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Posted at 10:33 AM ET, 03/ 7/2011

On Hockey: Vocal leader Jason Arnott tops the list of Capitals newcomers

By Tarik El-Bashir
Tarik El-Bashir

It's still too soon to say that General Manager George McPhee has fixed all that ailed his immensely talented but underachieving team last week. But the early returns certainly look good.

The Washington Capitals have won three straight one-goal games since the addition of Jason Arnott and Dennis Wideman at the trade deadline and Marco Sturm via waivers a couple of days earlier. They're back atop of the Southeast Division for the first time in 67 days. And, most important, the revolving door in the middle of the second line has stopped spinning for the first time since Sergei Fedorov's departure two years ago.

It's an admittedly small sample size, but Arnott, so far, has done exactly what he was brought here do. In his debut against the Islanders, he seized a 50-50 puck along the boards and threaded a pass from the corner to Brooks Laich, who scored the game-tying goal with 48 seconds left. Against the Blues, the 6-foot-5, 220 pounder barreled to the net and potted the decisive goal with 5 minutes 19 seconds left to play.

That's the definition of "clutch."

But what's impressed me most are the subtleties Arnott has added. Defensively, his New Jersey Devils roots are readily apparent. He rarely, if ever, looks out of place. He's also added some snarl to a Top 6 that had been lacking in that department and already owns the season's most significant quote. Asked about being a vocal leader, the former Nashville captain said, "If that means me speaking up and guys don't like it, that's what I've got to do."

You know who can can get away with bluster like that on their second day? Guys who have their names etched on the Stanley Cup, that's who. Makes you wonder what he might have said -- or done -- to the "five or six passengers" after last April's Game 5 loss to the Canadiens.

The only thing that's got me a tiny bit concerned about Arnott is his age (36) and mileage (1164 regular season games and 102 playoff contests). After Sunday's zero-point, zero-shot, one-hit performance in Sunrise, where the whole second line struggled, it's impossible not to wonder how close the needle is to 'E' on his gas gauge.

I've got no such worries about Wideman, the 27-year-old defenseman acquired from Florida. He competes as hard as anyone on the ice, and he does it on every shift. He plays with an edge around his own net (ask the Islanders' John Tavares how that goal post tasted) and his outlet passes are a thing of beauty - flat, hard and on target.

Wideman also never seems to be far from the action, which can be both good and bad. At least it was in Sunday's 3-2 win over his former club. The good: He was on the ice for two of Washington's three goals, including Alexander Semin's overtime winner, fired two shots on goal and blocked two others. The bad: The Panthers' first tally came on a 2-on-1 that began when his pass was picked off at the offensive blue line. Florida's other goal was scored as he sat in the box for an ill-timed slashing infraction.

Those adventures aside, the acquisition of Wideman appears to be a shrewd one. I'm thinking he'll be even better once he's skating less than the 23:53 he's been asked to play with Mike Green sidelined with a head injury. But that can only happen if and when Green and/or Tom Poti, who has a groin injury, return.

As for Sturm, I'm not sure what to make of him yet. He debuted on the Capitals' top line and, on just his second shift, showed off his trademark speed, scooting past everyone and bearing down all alone on the Islanders' goalie. But I haven't noticed him much since that unsuccessful breakaway and I'm starting to wonder if Sturm (0 points, 6 shots, minus-1 rating) needs to play on the first or second line, not the third. It's also unclear what will happen to his playing time once Eric Fehr is ready to return from a shoulder injury.

Overall, though, fans should be encouraged by the newcomers. They should also pay close attention to what transpires tonight at St. Pete Times Forum, where the Capitals and Lightning are set to clash with first place in the division on the line.

Because, after all, this is exactly the type of high-stakes game McPhee had in mind when he went shopping.

By Tarik El-Bashir  | March 7, 2011; 10:33 AM ET
Categories:  El-Bashir On Hockey, Jason Arnott  
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Next: Mike Green skates but still no timetable for his return

Comments

"Please Get Well Soon ****55, Green, and Poti so we can relegate "Johnny Rockstar" to the Press Box where he belongs."....Posted by: CapsNut | March 7, 2011 8:51 AM
------------------------------

Too funny, ****55 and Poti....

But sadly, our guru of a coach is probably thinking the same thing. (He of one playoff-series victories but three game-seven losses at home despite having some of the best talent in the world.) It's not coincidence that our last playoff series-victory came with Rock Star in the lineup.

After that victory, we pushed the eventual SC champions to seven games with Big John being our best dman despite playing with a broken foot. We didn't win a series last year because #4 never got within sniffing distance of the ice.

Erskine > ****55/Poti. Erskine is not a spare part, and to demote him as such would greatly undermine any kind of "team-togetherness" and illustrate once again BB's favoritism and resulting caste system. It would be the death-blow of our aspirations.

The Caps can ill-afford to be antagonizing the Hockey Gods so late in the season, so let's stop with the rubbish like capsnut's comment.....GO CAPS!!

Posted by: vermontcaps | March 7, 2011 10:49 AM | Report abuse

I think the additions have been great for our team so far.

Wideman has been much better than I thought, and cannot wait to see him and 52 on the PP when Green is finally healthy (I think we miss him a lot right now).

Arnott has stabilized the 2nd line and provided MUCH need leadership.

Sturm - has definitely shown bursts of speed and is what he is...a 3rd line winger. For what he cost, which was nothing, it was a great pick up. Not sure why, but I have a gut feeling he will score a clutch goal for us somewhere down the line. Seems like that type of player.

Posted by: MattBradley10 | March 7, 2011 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Keith Acton for coach.

Posted by: heathdog1119 | March 7, 2011 10:54 AM | Report abuse

points getting crucial - big one game tonight!

Posted by: lylewimbledon | March 7, 2011 11:06 AM | Report abuse

7 games in 11 days including the game last night. If Varly can't play in any of them and Holtby still may not be 100% (he hasn't played a game since coming off his own injury) that is a lot to put on the young shoulders of Neuvy. If he plays all 7 games and we get 9 or more points that I think does a lot in giving the team confidence he can be the goalie in the playoffs.

Posted by: icehammer97 | March 7, 2011 11:06 AM | Report abuse

After tonight's game, BB has to take a good hard look at resting Neuvirth for the Wednesday game. The two games over the weekend are against tougher teams and Neuvy has shown that his play deteriorates when he is overworked. If Holtby is healthy, I'd like to see him play on Wednesday night.

Posted by: wizfan89 | March 7, 2011 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Ketie just tweeted that Green is in full pads and looks like he is going to at least skate this morning.

Posted by: icehammer97 | March 7, 2011 11:15 AM | Report abuse

@wizfan89

I think that Holtby will start Wednesday regardless of how tonight's game plays out. A home game against Edmonton coming after back to back road games against divisional opponents seems like the perfect rest day for Neuvy, especially with another divisional game on Friday and the NBC game on sunday.

Posted by: sgm3 | March 7, 2011 11:19 AM | Report abuse

My comment about possibly sitting and resting Carlson, who looks tired was deleted???

I guess no criticizing the stars of this team!!

My point was that he has been great this season, but looks a little rundown. Once 52 comes back, may be ok to rest him a game or two for the playoffs.

Posted by: MattBradley10 | March 7, 2011 11:22 AM | Report abuse

agree that maybe we should start with a rotation of sitting d-men to make sure they are rested....although not tonight since it is a huge game

Posted by: _stevo | March 7, 2011 11:28 AM | Report abuse

notice the same thing about J Carlson. althought he took some punishment yesterday.

Posted by: billd2 | March 7, 2011 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Erskine has had a couple stinkers this year, but compared to before I think he has shown tremendous improvement. I think sitting him out would be a mistake. I don't know why anyone would be high on Poti as he;s shown us nothing this year - OK, so he's been injured, but still.

I'd like to think we would see Wideman and Green together on the PP, but sadly I think Boudreau will continue to use OV on the point. Hey Bruce, how many PP goals does OV have this year? And how is our PP overall this year? Right, now move OV back to the half-boards where he belongs. Maybe goalies have figured out that move when we are on the PP, but it can't produce less than having him on the point.

Posted by: alpca3877 | March 7, 2011 11:31 AM | Report abuse

alpca3877: Find something else to complain about because Ovi hasn't been on the point for the PP in either of the last two games. Of course the Caps have only received managed to earn one powerplay in each of the last two games but since you are complaining about something I assume you watch games with enough interest to notice things you dislike.

Posted by: fanohock1 | March 7, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse

I agree that it might be time to start a rotation of sitting some folks out especially on the blueline. Some D do look tired and even though 89 and 4 may be weaker links, we need everybody playoff ready.

Posted by: dave53 | March 7, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Good post, Tarik!

Two game winning goals in 4 games for Semin. It won't silence his critics who are suspicious of players who do not play the Gaddafi style favored by the Bruins and Pens. Not coincidentally, I will root hard against those two teams precisely because of the style they embrace. I hope they fail. But, I have to admit, all things being equal, I'd like the Caps to snag first overall just so's that Pitt and Boston can beat the crap out of each other in round 2.

Posted by: RedLitYogi | March 7, 2011 11:40 AM | Report abuse

"We didn't win a series last year because #4 never got within sniffing distance of the ice"

Vermont,

In what way would Ersk have cured the terminally ill power play vs the Habs?

In what way would Ersk have contributed to the offense's inability to score in games 5-7?

It wasn't the D that failed to win the series vs the Habs.

Please expand on your position that the Caps lost to the Habs because Erskine wasn't playing.

Posted by: Steve_R | March 7, 2011 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Give Sturm time to get his legs, new team and been out most of the year. I really like that 3rd line and no need to rush Mr Fehr back while we are winning. 4th line actually looks stronger with Boyd "Oww my back" Gordon, who actually gives them more O, but a little less in the F/O circle. Lets not put everything on tonight, glancing at the schedules, TB has the easier road down the stretch, I think passing the Pens is as Ultimately important. 3 games against Ottawa and 2 against Flordia is what stood out to me.

Posted by: Bricucci1 | March 7, 2011 11:44 AM | Report abuse

IMO once (if) Green & Poti (please don't come back Tom) return, #4 will not see the ice. If 55 was really a healthy scratch (he was dinged from the Blues game so, I doubt it) maybe BB has figured out that 55 isn't very good. I doubt BB has figured this out.

Posted by: chriscaps | March 7, 2011 11:46 AM | Report abuse

how about 4/52 23/6 27/74 Bruce, your best combo come playoff time?

Posted by: Bricucci1 | March 7, 2011 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Great write up by TEB. Very fair in his comments and observations. The only thing I'd say about Arnott and the "tank being close to E". He wants another Cup. He waived his NTC to come here so he's motivated and wants to win. He knows his days are coming to a close and this could be his last opportunity at a Cup.

Wideman is a stud, 'nuf said there. Can't wait to see our D when Green gets healthy. We have got a defense that can move that puck and will create a great transition game for us which will only help OV, Backs, Sasha etc.

Sturm - certainly hasn't jumped out at ya just yet but it's still early. He may or may not make an impact but he didn't cost us anything so its hard to argue with takin a shot on the guy. I still think he'll make an impact but we'll see.

Posted by: pokerface1208 | March 7, 2011 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I've been really impressed with Boyd Gordon since he took over as the regular center on the 4th line. He is a beast on PK also...

Bring in Fehr and sit Chimera. Chimera gives us nothing.

Posted by: MattBradley10 | March 7, 2011 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Old business:

The Penguins' work ethic is second to none...blah blah blah...

Posted by: tmac2yao

Back in the early 90's, when Dale Hunter was here, the Caps had a harder working team than the Pens. How did that work out for the Caps especially during the playoffs. Just sayin'.


Let's examine this 4-game winning streak, shall we? ...

Posted by: joek443

So what are they supposed to do lose? One of my pet peeves is when someone brings up that a team is narrowly beating lesser teams like it's a bad thing. The bottom line is they're winning the games. Not picking on you I think it's dumb no matter who does it.

@vermontcaps:
Who was the only Caps player who was a minus last night?
-------------------------------------------

New business:

I liked the Caps additions then and I like 'em now. Well, sometimes Wideman scares me a bit. The second line is now dangerous. I think Sturm will be okay - not sure on him yet. They're all NHLers that made the Caps a better team.

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | March 7, 2011 11:56 AM | Report abuse

"We didn't win a series last year because #4 never got within sniffing distance of the ice"

Vermont,

In what way would Ersk have cured the terminally ill power play vs the Habs?

In what way would Ersk have contributed to the offense's inability to score in games 5-7?

It wasn't the D that failed to win the series vs the Habs.

Please expand on your position that the Caps lost to the Habs because Erskine wasn't playing.

Posted by: Steve_R | March 7, 2011 11:44 AM | Report abuse
---------------------------------------
Very true Steve. As unfathomable as it seems our "O" was the reason we lost not "D".

Vermont: as much as I can appreciate your passion for big John, he would've done very little for us vs MON. We lost that series in 3 games (5-7) b/c we couldn't score. Last time I checked big Johnny doesn't put many biscuits in the basket. :)

I do remember BB saying tho that #4 was gonna get in game 1 of the 2nd round had we ever got there.

Posted by: pokerface1208 | March 7, 2011 12:00 PM | Report abuse

@Bricucci1, Pittsburgh has a very easy schedule to finish the season, 7 of 15 against 'quality teams' (teams with more points then GP). The Caps are at 11 of 16 in that catigory. However Pittsburgh hasn't won in regulation since Feb 4 (14 games) and their next two games are against Buffalo and the Habs and 6 of their next 8 are part of back to back games so unless they go with MAF playing in both that means 3 games with Johnson who has only won 2 games since the start of December. They may have a real uphill climb at the end of the season and if Crosby can't come back they are in big, BIG trouble.

TB on the other hand have 11 of 17 against 'quality teams' so I don't think their schedule is that much easier then the Caps. Also the two games against Fla, TB is 1-1-2 vs them this year. TB also has two game against the Hawks the hottest team in the West right now.

Posted by: icehammer97 | March 7, 2011 12:04 PM | Report abuse

As long the Caps put 101% effort into each shift in April, then I like our chances of playing hockey in May. With a little good luck, anything can happen. As fans, we need to bring it as well!

Are you ready Goat?

Lets go Caps!

Posted by: DCSportsfanatic1 | March 7, 2011 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Just realized I forgot to make my actual point with that last post which was I think it will be easier to pass/stay ahead of TB then to pass Pitt but I think both can be done and should be because one has a very similar schedule and isn't playing great of late and the other has an easy schedule but is playing very poor in the last month. Now if Crosby comes back that changes things.

Posted by: icehammer97 | March 7, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Katie Carrera
Schultz will be in the #caps lineup tonight, I'm told. Looks like Johansson will be good to go as well after blocking that shot yest.

For those who don't have twitter. Now is 89 the one out or are we giving someone else the night off?

Posted by: icehammer97 | March 7, 2011 12:11 PM | Report abuse

@Steve_R

Had Erskine and Theodore got time against Montreal, we would've won....period. The unmeasureable intangibles (the emotional lift) the two would've provided the team would've been good for a couple goals and we carry the series. Instead, the team saw two loyal warriors shafted in favor of the chosen ones, and team spirit and will took a hit.

@betteroff

It was unfortunate #4 was the only minus player last night, chalk that one up to being a victim of circumstances. I missed the 1st pd and caught the tailend of the highlights, and it looked/seemed that the goal scored was the result of a bad decision/pinch by Wideman. But acknowledging #4's uneven of late, that still hasn't prevented the team from winning.

GO CAPS AND GO ERSKINE!!

Posted by: vermontcaps | March 7, 2011 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Assuming Poti is out for the rest of the season. The defensive pairings will be

Hannon/Wideman
Alzner/Carlson
Green/Schultz

Schultz was out because he was ailing, not because Sloan and Erskine are better defensemen. I'm not going to argue that Erskine isn't a hard working SOB and it's easy to cheer for him but he makes a lot of poor decisions. He fills holes when there are injuries. This season between Green, Poti, and Schultz, there has been a lot more ice available due to injuries.

For those suggesting players rest, they don't want to. Knuble himself said it was hard to sit out because we had too many NHL quality players down the stretch last year. Carlson needs to work through his funk, not sit out and let it consume him. Now that he Wideman can take some extra duties away from him, and Green even more once he returns, Carlson can settle in and get his game back on track. He's not playing all that bad, he's just playing like a rookie that was trying to do too much.

Posted by: fanohock1 | March 7, 2011 12:13 PM | Report abuse

how about 4/52 23/6 27/74 Bruce, your best combo come playoff time?

Posted by: Bricucci1 | March 7, 2011 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I would go 23/52 4(55)/6 27/74. Erskine can get out of position sometimes and having Green to cover for when that happens scares me. Hannan I think would be better at covering for Green and Wideman has been fairly physical since coming here and pairing him with Erskine gives us a physical pair to rough the other team's forwards up. It also gives us 1 RHS and 1 LHS on each pair.

Posted by: icehammer97 | March 7, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse

One of my pet peeves is when someone brings up that a team is narrowly beating lesser teams like it's a bad thing. The bottom line is they're winning the games.
-------------------------------------

Show me where I said it was a bad thing.

Posted by: joek443 | March 7, 2011 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Katie Carrera
For those asking there's no chance Green plays tonight. He said after skating he's still not feeling quite right.

Darn, I knew he wasn't playing tonight but it sounds like he isn't getting better either. He could be our Crosby.

Posted by: icehammer97 | March 7, 2011 12:18 PM | Report abuse

For those suggesting players rest, they don't want to. Knuble himself said it was hard to sit out because we had too many NHL quality players down the stretch last year. Carlson needs to work through his funk, not sit out and let it consume him.
-----------------

Completely agreed. Not to mention, for those above who criticized Carlson's play last night, we must have been watching a different game - the guy I saw contributed directly to two goals, played very solid D [and usually against FL's top line], and had the highest +/- of anyone in the entire game.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | March 7, 2011 12:20 PM | Report abuse

icehammer: Do you happen to know if Green just kind of skated around without a purpose, or did he push himself to see how his body would react?

The only reason I am optimistic Green's in a little better place than Crosby is because Green was actually cleared to put skates on. Crosby is only riding a bike every once in a while. I don't want to see Crosby lift another Cup but I don't wish his situation on any athlete.

Posted by: fanohock1 | March 7, 2011 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Nice Vermont use an arguement that cannot be proven or disproven using facts and pass it off as fact by saying it would have happened period.

Erskine has had a plus rating in just one game since January, hasn't been on the ice for a Caps goal since Valentine's Day, and is a minus-six with two points in 24 games in 2011. You can talk about being a victim of circumstances all you want but after a while it is on that player. As can be seen above I still would have him in the lineup in the playoffs so I am not anti-Erskine but having him out is not a huge loss. This isn't like talking about the difference between having Semin the player who is as good if not better then Ovechkin and Semin the player who can't score. This is talking about a 6/7 defenseman at best.

Posted by: icehammer97 | March 7, 2011 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Wideman is a stud, 'nuf said there. Can't wait to see our D when Green gets healthy.
-----------

Wideman is what he is - a heads-up, tape-to-tape passing d-man, with some marked defensive liabilities - let's not get carried away. He remains what he's always been, and still can get exposed in his own end against quick, powerful forwards - just as he did in the playoffs for Boston, despite pairing with Chara. And for those who want to discount FL completely, let's not forget who their netminder is, that guy atones for a lot of mistakes.

Not saying Wideman wasn't a good pickup, but let's not get carried away here.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | March 7, 2011 12:26 PM | Report abuse

@Steve_R

vt just showed everybody that he ignores the inconvenient facts.

Like for instance "Johnny Rockstar's" -1 yesterday. The only Cap to post a minus in yesterday's win leaving him -3 for the season. It is the worst on the team of any of the regular defensemen.

The much-maligned Sarge is +2 (after leading the NHL in +/- last season), Green is +6, Alzner is +13, and Carlson is +15.

Of the irregulars, Poti and Sloan are both -4. Mid-season additions Scott Hannhan is +1 ( even in 40 games since joining the Caps) and Dennis Wideman is -23 (+3 since joining the Caps).

For a "hard hitting" stay-at-home defenseman, "Johnny Rockstar's" numbers leave a whole lot to be desired. Boudreau proclaimed him our best defensemen in the 2008 Playoffs and that didn't turn out so well for us either.

Posted by: CapsNut | March 7, 2011 12:29 PM | Report abuse

@fanohock1: Nope all I have seen on Twitter is what I have posted here. I hope that when there is a post practice blog it is mentioned and there is more info.

Posted by: icehammer97 | March 7, 2011 12:29 PM | Report abuse

it looked/seemed that the goal scored was the result of a bad decision/pinch by Wideman
------------

That it certainly was. Two-on-one's against don't usually result in good things, Erskine maybe could have taken away the pass a little more [ie., let Neuvy worry about the shot] but he played it ok from what I could tell; the problem was Wideman's giveaway which directly to the odd-man break.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | March 7, 2011 12:32 PM | Report abuse

And from the guys over at Japer's Rink...

Erskine's next game (presumably tonight) will set a new personal single-season high. Perhaps his relatively heavy workload is part of the reason he has had a plus rating in just one game since January, hasn't been on the ice for a Caps goal since Valentine's Day, and is a minus-six with two points in 24 games in 2011.

But don't worry folks, we have vt here to tell us how every single Caps win this season is the result of "Johnny Rockstar's" stellar physical play.

Posted by: CapsNut | March 7, 2011 12:34 PM | Report abuse

are people really blaming big john for being a -1 yesterday? you have to be freakin kidding me if you think that goal was his fault

Posted by: _stevo | March 7, 2011 12:38 PM | Report abuse

While Wideman certainly didn't help by failing to get the puck in deep and turning it over at the blueline.

"Johnny Rockstar" was worse than a pylon on the resulting 2-on-1 rush. Repik didn't even have to make a saucer pass to Thomas.

But Erskine was prone on the ice late in the third period when he took his tripping penalty that Florida tied the game on!

Posted by: CapsNut | March 7, 2011 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Wow, a good piece out of the Post. Amazing..

Posted by: wewinyoulose1 | March 7, 2011 12:42 PM | Report abuse

But don't worry folks, we have vt here to tell us how every single Caps win this season is the result of "Johnny Rockstar's" stellar physical play.

Posted by: CapsNut | March 7, 2011 12:34 PM | Report abuse

You're right about that, bro, so sit back and enjoy the ride. You, me, Rock Star...we're all going to hell in a bucket ;)

ROCK ON, JOHN, BOLTS ARE GOING DOWN!

Posted by: vermontcaps | March 7, 2011 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Fire Porky BB
Fire GMGM
Young goalies can not win.
Chicken Little (or are they) fans say Sky is falling.

Tampa is what is falling. This board is full of wanabes. Caps were 10 points back and tonight we will see. Please disregard the demise talk.

Posted by: ballgame21 | March 7, 2011 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Caps win convincingly tonight.

If they can't get motivated for this one they are never going to.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | March 7, 2011 12:53 PM | Report abuse

are people really blaming big john for being a -1 yesterday? you have to be freakin kidding me if you think that goal was his fault
----------

Exactly - whenever there's a two-on-one the other way, the primary fault rarely lies with the "one," in that equation. Like I said, maybe he could have taken away the pass a bit more, but that's kind of nitpicking when the whole thing results from an egregious giveaway at the far blue line, causing the odd-man break in the first place.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | March 7, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse

It was unfortunate #4 was the only minus player last night, chalk that one up to being a victim of circumstances.

Posted by: vermontcaps | March 7, 2011 12:13 PM

if this comment was made about schultz - there would be an uproar in here.

i don't fault erskine for the goal where wideman went down and left him all alone.
i do think he made a mistake when he took the penalty. vermontcaps did see it right when he said erskine lost an edge and went down - the problem was, he was then out of position to make any kind of play except 'stay' in the way - and he decided to try an use his stick to go after the puck and got the player instead. i think wideman was just a bit unlucky with his slashing penalty - but i don't think he should have taken that chance while already down a man.

beat the bolts tonight!!

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 7, 2011 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Mike Vogel
Neuvirth in net for the #Caps tonight. Schultz in for Sloan, otherwise lineup same as yday in FLA.

Posted by: icehammer97 | March 7, 2011 1:01 PM | Report abuse

If it was just one goal just last night then it is one thing but, only one + game since January, not out for a since goal for since V-day and a minus-six with two points in 24 games in 2011, then it is not just one play in one game it is part of a trend. Maybe part of it is him running out of gas since he has played more games this year then any other year in his career but since New Years he is looking worse and worse each game.

Posted by: icehammer97 | March 7, 2011 1:06 PM | Report abuse

On the 2-on-1 that Florida scored on yesterday, that wasn't really the result of a "bad pinch" by Wideman. Wideman got to the puck in plenty of time and attempted to dump it in twice, but both times it was blocked by a Florida forward (and the block occurred a few feet away from where Wideman shot in from). It was a proper play for Wideman to make, it just wasn't executed properly. It happens.

I don't blame Erskine at all for that goal.

However, his penalty in the 3rd period was horrible and the result of him being out of position and unable to recover. That happens too much with him. If that was Schulz he would have been getting crucified on here.

Posted by: sgm3 | March 7, 2011 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Caps score and the Caps win. Eachof the Caps 3 wins over Tampa this season 5 goals+ (17 goals in the 3 wins) both losses by shutout. Score and win. Kidding but we need a goal in the first for confidence.

Posted by: icehammer97 | March 7, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

IMO, Erskine is a must. Just his presence is an important aspect of the game for the Caps.
The Ovi-Arnott-Semin line seems to be the ideal line, eh?

Posted by: scmonty1 | March 7, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

i think wideman was just a bit unlucky with his slashing penalty
------

He snapped the guy's stick in two, right in front of the ref - he had zero choice but to call that. But the bigger issue is why a guy who never before has been known as a pk-er [which is fine, that's not his role] is out there for more pk time than any other Cap D save Hannan. If you get beat to a lot of loose pucks by quick, powerful forwards [ie, those typically found on other team's PP units], well, you're gonna have to slash some dudes along the way.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | March 7, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

@Capt_Kirk_in_AZ

Dude, you really think Wideman was unlucky with his slashing penalty, he broke the panthers stick! I like Wideman a lot, but he should have kept pushing the player to the outside or lifted the stick. Can't take that penalty already a man down.

No. 4 may take a lot of BS here, but if I'm an offensive teammate I'd much rather have him on the ice than double nickel. I know Big John will have my back.

Posted by: ttenner | March 7, 2011 1:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm not throwing Erskine under the bus because he brings it every game. He just lacks on the skill and decision making end which is why, when everyone is back and healthy, he is number 8 of 9 in depth on our team. Now, with Poti most likely done for the year since he hasn't skated more than 20 minutes at a time in the last few weeks, that makes him 7 of 8 if/when Green comes back. Like it or not, Green and Schultz are a familiar pair and that leaves Erskine the odd man out. If Green doesn't make it back, which I hope isn't the case, Erskine will play every night and Sloan will be the healthy scratch.

Posted by: fanohock1 | March 7, 2011 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Regarding Erskine, he was sorta left out to dry on that 2-on-1 and the penalty late in the 3rd was a bit of a bogus call, the guy skated right into him. I thought it was a decent play to slide and block off any cross-net passes.

He obviously is not the best d-man in the world, but what he brings in terms of hitting, grit, loyalty, and character far outweighs the occasional negative. I dont really see any other Capitals running (save Ovi) to stick up for their teammates (like when Hordichuk tried to get after Sloan).

And let's not kid ourselves, Poti and Schultz havent exactly stood out with their shooting/passing/skating/hitting this season.

Posted by: rockthis | March 7, 2011 1:16 PM | Report abuse

On the Wideman slash. He was unlucky that the stick broke not that the call was made. How many times do you see sticks brake with very little if anything done to it. Also not every boken stick gets called, see Ovie at the end of the 1st I think against the Blues. Stick slashed broke and not call.

Posted by: icehammer97 | March 7, 2011 1:17 PM | Report abuse

More worrisome from my perspective is that we cannot seem to score more than 2 goals in regulation. obvioulsy this is due in large part to the power play's failures. even though they only had one PP yesterday, I'd guesstimate the Caps only spent about 30-45 seconds in the Panthers' zone. That just doesnt cut it. BB has to get them to play simple: dump it in, circle the puck, and get shots on goal. They arent doing the little things right now that lead to ugly goals on the PP.

You know with the intensity up tonight the Caps will get at least a handful of chances, would be great to see them go 1-3 at least...

Posted by: rockthis | March 7, 2011 1:20 PM | Report abuse

More worrisome from my perspective is that we cannot seem to score more than 2 goals in regulation. obvioulsy this is due in large part to the power play's failures. even though they only had one PP yesterday, I'd guesstimate the Caps only spent about 30-45 seconds in the Panthers' zone. That just doesnt cut it. BB has to get them to play simple: dump it in, circle the puck, and get shots on goal. They arent doing the little things right now that lead to ugly goals on the PP.

You know with the intensity up tonight the Caps will get at least a handful of chances, would be great to see them go 1-3 at least...

Posted by: rockthis | March 7, 2011 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Timbo_1/ttenner:
i guess i wasn't really clear - i didn't mean unlucky on the call - i meant unlucky that they guys stick broke.

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 7, 2011 1:21 PM | Report abuse

@rockthis,

What got Big John the penalty was his stick coming back, don't think they would have made the call if it was just the slide.

@icehammer,

I remember the no call you're referring too. Almost flew out of my chair. There were two additional calls the refs missed in that game. One was a clear trip and the other was an interferrence call. I have nothing against the refs and don't believe there's a conspircy but if they're going to make a call make it consistently thoroughout the game or put the whistles away.

Posted by: ttenner | March 7, 2011 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Capn: I don't know, that was a textbook slash. He really gave the stick a hard whack. I thought it was more a brain fart than unlucky.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | March 7, 2011 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Capn: I don't know, that was a textbook slash. He really gave the stick a hard whack. I thought it was more a brain fart than unlucky.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | March 7, 2011 1:28 PM

i always wonder how much the 'slashed' player has to do with the stick breaking - when they've got the blade on the ice - do they ever 'help' the stick break?

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 7, 2011 1:30 PM | Report abuse

For all those who think it wasn't just bad luck for Wideman. If the stick doesn't break do you think the ref makes that call? I don't think there is any way that call is made if the stick doesn't break so that is why I would call it bad luck.

Posted by: icehammer97 | March 7, 2011 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Good win last night. Would've have lost that game in a S/O in December... I think we are mentally tougher than last year. Frankly, we were outworked for most of the game. But good teams win games like this..

Don't care if I see #55 dressed out again. The guy is a stiff.. yeah #4 makes some physical errors but I'll take him anyday.

Big game tonight! I know Tampa will be ready... they have a very good coach.

Let's Go Caps!

Posted by: rskinsfan | March 7, 2011 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Capn: I don't know, that was a textbook slash. He really gave the stick a hard whack. I thought it was more a brain fart than unlucky.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | March 7, 2011 1:28 PM | Report abuse
------------------------------------------
Coming from a Ref's perspective, I hate this call and have always hated this call. That being said when you look at the alternatives (I won't go into all of them) it's the only way you can call it. We've had "committee's" over stuff exactly like this.

The bottom line is the call is made if the stick is broke and it's black & white. Yes sometimes it's "missed" or the ref doesn't call it on very "slight" occassions but for the most part it is called IF the stick breaks.

It's flawed on so many levels. Guarantee you if you took 10 random players from either team and Wideman slashes all 10 of them only 1 stick breaks. I don't have a problem with THIS call, I have a problem with the "trip" they called on Erskine. He never touched him. The player (forget who right now) say Erskine coming and dove over top. So you make that call then a stick gets broke and we're down 2.

I could talk all day about this rule but it is what it is. It was unfortunate but it happens. We got 2 points and the point FLA got is a nonfactor.

Capt: to answer your question, no, there's nothing a player can do to "help" get his stick broke. It's such an instantanious type of thing you more prepare for the slash then trying to break your own stick.

Posted by: pokerface1208 | March 7, 2011 2:04 PM | Report abuse

In contrast to our last few trades (Green and Jurcina for Chimera, and Fleischmann for Hannan), I think this one actually helps the club.

(To be fair, Hannan has looked a LOT better the past two weeks or so, but before that he was a real stiff and his slo-mo, inattentive, out-of-position play cost us a lot of games. And of course Flash is lost for the season, but who knew?)

Sturm started like a house on fire but has slowed and become more tentative the past few games. I hope he gets it back but hey, we got him for nothing, and he's still been an asset. Wideman looks like just the guy we've been needing for a long time -- an enforcer who can skate and shoot. And Arnott has been spectacular -- he's been the difference that has turned us around.

If we get Green and Fehr back at full speed, well, Green will take Tyler Sloan's place and that's a MONSTER plus. Fehr has always provided a nice offensive spark, so I'm hopeful.

But anyone who thinks Jeff Schultz is a stiff never puts his eyes anywhere but on the puck in games. Jeff Schultz does more away from the puck than any player I've ever seen, disrupting the other team's offense and making it impossible for our opponents to run any set plays against us. He is our most valuable player, and while we can win without Ovie, Semin, Green, Backstrom, or pretty much anyone else, we lose almost every game we play without Jeff Schultz in the lineup.

When you dis #55, you brand yourself as a hockey ignoramus.

Posted by: FergusonFoont | March 8, 2011 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Sorry. In that first line, substitute "Clark" for "Green," who I genuinely hope isn't trade bait with anyone for many years to come.

Posted by: FergusonFoont | March 8, 2011 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I guess you missed the Brandon Dubinsky goal in Game 1 of the Rangers series in 2009 when Jeff Schultz was faked out of his shoes and Washington surrendered the winning goal.

Yes, it is one play in time. But it is instructive in that Schultz at 6'6 and 230 does have issues with quicker forwards getting around him and the fact he doesn't want to use his body in the corners to effect only reduces his effectiveness.

The Caps have seemingly accepted that Schultz is never going to adapt his game to a more physical style and while he is an NHL caliber player I don't see him as a top 4 defenseman.

Another point. Have you ever seen how many times Schultz has problems getting the puck out of the defensive zone?

He is not a good puck handler and that has cost the team in terms of defensive zone time and coverage in key situations.

Wideman, Carlson and even Alzner are able to clear the puck on the PK and get a rush going when playing 5 on 5.

Carlson has a long way to go at 21 to be the player I ultimately think he will be for Washington, but you can already see what he brings to the table that Schultz has lacked from Day 1.

Posted by: RoyHobbs4 | March 8, 2011 11:08 AM | Report abuse

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