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Erskine: 'We Weren't All Into It'

Before tonight's game, Bruce Boudreau spoke about the importance of the Caps putting together a crisp, convincing win over the Panthers and catapulting themselves into the playoffs with momentum.

Instead, Jose Theodore and his teammates will enter next week's Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Rangers coming off one of their ugliest performances of the year, a wretched 7-4 loss to a Florida team that missed the playoffs for the eighth straight season.

Theodore struggled, allowing six goals. But as the Panthers' number of shots (42) and odd-man rushes (I lost count) indicate, the veteran goalie received little help from his teammates, who obviously got caught looking ahead to their second straight "second season."

"I just have a hard time -- just never being able to stick in the NHL, knowing how much I would have given to play," Boudreau said. "Defensively, we were so out of whack. What were the shots? Forty-two to 41 or something stupid? But it's over and I'm not going to dwell on this game. Hopefully we will be a lot better come next week."

He had better hope so. Because the Caps couldn't have been much sloppier.

On to the notes, which have to be on the brief side tonight because of spotty internet and an early flight:

Just Short
The Caps ended up one victory short of setting the franchise record for wins in a season and tying the record for road triumphs. They finished knotted with the 1985-86 team with 50 victories and one short of the 1983-84 team's mark of 22 away wins.

Just short, Part II
Alex Ovechkin had a goal and an asisst, but he wound up three points (113-110) behind Evgeni Malkin in the race for the scoring title. Malkin had a goal in the Penguins' 3-1 win over the Canadiens. Now the dueling Russians will compete for two more big, shiny trophies: the Hart and Pearson.

Gone in Eight Seconds
There's no debating when the turning point arrived. It came late in the third period when Steve Eminger and Michael Frolik scored eight seconds apart to break open a game that Ovechkin had just tried, 4-4, moments earlier.

"It was combination," Boudreau said when asked whether the blame rested on Theodore or the equally suspect defense. "We had two-on-ones in the third period. We tied it up with five minutes to go and we end up losing, 7-4. That's unheard of. There was an awful lot of breakdowns."

Not Into It
A few players told me afterward that the Caps simply got caught looking ahead.

"We weren't all into it," defenseman John Erskine said. "We wanted to come and have a good game, play a good defensive game and take that into the playoffs. But things didn't go our way. We were sloppy out there."

Defenseman Brian Pothier added: "We didn't play crisp. We didn't play well. We just have to look to next week. There were not a lot of positives to take out of that, so we just have to put it behind us. We're all professionals and we should prepare as such. It's time for us [to move on to the playoffs.] We need to get in a couple of good practice and get ready for Wednesday."

Five for Booth
Alexander Semin had a productive night, racking up two goals and an assist. But he was overshadowed by 24-year-old David Booth, who had two goals and three assists for the Panthers. I've always liked Booth's game. I like it even more now.

On a Positive Note
You've got to look real hard for anything positive from tonight's debacle. But I managed to come up with two items: the Caps appear to have avoided any injuries (and they're on the verge of getting back Tom Poti, Donald Brashear and Boyd Gordon) and the power play finished at 25.2 percent, a franchise record. The mark had been 23.9 percent, set in 1984-85.

Odds and Ends
Ovechkin equaled a career high for assists with his 54th ...Keith Aucoin told me that the Booth's first goal did, indeed, deflect in off of his skate. ...David Steckel's no-goal was a good call. It never fully crossed the goal line. ...Adding insult to an already humbling night for the Caps, Nick Tarnasky's emtpy-netter was his first goal of the season. ...Eminger's goal was his first as a Panther.

Breaking the Ice
If you've ever wondered what happens to the ice when the season is over, I can now answer that question for you. As I sit here at BankAtlantic Center trying to focus, there are a dozen arena employees dropping solid lead pipes on the ice and bulldozers to scrape it away.

That's it from me tonight. I might check in tomorrow if there's any news. But since it's Easter, I'm not counting on it.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 11, 2009; 11:38 PM ET
 
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Next: The Rise of a League Power

Comments

left a message at the end of the last post for you, phil.

Posted by: oo7 | April 11, 2009 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Don't know what replay you were looking at Tarik, but Steckel's shot definitely was over the line. You could see white between the puck and the line. Despite your concerns, I doubt this game will mean anything come Game 1.

Posted by: billieb | April 12, 2009 12:22 AM | Report abuse

Give em hell on Monday Bruce. Light practice on Tuesday, but give them HELL on Monday.

Theodore played exactly the kind of game tonight that will lose us a playoff series. Sloppy rebounds, not being ready for sharp angle shots, and looking downright lazy and not into it. He better be focused next week.

I can hardly throw the blame on him, with all of the 3 on 1s coming the caps way. I'm going to try to forget the season ended tonight and say it ended with that win over TB on Thursday.

Bring on King Henrik. Let's riddle the net behind him with pucks.

Posted by: Raber | April 12, 2009 12:26 AM | Report abuse

The players told Tarik that they "simply got caught looking ahead?" Bull. They must have been looking ahead for the last two months because they have been sloppy for a while now.

I don't want to dismiss their huge achievements--having clinched the division championship and the 2nd seed. But they may simply not yet be the team they promised to be.

Let's face it. In the last 6-8 weeks and even longer, they are not the same team they were the first half (or at least 2/3) of the season. We can pick apart the defense or lack of secondary scoring or any one individual but these Caps are just not the explosive, tight, high-scoring team they were earlier this year.

Will they turn it back on during playoffs? I am not so sure anymore having watched so many weak performances one after the other. We will know very soon.

Posted by: caraveli | April 12, 2009 12:29 AM | Report abuse

The players told Tarik that they "simply got caught looking ahead?" Bull. They must have been looking ahead for the last two months because they have been sloppy for a while now.

I don't want to dismiss their huge achievements--having clinched the division championship and the 2nd seed. But they may simply not yet be the team they promised to be.

Let's face it. In the last 6-8 weeks and even longer, they are not the same team they were the first half (or at least 2/3) of the season. We can pick apart the defense or lack of secondary scoring or any one individual but these Caps are just not the explosive, tight, high-scoring team they were earlier this year.

Will they turn it back on during playoffs? I am not so sure anymore having watched so many weak performances one after the other. We will know very soon.

Posted by: caraveli | April 12, 2009 12:29 AM | Report abuse

You guys are crazy.

Caps are 100% Ready. That is not the problem. The only question is can we handle the Rangers in a playoff series?

And quit blaming Theo for tonight please. Sure, blame Theo for being Theo, but tonight was not his fault at all.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 12, 2009 12:33 AM | Report abuse

Most significant thing in this game: Ovechkin scores a third period, game tying (at the time), beautiful goal after a little mini-drought. Alex needs that for momentum going into the playoffs. We've been getting secondary scoring (finally), Semin keeps on scoring, Backstrom keeps racking up the assists, and everybody (including the Caps) can be counted on to play tighter defense in the playoffs. Caps in 6 against the Rangers. Have some faith, people. Let's Go Caps!

Posted by: chevychase10 | April 12, 2009 12:39 AM | Report abuse

Varlamov.

Posted by: --Boo-- | April 12, 2009 12:55 AM | Report abuse

time to relax and get ready for the playoffs....hopefully we can get buy the Rangers. Unfortunatelt we arent ready to go further than the second round......but pitts philly will be a war

Posted by: wendel2 | April 12, 2009 1:01 AM | Report abuse

CAps in 6???? uhhh I don't think so...
More like 4 or 5...and yes Tarik the "no goal" for Steckel was pure BS as the replay on tv clearly showed at least an inch of ice between the line and the puck...
Counting that with Greenie's post at the end, and the no call penalty against flash right before the back to back fl goals, this was pure luck and caps could have won just as easy...
look how detroit got cheated out of their win at home...with the penalty shot 20 seconds left...
IT DOESN'T AFFECT US!!!!!!
GO CAPS!!!!!

Posted by: masterx09 | April 12, 2009 1:17 AM | Report abuse

I second Varlamov

Posted by: diner99 | April 12, 2009 1:19 AM | Report abuse

Come on people. The Caps have just about ruled everyone in the east this year. A huge chunk of their losses have come from the west and we don't have to worry about that until June.

Here is the Caps head to head against the other east playoff teams:

Boston - 3-0-1
New Jersey - 2-0-2
Phil - 2-2-0
Pitt - 3-0-1
Car. - 3-3-0
NYR - 3-0-1
Mont. - 3-1-0

Total - 19-6-5

By comparison, Boston went:

Caps - 1-2-1
New Jersey - 2-1-1
Phil - 2-1-1
Pitt - 2-1-1
Car. - 4-0
NYR - 2-1-1
Mont. - 5-0-1

Total 18-6-6

All year long the Caps have risen to the challenge. They will humble the Rags, who can't score. I don't think the Caps need to be afraid of anyone in the east, to tell the truth. I can't say they are ready to raise the cup, but they are one of the top five in the league for a reason.

JT is not one of the elites, but he is serviceable. The defense gets called weak, but its more a matter of depth and the top two pairs are decent. The offense scares everyone and for good reason. If the secondary scoring hits, no one in the east can beat them.

Let's stop assuming the worst and get ready for a long and enjoyable ride.

Posted by: cbl-pdx | April 12, 2009 1:30 AM | Report abuse

has anyone else noticed this trend,the caps are bad then good in the first,bad in the second and then good in the third.(except for tonights third period)? so its bad-good-bad-good.not exactly the trend i like going against the rangers in the first round.they need to be good,good,good.i hope bruce can pull it all together in a couple days.i have faith in our caps.theyre stanley cup bound and i support em all the way.LETS GO CAPS!

Posted by: gratefuldid | April 12, 2009 1:32 AM | Report abuse

THE Smart fans here know the truth. Cappies are playing like dogs** right now which is not a good omen. Rags will eat us alive with the forecheck. They won't need to score pretty goals. They will just shoot the puck toward the net and then pile in and jam it in while Caps d-men will let them. Schultz must be quivering in his skivvies thinking of having to deal with Avery and co

Posted by: maven1918 | April 12, 2009 1:33 AM | Report abuse

Caraveli speaketh the truth. This team has been looking ahead for 5 weeks now because this team is incapable of looking like a worldbeater against even bad teams. If the season started in March this team would not even make the playoffs.

Posted by: maven1918 | April 12, 2009 1:35 AM | Report abuse

And as much as i really like varly,i still think brent is our man.He has way more nhl experience and is coming off one of his bet years yet.Varly be our #1 man next year.go caps!

Posted by: gratefuldid | April 12, 2009 1:40 AM | Report abuse

varly wont be our #1 next year because theo has a 2 year contract at 4.5/year that expires next year. so theo is #1 this season and 09-10 as well. i believe varly will backup theo this playoffs due to the fact that you don't want a goaltender fresh off of injury for your playoff team. remember no matter how good johnny looks in practices, there is no substitute for games.

Posted by: hsk8er6 | April 12, 2009 2:19 AM | Report abuse

Let's hope Avery doesn't get under Ovie's skin. I'm gonna bet that Torts is gonna tell #16 to be all over #8. It's up to Ovie not to lose his head.

Posted by: donknutts | April 12, 2009 3:01 AM | Report abuse

I don't think Avery will be a problem for Ovechkin. Semin might be a different story.

Posted by: Hatfield223 | April 12, 2009 4:03 AM | Report abuse

Alexander Semin vs. Marc Staal

Epic.

All jokes aside, I really think home-ice will be key in this series. If the Caps lose momentum at home, I can't expect things to go that well at MSG.

Posted by: virkulous | April 12, 2009 5:02 AM | Report abuse

I have to agree with Caraveli 100%.... The fire that burned so brightly begining when Bruce came onboard last year petered out somewhere in late February this year and was missing the last month and a half. It just felt as if a lot of the games were being "mailed in" whereas before I felt they were trying to be the best team in hockey. I really really hope I am wrong and that Tarik won't be writing a column titled "What went wrong?" in the next few weeks but I just have a bad feeling that all the bravado in the world can't chase away.

Posted by: LaureninGlenBurnie | April 12, 2009 5:51 AM | Report abuse

I think you all are worrying way too much and missing the bigger picture. you saw the biggest hole in our game this year, the team is young and very emotional, which means they have a very tough time getting up for games where there is no motivation and no fans in the stands. that is why we lose so many games to non-playoff teams....very simply...a lack of focus. They have still maintained the ability to turn it up a notch when it is needed. They playoff atmosphere should be exactly what our guys need to give them that burst over the next month. sit back and enjoy!!! Go CAPS!!!

Posted by: CapsSkins | April 12, 2009 6:33 AM | Report abuse

Caps earned the right to dog it last night. Bruins dogged it too. Top 5 in the NHL. Get with it people. If you think this is going to be a short playoff, go watch the Wizards.

Posted by: SA-Town | April 12, 2009 6:52 AM | Report abuse

Way too many posters to this blog graduated from the Tony Kornheiser School of Caps Fanhood. The playoffs haven't even started yet and everyone has already buried the #2 seed.

Posted by: Baildog | April 12, 2009 7:52 AM | Report abuse

The official and complete schedule for the first round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs will be coming Sunday night. :D

Posted by: rachel216 | April 12, 2009 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Can someone please explain to me why Alzner has not been playing? Is it the salary cap thing? He's a better defenseman's defenseman than half the defensive crew we have playing now(!)...

Posted by: gjtache | April 12, 2009 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Not sure if it was mentioned but the Bears won the division and a win today against the baby pens and the Bears get the #1 seed the whole way through.

Posted by: cocorules | April 12, 2009 8:25 AM | Report abuse

No, it DEFINITELY did crosses the goal line. I'm positive. Not that it would've made any difference. Well maybe it could've.. if we made it 2-0, who knows. But whatever, I know I saw it completely over the line before the Panthers guy tried to sweep it out cause you could see a tiny bit of white between the puck and the goal line.

Are the players not listening to BB? He seemed to express emphatically about all the goals that he wanted them to achieve in last night's game. So why did Erskine say they weren't into the game? They had a chance for the most wins in franchise history, most points, and a chance to give Theo some confidence and play tight, crisp defense. Well none of that happened, except nobody got hurt, which is good.

It sucks that Ovie finished 3 points behind Malkin. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that if Ovie didn't miss those three games he would have finished with more points than Malkin or tie, which is all he would've needed.. 113-110 and Ovie missed 3 games and was only 3 behind... it sucks.

Posted by: rachel216 | April 12, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

rachel:
There are a lot of reasons why Ovi didn't catch Malkin - not only did he miss a few games but he started really slowly (seems to be a bit of a pattern), there were times when the whole team didn't show that they should have, he was more targeted this season than ever before and as a result was often double/triple teamed, this is the first full season that the Caps have been taken seriously in a long time - maybe ever - so other teams played the Caps harder in general, his grandfather's illness/passing seemed to impact his game (not surprising for anyone who loses someone that close to them), the team was riddled with injuries and he took on more two-way responsibility which could have impacted his ability to be a pure offensive threat (not necessarily a bad thing - solid two-way players are hard to find), etc.. Any one of those things could have been the difference. Such is life, I suppose.

Hatfield223/donknutts:
Gotta say I agree with Hatfield223 - Avery is a non-issue for Ovi. Ovi is mentally stronger than that. If anything it will make him play harder (he's like the hulk - he explodes when he is mad ... you don't want to wake the giant and most guys probably know that). Semin, on the other hand, can be emotional and immature acting out like a child having a temper tantrum when someone/something ticks him off. I said it before and I'll say it again, any time he spends in the box will be good for the Rangers, so Avery will probably ride him to pull a penalty ... he's a much easier target. Fortunately he is greatly improved in this area - in fact, I don't think he threw the puck in frustration even once this season! ;-) BTW, before you jump me for saying that, you should know that I have been singing his praises for years - I think he is amazing. When he brings it and leaves his baggage in the locker room he is arguably the best player on the team.

Can't wait to see the schedule today ... I am ready to GO!!!!

Posted by: --Boo-- | April 12, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

@maven1918

Here's a thought: go be a troll on a ranger's site....

Posted by: washcapsfan | April 12, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Tarik,

Watch the replay again. The puck 100% without question crossed the line. It was a goal. The fact that is was not ruled a goal concerns me about the quality of the replay system being used as the angle on TV made it clear an unmistakable.

Aside from that Jose had perhaps one of worst outings and I did not like he was so vulnerable on the blocker side.


Posted by: JWBessling | April 12, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Our old trolls have disappeared (StanleyCup1907, Chief, Windjammer, etc.) but we've gained a new troll, maven1917. Or is maven1917 one of our old trolls in disguise.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 12, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

I think "if the season started in March, Caps wouldnt be in playoffs" is a classic piece of inanity, right up there with George Michael (either one) and yesterday's game.
The Capitals won 50 games and are ranked second in the east and were over .500 all. year. long. They can beat (or lose to) anybody, just like every other team that's come this far.
Please, put down your recycled plastic crystal ball and Let the Games Begin.

Posted by: redlineblue | April 12, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Gotta let go on the Steckel goal. I was watching the home (fla) feed, and the announcers were also convinced that the puck went in, until you looked at the overhead shot and there was no white at all from that perspective. I think it's possible that the white you see in the side shot is shaved ice or something, but had that shot gone in, you would have been able to see white from the overhead perspective, and you clearly could not. Since the refs needed incontrovertable evidence to overturn the on-ice call, the call had to stand.

Posted by: Sonyask | April 12, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

The overhead shot was not a good shot because the net's top crossbar covered the view of the puck from above. The best view was the view that CSN showed a couple of times, which was to the left of Vokoun. It was completely across the line. I'm still convinced I saw it, but whatever. It doesn't matter.

Posted by: rachel216 | April 12, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

We lose a meaningless game after a day of in the great state of April Bikini's. BFD.

I think the loss is good for the team, makes it easier for Bruce to crack the get whip and get everyone focused.

If we continue our above .500 for every month we are in great shape.

We will be ready. What awesume play-offs match-ups.....is it game time yet??

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | April 12, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

The PIT/PHI matchup is definitely the best. It will be really fun to watch. =)

Posted by: rachel216 | April 12, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

I agree that the Caps have been guilty of a lot of sloppy play the last month and a half. In part I blame the thankfully-now-dead 21 game salute. We all know the Caps have played down to weaker opponents, and I'd venture to say that they've slid into the playoff season comfortable with a secure division title and fortunate that NJ put together a losing streak.

That's over now.

Posted by: Sonyask | April 12, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Theo is absolutely the worst goalie in the Playoffs. He's horrible

Posted by: gtydings | April 12, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Rachel -- I know the crossbar was in the way, but from that shot the crossbar should be even with the goal line. That camera setup is there for goal review. If the puck was completely behind the goal line it would've been behind the crossbar.

Posted by: Sonyask | April 12, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Please don't use the "Boston stunk it up, so the Caps could too" excuse. The Bruins benched their #1 goalie, Chara, and Kessel. The Caps played their top guys and got pummeled by an average team. Ugly, and not looking good for the playoffs. Caps haven't been playing well in weeks.

Posted by: FancyDan | April 12, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

gtydings: Theo is not the WORST. Theo is a victim of our horrendous defense. Chris Osgood has worst stats than him, so does Miikka Kiprusoff. Theo's bad stats are a result of our porous defense.

Posted by: rachel216 | April 12, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Has chicken little showed up yet?

Last night was a meaningless game although I still would have liked the Caps to have won. Oh well...

the good thing is the playoffs have arrived. The Caps will prevail in round 1, you can bet the farm on it!

Posted by: fatboy08 | April 12, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

I truly hope the faithful has sold out the playoff series at Verizon. Don't want to see a bunch of blue shirts in the stands. Does anyone know if the games are sold out?

I on the other hand, we be infiltrating and rocking the red at MSG.

Let's Go Caps!

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | April 12, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse


for the uninitiated (thats folks that are offended by titles like 'newbie' and 'beginner'), the post season looks NOTHING like the regular season. The Caps having mailed it in the last couple of weeks means nothing. Nada. Sure, you want momentum going in, sure you want your top guys producing, not slumping, yadda yadda yadda. Nothing that happened before game 1 means anything. You're going to see: tight, TIGHT play, very hard hits, no pond hockey, and most importantly you'll see players who get almost no points in the regular season turn into offensive dynamos.

Forget everything you've seen so far. Don't think that the Caps are going to be the team that lost to Florida, or the team you've seen since the trade deadline. ANyone that far ahead is going to settle into a jog. This isn't the team that Ottawa was, limping into the playoffs. They've been saving it up. I dont fear the Rangers. The only teams that concern me in the east are Pittsburgh and Philly and that has worked out in our favor.

I can't wait!!!!

Posted by: oo7 | April 12, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

No, I'm pretty sure Theo is the worst. Short, overeacting flopper.

I hope he has a next gear.

Posted by: gtydings | April 12, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Theo in the regular season is not Theo in the psot season. Dont worry, people. Its not the same thing. He's not a bad goalie, when he isn't being hung out to dry. Thats not going to happen come playoff time. It aint gonna be 6-5 games.

Posted by: oo7 | April 12, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Yes the Caps defense is average at best. And hopefully the Caps will get some help next year.

Next year will not help this year in the playoffs. Theo has to start coming up big, the Caps are going to need him to steal a win somewhere along the way or the Caps will be playing golf after the second round.

The Caps will only go as far as their goaltending will carry them

Posted by: fatboy08 | April 12, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

CTCapsPhan:
Way to infiltrate! :-) Non-STH seats for games 1-2 went to STH pre-sale and that sold out in minutes, but I would guess that they were holding some back. Not sure ... but I bet there will be some serious red rockin' either way!! :-D Are you coming down here for any? Didn't you get a partial STH package this season?!? Ya know, we should really be hooking each other up with tickets here/there ... I wouldn't mind a road trip!! ;-)

Posted by: --Boo-- | April 12, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

@gjtache - Re: Alzner.

There are several reasons not to bring Alzner up just yet. Now that it's post-season for both us and the Bears, I would like to see him stay with his team to help them to another Calder.

That aside, the two biggest reasons that come to mind are:

1) Prior to the end of the season, Alzner had played 30 games as a Capital this year. There is a limit on the number of games he can play and not go RFA a year early. Obviously, we want to keep him, so we don't want his free agency coming on us early.
-and-

2) We need to get Brian Pothier as much ice time as possible, so that he's ready for the playoffs. It has paid off, in my opinion. That's why we were rotating defensemen as it was.

We are presently carrying 7 active D-men, and we only need 6 at any given time. If we brought Alzner up, he'd be sitting on the bench half the time to let Pothier play. Better to leave him in Hershey so that he gets ice time too.

Posted by: irockthered | April 12, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

@oo7 - Uninitiated. I like that term. Can we keep it, please? It's much more respectful than calling people who don't have much experience with hockey "newbies." :-)

Posted by: irockthered | April 12, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Tickets for Games 3 & 4 go on sale tomorrow at noon. I want to buy tickets but would like to sit with the rest of the Caps faithful, what am I to do?

Posted by: Moose33 | April 12, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

@oo7 - Uninitiated. I like that term. Can we keep it, please? It's much more respectful than calling people who don't have much experience with hockey "newbies." :-)

Posted by: irockthered

uninitiated it is!
; )

Posted by: oo7 | April 12, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

This may not be the place for this, but I've already written the sports department and got what I felt was a blowoff answer: Has anyone noticed that for some reason the Post has not run the attendance figures in NHL boxes for the last few weeks? It's in all the other sports boxes, including MLS and women's soccer, so it has to be a coding error when they configure box scores that arrive from the Associated Press. I never knew how much I looked at the attendance numbers until they weren't there. It's a small thing, I know, but it's an NHL city and it looks bad for the paper to not address this.

Posted by: ahawk9 | April 12, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Ranger fan here. Avery will not make Ovechkin his priority. He will discussing in depth aspects of Jose's life with him, such as Paris Hilton, the Macedonian mafia, his doping ban, and Stephanie's love child. He actually prepares for these things. Last game in Boston he conked Thomas over the head with the stick causing the Bruin goalie to chase him to centre ice. I guess he figured they could only finish 8th, so he wanted to get started early. The Caps have not yet played Tortorella's Rangers. He only got them to click in the 80th game, meaning he finally finally sorted out four balanced lines from the mess Renney handed him. It's a hard two-man forecheck on the D now, instead of the old system, a dump-in and then a disorganized stampede back into their zone. Should be a good series.

Posted by: idov | April 12, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

@idov. Thank you for contributing a rational perspective from the other side of the fence. This will be a very interesting series.

Posted by: Baildog | April 12, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: dukster | April 12, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Correct me if I am wrong. Theo has Never lost a first round play-off series???

Glad the Rags finally got there game to "click" on the 80th game, should be a great series in six games tops.

Remember there are no shoot-outs in the play-offs. What did the Rangers get half of there wins via the shoot-out??

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | April 12, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

idov:
Nice to see an opposing fan who is not a troll. I think you are right - Avery will be all over Jose for a multitude of reasons (one of which being he is partial to keepers). If Varlamov sees any ice time he will probably be on him, too, just because he is young an inexperienced. From an offensive perspective I still think that Semin will be his target. Anyway, the Caps may not have played Torts' Rangers yet this season, but do you really think he has made that much of a difference? What is their record under him - about .500? Given that and the Caps record against them (after all, it is the same guys on the ice), I don't think the Caps and their fan base are too concerned. Even the pundits have said that the Rangers will have a hard time keeping up with the Caps offensively. But you are right - it should be an interesting series regardless.

Posted by: --Boo-- | April 12, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

I think Theo should make that one phone call and have someone pay Avery a little visit...

Posted by: oo7 | April 12, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

@idov

Caps in 5. Even your coach said the Rangers were out of shape...Our fwd's are not out of shape.

Posted by: SA-Town | April 12, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

The regular season and last night's game is over, finito, no more. Period.

A new season with top teams is ready to start. My concerns had been BB tendency to mix lines, his explanation a few days ago was that it will not give his opposition tape to analyze for the playoffs, that is great and dandy but I am now concerned that he might had began that process to early and on the long run hurt his team chemistry as demonstrated by the way they have been playing in the last month. Maybe BB is taking care of that during practices - which I have not attended - and my concerns are unfounded, I hope so.

Posted by: opita1 | April 12, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

@dukster:

Great article - thanks for posting it!

LET'S GO CAPS! And especially beat the Rags!

Posted by: DevilsCapsGal | April 12, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

opita1, I think the Caps play over the last month is indicative of a team just bidding its time until the playoffs start. Its an 82 game season. Thats a long time. I liken it to a case of senioritis. Who did homework the last month of senior year? You just ride the swells until the wave comes. I'm not worried about it. This team has already proved that they can flip the switch when motivated. THey'll be motivated. Its not like they're a lock anyway. Its the playoffs, anything can happen. WIth the 3 pt system, the teams at the bottom are no longer almost rans. As for finding chemistry, I have faith in Boudreau. I think we all should. Since he's arrived, this team has been fantastic. No Pittsburgh and no Philly. I'm not worried.

Posted by: oo7 | April 12, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

youaresquishy:
period 2 started, with both teams at full strength (yes the box score and my memory both agree on this point), and here's what happened

a post from yesterday - i think this explains what happened - anyone can correct me if i'm wrong

the boxscore I checked - espn - shows both the caps and buf with a penalty at 19:59 of the first - they started the 2nd period 4 on 4.

Rule 26 d states
When ONE minor penalty is assessed to ONE player of EACH Team at the same stoppage in play, these penalties will be served without substitution provided there are no other penalties in effect and visible on the penalty clocks. Both teams will therefore play four skaters against four skaters for the duration of the minor penalties.


* at 1:14 buf get two minors - caps get a 4 on 2 - but I don't think 4 on 2's are allowed
so it was 4 on 3 (with the second penalty to buf waiting for the first period (19:59) penalty to expire)
* at 1:59 the penalties from the first period expired - it should be 5 on 4 - except
the second of the penalties from 1:14 kicked in - back to 5 on 3 (at 1:59)
* at 2:39 buf has another penalty - but it can't start yet - no 5 on 2's - (the 1st 1:14 and 2nd 1:14/*1:59* are still in the box)
* at 2:59 the second penalty from 1:14 expires - it should be 5 on 4 - but the 2:39 penalty starts - back to 5 on 3
* at 3:41 semin scores - the second penalty from 1:14 (1:59) is let out - 5 on 4
* at 3:50 feds scores - the 2:39 (2:59) penalty is let out of the box
even strength

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | April 12, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I've been lurking for the better part of the season, but I can't resist any longer. Two thoughts:

1) Malkin for MVP creates quite a conundrum for the NHL sportswriters doesn't it? If Malkin is MVP, what does that say about their prince(ss) Crosby?

2) For those concerned about Theo and Avery--another reason to start Varley in the Ranger's series. Avery can trash talk him all he wants; unless he can do it in Russian...

Posted by: hockeydad | April 12, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

funny, hockeydad! He doesn't speak Russian at all. He mustbehood stwhat he does because everyone seems to be talking about him. Brashear should be on for this one. Sorry aucoin.

Posted by: oo7 | April 12, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Yes, the Rangers are a downright chippy team but so is Pittsburgh and the Caps played their game (3 wins and one OT loss) for the most part. This was even with all the trash talking that was going on between our guys and their guys. (I won't mention any names but we all know who they are.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 12, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I still think its hilarious people want to start an AHL rookie goaltender in our 1st round.

Idov has just harped on everything we have already discussed. Anyone calling the series clear-cut obviously has a chip on their shoulder.

Lundy will either steal the series, or the Rags just wont compete with our offense. nuff said.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 12, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

After reviewing video of Avery, we should dress Brashear at least against the Rangers. And hope he takes care of him if he even tries anything funny w Theo, Ovie, or Semin.

Posted by: capsfan01 | April 12, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

My internet died mid post last night, I noticed someone earlier talking about us not being the same team we had been the rest of the year the last 6-8 weeks. If you go back 2 months and look at the last 28 games of the season (slightly more than 1/3 of the year) we were 16-8-4. That's almost exactly 1/3 of a 50-24-8 (actual record). The Caps were consistent all season. We weren't a team that was going to run off 7-10 in a row. We were a team that would run off 3 or 4 in a row a lot sandwiched around a loss or two. Occasionally we'd have a bad stretch and drop a couple in a row.

Obviously defense and goaltending are the question marks going into the playoffs, but that's blatantly obvious when you scored the 2nd most goals in the league and your PP was over 25%.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | April 12, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

I hope the optimists are right and I hope we will be able to see the Caps' slump as an aberration. For the time, my confidence is shaken. I listened to the Comcast guys after the game yesterday, and their own confidence was shaken. They are usually cheerleaders for the Caps and always find some excuse to minimize mistakes. Not this time.

Their take was that in the last several games fast players from rival teams, even lowly teams, threw our defense in disarray and beat our goalie over and over again because we were not playing with a coordinated system.

What got us to our current place in the conference and the division was an unstoppable, high-energy, "hungry" young team. When we are that team, it almost does not matter who we play against or what player is on the ice or what goalie we face. We click. We are in sync. We are a force to be reckoned with.

When we are not in sync and energized, all kinds of factors can throw us off and we start trying to nitpick them to find excuses.

If we were the team we are now in the first part of the year, we would not have made the playoffs--certainly not as second seed. I don't think there is any doubt on this.

I don't know at this point which team is the "real" Caps. Maybe they don't either. Maybe success has not sunk in as part of their identity.

We will know soon enough which team shows up at the playoffs--the sloppy team of the last 6 weeks or the explosive team of earlier months. I have more confidence in BB than the Caps right now and think that, at some point--this year or next--he will get them there.

I'll tell you one thing though. If Theo plays inconsistently or poorly, I really believe that BB would not hesitate one minute before putting Varly in. What would he have to lose at this point?

Posted by: caraveli | April 12, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

As a life long NYR fan living here in the metro area I love this match up. This is the one I wanted. I obviously watch all the Rangers games but due to being a Hershey native and avid hockey fan I keep a very close eye on the Caps. I think this will be a hard fought series and reading the earlier post, I agree with the more seasoned fan that the rangers need to be taken more seriously than the 2-1-1 series season record you guys beat us in. Since John Tortorella Took over on Feb, 23 2009 the Rangers (in Regulation time not counting Shoot Outs) have a Goals For of 54 and a Goals Against of 43, in that same time frame since 2/23/09 the Caps have a Goals for of 71 to Goals Against of 71. Which is still 17 goals more than the Rangers have scored but I think that is Shows that this team has a little more offense that when we last played. I think it'll be a good series (obviously Biased) I think the Rangers Advance in 6

Posted by: NYRangersfan4life | April 12, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

I already noted above that we haven't played the Rangers this season with their new toys and coach, as well as noted that a 3-0-1 regular season series means absolutely nothing. It will be a great series.

Antropov is definetely a new, huge presence we have to deal with who undoubtedly boost the Ranger's offense.

I actually have the Caps in 6. Is that a coincidence? haha.


Meaningless Note on Meaningless Stats:
Out of the top 30 point scorers in the league, the Caps are the only team with 4. Two of these guys, Green and Semin, have both played less than 70 games.
Caps and Pit are the only two teams with 2 top-10 point-scorers.
Green has more points than any Ranger.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 12, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

I can see Avery trying to get into Theo's head, but if anyone loses their temper, my guess is Green. The Rangers have gotten better since we last played them. This isn't going to be a walk in the park for our boys.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 12, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

What's up with all these Rangers fans? Ugh. I honestly think we will tighten up our defense and get it going. The Rangers scored the fewest goals out of all the playoff teams, but they have a pretty good defense, but we have a potent offense, so it will be interesting.

Posted by: rachel216 | April 12, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I like the Rangers fan. As long as they don't troll and are civil, let them come. The more the merrier.

Our goaltending tangent of inconsistent Theo and a big question mark rookie has me scared.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 12, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

My comments weren't really geared at you (or the other fan that realizes regular season stats mean squat) I am just pointing to the fact that the fans who want to point to the 2-1-1 series as gospel on why this is a slam dunk for the caps to win this series. I am very well aware that Green as well as Ovie, Backstrom, Semin, Laich, Kozlov, Flieshmann, Fedorov, and Nylander all have more Season points than the Rangers highest points scorer in Antropov at 58. Like you eluded to we can spit meaningless stats all day long, but at the end of the day all that really matters is what happens after April, 15th. This WILL be a tough series for both teams, I don't see it being a sweep for either one, Whether it's the Caps (questionable at times) Goaltending and defensive breakdowns, or the The Rangers inability (at times) to keep up with an offensive onslaught or team speed. We Will see what both teams are made of soon. You say Caps in 6, I say Rangers in 6. May the best team win.

Posted by: NYRangersfan4life | April 12, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I am glad we get to see Torts flip out. I mean, it's bound to happen at least once.

I just pointed Green out because he is a defense man.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 12, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I just did some research and, would you believe, that the Caps have actually played better in the last 10 games than the Rangers. Caps are 6-2-2. Rangers are 5-4-1. Okay, the Rangers played tougher opponents and were fighting to insure their spot in the playoffs but still....

I also just read that the San Jose Sharks just lost their last two games of the season and were 5-4-1 in their last 10 games and backed into the Presidential trophy. (If the Caps had done that, can you imagine the mass hysteria there'd be on the Caps boards?)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 12, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

NYRangersfan4life: Yes, agreed. I actually said last night that regular season series don't mean squat. The postseason is a totally different animal. What happened in the regular season won't have any affect on what happens in the playoffs. Just promise me one thing: If the Caps win the series, please come back to congratulate us.

Cause, as everyone knows, I'm no fan of opposing teams's fans coming here and saying their team will win.

Posted by: rachel216 | April 12, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

rachel216: I can promise you that if the Caps win I will come back and Congratulate the fans and the team, I don't believe in Bad Sportsmanship, though I am posting on here with friendly camradery, I will never be the rude fan. I actually like reading a lot of the caps insider comments because I enjoy seeing your Team Passion and the intelligence of the fan base here in DC, It wasn't to long ago that I might have felt a little different. That's not a knock, I am just being honest.

Posted by: NYRangersfan4life | April 12, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Still trying to figure out how we were so bad over the last 6-8 weeks when our record the last 2 months was 16-8-4. Everyone overemphasizes the losses and forgets about the 3 or 4 wins in a row before that. The comcast crew was just looking for a better final performance but I don't care who you are, it's impossible not to look beyond the last couple games of a LONG 82 game season to the playoffs. If you think our guys aren't going to be hungry come Game 1 you're crazy.

We might lose from getting too loose or sloppy in our own end but lack of hunger and intensity will NOT be a problem. I think we win in 6 games.

Sure technically the regular season games mean nothing come playoffs...but they have to mean something, if you've beaten a team before you are going to have confidence going in. If we were 0-4 against whoever we played everyone would be quoting that to the death as reasons why we were going to be 1 and done. Can't be surprised if the optimists quote our very good record against the combined other playoff teams in the East.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | April 12, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

NYRangersfan4life: Alright, it's all fair then. :D At least you're not one of those annoying Pens fans with no knowledge..

Dave: I agree with you on the part that a good record against a team in the regular season could give you confidence, but in the grand scheme of things, it really doesn't matter. It's a clean slate now, we're all even. We haven't played the "new Rangers" team yet. All four games were very close and you could argue they could've gone either way.

Last year had a great example: Montreal was 4-0 against the Philadelphia Flyers in the regular season. And what happened in the Conference semifinals last year? Flyers win in 5.

Posted by: rachel216 | April 12, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

It has a little bit of correlation, but the point is is that we really haven't played the new Rangers team. That is the main reason why the regular season series means nothing.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 12, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

@007:

Theo got destroyed by the Red Wings in last year's playoffs. Not sure what Theo you're referring to.

Posted by: FancyDan | April 12, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

@FancyDan

You are referring to the Red Wings who beat every goalie they faced right? What extra insight can actually be gleaned from knowing he got beat by the same team that beat everyone else they played? He stole the first round series for the Avs last year. It's pretty obvious at this point no one is asking Theo to have a 1.25 GAA in the playoffs. He just needs to be good enough, a la Osgood for those very same Red Wings last year, no?

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | April 12, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

It was really smart to build Theo's confidence by giving up 6 in the last game against a worthless team.

What was the point of that start? To keep him sharp? Build confidence going into the Playoffs?

He's an average goalie, at best, and when he's off, he gives up 5+ a night.

Posted by: gtydings | April 12, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

NBC announced Sat 1pm NYR-WAS broadcast. No more details on the schedule yet.

Posted by: fnralch | April 12, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Continued:

If it's really NYR-WAS rather than WAS-NYR, then we will have games Wed, Thu and Sun as well.

Posted by: fnralch | April 12, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

They wouldn't schedule it back to back. It's more likely to be Thursday/Sat in Was if we are playing on Sat.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | April 12, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

They wouldn't schedule it back to back. It's more likely to be Thursday/Sat in Was if we are playing on Sat.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan

You're right Dave, Thu and Sat it be.

Posted by: fnralch | April 12, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

continuted

at least last year they did not, it was all 1 day breaks in between games except, oddly enough, between Game 6 in philly and game 7 down here.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | April 12, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Are they going to be putting any tickets for sale up through ticketmaster or is it pretty much sold out and you'd have to buy them from season ticket holders? Last year I was able to get seats in the 200's no problem for 3 out of the 4 games but I don't think it'll be quite as easy this time around.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | April 12, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

"Ugly, and not looking good for the playoffs. Caps haven't been playing well in weeks.

Posted by: FancyDan"

6-2-2 over the last 10. 14 points in the last 10 games. Yea Bubba, the sky is falling and the Caps are doomed.....

Posted by: Steve_R | April 12, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

fnralch -- how bout a link from NBC? I've got some critical plans riding on the Saturday schedule...

Posted by: Sonyask | April 12, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

This says NBC has a game 2 Sat. at 1:00

http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/28281608/

But it doesn't say which game two (I realize it could be multiple games at that time).

Posted by: Sonyask | April 12, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

1pm game? Ugh... I like night games..

Posted by: rachel216 | April 12, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Why do they have to schedule it all in the afternoon?

Posted by: rachel216 | April 12, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

1pm would be fine...either I get tix for Games 1 and 2 and go or I go out Friday night and wake up just in time to catch game 2 on tv.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | April 12, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

We've got no confirmation the Caps play at 1:00. NBC says only that it is carrying game 2 of conference quarterfinals at 1:00 on saturday. That could be one of any number of games.

Posted by: Sonyask | April 12, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Are practices during the playoffs still open to the public? Kettler has not posted practice times yet. If so what time on Monday?

Posted by: MKadyman | April 12, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

The Rangers announcers heard rumor that they will start in D.C. on Wed. We will find out for sure in a couple more hours.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | April 12, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse

the Rangers will force the Caps to raise their level of play because the Rangers will forecheck the living daylights out of our defense who frankly cannot handle a heavy forecheck. Any team that forechecks us aggressively has our players running around our own end like headless chickens. That being said this series will be a very growing experience for our players who for the 2nd yr in a row will be facing a team seeking to neutralize our skill advantage via physical play.

Posted by: maven1918 | April 12, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

@maven

I agree with your above post 100%. Interestingly enough, while so many people saw last year's 7 game series defeat as Philly just bullying us around or as one Philly fan stating "you're welcome, we turned you into men"...the underlying story that was completely lost on so many people was the fact that we lost 3 of the first 4 games with 16 playoff neophytes. The 2nd half of that series was dominated by our skill guys that supposedly couldn't stand up to the physical play (Ovie, Semin, Backstrom).

I expect our team to be extremely ready and pumped up. My only worry is that they'll be TOO pumped up.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | April 12, 2009 6:09 PM | Report abuse

I expect the Caps to come out hitting very hard; no one's sitting back on skill this time about

Posted by: Sonyask | April 12, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

joe finley just got into his first professional fight and got waxed! but good to see him willing to scrap

Posted by: maven1918 | April 12, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

That is an understatement Maven. Finley got punched at will by Paul Bissonette who held off or he could really have hurt big Joe.

Gotta say, i really don't like Chris Bourque's game, nor Alzners. Neither one of them look like they have much energy out there and both are frequently outraced to the puck. Bourque made an incredibly lazy play while he was on the point for the PP that almost led to a shortie for the baby Pens.

The most impressive forward for the Bears anytime I watch them play is Andrew Gordon. I really like his game.

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 12, 2009 6:32 PM | Report abuse

I expect the Caps to come out hitting very hard; no one's sitting back on skill this time about

Posted by: Sonyask | April 12, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

i expect them to come out hitting as well but all teams come out hitting in the playoffs. Its the teams who KEEP that level of intensity up thru a series is who will be successful. The Caps came out hitting in game one in Philly and then tailed off quickly with Ovechkin's hit on Richards in the final minute as the only notable hit in game 1 after the 1st pd . They then came out NOT hitting in game 2 and lost it and the momentum. They didn't pick up the hitting game in force until games 4 and 5.

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 12, 2009 6:40 PM | Report abuse

The Sat schedule was announced during the DET-CHI game. More than twice...

Posted by: fnralch | April 12, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

fnralch: What's the schedule? They only have the dates, time and TV, right? The official/full schedule comes a couple of hours after the last games are over. Right now all 3 games remaining are in the 2nd intermission. Can't wait!

Posted by: rachel216 | April 12, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

I meant the Sat schedule (1pm) only, nothing more than that. But as Dave has correctly noticed, that means Thu-Sat, and then (likely) Mon-Wed-...

Posted by: fnralch | April 12, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Sam Rosen and Joe Micheletti were saying the whole time through the 2nd period out rangers caps rumor wed thurs saturday

Posted by: NYRangersfan4life | April 12, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Bruce's Caps will go as far as their RUN&Gun offense will take them even with average Goaltending and average defense. If our Big guns get help from the secondary guys we'll go deep into the playoffs may even win it all,Lets hope so if not quit your whining and let the Games begin and all questions will be answered. GO CAPS

Posted by: duckyjimpond | April 12, 2009 11:30 PM | Report abuse

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