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Finally healthy, Flyers are forward-thinking

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)


With three key forwards back in the lineup, the Philadelphia Flyers are in a healthy position heading into Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals. | Story »

Quick roundup of links:

*Winner of Habs-Flyers gets the Blackhawks, fresh off a resounding sweep of the Sharks. (AP)

*Is it time for primetime? (Puck the Media)

*Rejoice, CHL fans! NHL 11 is including all 60 of your favorite teams. (Branded)

*Swedish media at worlds: Gus is "going to have a glass of red wine and laugh at you." (FanHouse)

*More devastation for the Russian Caps. (RMNB)


Bears back in position for Calder Cup

*The Caps' minor league affiliate is headed to the Calder Cup final once again...

*...thanks, in part, to experience. (Peerless)

*Bears devotion. (OFB)


By Lindsay Applebaum  |  May 24, 2010; 9:56 AM ET
 
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Next: Caps' Jose Theodore nominated for King Clancy

Comments

TSN headline: Capitals ready to make rich offer to Volchenkov.

Intriguing. I've heard $5 M/year. Opinions?

Posted by: redrocker2 | May 24, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

I wonder why that TSN report about the Caps and Volchenkov has been moved.

It was right hear yesterday...

http://tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=322478

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | May 24, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Volchenkov story available on Toronto Sun web site: http://www.torontosun.com/sports/hockey/2010/05/22/14050611.html

Not sure if Caps can actually negotiate with him until July 1 FA start date wihtout it being considered to be tampering. I seem to remember NHL wanting to crack down on this type of thing.

Posted by: braunt | May 24, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

There are stories all over Canada, Toronto and Ottawa to name two, that support the rumor. It's funny the knock seems to be that he can't stay healthy for an entire season. He has played in somewhere in the mid 60 game range. I believe it can be agreed upon between skeptics in here and fans accused of being blind supporters that we do not care if he plays 60 games in a season. We can make the playoffs even if he plays as few as 60 games. We want him to bring his style for the 2nd season.

Posted by: fanohock1 | May 24, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

@fanhock1

Exactly.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

i guess my question would be..why would the Caps suddenly decide they needed an Anton type? Just because they lost in the 1st round? What did they see in the series v Montreal that changed their way of thinking? They could've gone after a different type of player at the deadline instead of Corvo. But since they chose not to, it could be assumed that they didn't feel a punishing defensive defenseman was on their priority list. So what changed between the deadline and now?

Maybe they felt having ShaMo here was good enough, and now they want to cut ties with Mo and bring in another guy to replace him.

Either way, i'd welcome in Anton but I don't think one guy in that mold is enough. You don't need 2 Antons per se. But they need to get some better grit on their 3rd defensive pairing to round out the D. And does he move to the left side to be paired with Green or does he stay on his natural right side?

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 24, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

the other part of it is, a player like Volchenkov can easily become a target for other team's tough guys. You have to protect him to an extent so he can keep playing his style of hockey without getting jumped every time he throws a big hit. We don't need the likes of Godard jumping him if AV lays out Crosby or Malkin. Time for the Caps to get a real 4th line in here for a change.

on another note, check this out, ouuuchie!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/22/julio-aparicio-gored-in-t_n_585941.html

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 24, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

cstanton1: During last year's free agent frenzy, besides Pronger, who's price may have been too steep, we'll see, there were not any other true stay at home defensemen available last year, were there. I'm not being sarcastic, I'm asking because I don't recall any others. The Caps probably recognized a need even last year but season but there wasn't anything within reach. This year, even with Backstrom's raise, we lose the big salary cap price tag we had last year in Nylander and Theodore. Maybe it's a year later than we all wanted because it was impossible.

Posted by: fanohock1 | May 24, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I love Volchenkov's game, and would LOVE to have him here. But I fear the 5 mil per may be an overpayment for him.

I can only find a few people who made that kind of money last year in that "Defensive Defensmen (so if your point totals suck on D, you are there by default)" category.

Kim Johnsson with Chicago.
Scott Hannan with the Avs.
any more?

Of course no one comes close to this guy in shot blocking, period.

Timing of his free agency is another thing that works as a disadvantage. On the market, there dont seem to be many players like him.

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | May 24, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Oh yeah, and there were rumors the Caps were pursuing Volchenkov at the trade deadline and it couldn't get done. I know GMGM said they got exactly what they were looking for in Corvo but what is he supposed to say? If a deal fell through with Ottawa he would never had said so and throw them under the bus.

Posted by: fanohock1 | May 24, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Mike Komisarek with the Leafs also looks to be comparible with Volch.

The more I look, he might be the best comparison, but he is at 4.5 mil/per on a 5 year deal.

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | May 24, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Volchenkov is pretty good with the puck too. He is a complete defenseman.

I still think the Caps were going for Hamuis at the deadline and the trade fell through near the 3 p.m. deadline and GMGM went to plan B, which was Corvo. He is obviously not going to say that because it would serve no purpose.

@cstanton1

I think Carlson's presence will add more grit to the back line as well. He is a great puck mover and can skate but he also likes to play the body.

I expect Schultz to improve more and improve his strength to become more of a physical presence also.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

cstanton1: During last year's free agent frenzy, besides Pronger, who's price may have been too steep, we'll see, there were not any other true stay at home defensemen available last year, were there. I'm not being sarcastic, I'm asking because I don't recall any others. The Caps probably recognized a need even last year but season but there wasn't anything within reach. This year, even with Backstrom's raise, we lose the big salary cap price tag we had last year in Nylander and Theodore. Maybe it's a year later than we all wanted because it was impossible.

Posted by: fanohock1 | May 24, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

if we're talking top pairing defensive dmen, no there were not any guys in that vein available. There rarely is. But this team could have benefited with acquiring some lower tier defense-men who play a more punishing style defensively who were available over the past 2 seasons at least.

Someone better than a Jurcina, but not as good as the A-train.


And I wonder if the Caps would buy out Erskine or send him to Hershey. I think Alzner played pretty well in game 7 but I still have reservations over simply penciling him into our lineup. He still needs to get much stronger because he loses too many puck battles. He's like Corvo in that respect, he can skate well enough to shadow someone but he has a hard time pushing them off the puck. Not a great attribute to have a a defensive dman

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 24, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

I think Carlson's presence will add more grit to the back line as well. He is a great puck mover and can skate but he also likes to play the body.

I expect Schultz to improve more and improve his strength to become more of a physical presence also.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

no argument from me on Carlson, I liked this kid from when he played with the Knights. And I've always said he's head and shoulders above Alzner in terms of well-rounded play and his overall development.

The Sarge thing..I don't hold my breath. With regards to physicality, did he really make ANY strides this past season compared to the previous one? I expected him to be much more of a presence this past year and he wasn't. So until I see it, I won't believe it :)

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 24, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Alzner over Erskine in a heartbeat. Erskine making $1.25M is way too much for a 7th defenseman. Alzner was very good in game 7 and clearly has a lot of upside, so it should be expected that he will continue to improve. Erskine has already reached his peak.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

I meant how much Schultz improved in his positioning and decision making. I expect him to cotinue to improve his game. Schultz was still very good at disloding the puck from opposing players. True, he did this mostly with a poke check and positioning, but who cares how it's accomplished.

Good positioning is a significant part of being a good defenseman. Ask Hal Gill. Gill's ability to be in the right place, read the play, and also make a timely poke check at is what makes him a good defender.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I wasn't making a case for Erskine but in general terms, Erskine was there to play a role that no one else on this team was willing or able to play. And after eliminating Brashear's role, keeping Erskine around made a little more sense.

That's where his benefit comes in. You can't demote him just because Alzner has more upside as a player. I agree that Erskine's reached his peak for sure. But you don't necessarily dump an Erskine just because you have a young defensive prospect with more upside (unless that prospect was able to provide the same element that Erskine is depended upon to provide).

Hockey is about roles. There's a lot of players in this league who will never lose their jobs to a more talented player because of the roles their teams need them to play.

Now I don't think Erskine necessarily plays his role very well but then again, his type of role doesn't fit in with this team's personality either. This isn't a scrumming scrappy team. If Erskine gets into a fracas around his net, most likely he'll be going at it alone. His teammates won't swarm.

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 24, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

I meant how much Schultz improved in his positioning and decision making.
-----------------------------

but you said this:

"I expect Schultz to improve more and improve his strength to become more of a physical presence also."


If we're discussing our defense's physicality, I don't think we can count on Schultz to provide any of that.

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 24, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Good positioning is a significant part of being a good defenseman. Ask Hal Gill. Gill's ability to be in the right place, read the play, and also make a timely poke check at is what makes him a good defender.
-------------------------------------------

there are times you need to play the body and take away time and space from the opposition and not let them glide into your zone and set up plays either at even strength or on the PP. You can't have a team full of "timely poke-checkers". Alzner, Schultz, Poti already try and play defense that way. Where's the balance?

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 24, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

That role can be filled by a 4th line $500k forward. Paying anymore for that role is a waste of money. There are plenty of big, slow, unskilled guys out there who can push people in scrums afterwards. That is not really a concern.

I would play Alzner over Erskine because he is better and would give the Caps a better chance of winning. He is a defensive defenseman who is almost always in the right spot. So he does fill the role of a defensive defenseman (Erskine's role). He also pairs well with Carlson (another role). He is pretty good with his outlet passes too. Yes, he needs to add some more strength, but he is young and I would expect him to be training in the off season to do so.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

I meant that Schultz improved areas of need last offseason(positioning and decision making) and I expect him to improve other areas of need this offseason (strength and physicallity). You can't expect a guy to go from below average(Schultz 2 years ago) to amazing overnight.

I agree with having some physicallity. Volchenkov would add some, Carlson would also add more of a physical presence (inlcuding adding everything else he does well). Schultz, Alzner and Poti would be your well positioned D-men who make the timely poke checks. Green is your offensive defenseman. Their are your roles.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

"That role can be filled by a 4th line $500k forward. Paying anymore for that role is a waste of money. There are plenty of big, slow, unskilled guys out there who can push people in scrums afterwards. That is not really a concern."

never said you had to pay a lot of money for that role, as a matter of fact you can find some very effective players in that role making about that amount ~ $500k. This team has to make a commitment to that role though. Something they eliminated last year. They didn't just eliminate the player, they eliminated the role.

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 24, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

So he does fill the role of a defensive defenseman (Erskine's role). He also pairs well with Carlson (another role). He is pretty good with his outlet passes too. Yes, he needs to add some more strength, but he is young and I would expect him to be training in the off season to do so.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

sgm you gotta be kiddin me...Erskine's not here just to play the type of role that Alzner does. Those two are not interchangable in the least. Erskine's not a great defensive dman, he's an average defensive defenseman whose primary attribute is physicality, protector etc. Completely different from Alzner's set of attributes.

Alzner is a fairly timid non-physical hockey player who has good poise and relies primarily on anticipation and positioning to get his job done. He needs to not only add more strength but he needs to develop an edge to his game as well. In fact, he needs to listen to his own advice. He said in camp last year that one of his biggest shortcomings is being able to play physically and that he wanted to add that element to his game. From what I saw this past yr in Hershey and his brief stints with the Caps, he failed to do those things. Next yr..hopefully we see a different Alzner.

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 24, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Only made it to the Calder Cup Playoff games this season in Hershey. But they have been worth the price of admission. Obviously all the D-men have played well and Alzner and Carlson will be in the NHL all season next year. Neuvirth has been steady and has made the big saves close and late. What more do you want from a goalie.

What has been the difference also is that the Bears have had a balanced attack with three strong lines since Andrew Gordon has gone down and can win without the power play as they proved Sat. night. I like agitators. Chris Bourque has been a "buzz bomb" all over the ice and left winger Steve Pinizzotto has kept the opposition off balance with his willingness to take the body. The winning goal in OT Saturday night what set up by the rugged Pinner drawing the attention of two Monarachs with traffic in front of the net just enough to allow Kyle Wilson from behind the net to set up Boyd Kane coming down the right slot to score the game and series winner. Should be an interesting final series.

Posted by: dull | May 24, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

If you think it would be wise to use one of the 6 D-man positions as a protector role instead of a defenseman role then go ahead. I think that would be a horrible decision.

If you are going to have a guy be a "protector" then he is a 4th line guy who you can have play 6 to 8 minutes a game. You do not want a defenseman doing that because then you basically limit yourself to 5 capable defenseman. Not a good idea.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I agree with having some physicallity. Volchenkov would add some, Carlson would also add more of a physical presence (inlcuding adding everything else he does well). Schultz, Alzner and Poti would be your well positioned D-men who make the timely poke checks. Green is your offensive defenseman. Their are your roles.
-------------------------------------

I don't buy that an offensive dman can't or doesn't need to be physical on the back end. This league has enough offensive dmen (or dmen who play a lot on the PP) who play with a real edge in their games (Giordano, Phaneuf, Wisniewski, Seabrook, Weber, Doughty, Chara etc).

Frankly, ALL our defensemen should be expected to play well in the defensive zone and take the body and clear the crease with more effectivness. That shouldn't be relegated just to our defensive dmen types. Of whom most don't play the body effectively anyway.

And you can't build a defense if you have 3 guys dedicated to making timely poke checks. What other team has 3 players who are considered defensive dmen who don't play physically but yet their only expectation is to be able to poke check the puck away as their primary means of defending their zone ? All 3 of those guys you mentioned needs to ALSO be able to play the body effectively, not necessarily with bone rattling checks but they need to clean the crease on any rebound chances and they need to rub out players along the boards when given an opportunity.

This isn't hitting for the sake of statistics. This is finishing someone off and taking away the puck when a "poke check" simply isn't an option on that play.
Or isn't the BEST option on a play (which I've seen happen to our defensive players a bit too much).

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 24, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

guys like Alzner and Schultz could spend more time at the gym, get stronger and improve in that area but I don't believe they could suddenly change their style become tough/nasty d-men at this level.

I think it's always easier to tone down players like Dale Hunter or Rick Tocchet than pump up players like them.

Posted by: joek443 | May 24, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

If you think it would be wise to use one of the 6 D-man positions as a protector role instead of a defenseman role then go ahead. I think that would be a horrible decision.

If you are going to have a guy be a "protector" then he is a 4th line guy who you can have play 6 to 8 minutes a game. You do not want a defenseman doing that because then you basically limit yourself to 5 capable defenseman. Not a good idea.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

actually what I said was, since we don't have anyone playing that role to begin with, that's why Erskine was kept around. After dumping the 4th line enforcer position, Erskine became even more of an potential asset to provide us that missing element. He doesn't do much enforcing but thats more an indictment of this team's mentality and personality than anything else. I think Erskine on a different team would rack up more fighting majors and more PIMs. On this team he does a little bit of snarling and glaring and throws a few hits. Any more than that and he ends up rocking the boat or incurring the ire of certain fans who feel that a fringe-type player shouldn't take any penalties at all and still somehow play an enforcer's role.

overall though it makes more sense to have a forward play that role over a defenseman for obvious reasons. Matt Carkner played that role for Ottawa this past yr pretty effectively so it can be done. My preference would be having a team that plays tough, not just one or two players. The way to do that would be to get rid of guys like Flash and BGordo and replace them with players like Pinizzotto, AGordon, maybe bring in a Brandon Prust type for handling more of the fighting duties. And still provide some grit on the back end (ala A-Train, and one more bruiser on our 3rd pairing).

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 24, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

It's called positioning. When the puck goes to the corner, a good player will get himself in the correct position and shield the puck from the other player enabling him to make a clearing play.

The defensemen for Detroit do this all the time. They were built on it. Lidstrom, Rafalski, etc. Scott Niedermeyer, Duncan Keith, you can keep on going through.

How many big checks did Hal Gill lay on the Caps in the playoff series? Very few. Big Hal Gill accomplished his great defense by good positioning, reading the play, and getting his stick in front of pucks being shot or passed.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

guys like Alzner and Schultz could spend more time at the gym, get stronger and improve in that area but I don't believe they could suddenly change their style become tough/nasty d-men at this level.

I think it's always easier to tone down players like Dale Hunter or Rick Tocchet than pump up players like them.

Posted by: joek443 | May 24, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

right. If its not in a player's personality or mental makeup to be a little nasty on the ice, then it's either upto the coaching staff to demand that of them or it generally will never happen. Ranger fans hated Willie Huber in the 80s. They called him the gentle giant. He was a 6ft5 defenseman who would stand around while teams like the Flyers ran his goalie or abused some of the Ranger skill players.

I guess what I want to see from our team is more ON-ICE togetherness. Its great that they're all best friends and they do sleepovers and they have wonderfully nice things to say about each other in the press. What I don't see from them is the desire to battle for each other. I don't see them swarm to a player in trouble, or try and answer for a big hit, or really get after players who take liberties with our goalie. The only player I can recall consistently sticking up for a teammate has been Shaone Morrisonn. And he's taken on some real heavies in doing so. When I think of character I think of him. Because he's a guy who despite his size is not at all a fighter. And the fact that he's willing to go after other players who take cheap shots at our guys speaks volumes.

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 24, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

So I guess the Caps should try to sign Ponikarovsky. You spoke of how he was a tough minded forward who played well in thr corners and is the type of tough minded player GMGM should've traded for at the deadline. So he is clearly your #1 target, right?

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

It's called positioning. When the puck goes to the corner, a good player will get himself in the correct position and shield the puck from the other player enabling him to make a clearing play.
------------------------

so you don't think a bunch of plays occur in every game that require a different approach to how you defend your zone? You think "good positioning" is all you ever need to play defense? Your entire argument is predicated on either having a defenseman with the wingspan of a Hal Gill (certainly not Alzner or Poti but maybe Sarge fits that) or that defenseman having access to the puck FIRST. What happens when a forward already has the puck and enters the zone? If you don't challenge that forward in some respect (aside from a flailing poke check attempt) you give him the opp to set up a play. Or what if you have a mad scrum in your crease, how does a passive positional style help you then?

point is, depending on the particular play, you have to attack it in various different ways, not just using one style. And guys like Alzner, Sarge etc don't really feel comfortable straying away from their positional style of defensive hockey.

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 24, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

I never said good positioning is all you need, but I said it is the most important part of defense.

Good positioning entails many things. One example being when there is an oncoming rush and a defenseman gets himself in the right position to force the oncoming rusher to where the defenseman wants him to go (usually the outside).

Then the defenseman reads where the oncoming rusher is going and places himself, and his stick, in the passing lanes to limit the offensive players options.

After that, the defensive player immediately closes the space between himself and the offensive player.

Once the defender gets there, he positions himself so the offensive player has no escape route.

Then the defender dislosdges the puck, trying to either gain possession himself or push the puck to a nearby teammate.

Physical strength and play is always a nice attribute to have, but it is not mandatory. These plays are also often done by the Lidstroms and Niedermeyer's as well.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3,

You must admit that we need D-men who are more willing to muck it up in front of their goaltender to ensure they aren't getting raped by the oppostion like our goalies were this past season.....I think that is what cstanton1 is trying to get at.....sound positioning is great but when your goalie is consistently getting run over with no consequences it really means nothing.....more d-men willing to knock the $h&t out of people in front of the net is needed no doubt!

Posted by: PhilR | May 24, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

@PhilR

I'm all for getting D-men who can do both. Defensemen who are good at everything are always the best.

I absolutely want the Caps to acquire Volchenkov and I would love to have a guy like Pronger. I just don't want to have Erskine (who's only asset is his physical nature) and his $1.25M salary on the roster over Alzner.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Physical strength and play is always a nice attribute to have, but it is not mandatory. These plays are also often done by the Lidstroms and Niedermeyer's as well.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

you do realize that Niedermayer plays a nasty style of D right? he hits, he roughs up players, he finishes a lot of his checks, he definitely doesn't let anyone camp out and take adv of his goalie. Probably a nice thing for him to see Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko play defense when he was a young kid.

and maybe one of the reasons our dmen don't play that way is that their GM provided them ZERO mentorship.

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 24, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I just don't want to have Erskine (who's only asset is his physical nature) and his $1.25M salary on the roster over Alzner.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

your initial statement of Alzner should replace Erkine because they play the "same role" was way off. They're both challenged offensively, thats about the extent of the comparison.

I wasn't even making an argument for Erskine, just wondering what the Caps would do with him if we acquired AV and the fact that Erskine still has 1 yr left.

and btw, now suddenly fans are back on the "we'd love to have Pronger" bandwagon? sheesh.

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 24, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Physical strength and play is always a nice attribute to have, but it is not mandatory. These plays are also often done by the Lidstroms and Niedermeyer's as well.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

i grant you the other stuff you mentioned. So I'm not dismissing any of those things. However, to say that physical strength is nice to have but not mandatory is really downplaying the need for it. Why do you think a smooth skating defenseman like Nolan Baumgartner became a perennial journeyman player? He was never able to get strong enough to defend NHL forwards. He had ALL the other qualities - leadership, skating, puck handling etc. But he couldn't keep forwards from controlling the puck. He would skate with them and then be unable to do anything else. Lidstrom is plenty strong on his skates. He doesn't get taken advantage of out there. Neither does Nieds.

Strength is pretty much mandatory. Without it, you're just an ineffective shadow who once in a while get your stick in a passing lane and disrupt a play

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 24, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

No one ever said they wouldn't like to have Pronger. But I'm still glad GMGM didn't give up Carlson, Varly and I think the 2009 1st round pick (Johansson) for Pronger. The Caps had no cap room to get him last offseason either.

I'm just glad I was never in the pro-Ponikarovsky boat.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

Lidstrom and Niedermeyer are by no means "strong" defensemen.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Trade Erskine for whatever you can get for him (low draft pick). If no one will trade anything for him then you put him in the minors.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I think most people are in agreement here. cstanton1, you are advocating a lot of the changes many of us have been. For instance, Volch comes in and plays right side along with Green and carlson, and you have 5 choices from left side (Schultz, Poti, Alzner, Erskine, Sloan).

I am thinking for cap space you might move Erskine and Poti if ShaMo can also be brought back close to his $2.0M from this year. I do not see Poti being a significant upside on ShaMo.

My big thing, besides Volch, is the Caps have an incredible need for a true cheking line. Moving Flash is a start, but moving Semin might also be necessary if you also want to add a true #2 center. Just for grins say you traded Semin for Downie and Tampa #1 (I put this last week) and Flash for a gritty, checking line RW. This adds skill, defense and toughness and the #6 overall pick gives you a top young prospect for the pipeline. Then you have cap space for AV and say Plekanec. The team at that point is way better balanced.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | May 24, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

A quote from the si.com article today about the Blackhawks: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/darren_eliot/05/24/blackhawks.future/index.html

"Placing emphasis on a puck-moving, mobile defense led by Keith, Brent Seabrook, Brian Campbell and Niklas Hjalmarsson is exactly what is needed in today's game: move the puck, move your feet, defend with quickness and abet the attack with swift skating. Certainly, that element has served the Red Wings well for 15 years and the current group in Chicago ensures competitiveness long-term."

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

sgm3: I'm going to disagree with you here. I think it was last December Caps at Ducks. Ovi ran into Niedermayer and bounced off. #27 might not play ala Scott Stevens, but don't underestimate his strength.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | May 24, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

@tominsocal1

I read that earlier and find that proposal intriguing.

There is no way it will happen but it definitely would be an interesting road to take and worth considering. It has many positives to it.

I think I would lean towards making that move if presented with it (assuming it doesn't take too much money to sign Downie). Then Fehr moves to line 2 and Downie plays with Belanger and Chimera on line 3.

However, I don't think Tampa would be in the mood to take on any more salary. Also, Stamkos, St. Louis, Lecavlier, and Semin would be a pretty dangeours looking foursome. But you have to sell value to get value.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

sgm3: Yes, those guys are all puck-movers, but don't they also hit better than the caps d-men?

I put yesterday that the Caps are paying their forwards $3M a year average and their defensemen $2.1M/yr average. Our d-men are one-dimensional for a reason - that's what we're paying for. Schultz was great this year for $750K and he'll be decent next year even at $2M, but he's still one-dimensional. All D, no O, and even the defense is of the "passive, positional" style. Good point by cstanton1 that we have too many too-similar types. I didn't think of it that way, but Alzner, Poti and Schultz are all the same model, just with varying levels of experience.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | May 24, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

@tominsocal1

I don't think the Hawks D hits much better than the proposed Caps D-men if you added Volchenkov.

Carlson hits well, Volchenkov hits well, Alzner is solid defensively and moves the puck well, Poti moves the puck well and is solid defensively and uses his body at times. Schultz is the big, slower D-man, but is improving and I see him playing a Hal Gill type role with Green being the offensive defenseman threat. I think that would be a well rounded group.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

@tominsocal1

I've read that Minnesota could possibly be interested in Flash. Do they have any forwards that fit the mold you are looking for? Quality 3rd or 4th line guys how are good penalty killers.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

sgm: I almost never watch the Wild. Maybe we could swing a deal for Schultz (theirs is #55 too) and Backstrom to really confuse people :).

Seriously, what about Clutterbuck? Doesn't he lead in hits? Is he any good defensively?

The price is right, and signed for three years. I wouldn't mind getting Koivu, one year left before UFA as a #2 C and cap hit $3.25M.

Of course, if we traded them our Schultz for their Schultz, both teams would save on not needing to change the jerseys and fans with jerseys of those players would be pleased.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | May 24, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

Lidstrom and Niedermeyer are by no means "strong" defensemen.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

wow..i guess you don't watch them play very much do you. Nieds is plenty strong as is Lidstrom. And Nieds is plenty mean as well. He's delivered his share of xchecks, slashes, submarine hits and whatnot over the years. And he's a mean SOB in the crease too. He's calmed down a bit over the yrs but even last yr I remember a game I watched where he'd rough up a forward skating down on him by getting his glove in his face and pushing him over backward. Nieds doesn't concede space on the ice very easily. You should get your facts/opinions straight before pigeonholing certain players as more finesse types when they're really not.

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 24, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

"Placing emphasis on a puck-moving, mobile defense led by Keith, Brent Seabrook, Brian Campbell and Niklas Hjalmarsson is exactly what is needed in today's game: move the puck, move your feet, defend with quickness and abet the attack with swift skating. Certainly, that element has served the Red Wings well for 15 years and the current group in Chicago ensures competitiveness long-term."

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Hey the Hawks also have a 260lb defenseman turned forward causing havoc. And big bruising banging wingers like Eager and Brouwer and Ladd. And ornery agitating centers like Burish and Fraser. Etc ETc etc.

You want to pull one element of that team and say the entire team is successful because of that, be my guest. But it doesn't present the whole story, not by a long stretch.


And Seabrook offers way more than just "puck-moving mobile defense"
I'd take him over ANY of our players on D.

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 24, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Ovi ran into Niedermayer and bounced off. #27 might not play ala Scott Stevens, but don't underestimate his strength.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | May 24, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

if you listen to sgm's version of Niedermayer, you'd a totally inaccurate representation of how he plays. No offense sgm, but have you really watched Niedermayer play over his career? This guy has been front and center in many wars and battles. Do you think someone like Alzner or Schultz would ever be caught engaging guys like Peter Worrell or Tie Domi? People forget, the reason Domi laid that huge elbow that knocked Niedermayer unconscious was that Nieds had run Domi facefirst into the goalpost earlier in that game. Domi got up wanting blood. Thats how Nieds plays the game - honest and tough. The fact he's talented is just the coup de grace. And that he gets pigeonholed as an "offensive dman" is unfair to him. He's a complete player right down to strong on-ice leadership he provides.

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 24, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

Well if anyone is going to give advice on pigeonholing there is no one better than you.

I've watched them play, they are great players. But they are not big, physical defenseman (i.e. Erskine).

Terms like, he is "mean", he "battles", he is "strong on his skates", he "hates to lose" are thrown around so much and they basically have no meaning because there is no strict definition of them. There are so many occassion when an analyst will say a player is not good because he doesn't have those qualities. Then 3 months later, when that player is succeeding, you hear the same analyst saying that same player is good because he HAS thouse qualities. Like the player somehow magically obtained these innate traits so quickly. They are worthless phrases.

They are terms every ananlyst will throw on a player who is playing well because they can't be proved wrong.

I can sit here and say "I think Schultz is mean, battles hard, is strong on his skates, and hates to lose." Anyone can disagree, but you can't prove anyone right or wrong with those bland sort of descriptions.

Take a page from tominsocal1 and make realistic proposals to change the team and then state how that change will improve the team. You need to say more than just stating "we need guys who hate to lose".

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

sgm, does this look like the way Schultz and Alzner play? just curious

this is a calmed-down version of Nieds at the tail end of his career. And he still plays with a lot more pi__ and vinegar than anyone else on our team. Watch the replay.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j475pqQb6F8

admit it, you had no idea what type of ornery spirited game Scott Niedermayer has been capable of playing.

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 24, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

@tominsocal1

I love the idea of making trades to save on jersey replacements. You have to save every dime you can.

Maybe we can also trade Francois Bouchard for Marc-Andre Bouchard while we're at it.

The trade would confuse so many people and analysts would have a horrible time talking about it. That alone almsot makes it worth doing.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

I can sit here and say "I think Schultz is mean, battles hard, is strong on his skates, and hates to lose." Anyone can disagree, but you can't prove anyone right or wrong with those bland sort of descriptions.
----------------------------------

well, you'd either be wrong or a liar then. If you're going to exaggerate to such an extent to make your point, this discussion is worthless. You're implying that opinions are so subjective that you can state something like that about Schultz and still be on par with the other comparisons being made here. And its simply not true. There is nothing in Schultz's game that would or should make anyone think he plays a hardnosed mean style.

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 24, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

cstanton1: I agree with your opinion but I also find a lot of good ideas from sgm3. I guess I'm thinking you could disagree a little bit nicer.

This isn't hockey here :).

Posted by: tominsocal1 | May 24, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Niedermeyer is a hall of fame defenseman. Of course he is better. Being strong or ornery are two different things. Tie Domi was ornery, it didn't mean he was strong.

If you want to test strength I would be curious to see who could squat the most between Niedermeyer, Lidstrom and Schultz. I have no idea what the answer is. But if you are talking only about strength, then there is your test for strength.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Take a page from tominsocal1 and make realistic proposals to change the team and then state how that change will improve the team. You need to say more than just stating "we need guys who hate to lose".

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

i've made several dozen detailed proposals over the yrs. Its not realistic to repeat that in every single posting.

But to me, you can simplify some of our needs by saying we do need guys who hate to lose, guys who play stronger on their skates, guys who stick up for each other on the ice, guys who subscribe to a team concept of toughness, guys who defend their crease with more ferocity, guys who embrace the idea of finishing their checks instead of shrinking away from it etc. In various degrees, those above qualities are what separates us from the 2 teams likely headed for the Finals this year. Is it not? I mean, its certainly not that the Flyers or even the Hawks have a big skill advantage over us. The Hawks find a way to generate goals thru sheer bullying. And they have a significant physical leader on defense in Seabrook. He makes that team go.

The Flyers have played an ornery inyourface style all yr. And when the new coach came in, they didn't stray from that style. Think the Caps org would ever show interest in players like Lappy, Powe or Carcillo ? please. They're like the "anti-Caps". The one guy we did acquire that plays a semi-ornery style barely suited up for any games.

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 24, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Niedermeyer is a hall of fame defenseman. Of course he is better. Being strong or ornery are two different things. Tie Domi was ornery, it didn't mean he was strong.

If you want to test strength I would be curious to see who could squat the most between Niedermeyer, Lidstrom and Schultz. I have no idea what the answer is. But if you are talking only about strength, then there is your test for strength.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

lol, again you go spouting off about what you don't know. Tie Domi was VERY strong. And he used leverage very effectively. How else does a guy who can barely crack 5ft10 go head to head with guys who are 7 inches taller and 40 lbs heavier. Tie Domi could grab a bigger player with one hand and completely control him. You don't think you need to be strong to do that?

And "weight-room" strength is different from FUNCTIONAL strength. Or the willingness to use it. Schultz's passive personality precludes him from playing as strong as he can. The more physical he plays will result in more potential confrontations. Something he doesn't want any part of. He wants to stay in this league without having to get into too many on-ice conflicts. yes, thats just my opinion but to me its pretty obvious when you look at how he reacts any time there's a scrum. He gets this scared "get me out of here" look on his face.

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 24, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

sgm: If we traded Backstrom, Schultz and Bouchard for Backstrom, Schultz and Bouchard, it might end up being a pretty even trade.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | May 24, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

cstanton1: I agree with your opinion but I also find a lot of good ideas from sgm3. I guess I'm thinking you could disagree a little bit nicer
-------------

for the record, i find a lot of sgm's thoughts and ideas to hold validity. But I think he/she undervalues certain traits and attributes that I feel are key components of a winning team and philosophy.

I also don't think that he/she understands that some of the players who are considered positional or offensive dmen also supply some other elements in their game. Lidstrom is very strong on his skates. Niedermayer is strong for his size and is very ornery which helps him be more effective defensively. If you took the orneryness of out his game he'd be less effective.

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 24, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

I think that those descriptions are always used to describe the winner no matter how the game was actually played(not by you, but analysts in general). This is done similarly in almost every sport.

I find it to be meaningless drivel. Now, if an anaylsts points out, for example, Bfyuglein's big body and ability to set up screens in the crease without being pushed out(backed up by video proof) then I completely agree with that. Or showing how Volchenkov blocks shots and shuts down opposing team forwards(backed up by video and statistical proof). An example is Marian Hossa. If his team won either of the last two cups or this years cup then he will be labeled as a "hates to lose" guy. If the Hawks lose he will be labeled as a guy who "isn't tough enough". Both are meaningless in my book. The guy is a very good to great player who plays a well rounded game. Typecasting players due to team success can be ridiculous.

Also, I have a hard time believing anyone in the NHL hates to lose more than Ovechkin. I'm basing this on the effort het gives plus his expressions after his team has lost.

Lastly, if "hates to lose" was such a signifcant factor to winning then why has no team won more than one champsionship since the lockout. If the teams who won hated to lose so bad then how did they lose in all those other years. It would seem that there are plenty of players who hate to lose.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

I think you guys are about 80-90% in agreement but you are getting really hung up on the other 10-20%.

One guy who really, really hated to lose was Ciccarelli. Not sure if he ever won a Cup, can't recall if he was with Detroit in 97.

Gartner never won and took a lot of heat. Rangers I think actually traded him at the deadline in 94, so he missed his chance there.

Pronger must get some credit Edm, Anaheim and now if Philly goes to Finals.

Nobody ever hated to lose more than Dale Hunter, but he never won. I agree though that players who hate to lose even more than they love to win is something you look for.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | May 24, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

@tominsocal1

I would love to see the guys at SportCenter try to deal with that trade. Watching them fumbling through all the players.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

@tominsocal1

Ciccarelli was not on that team. I think he was traded mid-season.

I also want to re-state that I am in agreement with tominsocal1 that the Caps need a more well-rounded team with more money spent on quality defensemen.

I, along with many others, feel that signing Volchenkov would be a good start to that. Trading Flash for a good checking, 3rd or 4th line forward who excels at the PK would be the 2nd step to take. Getting rid of Erskine for cap purposes would be a necessary move. Possibly trading Semin is something to consider, but only if the value in return is strong(2nd line center or somehitng like the Downie proposal @tominsocal1 gave).

Getting stronger down the middle is important too. However, when thinking of every move you must take cap considerations into effect. I think Alzner will become a very good defenseman (his play in game 7 was very good) and if he can do that at a small cap hit his presence is even more important.

I like the solid play of Poti, who was fantastic in the playoffs. But if the right trade proposal came along and he could be sent so the Caps could sign a Hamuis or maybe trade for a Reagher, then sure. But those deals are unlikely yo occur.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Great blog - everyone totally ignore the topic.
Who care about the Flyers.

Posted by: instinct227 | May 24, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

more on the comparisons between the Hawks and the Caps, the Caps don't have a mean SOB center like Dave Bolland who has been great in the playoffs.

should be no surprise to anyone that he was coached by Dale Hunter in the juniors and plays a lot like him.

Posted by: joek443 | May 24, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Also, I have a hard time believing anyone in the NHL hates to lose more than Ovechkin. I'm basing this on the effort het gives plus his expressions after his team has lost.

Lastly, if "hates to lose" was such a signifcant factor to winning then why has no team won more than one champsionship since the lockout. If the teams who won hated to lose so bad then how did they lose in all those other years. It would seem that there are plenty of players who hate to lose.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 24, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

I don't think anyone is saying Ovi doesn't hate to lose, the problem for this team is they don't have enough guys who compete like him.

if Green and Semin competed like him, they could very well be still playing.

Posted by: joek443 | May 24, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

If you look at the defensemen who got their team to the SCFs and win it (or possibly win it) I think Darren Elliot is right with his quote:

"Placing emphasis on a puck-moving, mobile defense led by Keith, Brent Seabrook, Brian Campbell and Niklas Hjalmarsson is exactly what is needed in today's game: move the puck, move your feet, defend with quickness and abet the attack with swift skating. Certainly, that element has served the Red Wings well for 15 years and the current group in Chicago ensures competitiveness long-term."

This is not to say that big, defending defensemen (by those, I mean the type that are ONLY big and crease movers) can't win a series or two. But they generally end up losing at some pointbecause they can't generate enough offense throughout the playoffs. Such as Montreal last year(2 goals in its 4 four losses to Philly). They are unable to generate enough scoring opportunities with good break out passes that can sustain a long playoff run.

Ideally you have 6 Pronger's. 6 Hall of Fame defensemen who are great at everything. Teams defintely want some guys who can move people out of the crease and move people from the corners. But championship teams, when they have those guys, have them who are able to do also move the puck.

Teams do not want 6 defensemen who can't move anybody, but 6 Andy Sutton's or 6 Hal Gill's are rarely going to get you anywhere also. Heck, 6 Hal Gill's are rarely going to get you to a championsip also. Usually, at most, a championship team can have one or two of them (Hal Gill is decent at moving the puck too).

But Pittsburgh had it's Letang's and Gonchar's. Detroit had plenty of puck moving D-men. Philly and Chicago both have great sets of D-men.

The key is getting the type of defensemen that Elliot mentions but also getting those who are also capable of playing physical. (such as Pronger, Niedermeyer, Volchenkov, etc.)

Loading the team up with Andy Sutton's and John Erskine's isn't going to cut it either.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 25, 2010 7:53 AM | Report abuse

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