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Catching Up With Coach Boudreau

It doesn't matter that the first rookie won't report to KCI for another three weeks, Coach Bruce Boudreau reported to his office early this morning - and he's been running around ever since.

He's got players and assistant coaches to call. He needs to catch up with the equipment manger. The athletic trainer, too. If there are any issues, or potential ones, he said, it's better to find out now.

"I want to make sure that I'm in tune with everything, and if there's anything that needs a tune up, let's do it," said Boudreau, who considers today his first full day in the office for the new season. "I want to be so organized that when the players come in, things are running smooth and all they have to worry about it is playing."

When Boudreau isn't dealing with behind-the-scenes details, the Jack Adams winner said he's thinking about his lineup. Though it's mostly set, as we've discussed previously, he said he's going into camp thinking there could be two spots up for grabs.

Boudreau didn't want to tip his hand, but he already has an idea which players he'll be keeping a close eye on.

On defense, Boudreau said he expects Karl Alzner, Sami Lepisto, Jakub Cutta (a camp invitee) and Tyler Sloan to fight it out for what appears to be the one available job on the blue line. Alzner is the obvious favorite to win the battle, and with that in mind, he'll probably get five or six preseason games to prove that he's ready for top-4 minutes, Boudreau said.

Among the forwards, Boudreau said he'll be watching Quintin Laing, Chris Bourque, Keith Aucoin, Graham Mink, Andrew Gordon and Alexandre Giroux. It doesn't look to me like any of these guys have much of a shot of making the team out of camp, but they need to perform well so they'll be on Boudreau's shortlist of injury replacements.

"I think it's going to be a competitive camp," Boudreau said. "No matter what, we know there are going to be a lot of injuries. We want the best guys to be ready."

"You also never know how Chris Clark is going to start the year," he added. "Brian Pothier doesn't look like he's going to be starting the season. Michael Nylander? Hopefully he's okay. But these are all questions ...until we see it."

"Without Pothier, we have six established guys on defense who have played for us. You've got Alzner, Lepisto, Cutta, we like Tyler Sloan a lot. They are four guys under NHL contracts vying for a spot among the seven D."

"I have to imagine Quintin Laing is not going to want to get sent down after what he's shown us. I think this is Chris Bourque's fourth year. Alexandre Giroux can be a top six forward. Can he do it if we give him more time? He's probably not going to start here. ...Graham Mink is as a good a power forward as you have in the American Hockey League and Keith Aucoin played almost a whole year in Carolina, and you can never be too deep at center. These are a few of the viable guys if a) is someone goes down or b) somebody who's not ready to pull up there socks right at the start."

Every year there are guys who aren't prepared when they show up for camp. Boudreau doesn't figure to be one of them.

Note:No players skated at KCI today as far as I could tell. But the informal practices should be in full swing later this week or early next week as players trickle back into town.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  August 25, 2008; 2:43 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Catching Up With GM George McPhee
Next: Clark Hits The Ice At KCI



Posted by: Jeff | August 25, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Where's Jakub Cutta been?

Posted by: Dan L | August 25, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Guess who's back back back back again gain gain BB's back back back tell a friend friend friend guess who's back guess who's back guess who's back guess who's back

nah nah nah

Posted by: Ben | August 25, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse


Oh no.

Posted by: strungout | August 25, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

It looks as though the Hershey Bears have tons of toughness this season -- I guess they won't miss Robitaille too much.

Posted by: uncatim | August 25, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

While none of us expected Bruce to rest on his laurels, I continue to be excited by the level of excitement and anticipation for this upcoming season from all members of this organization. Can't wait for Camp to start!

Posted by: Sombrero Guy | August 25, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

BB had better remember what he's about, otherwise look for that trophy to end up on Ebay.

Posted by: Chief | August 25, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Whoa, it's Jakub Cutta!!!

Posted by: Bill and Ted | August 25, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

According to hockeydb, Jakub Cutta was in a Czech league in 06-07, with 2 points and 99 PIM in 37 games, then in Russia last season, with 4 points and 46 PIM in 17 games.

Posted by: Kurt | August 25, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Boudreau is such an excellent leader. He's the kind of guy that is an example of how you don't need to be a jerk to be an effective leader. He leads by example and he cares a lot.

That kind of attitude is refreshingly real in a world for of Barry Melrose's and John Tortorella's.

Posted by: Sapper | August 25, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I guess this means Jurcina and/or Erskine will be in the top 6 again. That's not good. I'd rather see both Alzner and Lepisto in the starting lineup before these 2 clowns.

Posted by: yuck | August 25, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

God love ya Tarik! Thanks for all the hard work!

Posted by: Dmitry | August 25, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse


I agree, well said.

Posted by: mauree | August 25, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Love that the guy is so organized, and is looing to have a tight run ship, with little or no hang-up. "The speed of the team is the speed of the leader!"

@ Chief
Why would his trophy end up on E-bay?

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | August 25, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Bruce should wear a big red mesh trucker hat that says.."Coach of the Year."

Posted by: Anonymous | August 25, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

"Bruce should wear a big red mesh trucker hat that says..'Coach of the Year.'"

Well, since the sportswriters got it right at the end of last season, he doesn't have to. ;)

Posted by: Sapper | August 25, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Karl Alzner will have more points than Mike Green this year.

Book it.

Posted by: Villainaire | August 25, 2008 4:20 PM | Report abuse

@ Villainaire: Wanna bet?

Posted by: Ben | August 25, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

if Alzner gets more points than Green this year, then Green will find himself on the block and shipped out quicker than Nylander!

Posted by: mike b | August 25, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Back from vacation but I still see you poor saps are giving Alzner the Calder already.

The only way Alzner has more points than Mike Green is if Mike Green (WHO!!!!) gets hurt in the first game or Alzner plays on my team at Ballston.

Posted by: #94 | August 25, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Geeez! I hope B.B. is wrong when he says:

"No matter what, we know there are going to be a lot of injuries."

Does coach know something we don't?

Posted by: red dragon | August 25, 2008 4:53 PM | Report abuse

"Does coach know something we don't?"

I hope so...he's the friggin coach.

Posted by: Ben | August 25, 2008 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Since Alzner is a defense first D'man, the chances of him out-scoring Green are miniscule and not even something he would strive for. Alzner has said repeaatedly that he thrives on shutting down the other team, not on scoring goals. I'd bet dinner he has less SOG than Green has points.

Posted by: Bob | August 25, 2008 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Amen Ben

Posted by: AP | August 25, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

I would dare to make that wager......Alzner will have more shots on goal than Green will have points...provided he is with the Big Club the majority of the time.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | August 25, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Strong Roots | August 25, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Alzner will not have more points than Green. He will have more blocked shots, hits, poke checks, deft passes, good defensive corner work, and maybe just maybe a clear out or two in front of Jose. Not Calder trophy stats but stats to make a deep run.

Posted by: Harry | August 25, 2008 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Agreed on Alzner. He may develop more on the offensive side eventually, and has stated that as a goal of his, but for now he's a stay at home guy who makes smart plays.

Posted by: Sombrero Guy | August 25, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Chief, you say some REALLY stupid things... THINK, then type.

Better yet, just forget the part where you tell us what you're thinking altogether.

And I don't understand the Erskine haters. He is a hard-working, in-your-face Dman and he certainly developed better positioning and timing as last season progressed.

We should be rooting for him to continue to improve and to be a big part of our D. He's the only one we have to fits the traditional tough D-man mold...

Thanks for the writeup, Tarik. You are easily the most well-informed, committed and unbiased reporter to cover the Caps since I started paying attention back in the mid 80's.

Posted by: notfadeaway | August 25, 2008 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Tarik didn't say anything about Bruce writing his notes out on napkins like our last coach named Bruce...

Posted by: Oviwan Kenobi | August 25, 2008 7:12 PM | Report abuse there's a blast from the past. I forgot all about him.

Giroux? Hmm...

Thanks for the scoop, Tarik! This blog post got me all fired up. Training camp starts 3 weeks from Saturday, ladies and germs. And rookie camp is the previous week. Too bad I'll be working when our rookies scrimmage with the Flyers rookies!

Posted by: LOL @ Ben | August 25, 2008 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Yo Super,

I need to holla at ya.....My phone is screwed til Friday. hit me on the space.

Posted by: #94 | August 25, 2008 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Go away for a while, come back and find this gem.
This place is going to be brutal during the season.

"Does coach know something we don't?"

I hope so...he's the friggin coach.

Posted by: Ben | August 25, 2008 4:54 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | August 25, 2008 11:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised Oskar Osala wasn't mentioned as being in the mix of fringe forwards. Too soon for Osala, perhaps?

Posted by: Caps fan in TN | August 26, 2008 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Former Mississauga IceDogs forward Oskar Osala is raring to go.
With the start of the National Hockey League season just around the corner, the Vassa, Finland native is ready for the rigours of professional hockey.
Osala, 20, signed a three-year entry level contract with the NHL's Washington Capitals in June and played for the Espoo Blues in Finland last year. He scored 18 goals and 17 assists in 53 games and amassed 62 penalty minutes.
He was also named Finland's Rookie of the Year.
He finished second on the team in goals, fifth in assists and points and was tied for third in penalty minutes.
"(Coach) Bruce Boudreau really liked him in training camp last season and was very impressed," said Capitals general manager George McPhee. "(He) wanted to make sure we got him (Osala) signed, so he got his wish."
The six-foot-four, 217-pound left wing, who was the Capitals' fourth-round choice in 2006, played for the IceDogs of the Ontario Hockey League from 2005 through 2007, collecting 87 points in 122 games.
At last year's IIHF World Junior Championships, Osala shared the tournament lead with four other players after scoring five goals.

Posted by: King | August 26, 2008 8:41 AM | Report abuse

I'd love to see these to start and see how they mesh

OV Backs Fehr
Koz Nyl Semen
Brooks Feds Clark
Brash Steck Brads

I'd keep Feds with Clark and Brooks, would be could be a serious shut down line

Gordon/Flash extra

Posted by: Line Combo | August 26, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

I agree with notfade away, Erskine is a beast and brings toughness on D so Green can push the puck up (morrison does the same). As for "yuck", you sir are an idiot if you think sami lepesto would be better than erskine or jurcina, alzner maybe but lepesto no

Posted by: Anonymous | August 26, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

@Line Combo

I like those lines, except I'd switch Kozlov and Fehr.

I ultimately think that Clark is going to end up on the top 2 lines (once he shows he's healthy), but I hope that Fehr gets a shot at proving he's a top 6. If he can find a way to step up and score 20 goals, letting Clark play on the 3rd line, this team will be very successful (tho of course I think they will be successful either way).

Posted by: Jeff | August 26, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Privately I hope Erskine makes the team, because I know he works hard for every chance he gets, but aside from toughness, he's lacking in skill compared to other 5/6 defenseman.

Just watch if he's ever caught out there against other top 1 or 2 lines, he can't handle the speed of the game because he can't move his feet fast enough.

If he's matched up against line 3 or 4 - yeah, he can handle it, but that's my issue with Erskine.

Further - the Caps are relatively soft up front - Clark's coming back from injury, Brashear & Bradley are on 4th line, we lack some grit on top 2 lines.

That's why we brought in "Sandpaper" Cooke last year at the deadline and I never saw him hit anyone...hence he was let go.

Looking at our defence, well - the only one who fought in the play-offs was Mike Green - so that should tell you something.

Also consider - our defense was soo bad, we had to put Fedorov on the point, who was exhausted by Game 6/7.

That's why everyone was suprised we didn't upgrade our defense, even if we had/have Alzner coming into the mix.

Maybe McPhail has another surprise training camp project coming to camp this season?? Sylvain Cote anyone??

Posted by: Jaymagz | August 26, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Crystal ball tells me waiver wire acquisition is coming, of course to be a former player.
Could it be Doig, Henry or Fortin ?

Posted by: Chief | August 26, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse




That's how I'd start, depending on Clark's health.

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | August 26, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

methinks Chief's crystal ball needs to be windexed.

Posted by: Sombrero Guy | August 26, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Me Too...

Posted by: Pablo | August 26, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

@Jaymagz---Since when does the GM of the Baltimore Orioles have anything to do with the Caps???!!!

Posted by: Phil R | August 26, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Hockeybuzz is calling us an interested party in Marik Malik. 6-6 240 lb. stay home.

It is interesting since NY Rangers are going after Sundin. They will need to move things to make room.

Malik has had some impressive (+,-) numbers but had some injuries last year.

Could the Caps use this guy?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 26, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

@ Chief,
Maybe Langway is comming back?

Posted by: UR a @ss | August 26, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Ben, very well said. Just say it like it is.I still can't stop laughing,thanks.

Posted by: capsfaninGa. | August 26, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

ben very well put.just tell it like it is.thanks i can't stop laughing.

Posted by: capsfaninGa. | August 26, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Gotta say, getting psyched up for the year. Going to be an interesting camp as we'll have some NHL-caliber players that won't make the squad. That's so nice to say!!

Posted by: Caps fan in NJ | August 27, 2008 7:52 AM | Report abuse

"These are a few of the viable guys if... somebody who's not ready to pull up there socks right at the start."

Somebody like Fleischmann?

Posted by: MikeZ | August 28, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

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