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Erskine Getting Close

The injury situation isn't all that much more clear after this morning's practice.

Brent Johnson, however, will be one of the two goalies tomorrow when the Caps host the struggling Blues, that much Coach Bruce Boudreau would confirm. Whether the other goalie will be Simeon Varlamov or Jose Theodore has yet to be determined. Theodore told me his hip feels much better, but he's not sure if he'll be ready tomorrow.

As I reported earlier, defenseman John Erskine said he's getting close to returning, and Boudreau confirmed as much.

Here are some other odds and ends from today:

*Milan Jurcina, the subject of my story for tomorrow's paper, broke a third pane of plexiglass in practice today. For those of you keeping count, that's three in two practices.

Jurcina has seen his game turnaround since getting paired with Karl Alzner. In fact, the Jurcina-Alzner pairing, as you may have noticed, has spent a lot of time on the ice opposing the other team's top forward line in recent games.

*You thought the Caps have injury problems. How about the Blues? They're expected to be without their No, 1 goalie (Manny Legace), No. 1 defenseman (Eric Brewer) and three of their top six forwards (Paul Kariya, Andy McDonald and T.J. Oshie.)

*The Blues have also allowed an average of 5.25 goals per game during their losing streak.

*The Caps' lines looked like this:

Ovechkin-Backstrom-Kozlov
Fleischmann-Nylander-Semin
Laich-Steckel-Fehr (Giroux)
Brashear-Gordon-Bradley.

*Boudreau said he did not anticipate any send downs today, so it looks like Varlamov, Giroux and Sean Collins are going to stick around -- just in case.

*Sergei Fedorov did not skate at all. I'm willing to bet it's going to be a while.

*Chris Clark did not practice, either. He is eligible to come off LTIR on Friday, but Boudreau doesn't think that will happen until after Christmas -- at the earliest.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  December 17, 2008; 1:33 PM ET
 
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Comments

FWIW, I'd love to see Varlamov start tomorrow. I missed his debut on Friday - I'd love to get a look at him in person before he gets sent back down!

As always, thanks for the updates, Tarik!

Posted by: ShariLeigh131 | December 17, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Is Erskine worried about any possible long-term issues? It seems like he's had his bell rung a couple times within a year, and perhaps another will LTIR him.

Posted by: Section117 | December 17, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

what happened to ovie, semin and backstrom? This shows semin on line 2?
i guess bruce wants to switch it up again.

Posted by: capsfansince74 | December 17, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Does anybody else here simply get a thrill from looking at the NHL standings board? I get chills and excited every time.

I hope that last night was the beginning of a turn-around, though, concerning the away record. It might have been a nail-biter, but sometimes you just need that one W to go on a tear.

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | December 17, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Aww man where is Fed :(
Is this another case of "rushed back" injury?

Posted by: mauree | December 17, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Can we keep Giroux please?

Posted by: _jordan | December 17, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

"Does anybody else here simply get a thrill from looking at the NHL standings board?"

Honestly? I'd like to see nip and tuck battles for the 1 and 2 seeds, which would mean a 1st round matchup against another SE team, or even a Northeast one.

Leading the SE is an expectation IMHO.

Posted by: Section117 | December 17, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I don't know about others here, but given what we have seen over the past few weeks from the many call-ups, I would say that the Caps management have some interesting things to talk about. There has been some outstanding play and some interesting synergies created with current layers (a la Jurcina-Alzner). i like our regular guys, but i think there are moves that could be made that put us in a better position as we gear up for January and beyond.

Posted by: doughless | December 17, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I hope Bruce breaks up the Semin, Ovy, Backstrom line. I didnt like the way they played at all last night other than the pretty goal. Everything was a home run attempt.

Posted by: terpcap6 | December 17, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Fedorov rushed himself back from injury. Everyone is an adult, and you have to trust that adults are being honest about the physical condition. Likely, Feds was feeling fine and said he was ready to play; but playing a game on a newly healed ankle, as we all know, is dicey at best.

I don't want to sound like Fedorov was lying-I'm sure he felt fine, I'm sure his ankle looked fine, and there was no reason not to trust that he was ready to return. But sometimes your body fails you.

Posted by: RedBirdie | December 17, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

the news about the sexy lumberjack just made my day

Posted by: _stevo | December 17, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Tarik,

When does the roster freeze for Christmas begin? If the Hershey guys are not sent down by the start of the roster freeze do they remain in Washington through Christmas?

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | December 17, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Is Semin being demoted???.. Of course, he looked lazy yesterday (happens to him, especially after long gaps) but the OBS trio is clicking right now. Since Semin returned, they scored 8 out of 15 goals. Probably, Kozlov will feed Ovi and Backstrom well but I'm not sure Semin's going to flourish with Fleisch and Nylander as much as he did with Fed.

Posted by: fnralch | December 17, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

@terp

glad you mentioned about breaking up the first line. i love the idea of them playing together, but that line could have had 20 more shots on goal last night. in my opinion that line should hit the zone hard and throw the puck at the net. there will be a rebound most of the time and with their skating and stick handling ability, i think a lot more goals will be scored. they get way to fancy and i was yelling way to much at the tv last night to shoot the puck!

Posted by: CapsSkins | December 17, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

It's silly how people keep saying Blake's shootout goal from last night is one of the prettiest ever.. Bouchard has done the same move in Hershey and at development camp! It's not like the spinorama is a new move or anything, sheesh.

Posted by: _jordan | December 17, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I'm certainly hoping to see Varlamov again tomorrow night. Keep giving Johnny some time to rest as long as his back-up plays well.

Thanks for the updates Tarik.

Posted by: caryh | December 17, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

@jordan

...yeah...but doing it in a game winning situation in the NHL is slightly different. It has been awhile since I have seen that done in the NHL.

Posted by: CapsSkins | December 17, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

When it comes to the call ups....it is very clear (I hope) that Karl Alzner has earned a spot the rest of the season. The D lines may have to be schuffled but Morrison-Green
Jurcina-Alzner
Poti-Erskine or Schultz

If they are all healthy then Collins, Lepisto, Sloan, Helmer can stay in Hershey.

Posted by: sazzwho | December 17, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

That's a good point Jordan

Posted by: Steve_R | December 17, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

@freakinandpeakin
the roster freezes on friday, nhl.com has an article on it

Posted by: _stevo | December 17, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

The other Bouchard has been known to do it as well, though the Wild can't make it as far as a shootout anymore..

Posted by: _jordan | December 17, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

While I like seeing Semin, Ovechkin and Backstrom on the same line (whenever that line is on the ice, the defense for the other team starts scrambling), it actually helps the other team put their #1 defensive unit against our top two scorers.

Also, say whatever you want about Nylander, but that guy creates space and time with his skating and can feed Semin and Flash well.

Posted by: Moose33 | December 17, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

@terp

I don't necessarly think that the OBS line should be broken up, but i do agree with the home-run attempt. It was one of the reasons why those three weren't together from the very beginning.

I think that just "forgot" what they had learned earlier this season. the boys just need a reminder of when and where they can and CANNOT be "pretty."

last nights game was a reminder that over confidence and lack of playing a full 60 minutes can lead to potential disaster.

Posted by: coatesolivia87 | December 17, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Say Pothier's ready mid-March. Whose place does he take?

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | December 17, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Say Pothier's ready mid-March. Whose place does he take?

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | December 17, 2008 2:44 PM

Answer: Ken Sabourin!

Posted by: Leeguru | December 17, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

DPartner, i would guess pot's would take sloan's spot and erskine becomes the 7th dman. could be that pot's becomes the 7th dman who plays a few games here and there due to his lack of play over the past year. that assumes alzner stays and jurcina continues to play well.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | December 17, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Roster freeze? What is that?

Posted by: fizhe | December 17, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

leeguru, pot's would need to suffer a more severe head injury to take sabourin's place. is he the worst sports broadcaster in the world? he's a mush mouth and i've not heard anything out of his mouth the average fan couldn't observe.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | December 17, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Pots, with his headache and misty thinking process, would be perfect.

In reality, i don't know if bringing him back this season is a possibility. The cap is figured on him sitting out.

Posted by: Leeguru | December 17, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, that cap problem makes it all weird.

Hopefully he would take Erskine's place, though!

Posted by: _jordan | December 17, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Any graphic artists in the house?

Here's a banner I'd like to see hanging in front of the Mezanine seats at VC:

Ovechkin, Semin, Kozlov, and Fedorov in profile on a red background, looking away to the horizon where Lord Stanley is surrounded by a divine luminesence (sort of Socialist Realism style like the enormous Cold War-era Soviet propaganda posters with Marx, Lenin, etc.). Underneath, inscribed in Russian:

Герои Революции

("Heroes of the Revolution")

please discuss...

Posted by: Rhino40 | December 17, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: elicea | December 17, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

rhino,
um..no.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | December 17, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

When does the roster freeze for Christmas begin?

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | December 17, 2008 2:29 PM
-------------------------------------------
Starts Friday, goes until 12/27. And the answer the "what is the roster freeze?"

Simply stated, it prevents any players on NHL active rosters or injured reserve from being traded, waived or loaned from midnight (local time) Dec. 19 until midnight (local time) on Dec. 27.

There are a couple of exceptions to this rule. Teams may sign players during the roster freeze or call up players if roster space becomes available. Also, if a player is placed on waivers before Dec. 19, he must immediately report to any team that claims him during the Holiday Roster Freeze period.

NHL clubs also can make any roster moves necessary to come into salary-cap and roster limits when removing a player from the Bona Fide Long-Term Injury/Illness Exception.

Posted by: Section117 | December 17, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

More injury problems for the Blues...
http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=398619

I think the Caps should put Feds on LTIR, so there's no pressure for him to return to early. Clearly this ankle sprain is going to require a longer recovery than he/the team has allowed. As much as I'd love to see Feds on the ice now, I'd rather have him on the ice come March & April.

Posted by: tURBO8 | December 17, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

the roster freezes on friday, nhl.com has an article on it

Posted by: _stevo | December 17, 2008 2:38 PM
-------------------------------------------
Hey, maybe I should read all the posts first before submitting, huh? Sorry man.

Posted by: Section117 | December 17, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

no worries

Posted by: _stevo | December 17, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

@ sazzwho

We'll take Collins, Sloan and Alzner back, but you're more than welcome to keep Lepisto and Helmer in DC!!

In all seriousness - I hope everyone gets healthy and stays that way.

Go Caps and Bears!!

Posted by: BearsFan12 | December 17, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

@dcsportsfan1:

Awww, c'mon, why not?

I know it kind of a silly idea, but I'm just a little giddy.

Consider: Last year at this time we were only two or 3 weeks into a difficult climb out of the NHL basement.

This year we are in first place in the SE and only a few points out of first place in the Eastern Conference.

I'm just thinking of a new way to pay our respects to the guys who--to say the least--helped to get us here.

If my idea is really that silly, I think we're allowed a little silliness.

Posted by: Rhino40 | December 17, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Sloan is going to have to clear waivers, so my guess is he is with DC the rest of the year.

Posted by: HBFan | December 17, 2008 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I'm all for Sloan sticking around.

Posted by: oo7 | December 17, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Rhino

Love the banner idea. But wasted up in the Mezz. sections. Needs to be lower to get on TV.

Personally, I'm a fan of breaking up OBS. Makes other teams worry about our scoring threats, rather than us worrying about their top d pairings.

Y'all may have noticed with OBS, Semin was forced into a puck possession role and it really doesn't suit him. His curl/drags are pretty but his game is much better served when he's able to feed off of puck possession guys (92).

I also see these lines as BB getting more used to having the regulars back. I just hope we get some line-mate consistency going over the next few weeks. Get that chemistry going for the late season presidents push!

(Note: I'd actually prefer we were not presidents winners, as this puts us lower on the radar)

Posted by: FFSEnough | December 17, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

So here's a thought. If Alzner makes Juice better, is that a reason to keep Juice around? I say so. If Erskine comes back, dump Collins, and keep 7 for the time being. When Schultz comes back, maybe waive Sloan, but it might be time to think about some more unpleasant discussions about which of the 5 other than Green needs to get traded for some prospects.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | December 17, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

thats just idiotic, trade Green. Why even suggest something like that. That is one of the last people the Caps would trade.

Posted by: HBFan | December 17, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

@ HBFan

"discussions about which of the 5 OTHER THAN Green needs to get traded for some prospects."

Posted by: coatesolivia87 | December 17, 2008 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Oh ok, sorry I was going to say.

Posted by: HBFan | December 17, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Can someone get Joe B's ear. His new favorite term "BLAZER" made it's national TV debut last night. Can we make that the last time we hear it?

Making his calls sound like the cast from American Gladiators. "Jurcina with a ROCKET from the point!" "Semin with a LAZER to the top corner!" "Ovechkin's BLAZER off Olie's mask!"

Posted by: FFSEnough | December 17, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I know Joe B. He loves "Blast", "Laser", "Dart", etc. Blazer is a little weird though. Unless the sentence is "OV is holding BB off the refs by the collar of his Blazer" I don't see why he would need that word. I'll give him crap next time I see him.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | December 17, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

The first time I heard him use it was a few weeks back. Maybe the game before Boston. It sounded to me like me messed up. You know how your brain does that every so often. Start with one word, finish with another. Blast + Lazer = Blazer. This time it worked out to be a new word and he stuck with it.

If it weren't for the Simpsons "American Gladiators" parody, I'd probably not have any issue with it.

Posted by: FFSEnough | December 17, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

oldtimehockey:

i agree. Ted & GMGM should have a lot to talk about.

Posted by: doughless | December 17, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

@HBFan:

I hope you aren't referring to the post by oldtimehockey, which--if i recall correctly--reads:

"...but it might be time to think about some more unpleasant discussions about which of the 5 ***other than green*** needs to get traded for some prospects."

Note: the "***" are added by me for emphasis since no other (polite) method is available.


@oldtimehockey: Pleasepleaseplease say you ***didn't*** mean that Green should be among those traded...

IMHO, one trades serviceable players for prospects at the ***start*** of a rebuilding process...as we did right before the strike/lockout. Not when things are finally starting to come to fruition. If nothing else, the surprising performance of our call-ups has shown the extraordinary depth of the Caps-Bears organization.

Prospects we got. I think if GMGM trades anyone ***at all***, it should be some of the ***prospects*** in return for a veteran D-Man.


'nuff said!

Posted by: Rhino40 | December 17, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

this first D-men if any to go would be shaone, contract year, relatively expensive and he really hasnt done much this year

Posted by: _stevo | December 17, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Sorry...I need to type faster...D'oh!

Posted by: Rhino40 | December 17, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

@ _stevo:

Sad but probably true...though it seems a shame. Mo may not have scored a lot of goals but I believe he's been better than OK as a "stay-at-home" defenseman. Even with all the scoring in the world, you need some of those.

Posted by: Rhino40 | December 17, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Alzner is already much better than Erskine...can we keep him?

Posted by: lylewimbledon | December 17, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Johnson should get the start against his old team (1998-2004).

BTW, Mo looked confused and dazed at times last night. I don't think he teams well with Green. He's not the player he was last year.

Posted by: puckman | December 17, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Sloan sticking around.

Posted by: capsgrl | December 17, 2008 4:07 PM | Report abuse

http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=398586&cmpid=rss

The NHL roster freeze begins on Friday, but I don't think that will impact sending call ups back down when injured players become available.

Posted by: SombreroGuy | December 17, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Section117

You mean you LIKE seeing the Caps in 5th place in the league as opposed to the division? :D

Posted by: Greg S. | December 17, 2008 4:15 PM | Report abuse

this has been driving me crazy for weeks---who is sexy lumberjack and why????

Posted by: hockeymom3 | December 17, 2008 4:16 PM | Report abuse

i dont think we will be able to keep alzner up unless we drop sloan to waivers, with our cap situation, but i could be wrong

Posted by: _stevo | December 17, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

whoops...thought I had refreshed. sorry for posting something another had already posted.

Posted by: SombreroGuy | December 17, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

hockeymom,

Erskine. In Monty Python fashion, it has been said that he wears women's clothing and hangs out in bars. Presses wild flowers, etc etc.

Posted by: Steve_R | December 17, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

@hockeymom

it is erskine but choose to ignore steve_r comment from above

it is because last year when he had long hair he looked like a lumberjack

Posted by: _stevo | December 17, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Steve,
thanks!! I definitely wouldn't have figured it out for myself. I've never seen Monty Python (I know, I should...but hey I'm always taking a kid to a rink) so I still don't get it. But at least now I know who you guys are talking about.

Posted by: hockeymom3 | December 17, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, he's a lumberjack, but he's not quite okay.

Posted by: _jordan | December 17, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Jordan
The problem I have with the stupid spinarama is you should not be able to win a real hockey game with a move that belongs in a slam dunk contest. Next thing you know it won't be goals, we will have figure skating judges awarding points! Did I mention the whole shoot out thing is a stupid way to decide a hockey game! They should keep it in soccer where it belongs!

Posted by: majiksea | December 17, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

what the hell is that supposed to mean?

Posted by: _stevo | December 17, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Steve_R | December 17, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

love not live..... gotta love monty python

Posted by: Steve_R | December 17, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

I never said I loved the shootout, I just don't understand why everybody is saying Blake is some sort of creative genius.

Posted by: _jordan | December 17, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

It does pose an interesting conundrum of what to do with the d when all these injured players return.

IMHO, Erskine, Morrison, and Schultz are entirely replaceable by Alzner, and Sloan. Two of the 3 are on the bubble and frankly tradable for picks.

Then if Pothier comes back in March...that will really complicate the matter. If he's really that close to coming back now, I'd ditch all three for picks. None of them are overly expensive, so most teams could use them. The problem is what does the salary cap allow us to do?

Posted by: Greg S. | December 17, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

I know I am commenting way late, but it's the first time I have been able to since the game last night.

Some random comments: We all know the Caps are famous for mirroring the level of energy to the team they play. Tuesday's game was no different and it almost cost us again, thank you OV. (Pens scored 9 goals on the Isle's last week). I was hoping to see more from us.

IMOO it seems that we are not roofing the puck enough. We were doing it at the end of last year more and it seems to me atleast that they are still lower to the ice. The past 5 games it really started to stand out to me. The couple of break aways by Giroux (yes, I think we need to keep him too), OV's goal last night, almost blocked by one of the defensemens sticks.... I know nit picky things, but just a concern of our shots recently. And no I am not talking about BB's getting back to basics and shooting through traffic, more specifically the one on one's with the goalies we get. I know I have no room to comment as I never played in the NHL, but why is everyone trying out the pads?
I want a water bottle launching contest!!! :)
Can someone come up with a contest of who ever gets the most water bottles lauched through out the season gets some prize?

Posted by: caps28fan | December 17, 2008 4:44 PM | Report abuse

I like Sloan staying up. Helmer, Lepisto, Collins all can stay down. If we can afford it, Alzner has to stay. Don't see any panic in his game or bad penalties.

Posted by: dsphvywght | December 17, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand why anyone thought what Blake did was a legitimate way to end a real hockey game!

Posted by: majiksea | December 17, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Section117

You mean you LIKE seeing the Caps in 5th place in the league as opposed to the division? :D

Posted by: Greg S. | December 17, 2008 4:15 PM
-------------------------------------------
And I hope the Rangers lose tonight in LA so the Caps are in prime position to be 1 point out of 4th.

Posted by: Section117 | December 17, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

@ ALL

Don't forget in order to keep Alzner we will have to make a roster move or two when Shultz/Clark come off LTIR. We are fine until then. I also agree that Juice is like a different player with Alzner as a partner. I have been his harshest critic, but I like what I have seen the last 2 or 3 games. Nyls is playing better and doing some dirty stuff in front now. The original plan was to trade him to Chicago (since that is where is has a house and might be willing), but do we really want to trade him now and does Chi-town really need him as well as they are playing?

Should make for some interesting decisions coming up in the next couple of months.

Posted by: waitingsince75 | December 17, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Glad I'm not the only who thinks our blueline got a serious upgrade out of Hershey. Truthfully, because Sloan has to clear waivers, I agree with whoever said that Sloan is here for the year. Alzner we can send down if we have to, but that would be a crime. I think that if any of our boys get traded, it's going to be ShaMo, because he's expensive, he's been through arbitration twice, and he's not fitting as well with Green as he did last year.

But ... if we trade ShaMo, who do we pair with Lambogreenie? Don't tell me Alzner - keep the nifty fifty (h/t theredskate) together, sheesh. (For those of you who didn't see it, "nifty fifty" is pepper's term for Alzner + Jurcina). Maybe ...?

Alzner/Juice
Sloan/Green
Poti/Schultz
Erskine?

Call me crazy or silly, but we already know that Green/Schultz didn't work.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 17, 2008 4:51 PM | Report abuse

In regard to the list of the best Caps ever, I think Langway and Ovie have to be tied for the top spot.

Langway rejuvenated the franchise. What Langway started, Ovie will finish when he leads the Caps to the Cup title. I know Ovie's young, but I still can't quite believe that my long-suffering Caps have the best player in the game. When our boys do win it all (and they will), I hope the old greats -- Olie, Bonzai, Hunter, Calle, Miller, Kono, Pivonka, Dino, Gartner, Maruk, etc. -- are on hand and honored in some way.

If this team tightens up on defense and intensity, the Cup could be ours this season. Believe it!!

Posted by: gaspeny | December 17, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

concerning 33 - Do we really need another guy who works hard and scores one every 5-6 games? Whose ice time does he take? Giroux doesn't play PK that I know of so that leaves out 21/15/39 etc.

Remember, the original idea was to trade Nyls and get some help on d. Does everyone really think that with the addition of Alzner we are ready for a SC run??

I love Alzner, but that is a lot of pressure to put on a kid. Let him experience the SC playoffs from the 5-6 dman slot or even leading Hershey to the Calder (not my choice here) and get a big dog in here for the playoff run.

The problem is finding the cap room.

Posted by: waitingsince75 | December 17, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Section117

The ones I'm afraid of is Philly. They've been on a tear and are 1 point below us. They have 2 hot lines and 1 hot D-line. Saturday's game will be really important for us! I hope they're stoked about it - but ONLY after putting away St. Louis!

Posted by: Greg S. | December 17, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

waitingsince75

33=17 only is unseasoned as yet. He needs some cajun hot sauce, and he may find it. He's a question for sure.

As for Nyls, the only ones apparently talking trade were bloggers. According to what TEB reported a while back, no one asked Nylander to waive his NTC.

Alzner has a level head on his shoulders. He'll probably make Captain in a few years. Personally, I think he's ready. I'm surprised to see myself type this, but I think he is.

Posted by: Greg S. | December 17, 2008 5:07 PM | Report abuse

NHL.com has an extensive article about Osala:
http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=398209

Posted by: ranndino | December 17, 2008 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Please let Simeon start tomorrow vs the Blues! I wish there was Caps hockey tonight!! what a boring night!!

Posted by: rachel216 | December 17, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Giroux is a sniper. He didn't impress me when he first got here, but he has a nose for the net and overdrive speed. The kid has moxie and once he settles down and he gets the pace he's going to produce.

Posted by: meagle | December 17, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

the Jason Blake spinorama shootout goal was nice. Love the shootout, or hate it, that was a nice goal. Yes its been done before, but each and every one of you would be foaming at the mouth with excitement if OV or Semin pulled it off haha

Posted by: SombreroGuy | December 17, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

fnralch

"I'm not sure Semin's going to flourish with Fleisch and Nylander as much as he did with Fed."

I seem to them recall having amazing chemistry the games they played together. In fact those three produced the prettiest goal this season (so far).

Posted by: Yoshietree | December 17, 2008 5:38 PM | Report abuse

"the Jason Blake spinorama shootout goal was nice. Love the shootout, or hate it, that was a nice goal. Yes its been done before, but each and every one of you would be foaming at the mouth with excitement if OV or Semin pulled it off haha"

Posted by: SombreroGuy | December 17, 2008 5:29 PM


@Sombreroguy:

Too true!! I would have to add that, IMHO, it's a situational thing:

In a shootout you're tied and you put the biscuit in the basket (Lockerism) by any means necessary. On the other hand, if you're leading by Theodore--oops--3 or more goals (with time running out in regulation), is it really necessary?

Posted by: Rhino40 | December 17, 2008 5:38 PM | Report abuse

@Sombrero: ANY way Ovechkin scores in the shootout is going to bring me out of my seat. But I still think parlor tricks is a lamedonkey way to settle a hockey game.
BTW, never congratulated you for your trike performance. That cheerleader could not keep her hands off you--the old "my trike's traction control is broken" trick, eh? What a season...

Posted by: redlineblue | December 17, 2008 5:43 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to suggest a moratorium on this blog of people throwing out there that we need to go get "a stay at home D" or a "top notch D man" or a "big minute D" without actually naming said D-man. Everyone in the league would love to have a multitude of them. Pronger and Chara types don't grow on trees. So can we throw a name out there when we make these claims? Who's coming with me?

Posted by: WVPhil | December 17, 2008 5:45 PM | Report abuse

I thought the Blake goal was wonderful. And for him to have the guts to pull that off in a situation where the game is on the line? Wow..good stuff.

What tricks are acceptable and not are a matter of relativity. One could argue that a toe drag around a D man and wrist shot is a gimmick goal.

I know that if Semin/OV/Feds or whoever else on the caps pulled something like that off, we would be reading post after post about how wonderful they are.

Remember..there is a whole hockey world outside of DC and really cool things do happen in games where the Caps aren't playing.

Posted by: rdy4all2000 | December 17, 2008 5:56 PM | Report abuse

@redlineblue - haha I wish I could say that was the plan, but I am way too competitive to lose just so i can get pat on the back from a red rocker.

I swear the stupid trike had a seriously under inflated tire :-)

The ball I threw that landed in the crease and just stopped could also use a little inflation. Ah well, wasn't my night.

Posted by: SombreroGuy | December 17, 2008 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone really want Erskine back in the lineup? Both Sloan and Collins are better players at both ends of the ice and while neither guy is the heavyweight that Erskine is its irrelevant since Erskine doesn't really bring that to the ice anymore.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 17, 2008 6:13 PM | Report abuse

I'm not saying the -move- was a gimmick: The shootout's a gimmick and the move is its descendant, in this case.
In Michigan, Brendan Shanahan scooped a puck onto his blade stuffed it, lacrosse style, past a goalie's arm. It matters that he did it *in the game*.
@WV: Gutsy! I like it, though its gonna cost me...

Posted by: redlineblue | December 17, 2008 6:18 PM | Report abuse

I think the next time we are in a shoot-out OV needs to pull a Rolston and wind up for a full slap shot between the circles and just let it fly. Let him shoot first and if the opposing goalie survives, be might be gun shy for the other two shooters.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | December 17, 2008 6:19 PM | Report abuse

As a fan, and nothing close to an expert, I think moving Semin to the second line is big mistake. Wasn't it just last year that there were calls to trade him? Aren't there still many fans that scratch their heads as you tries the drag-and-shot technique every time? Semin thrived, and the OBS line by default, by having all three together. Semin's hot start is at least half based on being with that line. The first three goals last night were via everyone's much beloved secondary scoring and the 1st line eventually tired out the watchers and scored the last two. Is he so much stronger this year that the move allow him to maintain the amazing scoring he had to open the season.

I'll be there tomorrow night, and every game, to see what happens.

Go Caps.

Posted by: saintex | December 17, 2008 6:34 PM | Report abuse

re Blue line at the end of the year. At this point it looks like this:

1. Green
2. 5 other guys

I used to think Mo was essential to allow Green to roam. I used to think Juice was useless. I used to think Poti was essential as the vet. Now, all that's in the air. Absent salary cap and injury concerns, I think we would all have Green, Poti, Alzner, Mo, and then it gets interesting.

Personally, I see Schultz, Poti, Pothier, Mo or Juice getting traded. I also see Alzner going back to chocolate land until the trade deadline (absent injury). Erskine with his big contract next year is probably untradable. Not sure about Sloan. Collins needs to go away.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | December 17, 2008 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Almost positive that wasn't Shanny in Michigan.

Posted by: _jordan | December 17, 2008 6:38 PM | Report abuse

DaveUK or anyone else really

Do you know a good place to watch hockey in London? Gonna be there for a couple of weeks and would like to find somewhere, if such a place exists, to watch a Caps game.

Posted by: Yoshietree | December 17, 2008 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like they need to keep Alzner up, he's been brilliant. We can buy some cap space by putting Feds on IR for a week or two (we should have done that with Semin).

Posted by: WritingLight | December 17, 2008 7:10 PM | Report abuse

i don't think you get to "bank" any extra money when you put someone on LTIR. I just think you can bring people up during that period that would normally take you over the cap. Now if you are dressing everyone and you are under the cap, I think that adds up. I could be wrong, but I think that's what I have heard.

Posted by: WVPhil | December 17, 2008 7:16 PM | Report abuse

The roster freeze starts on Friday.

Posted by: el_bashir | December 17, 2008 7:19 PM | Report abuse

@jordan: almost positive you're right. crap. who then?

Posted by: redlineblue | December 17, 2008 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Morrison! Brendan Morrison! maybe. Anyway, it happened in maize and blue and it was cooler than anything that happens in a shootout.

Posted by: redlineblue | December 17, 2008 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Erskine? No way! I always thought I was the sexy lumberjack about whom everybody was referring.

Posted by: uncatim | December 17, 2008 7:41 PM | Report abuse

just started reading the posts so tarik probably already talked about this. Why was Lepisto sent down? Collins is fine but he doesnt have the potential Lepisto does. He could really be important in the coming years

Posted by: bleedred | December 17, 2008 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Capsfannmiss,
Ovie or Juice, glass destroyer extraordinaire? :D Like Fulton Reid in D2, with the puck mark on the Iceland goalie's hand. (Oh man am I showing my age!) We should just make sure that all opposing goalies know about the three sheets of broken plexiglass at Kettler.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | December 17, 2008 8:13 PM | Report abuse

bleedred

Why was Lepisto sent down?

Because he looked dreadful in most games. Collins isn't the long term answer, but he's been more sound in the defensive zone than Lepisto. Lepisto is a Green style of Dman...Collins is more stay at home...and when given the opportunity, Lepisto has looked to be a second to slow in offensive zone when passing/shooting.

Posted by: Yoshietree | December 17, 2008 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Steve:
What's wrong with living Monty Python? BTW, did you see Mark ask earlier if there was anyone higher than Leeguru? Now what kind of question is that? Blasphomy, I tell ya.

Yoshietree:
Dave is MIA. I would recommend the Internet (ala mauree). Other than that? Good luck.

Posted by: --Boo-- | December 17, 2008 8:19 PM | Report abuse

does anyone agree that the caps should be busy at the trade deadline? I don't think major moves are in order but we have so many good young kids that are NHL worthy and not enough roster spots. Obviously, the first move should be Nyls (although hed have to waive his NTC). If we could get someone like Marek Svatos of the Avs or Colby Armstrong of the Thrashers that would be huge. They are both right wingers (which were short on) for a center (which we have too many).
Also, Erskine should leave. I like him as a brute but not a player. Maybe get a young guy to put w/ the Bears thats big. With Varlomov and Neuvirth thriving in Hershey, Machesney seems out of place. I hope we trade him for somewhere else we need help.
I used to hate Juice, but him and Alzner have been working well

Posted by: bleedred | December 17, 2008 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Man, tough crowd. Before the Islanders game you all were ready to send Sloan down and keep Collins. :D Good thing you all don't make personnel decisions.

Anyone else watching the NJD/BUF game?

Posted by: kittypawz | December 17, 2008 8:31 PM | Report abuse

^Yes, I'm watching the Devils/Buffalo game and thank goodness that Center Ice is showing the NJ feed; I can't stand the Buffalo announcers. They are worse than the Boston guys - and one of them yells more than Steve Kolbe!

Posted by: DevilsCapsGal | December 17, 2008 9:05 PM | Report abuse

for clarification....the sexy lumberjack has NOTHING to do with any monty python stuff, it was a random nickname that we made up last season

Posted by: _stevo | December 17, 2008 9:54 PM | Report abuse

and the sexy lumberjack is here for the next 2 years after this season so deal with it, he is basically like clark pretty much immovable

Posted by: _stevo | December 17, 2008 9:55 PM | Report abuse

The michigan "lacrosse" goal was Mike Legg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzsOkwHYBno

Posted by: SombreroGuy | December 17, 2008 10:25 PM | Report abuse

Thx Sombrero. Cripes, I barely got the right sport. But the shootout is still a DH/In the Grasp-class dilution of the game. Whatver happened to Mike "Don't Call Me Brendan" Legg?

Posted by: redlineblue | December 17, 2008 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Sombrero Guy. That was fun to watch.

Posted by: uncatim | December 17, 2008 10:34 PM | Report abuse

I'm happy that Erskine is healthy again but honestly I didn't miss him. As I'm not missing Schultz. I think these guys have to earn a spot on the team now.

For the love of everything sacred, please don't break the Alzner-Juice pairing...

Posted by: mauree | December 17, 2008 11:09 PM | Report abuse

And thanks SombreroGuy that was amazing :)

Posted by: mauree | December 17, 2008 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone else catch the updated Power Rankings on TSN's website?

We moved from 21st to 4th in 1 week.

15-10-3 = 21st
18-10-3 = 4th

One more win and we'll be numero uno...

Posted by: JSchon | December 17, 2008 11:37 PM | Report abuse

Wow! Are we deep on defense. It was encouraging to here that Pots was not only practicing in full pads but practicing one timers. Those are hard enough with perfect eyes let alone vision problems. Also as a Caps fan from the beginning is refreshing to see the coach pissed after a win. We are the only team in the area that is held to such a high standard!

Posted by: psugolf | December 17, 2008 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Deep @ Defense?

Green QB
Alzner 2-way
Poti 2-way
Morrisonn S@H
Jurcina S@H
Erskine S@H
Lepisto QB
Sloan S@H
Collins S@H
Helmer S@H
Pothier 2-way
Godfrey 2-way
Carlson 2-way

Not included (Yet)

Seabrook, Finley, Mestery and Dvogan

Posted by: JSchon | December 17, 2008 11:54 PM | Report abuse

Well, we struggled on defense at the beginning of the year, and I know I saw a few of the same mistakes in the Islanders game that I thought we'd corrected. Talent we may have, but our starting D has some issues that the Hershey kids seem th have gone a long way towards correcting. BB said once that it was because the kids listened where sometimes the stars don't - can we please leave those issues fixed with the starts in the lineup?

Agree that we're now deep on defense and GMGM and BB now have some tough choices to make. We can't keep everyone, much though I'm sure we'd like to. I look forward to seeing what we do.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 17, 2008 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Ooops, I forgot... not on purpose...

Schultz S@H
McNeil Enforcer

Posted by: JSchon | December 17, 2008 11:57 PM | Report abuse

Also, just a comment on the game tomorrow. JSchon, deal. I didn't do this before the Islanders game on Tuesday and look what happened. :)

I'm kinda apprehensive about tomorrow -- we don't DARE blow off the Blues just because they're struggling. We blew off the Islanders and were lucky to get out with our butts intact, let alone with two points. We've got to take them seriously, and as much as I'd like to put Varly in net, I think it's more important to be sure that we have the winning streak unbroken and the momentum going into Saturday @ Philadelphia. I don't know about you, but I want Philthy's arse for breakfast so bad I can taste it, and we'll have a much better chane of we take the Blues seriously.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 18, 2008 12:02 AM | Report abuse

kittypawz, careful. You can't be sure where "Philthy's arse" has been. Might have listeria, E. coli, or some other dreadful food-borne illness. Hard to tell if that particular slab of ugly has been contaminated. A nice bowl of honey nut Cheerios would be much better for you. :-P
All joking aside, it would be wonderful if the guys could come out swinging against Philly off a win over the Blues. I'm looking forward to the game. Fourth ever live NHL game! Woo, bobblehead night!

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | December 18, 2008 12:15 AM | Report abuse

As devoted fans we all tend to overhype wins and losses. A loss to a bad team is loss in the L column, there isn't a column devoted to bad losses. We are going to have roughly 30 or so, thats 20 more. Relax, take a deep breathe and realize we aren't going to win them all.

We already have wins over CHI, VAN, PIT, NYR, NJD, ANA, MONx2 and BOS... All of these teams are regarded as top 12 teams by most. We do not get a cookie for winning those games...

The season is long and some lesser teams are going to beat us. The also are paid to play the game. As the saying goes, "Any given Sunday".

Did we let up in the 3rd period vs the NYI? Yes.

Did the Islanders turn it on in the 3rd? Yes.

You know what we did the same thing to PIT.

It all kind of evens out in the end. We do not have the perfect team, and under the circumstances we have faced, we have overachieved in my book. But thats the makeup of a good team. The chips are down and we comeback. We have a resilient bunch of kids. They will learn from their mistakes, just like they figured out the powerplay. But I guarantee they will make more mistakes and not close the deal at times, all teams do, ALL.

I have no idea why I typed this...

I'm getting a Backstrom jersey tomorrow night.

Posted by: JSchon | December 18, 2008 12:17 AM | Report abuse

I committed the crime of just reading the beginning posts and end posts but there's 100+ here!!!

I was going to comment on standings and I see the theme at the beginning and, arse:

We shouldn't focus on standings at any point and certainly not at this early point. We gave the Islanders the point that brought them out of a tie for the cellar with the Melroses "I wish them a year of futility" Lightning.

Philly's arse will taste better charred over playoff flames in a humiliating 4-0 incineration

:)

Posted by: austinsteve | December 18, 2008 12:36 AM | Report abuse

I think we are actually underachievers too often, playing only to the level of our opponents as we saw the other night.

While that probably crushes the other team's morale we need to stay focused for 60 minutes or a good team will make us pay when it hurts the most.

Posted by: austinsteve | December 18, 2008 12:41 AM | Report abuse

austinsteve,

While what you say has much merit, in my opinion the best way to serve that meat is in SD OT at the end of the 7th playoff game. Just so they know what it feels like to come so close - and have to walk away.

Posted by: RedRocker1 | December 18, 2008 12:54 AM | Report abuse

keep ovie backstrom semin together, that line is good for 2 goals a nite even when theyre slacking defensively (a la last nite in long island).

Posted by: miked3 | December 18, 2008 1:06 AM | Report abuse

I just read all the posts over an early day coffee, and good stuff.

Line combos don't concern me as much as playing 60 mins each night. Ovie scored with 10-11 ticks left in OT last game remember. Could you imagine going into another shootout again?!?! What is our record in SOs this year, I don't want to know but it could have been an embarrasing night. Hope BB and the boys got the message.

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | December 18, 2008 4:10 AM | Report abuse

JSchon:
That was deep. I can't believe you got through it without saying, "you can't win 'em all" or "you win some, you lose some" ... ;-)

Posted by: --Boo-- | December 18, 2008 5:32 AM | Report abuse

@Jschon great post!

Posted by: trunkenmath | December 18, 2008 5:50 AM | Report abuse

out problem clearly hss been playing 60 minutes on the road. It was great to see the 2 wins on the road, although it should have never gone to overtime. We will find out about ourselves over the course of the next week with games in Philly and New York. Teams who are in our way. Feds back in the lineup with Erskine will help. Did anybody else notice that Brendan Twitt was a -5 the other night.

Posted by: ergoroc | December 18, 2008 6:29 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to suggest a moratorium on this blog of people throwing out there that we need to go get "a stay at home D" or a "top notch D man" or a "big minute D" without actually naming said D-man. Everyone in the league would love to have a multitude of them. Pronger and Chara types don't grow on trees. So can we throw a name out there when we make these claims? Who's coming with me?

Posted by: WVPhil | December 17, 2008 5:45 PM

@WVPhil:

OK, I'll bite:

Pronger: hits and shoots well, but plays so dirty I'm not sure he's worth the PIM's

Chara: didn't want to come to DC.

That said, if I could put any D-man I wanted into a Caps sweater (money no object), I'd have to take:

Blake from SJ
Phaneuf from CGY
Bouwmeester from FLA
Lidstrom or Chelios from DET

Yes, most of them are old, but also have significant playoff experience and the kind of maturity that is so valuable in the room.

Posted by: Rhino40 | December 18, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

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