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Caps skating ... hard

Practice here at KCI has only just begun, but the focus of today's session is already obvious: Coach Bruce Boudreau is going to put the Caps through a hard skate as punishment for their weak effort last night against Colorado.

Boudreau has also shaken up his lines (F-Street is no more). Here's how the combos look:

Ovechkin-Backstrom-Nylander
Fleischmann-Fedorov-Semin
Laich-Steckel-Fehr
Brashear-Gordon-Bradley

I'll have another update after practice.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  February 21, 2009; 11:37 AM ET
 
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Comments

Ovechkin should use his clout and ask for someone else other than Nylander. I can just see Alex covered by three people, make a great pass to Nylander in front of an open net, and Michael deciding to skate three circles before passing to Schultz for a 60 foot shot.

The guy is awful, and plays zero D and is allergic to shooting

Posted by: gtydings | February 21, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

What is Bruce thinking?

Posted by: HeldenCaps | February 21, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

...nylander is on the top line?


why?!

Posted by: capsfan8 | February 21, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

JMU:
If you're out there, please check your email! :-)

Posted by: --Boo-- | February 21, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

It's a good thing we won't meet the Avalanche, Kings, or Blue Jackets in the playoffs!

Posted by: Leeguru | February 21, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Ovechkin-Backstrom-NYLANDER?? I guess my "8-19-Anybody" theory is about to face the ultimate test. Cripes.
I miss Kozlov.

Posted by: redlineblue | February 21, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I think Nylander presents a good balance to this line. AO creates much of his own offense; having Nylander to dump off to, or to use his patience to make a good pass seems like a good thing. He's a smart player to boot with a good eye toward seeing plays develop. I think this move has alot to do with Semin. He needs a line where he can create a little more.

I don't, however, think that line combos are the biggest problem. This teams a little more toughness and grit in their makeup with an eye toward bringing some attitude into a playoff run. IMHO.

Posted by: ccape1 | February 21, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I really hope we get Koz back tomorrow... please trade nyles.

Posted by: TheVampireCorndog | February 21, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I hope the erason for putting Nyl on the top line is to showcase him for a trade. Everyone is going to be watching/scouting this game as the pens are going to be big players around the deadline. I think that Nyl is a good player but not for us he just cant play our style (agressive with energy) he is a slow it down kind of player, he would be great with a team like Col but not for us

Posted by: t-bone67 | February 21, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

I suspect it is a last ditch effort to see if he can get Nylander to contribute. Last night you really had the feeling that only the top two lines had any chance of scoring so he's trying to get it to three lines with a chance. I know we have been spoiled this year by how well they've played at home but last night was painful.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | February 21, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Nylander on the top line? Seriously? Memo to Kozlov's groin...please get well soon!!!

However, I must admit that I am glad to see the Nylander, Bradley, Laich line no more. Sheesh. Brooks did not deserve that. The 21-39-16 line actually did pretty good before and I like Feds with Semin.

I was kinda wondering last night if Erskine passed on his flu to a few other Caps. Both Feds and Green looked a little slow and troubled last night. Here's hoping they get a little more jump in their skates for tomorrow's game.

Posted by: Kim-3 | February 21, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Anyone know if there are any NCAA or NBA games at VC today/tonight?

Posted by: Kim-3 | February 21, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

semin needs his own line he is a shooter, like OV and I think that Flash and Fehr should stay togather. our offensive roles are mucker, set up guy, and shooter

Posted by: t-bone67 | February 21, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Having some patience and slick passing online for AO *is* a great idea. Hence Backstrom. Nylander hasn't been that guy in a year. 8-19-16 (crease-mucker). 8-19-14 (you never know). 8-19-Bourque, or Osala, or JMUCapsGirl.
Anything but 8-19-92 (figure skating lesson with puck-turnover dismount).

Posted by: redlineblue | February 21, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

No more Nylander on the top line!!!!!!

Posted by: mshwedick | February 21, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Yeah I'd prefer 8-19-16 too. Maybe BB is rewarding Nyls cause, despite the couple of turnovers he had, he was one of the few hustling out there yesterday.

Posted by: mauree | February 21, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

@ mauaree

rewarding Nyls? Nyls took one shift in the 3rd period yesterday.

Posted by: dml1077 | February 21, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Hi Everyone,

I'm new to the blog but I have been following the Caps since 2002. I have also been reading the many posts about consistency. I think the inconsistency lies with the coach. I may be wrong, but the lines are constantly being changed when the team loses or have a bad night.

How is this going to help the team in the playoffs? I don't understand it.

Also why are the Caps having such a tough time against the Western teams. When (and I believe this team will make it)we make it to the playoffs we'll have to face the Western teams.

Can someone please help me to understand these questions?

Posted by: bajgirl | February 21, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

dml1077

I don't know, I'm trying to guess what is BB thinking. All right, maybe not doing a good job at it lol.

Posted by: mauree | February 21, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Tarik,

is Kozy skating at all?

Posted by: dml1077 | February 21, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I would like to see 21 on the top line he has been ov's screen machine on the PP

Posted by: t-bone67 | February 21, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Well I'm off to Italy - I'll arrive just on time for tomorrow's face off with the Pens.

Let's go Caps!

Posted by: mauree | February 21, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

YIKES! Nylander on the first line?!? I hope this is a practical joke...because this is no laughing matter! All Nylander is good at is spinning in circles, skating 5 feet, and then spinning some more! I wish we could trade/sell a few of these folks... Nylander for ANYONE, Theodore for Backstrom (sorry to the Jose supporters, but I need a little more from a goalie), and Schultz for a REAL defenseman...I know we can't (the cap and all) but a girl can dream!

Posted by: NatyBG | February 21, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

@bajgirl, We would only play a Western Conference team in the playoffs once, which would be in the Stanley Cup finals, if we were to make it. You only play your conference only before you get to the finals. It's just like football.

Posted by: rachel216 | February 21, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Kim, the Georgetown Hoyas play Marquette at Verizon today at 2 pm. Look for crap ice for tomorrow.

Posted by: rachel216 | February 21, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

How is this going to help the team in the playoffs? I don't understand it.

Also why are the Caps having such a tough time against the Western teams. When (and I believe this team will make it)we make it to the playoffs we'll have to face the Western teams.

Can someone please help me to understand these questions?

Posted by: bajgirl | February 21, 2009 12:31 PM

Couple things...the Caps are far from inconsistent. We have never lost more than 2 games in a row this season. BB has the best coach record since he has come to the NHL level. say what you will about his methods, he is obviously doing something right.

Again, ALL East teams have trouble against the West. This is history, and shines through this year. The West just dominates the East for some reason in regular season games.

@naty
backstrom was a late blooming goalie, and a lot of people give his late start due to the defensive system minnesota uses, not necessarily that he has stepped up his play. Backstrom is also untested in playoff play. schultz is still 20 years old. calm down.

Posted by: richmondphil | February 21, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

mauree

i think BB wants more balance from his lines. this gives three potentially offensive threatening lines instead of two.

and, there was not enough pucks to go around for 8/19/28 and besides, that line was undisciplined in failing miserably to follow the game plan.

as for Nyls, this gets him back with scoring linemates (no offense Brooks), and he has played well with Backy. i think it's a good move to try to get Nyls back into the fold, before he fades permanently into irrelevance.

Posted by: dml1077 | February 21, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

@richmondphil, we've lost 3 in a row twice this season. Kings, Sharks, Wild. Jackets, Canadiens, Oilers. Just sayin'.

Posted by: rachel216 | February 21, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Caps skating hard - what a surprise %!?$@*"

BB told them before the game to dump & chase because he knew the Avs would stack their guys at the blue line and then his players decided to disregard the game plan by stick handling and skating over the blue line with little success. Think there's a problem with the payers not listening to the coach?? Maybe he needs to scratch other guys besides Steckel, Gordon, Nyls and Erskine!

Realistically, their last 5 periods they have looked nonchalant and lazy.

I like for them to come out tomorrow and the rest of the year liked they played in the Philly payoff series last year! It's time for them to "consistently" get the right attitude on the ice! No more taking any days lightly or not "following" the game plans!

Posted by: puckman | February 21, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

These lines look great! Bradly and Gordon to balance out Brashear, Laich and Fehr to balance out Steckel, Ovie and Backstrom to balance out Nylander, Flash and Feds to blance out Semin's dumb penalties. I think this looks pretty good.

Go CAPS!

Posted by: ejohnsto | February 21, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

yeah, i meant to type 3.

it doesnt matter. DET has lost 5. SJ has lost 3 and are 3-2-4 in the last 9. CHI has lost 3.

these arguments that all you bring up can be applied to any team after a bad game, including detriot, boston, and san jose.

Posted by: richmondphil | February 21, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

and looking at those 3 teams that every one wants us to be (lol), they have lost a majority of them to, as you guys like to put it, "bottomfeeders."

Posted by: richmondphil | February 21, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

@racchel216. Thanks, I really think this team can make the playoffs.

@richmondphil. I was waiting for your post. You're insightful and sooooooo funny at times.
Thank you.

Posted by: bajgirl | February 21, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

One more thing - I think someone needs to tell Brash he's not a stick handling machine. He needs to park all of his 6'3" 234 lbs. in front of the net and collect "some" garbage goals (Espo-like). Not too many guys in the league can clear him out.

Posted by: puckman | February 21, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

red wings- out of 11 losses, 7 of them are to teams out of playoff contention right now. including the leafs, avs, preds, yotes, and blue jackets. out of 8 OT losses, 5 of them are to teams out of playoff contention, including avs and blue jackets.


Comparing an East team to a West isn't really far, since the East has a whole (this is not a Caps problem) has given so many games to the West, with the increase to, i think its 18 games between each the conferences.

Posted by: richmondphil | February 21, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

bajgirl, you don't have to fret, this team IS going to the playoffs, there's no doubt about it, lol. :)

Posted by: rachel216 | February 21, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Nylander with Backstrom ( two swedes) and Ovie doesnt bother me . The positive side of this is Semin and Feds together again ( two ruskies). They've shown great play makin and chemistry in the past. It gives the team 2 scoring lines and when Feds gets on the bench with semin he mentors him (in russian) to make him better.

Posted by: Puckthepens | February 21, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

The Caps were beat by an Avalance team that is far worse than them.

Doesn't that just remind you of years past when the Caps would beat the much better team by out working them, or taking advantage of lackadaisical play? Now we're the team that can afford to play down sometimes and take losses, because we step up and win when it matters. If they take a game off like this in the playoffs, then it'd be time to worry.

Obviously they do deserve criticism for playing like that, but they're still top 5 in the league.

Posted by: TheVampireCorndog | February 21, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

stripping credit away from your opponents only feeds this.

we dont "play down to levels". we dont get beat by a worse team. we get beat by a team.

Posted by: richmondphil | February 21, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Sure, but you and I both know the Capitals are a better team.

Posted by: TheVampireCorndog | February 21, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

in a playoff situation, i would expect the caps to win. but im not going to take away from the game the Avs played last night. They have played really well recently, and they get the devils next.

i just don't really see a consistency problem. If we have one, then the red wings, the returning Stanley cup champs who only gained from free agency this year, must have a real big problem.

this is one of the best regular season for the capitals. ever. you are going to lose games, and frankly, id much rather those loses go to non top-8 teams than top-8 teams. reality is you are going to lose games. also the caps have mounted some of the best comebacks ever. 2001 game against the sens, earlier game this year against the pens and devs. sometimes they are really trying and we are just getting beat.

Posted by: richmondphil | February 21, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Any team can win on any given night. Sometimes a team plays great and the other one has an off night, sometimes luck is on one team's side and they get all the 50/50 calls and all the good bounces. Sometimes guys like Foote score their first goal of the season looking like Ovie roofing it top shelf. Sometimes a team who is tied for 3rd most goals in the league grips their sticks too tight and misses 2 or 3 empty nets. Sometimes Ovie is on a 2 on 1 with Fehr instead of Backstrom but instinctively makes the pass as if it was a lefty shot.

Sometimes good teams lose to teams that have been struggling all year. That's why they play the games. Keep it in perspective and realize some team is going to have to beat the Caps 4 out of 7 to end our season.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | February 21, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

sometimes flash and kronwall will both miss wide open nets.

;)

Posted by: richmondphil | February 21, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

oh, you had it. i didnt see it.

Posted by: richmondphil | February 21, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Make a sound around a group of turkeys and you will hear the flock go gobble gobble for a while. Say Nyls on this blog and you hear a group of people go gobble gobble.

The anti-Nyls and the "dumb penalties by Semin" remarks are getting old.

Posted by: opita1 | February 21, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

The least of our problems are the line combinations (Boudreau has explained before that he shuffles lines so that other teams can't prepare as easy for the Caps or identify tendencies of players as easy, and its also what allows us to play well even when guys are hurt because they're used to playing with different people) we only have two good defensemen, Green and Poti. To multiply that, we don't have any real physical defensemen.

I don't think we'll be able to win a championship without a guy who is willing to move people out in front of our own net. Schultz sure doesn't want any part of that (despite his whopping 6'6 240 pound frame). Alzner doesn't seem to be that kind of player either. George, get on the phone.

The players need to start listening to Boudreau. This is the NHL not the bigger rinks of the Euro leagues, and you have to muck it up in the corners, run the cycle and grind out wins sometimes in the NHL, despite your skill level. Start listening to Bruce, he knows what he's talking about!!

Posted by: jpish | February 21, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I'm not surprised with the hard practice and the line shake-up. That was a pretty anemic effort out there last night.

Let's see how they fare next week. The Caps always seem to show up for the big boys!

Posted by: Terptwin | February 21, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Richmondphil: You forgot Gordon :-P

Posted by: Raber | February 21, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

DavetheCapsFan,
Well said. Sometimes we just get out-played.

Posted by: opita1 | February 21, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Hi Tarik,

I understand Erksine's out with the flu. How are the other guys feeling out there?

I know how the flu can run through families, office places, etc. I sure hope none of the others are feeling any symptoms!

Regards,

Posted by: Terptwin | February 21, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

good. the caps deserve a hard skate after the way they played last night. just awful.

Posted by: Brobertson26 | February 21, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I think the Caps are one tough, quality, stay-at-home defenseman from really having a shot to win the Cup. Here's my off-the-wall shocker--Nylander and Alzner for the big Calgary D, Phaneuf, and a center or Nashville's rookie D whose name I forget. Trading Nylander for obvious reasons ( salary, age, performance) and although it would go against the Caps' successful philosophy of trading young, quality players, if we could get a quality, already proven defenseman who could play for 5 years, I think the Caps might make that trade. I think with Carlson, Finley, Godrey to come along soon and just my opinion that Alzner will probably be a good pro but not maybe an all-star, the trade might make sense. Opinions?

Posted by: pdanziger | February 21, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

people forget how good nylander and clark were b4 their injuries

Posted by: am_jim | February 21, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Fleischmann-Fedorov-Semin.

I love the FFS line, it's a recipe for success.

That said, the top line dearly misses Victor Kozlov. Nylander had a god awful game last night, he should be on the 4th line, not the 1st.

I think the playoff lines should feature a top 6 of O-B-K and F-F-S. With Nylander sitting inside the healthy scratch rotation.

Posted by: DrAdamson | February 21, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

calgary would not make that trade.

Posted by: richmondphil | February 21, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

@am_jim

I haven't forgotten. Nylander was once a crafty wizard who formed a lethal combination with Jagr in NY. Clark was a grinder who could skate hard and crash the net for goals. Who knows if either will ever regain their form?

Posted by: Terptwin | February 21, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

TARIK:

I hope you could address the issue that is puzzling and frustrating to many of us--the Caps' losses to weaker teams. I for one don't know how to judge this: is this pattern uncommon? Can a team that loses so often to lesser teams be a serious Stanely Cup contender? And is this a problem or does it seem so because it is frustrating.

Out of 17 regulation losses, the Caps lost to elite teams only 3 times: Flames, Devils, Philly.

Eight (8) out of the 17 losses were to teams that are not playoff condenders; and 6 were to teams that are at least 12 points below us and are struggling to remain in the playoff picture.

I see this as a sign that they have not yet achieved the level of consistency needed, no matter whom they play. Am I wrong? I'd love to hear about comparisons with other elite teams and get some perspective on this.

Posted by: caraveli | February 21, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

caraveli:

red wings- out of 11 losses, 7 of them are to teams out of playoff contention right now. including the leafs, avs, preds, yotes, and blue jackets. out of 8 OT losses, 5 of them are to teams out of playoff contention, including avs and blue jackets.

Posted by: richmondphil | February 21, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

and like i said, id rather lose to non top-8 teams than to top-8 teams.

i dont see why you guys think this is a bad game. do you expect us to wine every game? no, logically we will lose some. should we lose to non top-8 teams rather than top-8 teams? yes.

Posted by: richmondphil | February 21, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Out of Detroit's 12 regulation losses they have lost to: Toronto, Colorado, Nashville, Phoenix, and Columbus. (some of those teams look familiar no?) They've also lost in OT or a shootout to: Vancouver twice, Pittsburgh, Colorado twice, and Columbus. (man seems like Colorado plays well against some of the big boys no?)

Teams San Jose has lost to in reg or SO: Phoenix, Nashville, Columbus twice, St. Louis, Carolina, Pitt, Buffalo

Boston has dropped points against: Pitt, Buff, Toronto, St. Louis, Nashville (some of those are twice as well jsut going through fast here)

"bad" teams beat "good" teams all the time.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | February 21, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Put Steckel on the first line! Not Nylander!

Posted by: GoUnited | February 21, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

what about the fact that Nylander has a no trade clause?

Posted by: washcapsfan | February 21, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Wow! This IS interesting about Detroit. I hadn't looked at this comparison too closely. You would think that if teams like Colorado beat good teams, the "bad" teams would rise in the rankings and would not be bad anymore.

Posted by: caraveli | February 21, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I guess since this is the heart of the federal government, you reward underperforming, overpaid hockey players like the federal government does with underperforming, overpaid federal workers--you promote them in hopes of encouraging them to be better.

It's a TERRIBLE strategy, never works for the gov't, won't work with Nylander.

I don't care what he's done in the past, it's what he's not doing now that's helping to kill this team.

The Caps would be just as well off to buy him out and bring up one of the talented and lower-priced forwards from Hershey who really wants to play.

Posted by: CindyJennings | February 21, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

opita,
That was funny.
gobble gobble gobble
... gobble gobble gobble
...gob

Posted by: hock1 | February 21, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Went to practice today for the first time, and thought they looked so much faster up close. Ha. Thanks, Tarik, for letting us all in on real deal.
Going tomorrow to see the Caps get it back together, and I'll be joining Ted in singing the Anthem and NOT shouting red or the ridiculous Baltimore O.

Posted by: bluejeener1 | February 21, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I think 99 percent of the morons screaming O don't realize that it's for the Orioles. It shows the stupidity of the area.

Posted by: ejohnsto | February 21, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Ovechkin-Backstrom-(Showcase) Nylander (for a trade).

I like this line pairing.

Posted by: RetireScottStevensNumber | February 21, 2009 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, opita, for pointing out the lame comments that pop up whenever Nyls or Semin are brought up. The turkey reference is simply...classic! For the naysayers, like ejohnsto, it's amazing how quickly one forgets that your opinions may not affect the players but you'll have a handful of people who will step up for their favorite players and put things in perspective.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | February 21, 2009 10:39 PM | Report abuse

@CindyJennings: Killing this team? Last I checked the Caps are an 11 point lead in their Division, tied for second with a game in hand in their Conference, and have come up big in almost all of their important games this year.

Pretty healthy if you ask me, lets not be over-dramatic.

Posted by: eggseronius | February 22, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

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