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Jason Chimera 'questionable,' Tom Poti out

As I mentioned here last night, I could not adjust my travel schedule to attend practice in Ottawa this morning. But I just caught up with some of the players and Coach Bruce Boudreau here in St. Louis. So here's a quick update:

*Fourteen players took part in this morning's optional skate at Scotiabank Place, which is a lot for a team that has had as busy a schedule as the Caps in recent weeks and just played back-to-back games on the road. That tells me they're upset about the way things have gone in recent games and wanted show the coaching staff (and each other) that they haven't "checked out" early ahead of the upcoming Olympic break, which begins after Saturday's game in here against the Blues.

*Jason Chimera (groin strain) skated this morning, but is doubtful for tomorrow. Sounds like the training staff wants to let him heal up over the break and come back healthy.

*Tom Poti (groin strain) did not skate and won't play tomorrow. But Boudreau said he "has no doubt" that the veteran defenseman will be ready to go March 3 in Buffalo.

*Shaone Morrisonn (stomach flu) practiced and is expected to suit up tomorrow.

*Semyon Varlamov, one day after his first NHL action in more than two months, did not shown any adverse effects from the groin and knee injuries that had sidelined him, Boudreau said. So that means he's ready to join Team Russia for the Olympics. He'll back up Jose Theodore tomorrow.

*The NHL Olympic roster freeze went into effect at 3 p.m. A number of teams made moves, but the Caps stood pat.

I'm a lot behind, so I better get cracking on my story for tomorrow's paper, which will focus on the Caps' slow starts. After dominating first periods for much of the season, they've surrendered the first goal in each of the past six games and trailed after the first period in four of them.

There are some different theories about why this has happened. But everyone could agree on this much: It's got to stop.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  February 12, 2010; 4:32 PM ET
 | Tags: Bruce Boudreau, Jason Chimera, Semyon Varlamov, Shaone Morrisonn  
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Next: John Carlson recalled (update)

Comments

"A number of team made moves, but the Caps stood pat"

Not really. There were only 3 trades all day, and only 2 of them were of any significance.

Posted by: jnickbarone | February 12, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

not sure why the Rags picked up Shelley. They already have Voros and Prust. Brashear I think is on waivers. And they have one of the minor league's better tough guys in Justin Soryal. And another tough power forward type in Dane Byers. A little overkill at the same position. Especially considering Torts hates to dress tough guys. Looks like he and Sather on totally different wavelengths.

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 12, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

I don't agree with BB's decision for tomorrow at all. Varlamov should start so we can see how he bounces back. I don't think he wants to go into the break with that Ottawa game being his last game. If anything BB should've started Theo yesterday and Varly Saturday since Ottawa was so hot. I just think it's wrong not to start Varlamov tomorrow. Wouldn't another game help him shake off more of the rust? Don't think he'll be doing anything in Vancouver except sitting on the bench watching Russia play.

Posted by: rachel216 | February 12, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Add a D-man

Posted by: doughless | February 12, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

we're 15 points up on the Pens...And they are the greatest hockey team ever assembled....so Im happy...

Posted by: SA-Town | February 12, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

we're 15 points up on the Pens...And they are the greatest hockey team ever assembled....so Im happy...

Posted by: SA-Town | February 12, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Agree they should start Varly tomorrow. Why make him wait so long to play again especially after that shaky game.

Posted by: CAPSHOCKEY2 | February 12, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

I say start Theo. He desrves a start with his play the past month. Also, with Varly coming back from a muscle injury they may be conservative in pushing him too quickly. Especially with a two week break on the horizon.

While Varly is very unlikely to see any playing time in Vancouver, he will see some very tough competition and amazing shots during practice.

Posted by: sgm3 | February 12, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Let Theo finish off before the break. Varly's young and will get his opps. before it's all said and done. I fully expect he'll retake the job from Theo and finish the season.

Posted by: visionof75 | February 12, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Of course start Theo. Varly showed he is not ready. He will benefit from the time practicing in Vancouver, and he can get a fresh start after the break. Theo's earned his starts. Moreover, the team needs a win headed into the break. Varly is too chancy at this stage.

Posted by: Sonyask | February 12, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

One way or another, here's hoping for a Caps win going into the break -- for their own confidence and peace of mind.

Granted that won't solve all their weaknesses but it can give Ottawa, NJ, Pittburgh, and Buffalo a little less hope of catching the Caps (and less confident of pulling off the playoff upset).

Posted by: CapsFan75 | February 12, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

I'm more concerned with seeing the Caps tighten up their game and show some sign of being able to keep the puck out of their net than winning or losing the next game.

The overall team defense has been so unbelievably bad for several consecutive games that I have serious doubts about this team being able to win 4 rounds of playoff-style hockey.

C'mon, Caps, make me believe you're not the Phoenix Suns of the NHL.

Posted by: tmac2yao | February 12, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Should start varly. We should be st. louis pretty good. They are bad, we are really good. This is a game the team should win easily.

I really hope mcPhee tries to sew this away with a few moves. To me, it's time to move Schultz. His value will NEVER be higher. His stats are bloated. I would like to see the team land a few impact players. A move or two could really cement our place, at least in the Eastern Conf. Plus, if we stand back, and watch Pitt, NJ, Philly, Ott, TB(scary) get better, it could make things interesting. I think a pretty good team will finish 8th in the East.

With contracts, window will not be open for long. We can't keep all OV, Backs, Semin, Green, Flash, Fehr for more than this year. Someone, maybe two will be gone.

Go After a UFA:
Neidermayer
Kaberle
Kubina
Whitney
Tkachuk
Modano

Or, a guy with one more year left, like Arnott. How good would Semin, Arnott and Laich on line 2 be? Flash and a prospect (not Carlson, Varly, or Neuvy). Then trade for a UFA D. Trade for Hamhuis too. We won't be able to resign Flash anyway. He's older, but signed for another year at a reasonable 4.5. Nashville probably won't want to trade him, but maybe they want to see him have a run at a cup. Maybe Poile would want to deal.

Flash
Alzner
2nd

for
Arnott
Hamhuis


Future is now.

Posted by: underpants2 | February 12, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

A few people in the media have compared the Caps to the Edmonton Oilers of the 80's recently and while there are some similarities, there are two big differences:

1. The Oilers used to kill everyone on 4 on 4, it was like PPs to them so the NHL went on to ban it. The Caps are not good at all on 4 on 4.

2. The Oilers won a lot of high scoring games but they also won their share of the 2-1 and 3-2 games in the playoffs... they were not an one dimensional team. Whether you are a high scoring or low scoring team, the defensive structure has to be there.

The last 3 Caps' games have been all high scoring but they LOST 2 outta 3... aren't they supposed to beat everyone in such games?

Posted by: joek443 | February 12, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

I'm more concerned with seeing the Caps tighten up their game and show some sign of being able to keep the puck out of their net than winning or losing the next game.

Posted by: tmac2yao

I completely agree, but I am hopeful. They had long stretches when the defense and goal-tending finally clicked, and they seemed to have corrected so many of last year's weaknesses. As Boudreau said, they fall into bad habits regularly, and this is one of the times.


Posted by: caraveli | February 12, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Could someone explain to me what the story is with Bourke? First he makes it to the team, then he goes to Pittsburg and now he is back at Hershey?

Posted by: caraveli | February 12, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

To me, it's time to move Schultz. His value will NEVER be higher.

Future is now.

Posted by: underpants2 | February 12, 2010 8:55 PM

if you truly believe that the future is now, then there is very little to discuss about some of your suggestions.

i - however do not believe that this is the caps only shot.

Ted and GMGM have tried to build this team so that it has a chance to win each year - at least while ovi is under contract.
it is true that they might not be able to keep those players you mention - but why would you want to start giving away pieces that very well could be major assests in the near future.

i pretty much disagree with everything you've stated except possibly 'I think a pretty good team will finish 8th in the East.'

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | February 12, 2010 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Bourque's Story:

He was a good prospect. Caps' organization liked him. Unfortunately, the cap situation (Nylander was still with the team) was tight so they waived him. PIttsburgh picked him up. He played a few games, but Pittsburgh wasn't impressed with his performance so they put him on waivers. Caps (now Nylander-less) picked him up, and that's how he ended up being back with the organization.

Posted by: elicea | February 12, 2010 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Even great teams lose games occasionally and sometimes they don't look good when they lose them. In the NHL, there just isn't enough difference between the best teams and the worst teams so that a team can expect to win when it doesn't play well. It is not surprising that the Caps had a couple of bad games. While it is quite reasonable to suggest that some improvement on the D side at the trading deadline would be welcome, it is surely not time to panic and start making big changes.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | February 12, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

go with Theo in St. Louis. Bruce showed his confidence in Varly by not yanking him in Ottawa. eeward Jose for good recent work and make Varly earn his way back

agree with the need for a new Dman—preferably a veteran with a cup ring who can show the way for our youth in the playoffs

as far as who to trade? i disagree with the Schultz suggestion: if his stats are bloated i doubt the NHL GMs will be fooled. i also think he is worth keeping

Posted by: mcintire_will | February 12, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Kirk, I would agree that we should hold onto the assets. if we are to trade for a D man it should be for no more than picks and some of our lesser prospects. worse case we move forward with what we have. not bad considering we are leading the conference without our #1 goalie for most of the season. the playoffs are all about being healthy, if we can do that we have a great chance

anyone that says Semin should be traded is out of their minds...he is a steal @ 6 M next year. you don't trade talent like that for a stay at home D. if necessary we trade him next year...to someone out west for a bunch of picks & a sure thing prospect (ie the defensemen involved in Phenoff (sp?)trade)

Posted by: donkey1 | February 12, 2010 9:35 PM | Report abuse

"anyone that says Semin should be traded is out of their minds...he is a steal @ 6 M next year. you don't trade talent like that for a stay at home D." - donkey1

It's nice to see Semin finally getting some props on this message board.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | February 12, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Caps lose 2 in a row with Chimera out of the line-up. Maybe he is the secret sauce? :^)

Posted by: ccCapsfan | February 12, 2010 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Again, I say - No trades needed. From the time Bruce took the helm, he acknowledged what kind of game he was looking for and clearly stated it would be offense-based. While the defensive game has been lacking recently, it's not because of individual personnel problems, rather a failure of the team to play within the system - not just 1 player screwing up, but everybody missing something at one time or another. Re-school the guys to get back to acceptable "D", including the forwards who have been neglecting their responsibility. Also, give them a break... a 14 game winning streak is almost unheard of these days. Plenty of tough, talented teams motivated like hell to end it. Everybody the Caps have faced have brought their "A" game. Everybody on the roster is perfectly capable. McPhee knows a bit more than EVERYBODY on here, and I am sure Bruce has a few more tricks up his sleeve. They'll be fine.

Posted by: gonchpup | February 12, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

I don't agree that we should stand pat. That stated...

People have short memories. In the 14 game streak we won 9 of those games by giving up 2 goals or less. Prior to the TB loss just before the streak, we won those three games giving up 2 or less.

We are capable of much more behind the blue line than the past 3 or 4 games would suggest. We got complacent. It's over. To quote John Belushi, Let's do it!

Posted by: Sonyask | February 12, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

The 3pm trade deadline turned out to be a real dud. As far as the St. Louis game I understand the theory of giving Varmalov another chance, BUT the Caps don't want to go into the break with a 3 game losing streak. Play the best you have and get a win! One more question for discussion, what does Borque bring to the big club? Seems like he's destined to be a career AHL'er to me, but maybe I'm wrong...

Posted by: kcbrichmond | February 12, 2010 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Q: What does Bourque bring to the Caps?

A: A gigantic noggin that he will use to headbutt opposing defensemen into submission.

Posted by: tmac2yao | February 12, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

pens lose 3-2 in OT, but ruby red lips scored both goals for pit

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | February 12, 2010 10:50 PM | Report abuse

I'm getting tired of the Crosby jokes, even as a nearly 30-year Caps fan, but I must admit that I laughed out loud at "ruby red lips."

Posted by: tmac2yao | February 12, 2010 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Nothing beats,
The difference between Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin is if they didn't play hockey, Crosby would cut hair and figure skate, where as Ovechkin would sell women and guns in Russia

Posted by: Capsnskins1 | February 12, 2010 11:16 PM | Report abuse

Capsnskins1 or Ovechkin would be the first Russin running back in the NFL just so he could still hit people.

Posted by: icehammer97 | February 12, 2010 11:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm getting tired of the Crosby jokes, even as a nearly 30-year Caps fan, but I must admit that I laughed out loud at "ruby red lips."

Posted by: tmac2yao | February 12, 2010 10:54 PM

i'll admit to making fun of someone that possesses skills i could only dream of having. i respect his abilities and talent as a hockey player. through no fault of his own - i grew to dislike the fact that the nhl hyped him and only him when the league came back from the lockout.
so for me its: cindy "ruby red lips" crysby
sorry sidney

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | February 12, 2010 11:40 PM | Report abuse

where as Ovechkin would sell women and guns in Russia

Posted by: Capsnskins1 | February 12, 2010 11:16 PM |


Don't forget blow

Posted by: Fro_ | February 13, 2010 7:23 AM | Report abuse

For those who say the Caps need no tweaks, I totally disagree.

The Caps need a veteran gritty/smart defender to raise their level of play for the playoffs. They let too many teams dump-n-chase and cycle until the defense is worn down and get a goal. Nothing huge, just one player for a role player or two, prospects, and picks (some reasonable combination).

The Caps also need an agitator who can play the PK or a center who can play the PK. The Caps should unload Brendon Morrison who looks weak, tired, out of sorts. The Caps are 24 or 25 in PK; this is no where good enough for a Cup run. Again, no big names, no big trades, no dumping current valued players who have come up through the lean years (e.g. Schultz, Semin, Flash, Laich, Varly, Neuvy and other names thrown around).

The Caps can be a very good playoff team with 2-3 -tweaks- not overhauls, ala NYR/Philly. Keep the core together. Chimera was a good tweak. Cooke and Feds were awesome -tweaks-. More of the same.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | February 13, 2010 7:48 AM | Report abuse

@kcbrichmond

I believe that Theo will be in goal tonight. Or that's what I thought Boudreau said. So no "second chance" for Varly before break.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | February 13, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

@donkey1

Agree. Let's don't trade Semin. Hopefully, they can get him signed for a a few more years.

We do need a few tweaks, like on defense, most likely. No, we couldn't get Phaneuf. (That name's actually a French-Canadian corruption of Farnsworth.)

Maybe next year, we can let the kids (i.e. Alzner and Carlson) try to win jobs with the big club.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | February 13, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Interesting note they put up on the Blues. They are 14-0 in games where they have scored 4 goals or more.

(I assume that is a more normal stat than our track record in that department.)

But, of course, the Blues have done much worse as a team, overall, than the Caps.

Let's hope the Caps are out firing today and go into the break on a good note.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | February 13, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

@ccCapsfan

And only two days ago, someone posted that we should trade Semin since he only scores during unimportant games during unimportant situations. I consider that particular sentiment as total BS.

He's had plenty of game winners this year. And many times, he's opened the scoring or tied the game.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | February 13, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

@icehammer97

On Ovi and NFL:

A generation or so from now, I would not be surprised to see an NFL player, either a tight end or a full back, with the last name of Ovechkin.

"Scoring the touchdown --- Nick Ovechkin!"

Posted by: CapsFan75 | February 13, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

What I don't get is why so many people are so worried about all the other teams tightening up come playoff time and not allowing that many goals, but somehow the Caps are exempt from that.

If everyone tightens up in the playoffs and allows fewer goals, don't you think the same will be true of the Caps?

As others have said, I think we'll be fine with our team. We just need to play the system better. The Pens last year weren't that much better than us on defense. They had the edge a little bit, but not by a whole lot.

Posted by: TheDoubleAlex | February 13, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

"What I don't get is why so many people are so worried about all the other teams tightening up come playoff time and not allowing that many goals, but somehow the Caps are exempt from that."

________________

I was thinking about this recently. I think the Caps do have the ability to really tighten it up when they are on their game plan...they have gone through stretches this season where that is definitely the case. The thing the should focus on, obviously, is doing so on a consistent basis....In the playoffs, they do not want to tighten up for just a stretch, and then have that wear off, and all of a sudden be allowing 20+ goals in 3 or for games worth...They have 20 games remaining after the break, team defense should really be their focus.

I was also thinking though, just because other teams tighten up their D, would that really slow the Caps down that significantly?? They are pretty good at figuring a team out and adjusting their offensive game, whether it takes them a game or so (in a 7 game series)as seen with New York Rangers series, or a period or two as seen when they played against the Red Wings.

All I am thinking is even though they lost to the Sens...The Sens were playing a very hot goaltender, and a very good PK unit (it seemed that way anyhow), and were blocking shots left and right (29!) and yet the Caps still put 5 goals in their net...I wouldn't say that that game had a playoff like feel to it, but I just do not think that most D would really stifle our Offense all that much.....

Sure, tweaks to the lineup would be welcomed, improvements always are, but I agree with the fact that the Caps have the ability to tighten things up when they are playing team Defense...

Go Caps!

Posted by: The_Stanley_Caps | February 13, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

NHL Regular Season average goals scored per game 2008/09 = 5.86

NHL Playoff average goals scored per game 2008/09 = 5.49

Not much of a difference.

Posted by: JSchon | February 13, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

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