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Crunch Time for Caps

As you've probably figured out by now, there are several scenarios that could see the Caps reach the playoffs. But the one Coach Bruce Boudreau said he's eyeing involves tonight's game between Boston and Ottawa. If that game ends in regulation, and the Caps beat Florida on Saturday, they're in.

Boudreau also said he plans to spend a lot of time in front of the tube tonight.

"I just want Ottawa or Boston to win with no three-point game," Boudreau said. "That's the biggest and easiest scenario. But you'd like to see Florida beat Carolina and you'd like to see Philly lose to New Jersey. You'd like to see all of these things, but in the end, none of it matters [unless] we win tomorrow."

"It's been a good ride," he added. "But we want the ride to last a lot longer."

Center David Steckel, who has been out the past three weeks with a broken finger, said he wants to play tomorrow. But Boudreau said it will be tough to disrupt a winning lineup.

I'll post an update if there's any league-related fallout from the rough end to last night's game (the Lightning racked up 39 minutes in penalties in the final 23 seconds) or from Matt Cooke's hit on Vincent Lecavalier earlier in the period.

Chris Clark didn't participate in today's optional practice, but he said the groin tendon injury that's sidelined him for most of the year continues to improve. Now he just needs to the Caps' season to get a little longer so he'll have a shot at returning.

Also, don't forget to join me for my chat at 2.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 4, 2008; 12:30 PM ET
 
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Next: Record Ratings for Caps

Comments

first!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: some loser | April 4, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I don't see how there cannot be consequences to last night. The player for the Bolts basically came off the bench. Seems like Torts should get more than a fine out of this one. The hit on Vinnie was just a hit, is the hit on Mo nbeing reviewed? So what if Vinnie is a super star? He can rest now!

Posted by: Bob | April 4, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Can anyone confirm that Center Ice is a free preview this weekend?

Posted by: Scott in Shaw | April 4, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Do we want Clark back now? What does that do for our chem? How good is he going to be after missing all year? Can he come in and play playoff hockey that fast? Let him come back next year when he can start in training camp like everyone else. He will lose games for us now.

Posted by: Bob | April 4, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Scott in Shaw

"Can anyone confirm that Center Ice is a free preview this weekend?"

If you have Cox the free preview typically goes through the first few games of the first round of playoffs because it's lumped together with the MLB Extra Innings package.

Posted by: Yosh | April 4, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

We don't need to start Clark or Steckel. Just having them healthy contributes depth and confidence.

Posted by: uncatim | April 4, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

NHL Center Ice is not a free preview. What you may have is MLB Extra Innings as a free preview. But MLB shares the same channels as NHL package, so during the overlapping periods you get both plans.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | April 4, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Comcast and DirecTV has had the free preview for Center Ice in the Baltimore area for the past few games.

Posted by: Center Ice | April 4, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

@Bernie,
I totally forgot about the line change rule. So that means it has to be a "leaving the bench during an altercation" penalty right, which means an automatic fine and suspension?

Posted by: Don Koharski | April 4, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

The player from the Bolts came off the bench during a whistle stoppage after another Bolts player was put in the box. The lineup was supposed to be 5-4 Caps on a powerplay (which was really 5-5 because the Bolts goalie was on the bench) . When the player came on the ice, the ref told him to get back on the bench several times. He did, but the door was not closed and the Bolts coach told him to get back on the ice, which he did before the puck dropped and where he made an immediate skate towards the players to start a fight.

Posted by: 107 | April 4, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

@ Bob

I wondered that too. Is Clark goign to bump Cooke off the second line? IS that an upgrade (at this precise moment in time)? I'm not so sure.

Posted by: Baildog | April 4, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Clark, probably not, although Fehr is doing much.

But Steckel is DEFINITELY needed back. Penalty kill and face off machine.

Posted by: JSchon | April 4, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I think you are an imposter -- the real Koharski can't write.

Posted by: uncatim | April 4, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

So what is the deal w/ watching the Game at Summers, it it guaranteed that they will show the games. I don't think I can stay at home and listen to them online.

Posted by: Super | April 4, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Is there any truth that for fan appreciation night tommorrow there is free beer for the 1st period? God I hope so.

Posted by: Arthur on the Rocks | April 4, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

So if Stecks comes back at C, bumps Brooks to wing, who's the scratch? Flash or Fehr?

Posted by: Steve R | April 4, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Super...
There are better places to go... go to Bugsy's in Old Town...

guaranteed to show the Caps upstairs on every TV, no basketball... volume and huge cap fans...

Posted by: JSchon | April 4, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

@Steve R: please God say Flash

Posted by: Scott in Shaw | April 4, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I love the way Gabbie openly talks about watching what other teams are doing -- it's refreshing. Most coaches usually give the "I'm just focused on our team" -- which you know isn't true.

Posted by: Hook | April 4, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

@Don,
Correct. Not to bore anyone with rule book stuff but a bench minor for too many men can only occur during play. Conversley, a "leaving the bench" penalty can only be assesed during stoppage of play. The referee whistled the call before the linesman ever dropped the puck!

Tortorella is gonna argue for only a bench minor 'til he's Laviolette-red in the face but I'm sure the NHL officials will see it properly. He's facing some suspensions and fines.

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | April 4, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

@JSchon

yah, Ive been there, but it's small and I am trying to watch the games tonight (Bos, Phi, Car)

Posted by: Super | April 4, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

JSchon

"But Steckel is DEFINITELY needed back. Penalty kill and face off machine."

I beg to differ about him being needed back. You don't tinker with a line up that is on a streak like this. Not to mention the face-offs and the PK have been pretty strong in his absence. And I know how you hate stats, so I won't throw them into the mix...but I will ask one simple question...

Who do you scratch upon his return?

Posted by: Yosh | April 4, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

@JSchon

We could always try front page again... NOT!

Posted by: Super | April 4, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Just a question, when is the phone booth going to get LOUD??? If you were there 10 years ago you will remember when the ref could not hear the phone he was holding to his ear on the ice, and it got louder, come on people lets make some noise of friday, this is as big a game as any playoff game we have ever played!!! And it is not LOUD yet, get LOUD!!!!

Posted by: Bob | April 4, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

When Steckel is available...
I see this...

OV/Backstrom/Kozlov
Semin/Fedorov/Cooke
Flash/Laich/Fehr
Brashear/Steckel/Bradley/Gordon

or you could see Gordon centering the 3rd line and Laich as a wing and Flash or Fehr being the scratch. My gut tells me that Fehr gets the scratch before Flash.

Posted by: JSchon | April 4, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

No way Ottawa gets a point tonight, especially without Alfredsson and Fisher.

Right?

Posted by: Olie Troll | April 4, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

The Bolts player never got off the ice last night. I was watching him. He skated towards the bench, got about 5 feet from the door, watched the puck drop and skated as fast as he could to get his butt kicked by Brads, we should have had Brash on the ice. Actually I was hoping Brash would grab the Ompa Lompa by the scruf of the neck and throw him into the 10th row.

Posted by: Bob | April 4, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

@super

Volume is the key for me... Not a fan of watching any sporting event of interest sans volume. Not sure Summers is the answer. I will give FP another shot but they are on a short leash.

Cant think of any place else that would show hockey and volume.

Posted by: JSchon | April 4, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

@ Bob

Make some noise on Friday? You must mean Saturday. If you were there for Tuesday's game, it was much louder than last night.

Posted by: Heidi | April 4, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

@uncatim,

lol...He is still trying to use his opposable thumb properly, that is why he can't hold onto his doughnuts.

Schoenfeld still has a special place here in DC IMHO.

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | April 4, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Re: hit on VL by MC. Hit was a clean shoulder on shoulder so I wouldn't say it was dirty, as JT claimed, but probably should have been called interference since VC didn't have the puck. Could've gone either way. If roles were reversed, we'd probably be screaming about it just as much.

Hit on SM the other night was more clear cut, no penalty since SM had the puck.

No doubt a bummer for both injured players.

Posted by: beanboy66 | April 4, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Yosh, you know I think stats are cool... I have no issue with you or your stats... Stat away...

Steckel, does so much more than Fehr and Flash on an all around game. Steckel is a better face off guy than Fedorov.

Posted by: JSchon | April 4, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

JSchon

I guess I just don't see the need for an upgrade at face-off or the PK right now. You don't fix what ain't broke or something.

Posted by: Yosh | April 4, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

@Bob,
Oh $#!t, I thought the linesman never let go of the puck. So Tortorella actually has an argument?

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | April 4, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm just curious to see who's going to get fined and suspended for the end of that game. I thought that was really crappy what TB did. They had NOTHING left to fight for, so why play that way? Seems stupid. But then again, I can understand their frustration at their season. But I don't condone any of it. I missed the hit on vinnie but I highly doubt it was a dirty hit. sounds more like just stupid frustration and looking for someone to blame.

Posted by: IrresistibleForce | April 4, 2008 1:11 PM | Report abuse

There is something to be said for that. But the 3rd line isnt doing anything even up. Laich and Flash are contributing on special teams.

Laich is more effective as a winger and moving Boyd into the 3rd line center and healthy scratching Fehr makes the third line better and offensively and more responsible defensively.

Add the depth to the PK and face-off situations.

Posted by: JSchon | April 4, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, the Torts-bashers are out in force today in Tampa:

http://www.tboblogs.com/index.php/sports/comments/rainy-day-in-washington/

Posted by: 106 | April 4, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I'd be fine if they kept it intact, but I doubt BB would scratch a healthy Steckel. Just my HO.

Posted by: JSchon | April 4, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

i wouldn't say steckel is a better faceoff guy then fedorov.....

Posted by: blank | April 4, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

I BELIEVE DAMN IT!

TONIGHT: LETS GO KITTENS!
Tomorrow: F' THE KITTENS!

Posted by: Go Skins Go | April 4, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

I feel like Gordon's goal is getting a bit lost in all of this. Ovechkin's was obviously huge and the game winner, but Gordon's goal allows us to walk out of that game with a lot more confidence rather than thinking... "boy, we just barely squeeked by the lowly bolts"

Gordon was also one of the guys we hadn't heard much from other than an empty netter the other night. Has anyone _not_ contributed to this tremendous run? By my count:
- Laich (4 big goals in last 10 games)
- Flash (huge OT goal vs. TB)
- Gordon (last night)
- Brads (goals against TB and Nash)
- Cooke (opened scoring against canes)
- Federov (1 goals and 8 assists in last 10)
- Semin (canes and others)
- Backstrom (those late goals against Atlanta)
- Kozlov (beast last night, 6 points in last 3 games)

Guess that leaves Fehr and Brash. We all know why Brash is there, and I actually think Fehr has played well (we haven't lost with him in the lineup since forever ago, because he was a scrath against Chicago). Of course it's an Ovechkin show (8 goals in last 8 games), but it's really impressive to see everyone else contributing at such critical times. Just wanted to pay a little tribute.

Posted by: TripDonkeys | April 4, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I am not sure how many saw it, but right after Brad kicked butt, Bashear did go over to the bolts bench and invited them to join him on the ice. Ah...no takers...Anyone see that?

Posted by: Rich C | April 4, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone review the washed out goal from Laich last night? If TB's goalie was out of the crease when he was allegedly "interfered" with, does it matter? My understanding was that the goalie had protection only in the crease and the trapezoid. Incidental or not, it looked like a bad call and the goalie was squarely on his feet when the puck went in.

Posted by: dogdaze | April 4, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Yep I mean Sat, getting ahead of myself.

As far as the puck dropping, the guy was still technically coming off the bench, he was the 5th man on the ice, and Torts was sending him out to fight.

Posted by: Bob | April 4, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

The Flyers/Devils game is being broadcast on Yahoo! sports.

Posted by: Arlington | April 4, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Its not worth quibbling about but Steckel is a couple % points better than Fedorov on face-offs.

Flash/Gordon/Laich
Brashear/Steckel/Bradley

is better than

Flash/Laich/Fehr
Brashear/Gordon/Bradley

again, thats just my opinion.

Posted by: JSchon | April 4, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

You would be crazy not to want Clark back. He scores a lot of sloppy goals..and he will be pumped to get back out there. If we get in the playoffs, LET HIM PLAY!

Posted by: fishman | April 4, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

WOW - THE BOYS ARE AWESOME AND EXCITING EVERYONE WHO IS A HOCKEY FAN LOVES WASHINGTON IN SOME WAY (whether they admit it or not) - PEOPLE ARE COMING OUT OF THE WOOD WORK TO BE A CAPS FAN!!!!!!! very cool-never thought I would see it.

One left - remember us all posting about a 7 game winning streak, well I'm not sure we all truly believed it would actually happen, (but we all hoped and prayed it would) - yes JSchon you did also(haha)........
Now we are here today - seeing history in the making in a not so famous hockey town -Washington D.C.!!!!!!!!!
I always knew one day we would shine!!!
LET'S GO CAPS - I AM SO PROUD TO BE A CAPS FAN!!!!!!!!!!
(I'm more proud that I have always been one!)
@TripDonkeys I feel the same way about the contribution EVERYONE is making! Well said!!!!!!!

Posted by: Greenie | April 4, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

THERE ARE STILL TICKETS LEFT FOR TOMORROW'S GAME.

I just bought to in the upper level. There are still a handful of tickets left. Call the Caps.

Posted by: Danny | April 4, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

@Rich C: I saw Brash get sent out by BB. Not a single one of those guys wanted a piece of Brashear. A lot of people think Brashear brings nothing and I hate that. He possesses a huge intangible. Not many cheap shots on our guys this year, huh?

ottawa lost Alfredsson and Fisher. I would rather Boston get bounced. THe caps could take the Sens if they met up.

Posted by: oo7 | April 4, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

JSchon

"Flash/Gordon/Laich
Brashear/Steckel/Bradley

Hmmm...this might be a first, but I think we're actually in total agreement about something :)...

My main problem with many of the line combinations I see brining Steckel back into the line up (and maybe it's because I'm stubborn) is that I think both Bradley and Flash deserve a sweater. Bradley because of the way he excels in his role and Flash because of the (no pun intended) flashes of his true ability.

Posted by: Yosh | April 4, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Coach is right for saturday nite. As much as I like Stecks, let it ride for this last game and don't mess around. Let's get it done Saturday and then we'll see who is ready to go and when.

Posted by: 3VAFAns | April 4, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I tried to find them on ticketmaster...and there are none left.

Posted by: IrresistibleForce | April 4, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Yosh,

I think the "flashes of his true ability" are much fewer and far between Bradley's execution in his role. Bradley has certainly gained my respect this season.

Posted by: Leigh | April 4, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

@Yosh

Then we do agree, Fehr is the odd man out, if Steckel gets a sweater.

Posted by: JSchon | April 4, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

@007,

Totally in agreement about Brash. The intangibles like skating warm ups with the mullet, the power speeches.

The tangibles, like the "A", his 5 goals this season.

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | April 4, 2008 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I dont know. fehr hasnt really shown me anything lately so i would have steckel in to improve defensively and he wont take anything away offensively.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Florida Panthers....Sweep the leg.

Posted by: Cobra Kai | April 4, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm just happy the Laing people have quieted down.

Posted by: JSchon | April 4, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Can anyone confirm that Front Page has the Center Ice package? Personally, I would rather go there than Summers (sound or no sound).

Posted by: Matt | April 4, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

FP does have Center Ice on some TV's. I dont know a thing about Summers.

Posted by: JSchon | April 4, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

@JSchon & Yosh
Agree about Bradley - has my respect totally, but I'm not sold on Flash - his "FEW" flashes were more like glimmers of hope for me. He hasn't convinced me yet!

Posted by: Greenie | April 4, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

It would be insane to change the lineup. BB is too superstitious for that anyway. Stecks has to wait until after Florida. Fehr is the most logical scratch, but they Hershey line has played very well. THey aren't scoring as much as we'd like but they are definitely playing well and getting loads of chances. They are controlling the play in the offensive zone a lot. Its a matter of time. Plus, Fehr missed an entire year! For someone thats missed a full season practically, he's rebounded very well.

Posted by: oo7 | April 4, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Greenie

I'm not sold on Flash - his "FEW" flashes were more like glimmers of hope for me. He hasn't convinced me yet!

I've brought it up before, but almost all NHLers have an integration season - season and a half to get used to the faster game (coming from the AHL). I think those "FEW" flashes have shown he's capable, just not finishing his opportunities. We saw it with Green and we're seeing it with Laich. Me thinks we'll see something similar with Flash next year...I'm not going to give a hard prediction in terms of points, but I'd guesstimate something close to Laich's production this year.

Posted by: Yosh | April 4, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

After Tuesday night's game I decided to take today off because I would either (a) be too hyper to work if the Caps won last night, or (b) too depressed to work if they didn't. I'm still recovering from last night's fantastic 3rd period and post-game festivities. Let's keep the VC rockin' tomorrow night, people. I wanna be able to come home and open the large envelope that arrived yesterday...

Let's Go Caps!!!

Posted by: Jill | April 4, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Im not in favor of changing things up for the FLA game. But if Stecks is back for the play-offs he should be in there.

Clark... I'm a fan... I think you need to find a spot for him, but I get not altering the lines too much too.

Posted by: JSchon | April 4, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Anyone have the link to the chat?

Posted by: shipdriver | April 4, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Chat Link | April 4, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Feels good to be in 8th place after another great win. I have to say that this team is something else. They get a goal scored on them in the first 40 seconds, then score one a minute later only for the refs to make the most ridiculous call ever to take it away (called goalie interference when no Caps players were even near Ramo) and they still come back and pull it out. I don't see how Ovie is not gonna get the MVP now. 65 goals! And huge, huge goals! He's just been total dynamite down the stretch when it counted most. We're 10-1 in the last 11 games! 6 straight wins!

We probably still have to win our last game to get in, unless Philly loses both of theirs.

Tortorella and the Lighting should get a HUGE fine for the idiotic garbage in the last minute. I've never seen that before. They get a penalty and insist on sending a goon on as a 5th player (1 too many!). Even when the ref tells him to climb back the guy circles around and comes back to fight. WTF?! What for? Your team is out of the playoffs, finishing last, you're down 4-1 with 40 seconds left to a team that now might just get in... Get off the f-ing ice and go get your golf clubs! I've lost all respect for Tortorella on that one play tonight. Good pick for team USA coach for the world championships.

P.S. Goalie interference is not reviewable. Video replays can only be used to determine whether the puck went over the goal line.

P.S.2. While Cooke's hit on Lecavalier was interference IMO (he didn't have the puck) it's not what caused the injury. Vinny just fell awkwardly on his arm. So Tortorella can suck it. If I were BB I would have put Brash on that last PP. I actually could tell this was coming and said to myself - get Brash out there. Bradley handled the dumbass well though.

Posted by: ranndino | April 4, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Cobra Kai- Awesome reference, now put them in a body bag Johnny

Posted by: AP | April 4, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

@BernieWolfeFan-

He also has the most beautiful straight left, but i guess that would be considered tangible.

Posted by: oo7 | April 4, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

ranndino,

Agreed on everything except the point on Cooke interfering with Vinny. The puck was at Vinny's feet and he was reaching to move it to Oullet. Torts was out of his mind when he said that it was nowhere near Lecavalier. That hit was hard and it's unfortunate that he fell so awkwardly, but it was as clean as a Spring breeze.

Posted by: HolyOlie | April 4, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Fehr is +5 and no goals scored with him on the ice in his last 17 games. I like that stat, think we should keep him around.

Posted by: Bob | April 4, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Vinnie was trying screen Cooke from getting to Oulette. If anything it was interference on Vinnie. Sorry no sympathy will be forthcoming from the NHL it was entirely too obvious what Vinnie was doing

Posted by: Bob | April 4, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

@ Yosh, I'm still not sold - I'm going to have to see it to believe it..... - I know it takes time, I just don't think he has it in him, seems a bit flighty - Laich, we knew he was going to be good, he was gritty and no nonsensish(not a word). I think Laich fundamentally is more sound, focused, I just think - Flash is a different type of player, he is not as gritty/tough as Laich.

Posted by: Greenie | April 4, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Clark, Steckel IN
Flash, Fehr OUT

Posted by: Anonymous | April 4, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Fehr has been solid in the corners and I thought played a strong game last night. Created a turnover in front of the net in the first and almost got one himself. He may take a while to become a 30-goal scorer, but the other parts of his game have been very good.

Keep him in the lineup.

Posted by: scott | April 4, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

EXTRA TICKET FOR SATURDAY'S GAME

Forgive me for posting this here, but I'm having trouble with the Caps message board. If anybody needs/wants one lower-level ticket (section 116), let me know.

Posted by: YourMom | April 4, 2008 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Just sold...never mind.

Posted by: YourMom | April 4, 2008 6:46 PM | Report abuse

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