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Catching Up With Erskine, Bradley and Gustafsson

With training camp fast approaching, more players are returning from their offseason homes and settling back into their Washington digs. They're also coming to KCI for informal practices each morning.

Today, new arrivals John Erskine, Matt Bradley and prospect Anton Gustafsson joined Boyd Gordon and former Caps Jeff Halpern and Brent Johnson for some drills and a spirited scrimmage. (Johnson, by the way, was wearing a Penguins jersey and black and gold pads with a matching blocker and glove. Weird.)

Erskine told me he's fully recovered from the broken foot he suffered in the conference semifinals against the Pens. He also said he does not feel any additional pressure to be the Caps' new "policeman" in the wake of Donald Brashear's departure via free agency.

"I don't think I have to fight more or anything," Erskine said. "Brash was a big part of our team. He was our enforcer. I don't know if they're bringing anyone else in, or if it's just going to be me and Brads."

Erskine isn't an enforcer, but he's 6 foot 4, 220 pounds, is missing his front teeth and has a frightening scowl. He's also proven that he's not afraid to square off with the opponent's heavyweight.

That said, Erskine hasn't been fighting as much in recent seasons. Part of the decline can be attributed to playing with Brashear. But Erskine has also battled concussion problems in recent seasons, forcing him to think twice before dropping the gloves. He fought 13 times in 2005-06 with the Stars and Islanders, yet has fought only 12 times -- combined -- the past three seasons.

"You look at some teams like Detroit, they don't have a big heavyweight," Erskine added. "They have guys that battle and everyone sticks up for their teammate. I don't think you need that one guy who that's a legit heavyweight. It's not going to kill us, I don't think."

Assuming the Caps do not add a designated fighter to the roster, Erskine will be backed up by Bradley. He's dropped the gloves 24 times the past three seasons, though is more suited to squaring off with other feisty/agitator types.

"It doesn't matter to me if we have a tough guy or not; I play the same way no matter what," Bradley said. "A lot of teams nowadays don't have a tough guy and it works to their advantage. Look at Detroit. They don't have any tough guys and they always seem to take advantage on the power play.

"So I'm not really worried about that," he added. "For me personally, I'm more worried about contributing more offensively. In the playoffs there, I began to put some numbers on the board."

After notching five goals and 11 points in 81 regular season games, Bradley raised his level of play in the postseason, earned more ice time and finished with two goals and four assists in 14 playoff games.

"I feel like I should be able to do that all season," Bradley said.

As for Gustafsson, the 21st overall pick in 2008 said he's fully recovered from the concussion he sustained in development camp and is committed to playing in North America this season, even if that means spending an entire season in Hershey.

"My goal is to play in Washington, of course," he said. "But that's a pretty huge step for me, who hasn't played a full season in the highest league in Sweden. I want to fight for a spot here, of course, but I know I will probably play in Hershey. I know that if I keep play [well], I will get my chance here."

Gustafsson said he arrived last week and is staying in Nicklas Backstrom's apartment. He decided to report early in order to have time to set up a bank account, get a credit card and a driver's license, etc.

When I asked Gustafsson what he's been doing for fun since arriving, he smiled and said, "Watching baseball, the Nationals. I never saw it until I came here. I really like it."

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  August 26, 2009; 1:15 PM ET
 
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Next: Steckel: 'Everything Feels Stronger'

Comments

Okay, seriously, we are we letting a PENGUIN work out in our facility? Johnny doesn't play for us anymore, so he shouldn't get to take advantage of our awesome stuff.

Posted by: amberlynne | August 26, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Haha. Calm down Amber. He hasn't even played in a single game as a Penguin. Plus he's a backup anyways. Not like we're letting MAF suit up at Kettler.

I'm more worried about Gustafsson actually making an impact in Hershey/DC this season. That's a high draft pick we used on him and I hope we didn't waste it. I expect a lot from him in this coming training camp. We need a future solid 2-way second line center.

Posted by: ZMANN84 | August 26, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

johnny and those guys are welcome here anytime!once a cap,always a cap at heart.but anyway,i agree with what erskine and brads had to say.we dont really need 1 huge enforcer,we need a bunch of guys that take up for each other.let those other teams get the penalties while the caps cash in on 'em.GETTIN CLOSER!!GO CAPS!!!

Posted by: gratefuldid | August 26, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad Johnny is still here working out, he seems like a great guy.

I wouldn't want to move to Pittsburgh either.

Posted by: thiazzi | August 26, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Is Nylander in town yet? Might be a clue as to whether he brings his family as to what is going on. With all the uncertainty would he not just leave the family in Sweden rather than bring them back here and then he is shipped off to Omsk in November.

Personally I hope he finds a way to make the team. He is way more skilled than Laich or Morrison. But the real thing is whether he can play a style that is more end to end rush. Boudreau seems to be intolerant of the idea of slowing the play down and keeping possession. How cool would it be to have different lines play a different style! That would mess up opponents!! Why not have Nylander try centering Semin. Maybe there is something wrong with Boudreau if he cannot find a way to utilize Nylander's talent successfully?

Posted by: hockeymom03 | August 26, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Nah, put me in the camp that Johnny has to GTFO. I love Johnny and all, and I'm sad to see him go, but that's absurd.

Posted by: CletusVanDamme | August 26, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Is Nylander here yet? Might be a clue as to what is going on whether he has brought his family. It would seem better to leave them in Sweden than find out in November he is being shipped to Omsk. Personally I would like to see Nylander on this team in a capacity that uses his talent. He is way more skilled than Laich or Morrison. The end to end stuff that Boudreau likes suits Ovechkin, but I cannot help but thinking a player like Semin would be more productive with a slower puck possession game like Nylander could assist with. Why not have him center Semin? Would it not be very exciting to have different styles of play for different lines. Some players can play more than one style. Maybe there is something wrong with Boudreau if he cannot find a way to utilize Nylander???

Posted by: hockeymom03 | August 26, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

W/o Brash slowing the fourth line down maybe Brads will score more like he did in the playoffs.

Posted by: capsfan01 | August 26, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

NHL players train at other teams facilities all the time. it's a professional courtesy. believe it or not, just because someone switches teams doesnt mean he is hated by all. get over it. do you think he's picking up tips on how to stop brads on a breakaway or whether erskine likes to go top shelf?

besides, it gives our equipment guy a change to measure his pads incase we need to make that call during a game. perhaps insert a time release capsule of the flu virus in his blocker set to go off in the pens locker room late in the season.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | August 26, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

I hated to hear that Johnny was leaving for the Pens but I won't hold it against him. I wish him the best.

I hope Baby Gus can stay healthy and really show what he is made of in Hershey this year. If he improves enough he could step up next year after SMo is off the books.

And I don't think we need a heavyweight although I loved it when Brash dropped the gloves. I wonder how much he will get into it with us when we play NY this year.

DAMN IT!!!! Is it October yet?

Posted by: pkendrick | August 26, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Oh and am I the only one that thinks we should keep the Laich, Steckel, Bradley line together as our 3rd line? I guess that would make our 4th line Clark, Gordon & Fehr which seems off but I loved the way those 3 played together.

Posted by: pkendrick | August 26, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

or ebola

Posted by: MeatSweats | August 26, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

nevermind. not trying to hurt Brent

Posted by: MeatSweats | August 26, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Maryland basketball will finish with a 15-16 record

No NCAA bid

No NIT bid

Maryland Football will finish with a 2-10 record.

Maryland's defensive line and linebacker corps are a joke --- no pass rush whatsoever and give up a ton of long yardage plays.

I have seen harder hitting teams in powder puff leagues.

The only hard hits the Terps make - are out of bound plays - which cost them an additional 15 yards - which are quite frequent.

California's running back - Best - will gain 296 yards in the opening game

I love it, when Maryland constantly gets embarrassed on national TV.

Prediction:

California -- 56
Maryland -- 10

It's hilarious to see Maryland win a game - and the very next week get clobbered by a Virginia Tech - Boston College.

It is great to see Maryland go down to a crushing defeat on the football recruiting front (the kids they have received commitments from - are a joke! - taking the bottom of the barrel)

Carolina Blue - Carolina WHITE - Go Tar Heels - Let's go Tar Heels !

Posted by: hclark1 | August 26, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Hey hclark, you are on the wrong blog!!! If you want to talk Carolina anything here it better concern your sorry Hurricanes. Caps blog, talk hockey or go away please!

Posted by: PhilR | August 26, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

hclark1, didn't you used to be Gary or some other annoying alias. Go post your retarded predictions and Maryland hating on a football blog.
By the way, how did those predictions work out for you last year? Yeah, that's what I thought. Pathetic loser.

Posted by: MeatSweats | August 26, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

hclark1=dork

Stop wasting your time posting useless things. No one cares about Maryland football&bball!

Posted by: rachel216 | August 26, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Gussy likes the Nats? I hope they do not rub off on him, maybe he went with BB and saw him pitch and wants to throw out a first pitch one day.

Posted by: RichC3 | August 26, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Brooksie, Stecks & Brads are an awesome line. Lets hope they stay together.

With the major improvement in Lumberjack's play after he came back from his concussion, I do not want to see him out with a repeat head bump. Given our oppoenents, I still would like to see a bruiser on our team. Ivanans anyone??

i for one would like to see a line with Nyls, a sniper (take your pick) & a guy in front of the net (Knuble). that combo of skill sets could do some damage. i don't think all of our offensive lines need to rush it up ice and shoot. the Rags figured that out real quick.

Posted by: doughless | August 26, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

I can not see Knuble on any line but Backie's and Ovie's......now maybe Knuble could teach Fehr a thing or two and the second line could be Nyls/BMo, Semin, and Fehr in front of the net....put some schoolin' on him Knuble!

Posted by: PhilR | August 26, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

i have my doubts about Fehr (Flash, too)

Posted by: doughless | August 26, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

For those of you wondering about Nylander he was still in Sweden as of yesterday.

Posted by: ThePat | August 26, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

We should send Nylander out there to "goon it up" and go after guys like Brashear and Orr.

Posted by: SA-Town | August 26, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Apparently SA-Town wants Nyls on IR

Posted by: pkendrick | August 26, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Just what some of us have been saying, maybe kittypawz said it first, Detroit does just fine w/o an enforcer.

To Johnson haters: He wanted to come back to the Caps but wasn't offered a contract. He signed a one-year deal at/near the league minimum. I've never met him, but it sounds like he's a great guy. All the best to Johnny, but all the worst to Pitt. May Johnny lose all his starts 1-0 so also Crysby and Malkin go pointless.

Posted by: tominfl1 | August 26, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

lots of ex caps have played in the facility while they are on other teams. our caps play in other facilities while they are away. all the people who say brent shouldnt practice here are showing their ignorance of the sport.

Posted by: jobrie18 | August 26, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

I like PhilR's idea of Fehr on the 2nd line. That gives us 2 lines with a Sniper, a pivot and a big body in front of the net. But there is no way I see Flash as a 4th line winger. Not to mention that Aucoin is under a 1 way contract this year which means he is either on the Caps roster or he gets stolen off the waiver wire.

I could see Aucoin on the 4th line though which means Flash and Nyls would be the 2 under 1 way deals who would be scratches most nights.

I also want to see Bourque be given a spot on the roster. He is a little ball of energy and is EVERYWHERE on the ice.

Posted by: pkendrick | August 26, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

FYI...the way I understand it a one way contract doesn't necessarily mean you have to clear waivers when you are sent from NHL to lower level. one way means you get paid the same salary whether you are with NHL team or lower level team. sorry if i screwed that up.

Posted by: doughless | August 26, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

That is correct doughless but if he starts in one place or the other he has to clear waivers to go up or down. Anyone can feel free to correct me as I am not 100% sure of this either.

Posted by: pkendrick | August 26, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

from NHLSCAP.com

-- “The waiver status of a player is determined by whether he has a 1-way or 2-way contract.”
Answer: False. Whether a player has a 1-way or 2-way contract has absolutely no effect on his waiver status – it has to do with the number of years since the player signed his first NHL contract and the number of NHL games he’s played since signing. In fact, there are ten (10) players who have 1-way contracts for 2007-08 and are exempt from waivers.


the full web content is very informative on waiver issue. here is the link:

http://www.nhlscap.com/waivers.htm

Posted by: doughless | August 26, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

doughless I believe you get paid the same amount regardless of where you are playing....but you do in fact have to clear waivers.

Posted by: ThePat | August 26, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

and nevermind I guess I am wrong.

Posted by: ThePat | August 26, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

it is all very complicated

Posted by: doughless | August 26, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

ThePat, it is complicated but I am sure I read that Aucoin specifically would have to clear waivers.

Posted by: pkendrick | August 26, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Flash is much better than Fehr. And I am sick of seeing Fehr described as power forward because of his size. (no one here said that, but it gets implied a lot.) Until he starts using his size effectively, he is just going to be an okay depth forward with flashes of brilliance. He doesn't have the skill in the NHL to be a pure goal scorer, he has to start getting creative. Maybe Knuble will show him how to stand in someone's crease and hit occasionallly. Flash also, at least from what I see, plays a two-way game more often than Fehr. Granted neither of them seem to like to backcheck consistently, but Flash at least sticks out in my mind for his "Datsyukian" like steals.

Flash should be above Fehr until Fehr earns his cookies.

Problem is that Semin and Flash don't see to click that much, though they did have a few amazing looking goals if I remember. Semin was involved, I think Flash was there as well.

Re: BJ and practicing.

It's awesome. It's even more awesome that he is wearing his new equipment. I mean you can't blame the guy, hockey players like to be very comfortable with their equipment, especially goalies. BJ rules.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 26, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I live in Virginia and have never, ever, ever, ever, ever given even an ounce of care to whatever the hell the Maryland Terps are famous for playing. What is it, Basketball? I think someone from my class plays there..Eric Hayes? He went to my high school. That is about all I know about Maryland Turtles.

a failing troll are funny trolls.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 26, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Also, I am pretty positive Aucoin has to clear waivers as well. That is why he is always calculated in with the forwards against the cap currently.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 26, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

I like Aucoin. He has good energy and did great for us in Hershey. I jus saw him get pushed around too much when he came up.

Bourque is the same height but has a better build, better hockey sense, more energy and more upside. I really hope he can make the team even if it is just as a 4th line winger right now.

Posted by: pkendrick | August 26, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Nah, put me in the camp that Johnny has to GTFO. I love Johnny and all, and I'm sad to see him go, but that's absurd.

Posted by: CletusVanDamme | August 26, 2009 2:12 PM |

Why is it absurd? Absurd is the amount of Caps fan who actually take their hate against the Pens seriously. I was there for the Patrick and 90s too, but still, it's homerdom at its finest. Rivalries should be all in good fun. Make cry jokes, call Malkin Shrek...but do you seriously find that a former Cap, who lives around DC, was wearing his new goalie equipment and jersey to an informal practice absurd? Do you seriously hate the Pens and Crosby in your heart? It's obviously not offending the actual Caps players.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 26, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Aucoin looked better to me than Bourque on the call-up. Just my take. To be honest, Bourque looked a bit lost sometimes.

I like Aucoin too, and since we have a cluster-buck of NHL capable 3/4 liners right now, I don't see why they all shouldn't get a chance sometime during the season.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 26, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Aucoin and Borque both have skils. their downside is size. Bourque better bring it soon. he has gotten some opporutnities with the Caps and didn't really show that much. if he doesn't take it to the next level, he may be trade bait. not sure he wants to spend his whole career in the AHL.

Posted by: doughless | August 26, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

By the way though, I do hate Petr Nedved. With a passion.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 26, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

They are listed at the same height but Bourque is more solid and I believe he is at least 10lbs heavier.

Also, I believe Aucoin is listed at 5'8" but when he did the intermission interview with Al Koken they were looking eye to eye and Aucoin was on skates. And anyone who has been to Clydes after the games knows that Al is not that tall.

Posted by: pkendrick | August 26, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I expect Fehr OR Flash--but not both, alas--to start living up to their most favorable notices this year. I'd like to see a healthy Fehr get solid minutes for 15 straight games before I write him off; he seems to me less averse to traffic than Flash.
If Caps have any professional courtesy, they should extend it to Brent Johnson (until he's in the opposing goal. Then you drop an affectionate 5-spot on him).
Brash made three big plays last year, and I can only recall two of 'em. If Caps have a big problem, lack of a 5th-line puncher aint it.

Posted by: redlineblue | August 26, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

I would take a beating for 4.5 mil..I think Nylander should too...him and Brash...right off the faceoff...man vs man...

Apparently SA-Town wants Nyls on IR

Posted by: pkendrick | August 26, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: SA-Town | August 26, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

c'mon SA. You know Semin beat the tar out of Nylander just last week, outside some Russian restaurant in NYC.

Posted by: redlineblue | August 26, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Unless Brent Johnson starts talking smack about having been a Capital, I don't see any point being upset with him playing at Kettler until he's a full-fledged Penguin. Afterwards, I don't think we'll be seeing him at Kettler all that much when he's with "them".

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | August 26, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

By the way though, I do hate Petr Nedved. With a passion.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 26, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Add Shawn McEachern to my list of most hated Pens. Will never forgive him for his behind the play spear to the back of Calle's knee in the 1994 playoffs that almost ended Calle's career. Nothing but a gutless cheap shot.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | August 26, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse


I totally agree with keeping the Brooksie, Stecks, Brads line together. They really had good chemistry and worked well together, especially in the playoffs. They were our best line in the playoffs night after night, which the media constantly commented on. Also, when Brooks was on the 3rd line with Stecks and Brads the team was 6-2 in the playoffs and when Brooks was moved up to the 2nd line with Semin and Feds the team was 1-5 in the playoffs.

Posted by: theresa21 | August 26, 2009 6:09 PM | Report abuse

I sincerely doubt that Brent Johnson will face the Caps as a Penguin unless something happens to MAF. They may have won the playoff run last year, but the Caps weren't a joke. I'd bet on the Pens taking the Caps seriously this season - and if not, all the better :) :) :)

As others have said, the one-way / two way contract thing isn't related to waivers, it just determines whether you're paid the same regardless of where you play or if you're paid more in the NHL. Exemption from or eligibility for waivers is determined by a player's age, number of professional games played, and number of seasons since his first professional game. This is defined in Article 13 of the CBA (PDF; the relevant material is on page 86 of the PDF.)

Bourque, being between 20 and 25 at 23, is eligible for waivers for three seasons, starting with the one in which he first appeared professionally. He first debuted in '07-'08, so this season is the last season in which he will be exempt from waivers; he'll be waiver-eligible in 2010-2011. Aucoin, being over 25 and having played in the NHL last season, is waiver-eligible this year. So's Sloan, by the by.

I think that Aucoin and Bourque both bring skills to the table, and I think that both of them will start in the lineup, at least until Fehr is fit to play. Bourque, however, being exempt from waivers will be the first one sent down; Aucoin will likely stay. Also, I have a personal hockey crush on Chris Bourque and want to see him in red long-term.

Posted by: kittypawz | August 26, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

After reading Tarek's article, I am now completely perplexed as to why the Caps doubled Erskine's salary and resigned him so early. At the time. the logic reason seemed to be that Brash would be leaving and Erskine would take on that role.

Posted by: NovaCath | August 26, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

NovaCath: Er, Erskine was actually solid on his comeback from that concussion. It might be that they just see something in him that a lot of fans don't. That's why they're in the locker room and we're in the stands :)

Posted by: kittypawz | August 26, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

nova, i think the reason is that he was/is our only true stay at home rugged dman. he was also a pending free agent. the team took a risk in locking him up for two years at a very reasonable number vs. losing him or having to resign him to a bigger number. if you watched him play the later half of the season and the playoffs, i think you would agree that it has been money well spent. his toughness was also a factor too.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | August 26, 2009 6:32 PM | Report abuse

http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog.php?post_id=22678

Backstrom finally getting some much deserved love!

hockeybuzz is what it is, but Hindle is the man.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 26, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Also, I have a personal hockey crush on Chris Bourque and want to see him in red long-term.

Posted by: kittypawz | August 26, 2009 6:14 PM

haha. :)

His brother was drafted by the Rags this year. He went later. Let's get his rights!

Posted by: richmondphil | August 26, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse

If Aucoin and Bourque make the big club where are they going to play and who is going to sit? First line is set OV, Backs and Knuble. Second line is Semin, BMo and ? Third line is Laich Stecks and Brads. That leaves Clark, Fehr, Flash, Gordo and Nyls to fill the 2nd line wing and the fouth line. Gordo will center the forth line. Has Clark recovered and his old self, can he fill the 2nd line wing spot? I don't see Fehr, Flash and Nyls as fourth line types. Are Aucoin and Bourque checking line types? Maybe, I guess we will have to wait for them to start playing the games.

Posted by: fatboy08 | August 26, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse

@fatboy08: Bourque can play a checking / fourth line; I liked him on Steckel's left side the game he played against Buffalo. Clark is a straight-up right wing, Flash is a straight-up left-wing. Fehr is probably out for the start of the season and I have a feeling that Nyls is going to sit most nights at this point. My imaginary lines look something like this, assuming all starters come out of training camp and no trades:

Ovi - Backstrom - Knuble
Flash - Morrison - Semin
Laich - Steckel - Clark
Bourque / Aucoin - Gordon - Bradley
Nylander
Fehr (Aucoin / Bourque if Fehr goes on LTIR)

Green - Mo
Schultz - Poti
Pothier - Erskine
Jurcina

Varlamov
Theodore

I'm assuming a HELL of a lot here, folks - I anticipate a trade or two before the start of the season, so don't be surprised to see some tweaks to that.

Posted by: kittypawz | August 26, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Well, let me first off say, as a Hershey STH im PUMPED to see Gust come and play for us. Second, IDK whats up with Fehr, but he just moved back into an apartment in hershey, saw it with my own two eyes... bears forward once more?

Posted by: mastromon | August 26, 2009 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Well, let me first off say, as a Hershey STH im PUMPED to see Gust come and play for us. Second, IDK whats up with Fehr, but he just moved back into an apartment in hershey, saw it with my own two eyes... bears forward once more?

Posted by: mastromon | August 26, 2009 9:56 PM |

Well he is probably going to be placed on IR if not LTIR, and will probably come to Hershey well before he would come back to the Caps.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 26, 2009 10:07 PM | Report abuse

just because two teams meet in the playoffs often, doesn't mean it's a rivalry. the bruins lost like 20 consecutive playoff series to the canadiens in the 1970's and 80's, was that a serious rivalry? not in my opinion and neither is the caps/pens "rivalry". the caps gotta beat'em a couple times in the playoffs first before we can call it a rivalry.

Posted by: joek443 | August 26, 2009 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Wait..did you just say the Habs/Bruins didn't have a serious rivalry? What the hell are you smoking, and where do I get it.

Posted by: richmondphil | August 26, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Richmondphil, thanks for the link. You're right, Hindle is the man. Great analysis of Backstrom. I was often surprised he got so little attention from the rest of the media.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | August 26, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Joe443--huh! We don't have a rivalry with the Pens? Your conditions--that we have to beat them in a playoff series first is too narrow a definition for me.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | August 26, 2009 11:07 PM | Report abuse

joeek, by your definition of "rivalry", the Red Sox and Yankees just recently qualified.


Posted by: redlineblue | August 26, 2009 11:09 PM | Report abuse

I still say Johnson - ex-Cap or not - has no business skating on our ice. Move your a** to Pittsburgh and skate on ice they pay for. You wanted to play for them, now get out of town.

Posted by: CAP-lanta | August 26, 2009 11:35 PM | Report abuse

JoeK- you say some really bright things at times and then there's that occasional time where you say something really ..... crazy? Who were the Bruins rivals with then? Why don't you go on a Bruins board and ask them if they think Montreal is their rival. For you to state that the Pens aren't our rival is either incredibly blind or you weren't around in the 80's and 90's.

Weren't you the one telling me to stick to what I know? Seems you might not be real accurate in your rival definitions. So are the Avs and Detroit rivals? Both have won at different times. Just curious.

Maybe NASCAR is your true calling?

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | August 27, 2009 12:57 AM | Report abuse

Good piece on Backstrom. I predict he will lead the NHL in assists this coming season. Yes, Backstrom. Not cindy. Not Jefro Malkin. Backstrom!

Posted by: CAP-lanta | August 27, 2009 1:26 AM | Report abuse

The average NHL salary with 57M cap and 23 roster players is $2.5M.

Erskine therefore earns a "half stipend." His salary of $1.25M is what you would expect to pay then for a third pair defenseman, upper tier (a #5). Defensively he's 2nd pair, offensively 3rd pair at best. I guess I'm saying he's worth the money given the way he played at the end of last season. At the time the extension was signed, though, it didn't seem to make sense. If he steps up a bit, he has upside value potential.

Posted by: tominfl1 | August 27, 2009 6:21 AM | Report abuse

Interesting that kittypawz noted that Sloan needs waivers to go down. Aucoin too. Caps won't send them down because if they do, they're GONE. Sloan will be here all year as d-man #7, playing when someone is injured. And I don't have him in the cap calculation spreadsheet:

Green 5.250
Poti 3.500
Pothier 2.500
Alzner (w/bonus) 1.675
Jurcina 1.375
Erskine 1.250
Schultz 0.715
S/T 7 Defensemen 16.265

Notice how Mo is already out. Also, with cap as it is (includes Aucoin), Caps are just over. You can easily imagine them trading Mo and another, or sending Alzner down, and keeping Sloan. At $640K, he is good value. It's just like you can't have tenderloin all the time, sometimes hamburger is the way to go.

Posted by: tominfl1 | August 27, 2009 6:24 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: pkendrick

"I like Aucoin. He has good energy and did great for us in Hershey. I jus saw him get pushed around too much when he came up.

Bourque is the same height but has a better build, better hockey sense, more energy and more upside. I really hope he can make the team even if it is just as a 4th line winger right now."


I am probably in the minority on this but I don't see how Bourque brings more to the table than Aucoin. Bourque only played 8 games in the NHL last season but BB gave him opportunities to prove he should stay. He even played the PP point on a couple of occasions. The result 1 goal and 0 assists in 8 games. Aucoin came up and produced. Yeah, he's a little guy, but he played 12 games had 2 goals and 6 assists. I say if Bourque can be part of a deal that helps move salary we want to move (Nylander, Theo, ShaMo) I say we let him go. I just don't see who is going to bump.

Posted by: fanohock1 | August 27, 2009 6:43 AM | Report abuse

Good morning Kittypawz I guess we agree on the first line. Not sure I like Flash with BMorrison and Semin. I guess because there is no one to stand in front of the net. Maybe Clark,but you say he is the wrong wing, so that leaves Laich. Problem with laich is you break up the Laich Steckel Bradley line. They were very effective in the playoffs. Don't get me wrong, I like Bourque and Aucoin, I think they have a great offensive upside. But if they are playing they need icetime so that they continue to develope. And if they are playing then who is the checking line? Have a nice day!

Posted by: fatboy08 | August 27, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Bourque will also turn 24 this season, while Aucoin is over 30. I'd predict Bourque to make the team just because they foresee him having some upside in the future, whereas Aucoin has probably mostly peaked by now.

Posted by: DC_BCF | August 27, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Fehr needs to learn to get his shot off quicker, that's the difference between scoring in the AHL and almost scoring in the NHL. Maybe Knuble can tutor him and he can change his game a little to get in front more. I also have been putting forth the idea of hockeymom03 about having a Nyls line that plays a puck possession game and gives the opponent a different look. There has to be guys in Hershey who could fit on that line.

Posted by: ds_kelly | August 27, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

I like Aucoin more than Borque too. He makes up for his size in toughness and energy, but it's his age that limits him as a man for the future when compared to Borque

Posted by: Sonyask | August 27, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

I see DC_BF made the point ahead of me, thanks.

That stated, I love watching Aucoin play. He brings and energy to the game that is just about unmatched, and it gets infectious. There is nothing wrong with a hard working team. I'd love to see him here.

Posted by: Sonyask | August 27, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Who cares if Aucoin has reached his full potential? He's good NOW.

Posted by: thiazzi | August 27, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

I bet 1st line will be often like OV-Backs-Semin. OV-?-Semin is a ready pair for Olympics and it is right around the corner.

So Flash-BMo-Knuble and Laich-Steckel-Bradley.

Then ?-Gordon-Clark is our 4th.

And we are set.

Posted by: Rambutan_ru | August 27, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I'll bet if Aucoin played 80 games, 12 mins a game, with a little PP time included (say, give him 80% of Kozzie's 15:39 mins from last year), Aucoin would get 12+25=37. (Kozzie had like 40 pts for $2.5M).

Agree? Disagree?

Even 10+20=30 is easily worth the $500K.

Posted by: tominfl1 | August 27, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

In many ways, the "rivalry" between teams is more between the fans - the players have a bond that fans don't recognize. Brent is out their with his buddies. These guys will put it all on the line for a win, but away from the game may be best of friends. I am certain the boys enjoy having Halpern and Johnson around and I bet other Caps are skating on foreign ice.
Leave Johnson alone... sorry to lose a guy like him.

Posted by: gonchpup | August 27, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

I don't think its weird that Johnny had Penguin-colored stuff. He needs to break in his new pads. Look, he's a goalie. And, the players need someone to shoot at. Its win-win. Plus, my impression is that he's a popular guy so "banning" him from practicing in informal practices wouls be pretty dumb. Its not like Crosby's here working on his moves to get around Erskine.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | August 27, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

I don't have a problem with Johnny being there, or even wearing his new pads/glove/blocker (he's got to break them in some time). But a Pens jersey?!? Come on, Johnny ... you know better than that!

Glad to hear that Erskine and Brads are ready to go, but anyone else tired of hearing the Wings comparison?

I am eager to see little Gus play ... I am curious to see what he has to bring to the table.

Posted by: Boo- | August 27, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I read this blog occassionally because I moved from the D.C. area and I'm interested in the Caps as a challenger to the Penguins. The Caps have a talented team, and I would say most Pens fans have a healthy respect for the talents on the Caps roster.

That said, I wouldn't call the Caps rivals. Pens fans just don't have the venom for the Caps. That's reserved for the Rangers and cross-state rivals the Flyers.

Why do Pens fans dislike the Flyers and Rangers so, but not the Isles? Or the Devils? Or the Caps? I honestly can't say. But it's just not there. It's just not a great two-way rivalry like Steelers-Browns, Steelers-Ravens or Yanks-Red Sox.

You'd think that the Ovechkin-Crosby rivaly would begin to transcend their personal competition, but I don't see it. Put a Caps fan in a Mike Green jersey, and it's just met with a shrug of indifference. Put that same fan in Flyer orange and black, and he might as well have a target painted on him.

Sometimes it's just tough to put a finger on what makes a great rivalry.

Posted by: Jumpy66 | August 27, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

There's no rivalry if one team wins all the key games. If the Caps can knock the Pens out of the playoffs, the rivalry will grow. As far as the Rangers, I suspect that the common dislike for the city and New Yorkers is a factor (personally, I love NYC). As far as the Flyers, how can you not hate a franchise that is synonymous with dirty play.

Posted by: zmega | August 27, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, but this is some of the dumbest things i've ever read. A rivalry, by definition, says absolutely nothing about the other team's fans disliking the other team's fans.

I will spell it out as plain as I possibly can.

Playing ANY team in ANY sport 5/10 times in the playoffs in ONE decade after being in the same division for years = rivalry. Period. Caps/Pens used to be a rivalry, one of the best and funnest to watch..not so much anymore. And until Pens trolls stop repetitively coming here, I will assume that Pens fans DO in fact have some venom for the Caps still.

Bruins/Habs isn't a rivalry? WTF....

Posted by: richmondphil | August 27, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

It's interesting to hear that someone is again dismissing the "strong, emotional disdain" between the Capitals and the Penguins. Of course it's not a rivalry. If it were, we'd get loads of Pens' fans coming on here weeks after barely beating the Capitals to move onto the Stanley Cup finals, to discredit us further and dismiss as just a one-hit wonder.

Oh, that's right, we did get loads of Pens' fans on here. Maybe there is a rivalry. Duh.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | August 27, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I believe the feeling on whether or not the Pens vs Caps is a fan to fan issue. There were Caps fans on here during the playoffs last year that were trashed verbally, and hit with stuff while attending the games in Pittsburgh. I believe it is a rivalry. Now, although I want to puke when I see a Pens jersey in the stadium I dislike Flyers and Rangers (especially after the Jack A's I saw during last year's playoffs) more than Pens fans. The Pens fans I have dealt with don't slosh beer at us or throw empty bottles at kids. I can't say the same for Rangers and especially Flyers fans anymore. The Flyers thing is a trend too. They walk around during the game to refill their beers and then yell crap in some uncomprehendable PA accent rather than watching them game. I have attended every Caps vs Flyers game at Verizon for the last 3 years and it is always the same.

Posted by: fanohock1 | August 27, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Vote for Ovie as D.C.'s most popular athlete over at D.C. sports bog.

Posted by: rachel216 | August 27, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I ranted about the darn Flyers. The Pens vs Caps are a rivalry even though the Pens have dominated in playoff series wins. I will use the same example already used. Please please don't try to tell me that the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry only started when the Red Sox finally won the World Series again. I will put the BS flag up on that. The fact that the Caps and Pens have played each other so many times in the playoffs makes it a rivalry. Now of course I want the Caps to get this turned around and sincerely hope the Pens are in the Caps path the next few years so the Caps and Caps fans can get some payback.

Posted by: fanohock1 | August 27, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Rivalries are generally not felt with the same intensity in both directions, regardless of how often the teams play. Redskins vs. Cowboys, Maryland vs. Duke in bball are examples - the fans of the team that generally wins don't maintain the same intensity as the other way around. A rivalry has nothing to do with the fans disliking the other team's fans? Are you kidding me? See LeftCoast and RP's posts. Pittsburgh fans travel to see their teams more than almost any other fans, so that is not a good indicator. As a Caps fan, I look forward to the day that we can take for granted a victory over the Pens in the playoffs.

Posted by: zmega | August 27, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

fanohock: To prove your point, I don't think the Red Sox and Yankees ever played in the playoffs until the Red Sox won that series a few years back. That is, unless you count the Bucky Dent game. They were a rivalry because Boston hated NY so much.

Posted by: tominfl1 | August 27, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

The Red Sox-Yankees situation is a perfect example. Red Sox fans hated the Yankees at least as far back as the Babe Ruth trade. The Yankees fans didn't begin to match the intensity until the Red Sox became a threat. Always a rivalry? Yes. Always as big a rivalry as now? Not even close.

Posted by: zmega | August 27, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

RichmondPhil... "A rivalry, by definition, says absolutely nothing about the other team's fans disliking the other team's fans." Huh? Are you for real? I completely disagree. And as a Caps fan noted above, Flyers fans are by far the most violent. Their very brand of hockey is trademark violence, and it carries over into the stands with them.

Posted by: Jumpy66 | August 27, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

i love how "look at detroit" is the only thing anyone can say. Hey, Schultz and Alz don't hit but they will be good. Look at Lidstrom. The Caps don't need an enforcer, look at Detroit. I guess as long as you can find one sole example thats all it takes to justify anything.

Posted by: cstanton1 | August 27, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

its cool that Gustafsson will be playing in NA. There's going to be a lot of fun prospects to watch in Hershey this year alogn with Finley, Bruess, SDR etc

Posted by: cstanton1 | August 27, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Rivalries are generally not felt with the same intensity in both directions, regardless of how often the teams play. Redskins vs. Cowboys, Maryland vs. Duke in bball are examples - the fans of the team that generally wins don't maintain the same intensity as the other way around. A rivalry has nothing to do with the fans disliking the other team's fans? Are you kidding me? See LeftCoast and RP's posts. Pittsburgh fans travel to see their teams more than almost any other fans, so that is not a good indicator. As a Caps fan, I look forward to the day that we can take for granted a victory over the Pens in the playoffs.

Posted by: zmega | August 27, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

absolutely true. The Cowboys certainly didn't have the same level of hatred or intensity against the Skins during the 90s when they won 3 superbowls and we had a hard time cracking .500.

Rivalries don't always work both ways like you said. As much as we'd like to think the Flyer fans hate us the way we hate the Flyers, they have a much stronger intense rivalry against the Rangers and Penguins to name a few. And the SE division is just catatonic. I almost don't care about the Floridas, Tampas and Thrash. The Canes are barely on my radar in terms of dislike.

Posted by: cstanton1 | August 27, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Geez I don't know where to begin. I feel a rivalry with the Pens. I can't wait for our payback. Am I the only person who feels this way. I don't think so.

And as for how Pens fans feel about us. Well aside from the numerous Pens trolls that came onto this board deep into July (let's say they don't count), I felt that rivalry when we attended Caps/Pens games in Pittsburgh. We are polite. We are in their house after all. But when we were in our red jerseys during one of their whiteouts we got lots of dirty looks. No one accosted us but I was very uncomfortable. The atmosphere was very intense.

My husband who has been to Rangers games said that he thought that Pens fans were much better than Rangers fans and he wasn't sure that he would ever risk wearing his jersey at Madison Square Garden.
But he certainly agreed with me that it was a very intense experience.

I don't buy into the idea that a true rivalry has to include physical contact or violence. I for example have always been polite whenever we had Pens fans in their jerseys sitting near us--does that mean I don't feel a rivalry because I haven't spilled my drink on them or engaged in trash talk. Of course not. I have a healthy respect for the Pens team. Doesn't mean I like them. Nope I became a Wings fan this year. And I think many Pens fans may well feel a grudging respect for
the Caps at least according to our Pittsburgh friends but not any liking. Pittsburgh fans call Ovie a punk. And a thug.

No--no rivalry at all. On either side!

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | August 27, 2009 6:45 PM | Report abuse

I don`t think we have to worry about an enforcer.If we have a problem we just call up Brandon Sugden.

Posted by: 23right | August 29, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

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