually, we've given up a small number less than they have.

I still am paranoid about meeting the Pens in the playoffs.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | March 9, 2010 1:32 AM | Report abuse

PARANOID? It's smart hockey sense!!! Sweat the PENS. It's healthy

Posted by: broud0 | March 9, 2010 1:51 AM | Report abuse

Damn, finally got to see a game on VS and we lose. Seemed to me that Turco mostly won it although the Caps also chocked. Seemed to be a little laissez-faire to start the third as if they could just show up and Dallas would wilt. Didn't happen. Have to say both those penalties in the third were of the ticky tack variety. Same old NHL where if one team has had a penalty kill or two the other team will get the next call regardless of whether it is really deserved. Never understood NHL officiating. To me, it has the be the easiest to officiate of all the major sports and it's officiating is probably the worst with the NBA a close second.

Posted by: rphilli721 | March 9, 2010 3:05 AM | Report abuse

I only watched second period, things looked good, then I got to work and saw the score. Wth happened?!

As for pens playoffs, Bring them on early. I want a Stanley cup for Washington that drills through Pittsburgh

Posted by: trunkenmath | March 9, 2010 5:42 AM | Report abuse

Reality is that Varly has firmed his claim to #2 by not showing what everyone saw last year and expected to see this year. I am volunteering to drive Carlson back to Hershey - some of his passes looked liked he was playing for Dallas - he definitely is not ready for this stretch run, maybe next year. Green could step it up a notch or two and Corvo not comfortable with the BB system was way out of position too many times. Turco was amazing throughout the game and especialy in the SO.

Posted by: rockdaredlangely | March 9, 2010 6:28 AM | Report abuse

@trunkenmath

We won't be getting the Penguins in the playoffs -- until Round 3. And that's, of course, assuming that both teams win both Round 1 and Round 2.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | March 9, 2010 6:31 AM | Report abuse

Very entertaining game. I thought we were going to win it OT. Dallas was very lucky Turco was on top of his game. I really can't stand shootouts plus we're not that good at them. I know BB likes to reward guys for their good play by giving them a chance during the shootout but Ovechkin is not good at shootouts, we all know that. Why does he still put him out there? It would've been nice to have Flash for the shootout. I wondered why Varly played instead of Theo. BB is always saying he's waiting for one of these guys to take the #1 spot and run with it. Theo is clearly emerging as the #1 guy. He needs to be playing every night unless there's a back to back. He's earned the right to be starting probably every night. It's almost like BB is forcing it upon Varlamov to play better and get back into the goalie race but he just doesn't look comfortable and that third goal a really bad goal to let in. That was all on him. Theo just got a shutout the game before, I can't see how you don't start him. He always says he likes to get into a rhythm. I just couldn't see why Theo didn't start last night.

Posted by: rachel216 | March 9, 2010 6:43 AM | Report abuse

@rockdaredlangely

Surprised you haven't offered to bring back Neuvirth after dropping off Carlson at Hershey.

(I'd say, give Varly another couple of starts and if he hasn't gotten it together by then, we use Theo as our #1.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | March 9, 2010 6:51 AM | Report abuse

Studies have shown that faceoffs aren't a great determinant in overall winning.

Intuitively I would disagree but the data doesn't lie.

Here are a couple of great article on this:
http://www.fearthefin.com/2009/11/11/1125724/the-importance-of-faceoffs

http://www.puckprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=101

...

Posted by: Rocc00

Well, that's what you get when you buy into statistical information. I don't buy it! I don't care how many studies you post faceoff wins are important. It is a puck possession game end of story.

Here is one of my arguments:
Think of how many times Backstrom won the faceoff to Ovechkin who went on to score right off the faceoff. It has happened several times. Some of those were game tying or game winning goals. If you examined the overall performance of face off wins for the game there will be some games in which the Caps won fewer than 50% of the faceoffs, but that faceoff win sure was important wasn't it?

What about when you're in the d zone and win the faceoff and clear the zone? Or you're on the PK and win the draw and clear the zone?

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | March 9, 2010 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Well, that's what you get when you buy into statistical information. I don't buy it! I don't care how many studies you post faceoff wins are important. It is a puck possession game end of story.

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | March 9, 2010 7:50 AM |

To add to that- or perhaps just go a little to the side with it- the faceoffs that are important (PP, PK, late in the game, etc.) are REALLY important. Especially with someone like Ovi on your team- who can 1-time it from a great face off win to seal the deal.

Posted by: Fro_ | March 9, 2010 8:12 AM | Report abuse

The Caps PK has three major problems in my mind: if you put out Semin and Backs, the best t(1) two pk'ers, who takes the draw? Neither is very good. If Gordo and Stecks take the draw, who plays defense -- neither is very good at the moment. And Semin and Backs are exhausted for 5v5 and PP. (2) Who clears out the crease and can skate/stick-handle? Sexy lumberjack can clear the crease, but skate and stick-handle, not so much. (3) Varly is not seeing the puck well right now: before the injuries, it was a beachball, now its a pinball for him. Jose is playing very well, but Varly needs the practice in games. I hope Belanger can help out the pk big time because he can help solve #1. As for number 2, the Caps are screwed until the trade deadline is over.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | March 9, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse

rachel216,

I agree. It also seems to me like BB is trying to push Varly for number 1. Personally, I think it's time to say the Varly experiment is over. The kid looked good last year and earlier this season. He sat out a long time and he still may not be 100%, however, he doesn't need to be playing up here and messing up the team. The push is on for the playoffs, Theo is clearly #1 so far and has played well. If the Caps want Varly back on track, they need to have him playing his butt off in Hershey and have Neuvirth up here as backup. It seems Theo has gotten his focus back and I think we can ride him through the rest of the season and into the playoffs. Varly has looked shaky in all the games he's played since his injuries. But, he shouldn't be rehabbing with the big team. That will put the Caps at a disadvantage every time. Caps had that game last night and should have won it.

Posted by: Puckdawg69 | March 9, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse

I didn't mention it, but my response about faceoffs was in reference to a post from a previous thread.

Concerning last night's game:

I thought Varly was back until that 3rd goal. He's getting there, but at this point you'd have to go with Theodore if the playoffs started today. Notice that I'm calling him Theodore instead of Threeormore. He's earned it just as he earned the moniker Threeormore.

Greenie, watch the turnovers buddy, especially late in the game. I don't have a heart condition, but some Caps fans do. :) Corvo, when the guy entering the defensive zone is covered by your partner don't help him out, stay on your side where you're supposed to be.

PK - no need to expand it is an area that must be addressed by everyone, coaches, players, like I say everyone.

Erskine and Carlson, please quit playing patty cake with the puck in your own zone. :) Instead of passing it back and forths to one another get the puck out of the zone. Note: I'm referring to a sequence in the 1st period when they got hemmed in.

I like our team, I like our players and I want to see them succeed in the playoffs and win you know what. I'm not trying to rag on them I'm just pointing out some improvements I'd like to see before the playoffs.

I don't want to sound all doom and gloom. There are good things to be taken from this game. Ovie coming out of his slump, some good defensive play, some good offensive play. Talk about being hemmed in, the Caps had the Stars hemmed in for long stretches.

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | March 9, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Let's look at the facts, Varly won an NHL playoff series (the first in 10 years for the Caps). Neuvy has not played in one NHL playoff game (the AHL playoff experience is nowhere close to that of the NHL). The gamble should be to keep Varly, an experienced playoff goalie, as backup and help him get his legs back. I agree that Theo should get the #1. IMO he's done everything necessary to earn it.

Posted by: LloydChristmas | March 9, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Hockey is such a weird sport, I thought the Caps looked as good as Ive seen them in the past 15 games except for maybe that Buffalo game where we played nearly a flawless game. The Caps have played MUCH worse than last night and have won many times this year, so its only fitting that we dominate and lose once in awhile - atleast we get a point. It pains me to say it but Varly is not even close to what he was last year and I fear that he wont be til next year perhaps.

Posted by: Redskins2Win | March 9, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

As painful as it was to lose about being up 2-0 in the third period, it is fair to note that we have lost only once in regulation the past (almost) two month!! Yes, we had "The Streak" and there was that Oly thing, but you can see why we have been racking up the points this year. We still have 9 of 15 remaining games at home. The only team that has a chance of catching us in the East (for #1 seed) is Pitt.

Nice to see Ovi back on top in goals.

Posted by: rjma1 | March 9, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

According to BB at this point no one is being scratched because of bad play--he is just rotating the players in and out. Except for our top six--he's just experimenting with who centers Laich and Semin. Belanger is looking pretty good with them IMO.

Since the trade BB has said that he is experimenting with new line combos and to get the new guys used to his system, but that he will have the lines set for the last push to the playoffs.

Same with goalies tho' Theo at the moment pretty much has the no. 1 position. But BB has said he will alternate them in order to get Varly back into game form, and that Neuvy will play in Hershey to stay in game form as backup.

The key word here is depth. Injuries will happen during the playoffs but we now have players to fall back on.

And with Ovi finding his magic touch with the puck again, all is right with the world.

(Except for the PK--methinks that might be the area they work on in practice.)

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | March 9, 2010 8:34 AM | Report abuse

With such a great scoring team and Theodore looking great in goal, the PK continues to be a huge issue. The Caps are very passive on the PK. Teams enter the zone easily with no resistance. Nobody goes after the guy with the puck and awful PP teams like TB, look amazing against our PK. It has gotten ridiculous frankly and I put this one on the coaching. You have to make the players attack the puck, stand up players at the blue line and hit on the PK. Right now it is completely unacceptable.

Posted by: EricinMD | March 9, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Another point--we don't really want a second long winning streak. Then the attention is all on the streak. I'd rather they work on the special teams and the defensive end of the game and on line chemistry and make a strong push for the playoffs with them hopefully peaking right then.

So if we had to lose, I don't care much that it's to Dallas. Got to give Turco his due. He stole that game from the Caps and they were able to capitalize in the third, much the way we did when the Caps were so outplayed by Detroit. Theo stole that game for us and the word used by their coach to describe our team was--opportunistic.

I care a lot more about the games with Chicago and Pittsburgh.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | March 9, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Somebody's probably already said it, but it's becoming painfully obvious that the PK just can't/won't get it done without Laing in there, please please please BB, put Lainger back in, he'll give it his all and probably leave a little blood and some teeth out there on the ice in order to block shots and disrupt the PP. He's the consummate role player and team guy, sensing the PK needs a big shot of that right now. Oh, and Varly could use some time in Hershey to get his head and game sorted out, I see only upside to bringing Neuvy back up for a while (or the duration).

Posted by: Evangelicalssuck | March 9, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe nobody has mentioned that in the Video clip above, they picked the exact point where Bruce looks like he's picking his nose before you press play

Posted by: PonMan | March 9, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

And winning faceoffs is key IMO.

That's why Flash wasn't working as center on the second line by the end of the streak--his faceoff percentages were poor. He may well be a good center for the Caps in the future once he improves that aspect of his game. But not for the second line during the playoffs. I expect we will see the most changes for the third and fourth lines.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | March 9, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

I think both Ovi and Semin in shootouts is an issue - if either have an issue - because both are dominant because they explode on goaltenders, Semin with the wristers and Ovi with pure power and the quick shot, and the shootout isn't really in-tune with those styles. Backs is going to be better because he settles quite a bit more and his controlled game is stronger. Having said that, I wouldn't take either of them off the SO.

Also, the PK is stuggling, I'd like it better, but only once in the last 21 games has the 60-minute horn sounded and the Caps have been on the short end. That's a quarter season.

Posted by: saintex | March 9, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

I think it's safe to say that Boudreau needs to pull his head out of his butt and stop sending Ovechkin out in shootouts. For as great as he is everywhere else in the game he SUCKS in shootouts. The percentages do not lie!!!

Posted by: blanknerc | March 9, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Caps are looking like the friggin WIZARDS on the PK, they seem to be just standing around, as if to say, "Whatever,(until it's over and we're on offense again.")I agree to get Laing in there, heck lets get KEN KLEE outa retirement.C'mon fellas y'all can do better than that!!

Posted by: peabody2 | March 9, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Ovechkin is pretty good on breakaways but for some reason, not so much on shootouts. I think it's because he skates in slow and tries to do something fancy instead of in games when he just goes in at full speed and takes a quick hard shot.

Other than early in the 1st and a few minutes in the 3rd the caps played a really solid dominating game. A lot of people are acting like the team is full of holes because they lost one game against a goalie who played an absolutely amazing game. It was a pretty strong effort with a lot of really good scoring chances. Varlamov did let in a weak goal but also kept them in it early in the 1st when the team was disorganized in their own zone. But that was a bad goal in the 3rd. The only area that's really a concern in the PK. They have the players they need to do well but something's not working. I think they need to be a bit more aggressive and give guys less time to set things up. It's a bit more risky, but if you play too passive it's easy for teams to get goals like the ones they did last night. Get it to the point, setup a screen (that isn't being cleared - biggest problem), take a shot. Guess the other problem is that guys seem to try to play the puck instead of tying up the man in front of the net. Check the stick or the body first, then you're free to clear the puck out of danger instead of trying to win the race on who can play the puck first.

Posted by: Stu_c | March 9, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

I didn't read the article on the faceoffs but it probably says that teams that win more faceoffs have a better winning percentage.

In this case, you must be careful not to draw the wrong conclusion from the statistics.

My conclusion would be that teams that win more faceoffs have better players and therefore will win more games. The faceoff wins are therefore an indicator, not a determining statistic. The example they use is often on an airline you hit turbulance right after the capt puts on the seatbelt sign, and one could falsely assume the putting of the seatbelt sign caused the turbulance.

Thank you for your interest in Statistics 101.

Posted by: tominfl1 | March 9, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

OV should NEVER be the first guy in the shootout

Posted by: doughless | March 9, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

@ I think it's safe to say that Boudreau needs to pull his head out of his butt and stop sending Ovechkin out in shootouts. For as great as he is everywhere else in the game he SUCKS in shootouts. The percentages do not lie!!!

Posted by: blanknerc | March 9, 2010 9:28 AM |

Are you suggesting we bring back V. Kozlov??

The shoot-out is just a gimmick for regular season games. We don't have to worry about who is and is not going to be shooting in the play-offs. We have bigger things to worry about then the shoot-outs.
Like getting out PK in shape.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | March 9, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

On who should be shooting in shootouts, Brendan Morrison ranks 43rd out of 192 players who've attempted at least 10 shootout shots in their careers, and that's the highest ranking on the Caps roster. The only other Cap above the median is Backstrom at 78th (unless you want to bring Nylander back from Finland - he's 59th). So I'd say BMo should be moving up in the shootout order, not down.

Stats are from http://www.nhlshootouts.com/CareerShootersHighestShootingPct.htm which is up to date through Sunday, so that doesn't include last night's results.

Posted by: yosemite_sam | March 9, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

I’m surprised people are giving up on Varly so early. I much rather have Varly up than Neuvy. Neuvy hasn’t impressed me at all this season, too inconsistent. Varly looked excellent before the injuries, he just need a little more playing time. If he’s still struggling, well, he’s named himself the #2. Theo had a couple of horrible games this season but otherwise he has been pretty consistent.

Posted by: guer_j | March 9, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

I thought Carlson played really well. I was surprised to hear the BB said otherwise. I thought he was skating really well and moving the puck up the best I've seen all year. I think he is becoming one of our better D. I don't think pairing him with Erskine is a good combo. I for one am tired of seeing Green out of position. Does he realize he plays D. Varly is not on top of his game and it's looking like Theo is our guy.

Posted by: CAPSHOCKEY2 | March 9, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Personally I don't really care about the shootout. I know, we have squandered points due to the shootout but right now, with this team, that is not the difference between making the playoffs or not. Playoff games don't go to shootouts as everyone knows and the Caps looked very good in the OT. If that game was a play until someone scores game the Caps would have won that game within a couple of minutes.

Posted by: fanohock1 | March 9, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

You can't win 'em all.

We come pretty close though.

Posted by: Sonyask | March 9, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

@fanohock1 -

Agreed, just didn't agree with the comment earlier complaining about BMo being chosen to shoot.

On the other hand, it's also a little hard to extrapolate regular season overtime play to the playoffs, since it will be 5v5 not 4v4. But, yeah, the Caps had the better of the play most of the game and were beaten by a hot goalie.

Posted by: yosemite_sam | March 9, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I for one am tired of reading junk from people that want to say that Erskine and Carlson are playing good and Green is out of position. I hope the Caps NEVER get rid of Green because he will light us up just like he does the rest of the league. Carlson and is errant passes are tolerated right now because BB is hoping he can straighten it out because he does play a good physical game at times. That being said, I like Carlson's progression but he is not an elite defenseman in league. I guess no one appreciated when Green rode the Stars player (can't remember which one) out of the slot as he attemted to drive the net and finished him on the boards behind the net. It's easy to point out the bad in a player like Green rather than appreciate the talent he possesses. Green logs so much ice time and is a one of the reasons we are running away from the rest of the Conference. Give the man a break.

Posted by: fanohock1 | March 9, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

At least the Caps played hard and seem to want to win games. I've been worried that they might let up with such a commanding lead in the standings. The Caps teams of the past 2 seasons, appeared to get bored at times in Feb and March, before they turned it back on. This edition does not appear to have that negative trait.

Now is a good time to try out Varly, but at this point I would say Theo and Neuvy look like the combo?... Varlamov appears to be missing some ingredient from last season and early this season.

The PK has to improve before the playoffs. If not, then you are looking at possibly losing games 3-2 or 2-1 because the defenses will tighten up on the Caps offense, which means we cannot afford to give up a goal everytime a Cap is in the box...

Posted by: kcbrichmond | March 9, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Tarik,

You should do a chat soon. You or Lindsay.

Thanks.

Posted by: GoCaps08 | March 9, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

anybody have a status update on the sexy lumberjack? I didn't see him back in there after taking the puck to the face in the third

Posted by: _stevo | March 9, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Green logs so much ice time and is a one of the reasons we are running away from the rest of the Conference. Give the man a break.

Posted by: fanohock1 | March 9, 2010 10:33 AM |

Amen.

The minute the Caps are without a great offensive threat from the blue line, is the minute these fans are going to call for a Green-type of d-man.

Every good team has an offensive weapon like Green back there. Every.

Posted by: richmondphil | March 9, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

I wish one thing that I wish would be contemplated by the owners over the summer is making the OT 10 minutes instead of five. I really don't see that as making that much difference time-wise (labor costs, etc.) 5 minutes is not a very long time to expect a goal to score. Any stats on the % of games that end in OT vs. SO? Then again, SO's are probably a pretty good TV ratings thing.

Posted by: rjma1 | March 9, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

There may be a tendency to write off last night's game as a fluke because Turco was hot. But the reality is, the Caps can't kill a penalty to save their lives, and their backup goalie is not playing at an acceptable level. I think they should give Varlamov a few more shots to try to get him straightened out. But at some point, they will have to consider other options if he doesn't come around. The PK, on the other hand, is a potential Stanley Cup killer IMO. BB is going to have to give some serious thought about personnel used in the PK and whether there needs to be system changes.

Posted by: zmega | March 9, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Let's look at the facts, Varly won an NHL playoff series (the first in 10 years for the Caps). Neuvy has not played in one NHL playoff game (the AHL playoff experience is nowhere close to that of the NHL). The gamble should be to keep Varly, an experienced playoff goalie, as backup and help him get his legs back. I agree that Theo should get the #1. IMO he's done everything necessary to earn it.

Posted by: LloydChristmas | March 9, 2010 8:29 AM

Anyone suggesting Varlamov should get re-assigned or something, needs to get their head examined.

I for one, still feel that Varlamov will be our guy come playoffs though.

Posted by: richmondphil | March 9, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Also, I keep hearing that Carlson played good last night.

I missed the first two periods last night, but the first thing I noticed when I checked the event summary was that Carlson had 3 giveaways and no takeaways. I asked last night how he looked, and everyone said he was pretty hard to watch last night.

What's with the conflicting assessments?

Posted by: richmondphil | March 9, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Green is good, but this team doesn't need more offense, they need more defense. There's a reason he didn't make team Canada even though he leads the league in points by D, because he's only average in the defensive end.

Posted by: CAPSHOCKEY2 | March 9, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

A goalie comes back from quite a long injury, and everyone is ready to throw him under the bus. Hilarious. Good thing us fans aren't the coaches, huh?

Marty came back from injury last year and looked like crap. It happens people. Muscle memory can only take you so far.

Posted by: richmondphil | March 9, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Green is good, but this team doesn't need more offense, they need more defense. There's a reason he didn't make team Canada even though he leads the league in points by D, because he's only average in the defensive end.

Posted by: CAPSHOCKEY2 | March 9, 2010 11:03 AM |

Without Green, who is our offensive threat?

Poti? don't make me laugh.

Posted by: richmondphil | March 9, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

@richmondphil

"and now we are ready to throw Varly under the bus..."

This bus will pass harmlessly between his legs, as the old joke goes...

@puckdawg - I think Caps thinking is

1. Varly is an exceptional goalie, they want to get back in form
2. Theo's back has tightened up on him several times this year - they need a good #2 ready to step in.

Posted by: RedLitYogi | March 9, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

The reason Green didn't make team Canada is he makes too many risky decisions and while he has cut down on those he still made too many to make the team.

His defensive play is actually pretty solid, but it is his penchant for making a risky pass or pinching at an inopportune time that hurts him.

Posted by: sgm3 | March 9, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Having Pittsburgh second in the conference will ensure that if everything falls into place, the Capitals and the Penguins "WILL" play to be conference representative. Nothing short of this will be satisfactory for both teams. Pittsburgh is the team to beat, they are that good. There is no use to belittle them or ignoring them, because all road leads to Pittsburgh for the Stanley Cup. Remember, Pittsburgh has not lost since the Olympics and they "destroyed" this very same Dallas team just a couple of days ago. The way Pittsburgh is playing now, they may not lose again for the rest of the regular season, while Crosby is on a 60 goal scoring pace. Thank goodness for the 13 point cushion in overall standings. (Yes, the sky is falling too! :)

Posted by: JohnWWW | March 9, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Trade Green
Waive Semin
Package AO with Schultz for a 3rd rounder

These guys are all bums.

Remember when people got all pissy last year when we didn't get Pronger?

Think Flyers fans still like that contract he got?

The players and coaches will make the necessary adjustments, and we'll be just fine.

Posted by: Fro_ | March 9, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

sgm3, you would say that Green's positioning is solid? Eh. It's probably not as bad as Fanoof, but it's not the best in the game.

I agree with what you are saying though..Green's decision-making is probably his #1 problem, as tmac points outs. Good thing he's fast at least...he's capable of getting back there quicker than most in the league, I'll give him that.

Posted by: richmondphil | March 9, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Green is good, but this team doesn't need more offense, they need more defense. There's a reason he didn't make team Canada even though he leads the league in points by D, because he's only average in the defensive end.

Posted by: CAPSHOCKEY2 | March 9, 2010 11:03 AM |

Without Green, who is our offensive threat?

Poti? don't make me laugh.

I just think we need to play better in our defensive end. We won't score 5 or 6 every game and certainly not in the playoffs.

Just waiting for the next Pitt game. Those are the only two that really matter to me the rest of the way.

Posted by: CAPSHOCKEY2 | March 9, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

I recall Kozlov used to be good at shootouts.


Posted by: CapsFan75 | March 9, 2010 1:29 AM |

Kozlov was real good. and Backs is becoming a pro at it as well.

I wonder if Belanger is any good at it. How about Bradley? haha...he's great on breakaways.

Posted by: richmondphil | March 9, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

@Capshockey2

I am one of the first to acknowledge how hard it is to watch Green at times, but it doesn't matter how he plays really, that's besides my point. My point was that every great team has that offensive threat from the blue line. Green is filling his niche. Do I want him to become better defensively? Of course I do, but I feel like complaining about Green is worthless, considering the other guys we have on the blue line.

If anything, complain about the other defenders not playing good defense, while also not contributing anything offensively.

Posted by: richmondphil | March 9, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

OK, well, so we see how much offense those 2nd and 3rd lines generate without Flash - squadoosh. I guess that experiment's over!

Seriously, how one of the better players on one of the better teams in the entire Olympic tournament sits even one out, is beyond me.

Posted by: govtimbo | March 9, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I didn't read the article on the faceoffs but it probably says that teams that win more faceoffs have a better winning percentage.

...

Posted by: tominfl1


Uh, actually no just the opposite. Basically they said that faceoffs have little or no affect on the outcome of hockey games. Ergo they are unimportant and overrated. I disagree with that and think that faceoffs are an important part of the game especially in critical situations.

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | March 9, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Here are my observations from the game last night:

Erskine is going to be a regular scratch. He and Carlson were not a good pairing last night, and both struggled. Carlson has the ability, I just think he needs to make better decisions with the puck.

While the Caps only gave up a small number of shots in the first two periods, I'd say that almost half were fantastic scoring chances that the Stars didn't cash in because Varly made a great save or the Caps got lucky. There was a wide open net on one opportunity and the Stars player put the puck into the side of the net. I'm not sure whether these chances were the result of bad defensive effort by the Caps, or by defensive mistakes that comes from new guys playing with new teammates in a new system.

Likewise, the Caps, and Semin in particular, had several glorious chances that they didn't cash in either.

Varly was sharp for two periods, but lost it in the third. I'm at the far side of the rink but I thought he should have stopped the 1st and 3rd goals as they both looked like routine shots.

PK is dreadful. Hopefully it's a matter of getting new guys adjusted to the system here, but overall the Caps weren't winning the battles and getting the puck out of the corners.

Finally, I haven't seen the stats yet, but it seemed like the Caps were on the losing end with the faceoffs last night as well. As such, they weren't able to take advantage during their power plays or after the numerous icings by the Stars.

Posted by: cainoo7x | March 9, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

@richmondphil

No, I don't think Green's positioning hen he isn't near the puck is good yet but it is decent and has been improving each year.

By defensive skill I was more referring to when Green is guarding someone who has the puck. He checks pretty good, pokechecks the puck a lot and I don't see him get beat too often in a one-on-one situation.

But his defensive awareness does need to improve. I sort of look at him like he has good defensive awareness (in the Caps defensive zone) most of the game but he has a few brain farts (for lack of a better word)that lead to opportunities. He definitely needs to cut down on those.

Posted by: sgm3 | March 9, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

BetterOff: Than it kinda proved my point, which was as a statistic it could be mis-read. I agree with you that faceoffs "can" be critical and can be a deciding factor in the game. Just like a blocked shot can decide a game. Or a giveaway. In the end, though, better players win more games, and better players generally have better stats.

Posted by: tominfl1 | March 9, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

No I recall reading in one of the recaps that the Caps won the face offs last night--at least in the first two periods that is.

Carlson's night--mixed. But he is young and still learning.

I think the d-pairings are all about left/right--with the more offensive d-guys all righties. So Carlson will most likely stay in the lineup for the time being. Interestingly Juice is a rightie so I wonder how much that affected the pairings when he was traded.

Varly will get sharp as he gets more games in. He made some excellent saves early on. And Theo is just hot at the moment. So I expect to see them alternate games with Theo getting the big ones, i.e. Chicago and Pittsburgh.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | March 9, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I've scheduled my head examination for this afternoon and I'm taking the bus there.

In my post I stated this is a good time to try to get Varlamov back into action. However, IF Varly cannot regain his terrific form, than I would suggest Neuvirth back up Theodore in the playoffs. Don't get me wrong I think Varlamov is the future #1 for this team, BUT you have to play whoever gives you the best chance to win. If he cannot get back to the top of his game in the next few weeks, than he should go to Hershey, sorry. This organization and its fan base need a Cup...35 %&#%# years, do whatever it takes.

Posted by: kcbrichmond | March 9, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

@JohnWWW: Actually the Pens won 6-3 and it was 4-3 after the 2nd. Turco didn't play, Lehtonen did. The Pens managed a respectable 32 shots, the Caps had 42 by the end of the 2nd. The Pens have won every game since the Olympic break (4-0) and the Caps are 3-0-1. The last 10 games the Pens and Caps have the same record 6-1-3.

The dream scenrio on the way to the Cup this year is playing someone like the Canadians in the 1st round so the Caps can bring their show North of the border. Then a 2nd round matchup against the Flyers, followed by a Conference championship by beating the Pens. To bring the Cup home I hope they play Chicago, SJ, or Detroit. The road has got to be tough so the 1st Cup win isn't diminished.

Posted by: fanohock1 | March 9, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

I think the Stars winning most of the face-offs in the 3rd period was a significant factor in the outcome of the game.

Posted by: zmega | March 9, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

surprised there is no talk of Aucoin signing 2 year deal (must be nice to have the top AHL scorer waiting in the wings):

WASHINGTON -- Center Keith Aucoin has signed a two-year contract extension with the Washington Capitals.

Aucoin is currently in the minors with the Hershey Bears, leading the AHL in scoring with 84 points -- 31 goals and 53 assists.

ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun reported Aucoin's deal will pay him $500,000 in 2010-11 and $525,000 in 2011-12.

He helped lead Hershey to the AHL championship last season.

The 5-foot-9, 162-pound Aucoin has three goals and eight assists in 21 games for the Capitals the last two seasons. He has played in nine games for Washington this season.

The extension was announced by the Capitals before their game against the Dallas Stars on Monday night.

----

Posted by: tony325 | March 9, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

It still doesn't appear that the Caps defense and PK have improved since the trade. Both Corvo and Green were caught out of position numerous times which led to odd man rushes. The number of TO's and sloppy play in our end was astounding. A good offensive team like Ottawa or Pittsburgh would have put up 6-7 goals with the number of easy opportunities that were given to the Stars. Varly looks like he's lost his confidence completely and was letting the puck play him instead of vice-versa.

I question why GMGM would pick up another offensive defenseman like Corvo, but not pick up someone who could clear the crease and was responsible on defense. Except for Poti, I wasn't impressed with the way any of our defenseman played last night. Turco was phenomenal for Dallas and basically stole the game, but the two poor PK's in the third period let Dallas back in the game. This one goes down as a bad point in my book.

Posted by: wizfan89 | March 9, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

In addition to posting the team's PP and PK season percentage on screen, I wish they would also include their percentage in the last 10 games, or else maybe their last "x" number of attempts. Would be a helpful indication of the direction they are trending. If they were good or crap in the first quarter or half of the season, I don't care as much as much as I'm interested in how they are doing going into the playoffs.

Posted by: hockeyweasel | March 9, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I agree on Aucoin. I can't see the sense of having him all year in Hershey and making that kind of money. It was a one-way deal this year (no separate salary when at Hershey) so I'm guessing same for next.

Posted by: tominfl1 | March 9, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

The D has been playing better. Great game at Buffalo, shutout the Rags, etc... just a few games, I know, but they seem to be giving better support for whoever is in net. Varly is rusty but Bruce is wise to be giving him some latitude to work through it to get back to his awesome, pre-injury form - the fans should to. The Varly of old would have sealed a win for us last night. For those pointing out Green's "weaknesses" just remember his strengths and his role on the team. He more than lives up to his point-producing, puck moving, defensive role. Other players know what Green is expected to do and they adjust for it. Too much analysis over this. First place team, highest goal differential, a chance to win on any given night...

Posted by: gonchpup | March 9, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

The road has got to be tough so the 1st Cup win isn't diminished.

Posted by: fanohock1 | March 9, 2010 11:45 AM

True, but I'd be just as happy if they were all able to hoist The Cup by way of 4 "easy" series.

It's the most grueling tournament in all of sports- so I don't really see any Cup run being diminished, regardless of who the opponents are.

Posted by: Fro_ | March 9, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if anyone mentioned this but the Verizon Centre ice sucked last night. Once the basketball season ends ..the NHL playoffs...the Caps might not have to contend with fanning and bouncing pucks. Green and Corvo really had to work to move the puck forward last night. Bad ice always hurts the Caps.

Posted by: yesisaiditfirst | March 9, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I know I'll get grief for this, but I love Marty Turco. That look to the net cam was hilarious. The All-Star game a few years back when they miked him was the most entertaining one I've seen. His play has been sliding in recent seasons, but he was brilliant last night, and deserved that win.

Posted by: farmgirl19C | March 9, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Poti has good chemistry with the Bradley-Steckel-Gordon line. Goal last night thanks to a nice pass from Steckel. Sweet assist to Gordon when we played the Bruins back in February.

Posted by: letsgocaps3 | March 9, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

When is the VS contract up with the NHL...because after the NHL doesn't renew with those A$$ clowns...they are sure to go under...

I hate comcast, versus, and Gary Bettman for letting this happen...

Posted by: SoaringCaps | March 9, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

nice job gmgm whts that like 5 pp goals in 3 games way to shore up that unit or OUR BIGGEST FREAKING NEED

Posted by: vjridgely | March 9, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

..." just a few games, I know, but they seem to be giving better support for whoever is in net. "

Posted by: gonchpup | March 9, 2010 12:10 PM

Kinda like when Theo was in net last season and they played like crap in front of him? And when all the new fans kept blaming Theo for the losses and not shouldering any on the defense? Yeah, he let in some soft goals here and there but a lot of it also was on the defense not covering their guys.

At least you're recognizing that to some extent.

Posted by: MNMNT | March 9, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

@ vjridgely
I know, right? Let's cut this experimenting out before we are out of the playoff hunt. It has gone on far too long. Let those new guys watch from the stands and if we make the playoffs and still need them, we'll call them in. What was GMGM thinking?

Posted by: _Mark | March 9, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

"Let those new guys watch from the stands and if we make the playoffs and still need them, we'll call them in."

Posted by: _Mark | March 9, 2010 2:47 PM

i can't tell if you are being sarcastic or not.

i believe it is just the opposite, BB has until there are about 5 or 6 games left to find out what combo of players compliment each other. that means mixing and matching lines right now. since there is no way to know who might get hurt - BB will sit flash and see what happens without him - he'll probably do that for a few others also.
bottom line is BB has to know what these new guys can do and with whom.
the experiment will and should continue for about the next 10 games

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 9, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Sorry about that Capt Kirk. Yes, sarcasm. I agree totally with your assessment. There is a period here where we have to find out how and where the new guys fit in. We have the luxury of being able to experiment. The Presidents Trophy is a trinket compared to what we really want.

Posted by: _Mark | March 9, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

@mark whats there to experiment with theve been horrible for the last 5 years and there way to help is put another offensive defenseman on there to "help" its pretty sad when the other teams foreward has better posistion than poti,schlutz and the tractor on skates known as erskine

Posted by: vjridgely | March 9, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

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