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Forward Line and Power Play Shakeup

In search of some scoring from somewhere, Coach Hanlon has made some changes to his lines. Here's what they look like today:

Ovechkin-Kozlov-Clark (the captain returns to the top line)
Backstrom-Nylander-Semin (Alexander returns from injury)
Pettinger-Steckel-Gordon (Steckel replaces Clark)
Brashear-Laich-Motzko (Motzko where he probably belongs)
Fleischmann-Sutherby-Bradley (could be a move coming here)

I'm assuming Semin (ankle) is still on IR for the moment. But the fact that's he been assigned to a real line -- and is practicing fully -- means he's awfully close to returning.

Update:Motzko has been recalled from Hershey. He was sent down after the Pittsburgh game, but that was merely a paper transaction (think waivers).

Update:The first unit power play looks like this now: Ovechkin-Kozlov-Clark with the points manned by Poti and Green.

Update:The second unit has Pettinger-Nylander-Backstrom with Pothier and Semin on the points.

Update:Hanlon said he's optimistic that Semin will play on Wednesday against Tampa Bay.

Update:Hanlon also said Kolzig will be the starter Wednesday.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  October 22, 2007; 10:36 AM ET
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Next: Motzko Sent Down


well, at least motzko is not on the first line. hopefully he won't be on the pp, if he's still here at all.

Posted by: mike | October 22, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Its not too many people if you "scratch" that 5th line!! Glad to see Semin is back practicing.

Tarik, how does he look? Thanks.

Posted by: Don-Ald | October 22, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Was Semin skating today?

Posted by: Chad | October 22, 2007 10:46 AM | Report abuse

New combinations are a good thing. Lets not hit the panic button yet. The guys are taking this seriously and will bounce back.
Just a couple of kinks to work out.

Its better to hit a few snags now rather than February and March and miss the playoffs... again.

Posted by: The Jere | October 22, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone else see a problem when our 2 best passers are on the same line and neither is paired with our best goal scorer? Just seems like common sense to me

Posted by: Eric | October 22, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I have to think that with Semin coming back, the scoring will improve, but will Clark being moved off the checking line hurt that line? Can Steckel fill his shoes in that spot?

I would hope a move is being made, with scoring help really being needed for the top right wing spot.

Posted by: Hayden | October 22, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad Semin is almost back, but I don't like the handling of Fleischmann. If they are planning to trade for a top-6 RW, and he is just filler, then fine. But if he is part of their plans, you don't move him just when he is starting to get something going. Plus, Clark is not a great fit on that first line, and Backstrom looks more than ready to be his own center.

Hanlon better hope that these lines work, because the "2 AHLers in top-6" excuse is not going to fly anymore.

Break up the Swedes!

Posted by: Vlad | October 22, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Totally agree Eric.

Having 8-92-25 as your top line solves that problem and keeps whatever chemistry exists between Ovie and Koz. I think that's what many people envisioned in July when we made those FA acquisitions.

Posted by: pepper | October 22, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Backstrom has looked better and better each game. Even Hanlon is willing to give Motzko a try on the first line, why not try Backstrom up there for a game or two. Maybe him and OV will hit it off right away. Its really upsetting to see AHLers thrown on the top line without giving proven talent the opportunity first

Posted by: Eric | October 22, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

I laich 1st line more punch...3rd line is still responsible and gritty...semin is back...and gives 4th line some speed and scoring ability with laich.....

I would like to see Nylander get some time with Ovy. So maybe on occasion they could go

Posted by: mike s | October 22, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I live on Long Island, and I watched Kozlov (and Poti) about 70 times last year. He's a very good player, but he has three weaknesses: He never hits anything, he doesn't shoot enough, and he takes nights off. The key with him is to use him in important situations when he's on, and leave him on the bench when he's not. You can't just slot him into centering your top line and leave him there. Right now, he's not "on", and Nylander should be centering that line.

Leaving aside all the stupid penalties, the biggest problem with this team is its collective lack of fire and aggressiveness. OV is the only physical player on the team (when Erskine sits). The Caps got pushed around by the Islanders, and that's going to happen over and over. I don't think that's reason for despair, though. It is much easier to trade talent for grit than to trade grit for talent. This is a way of saying it is still to early to bail on Flash. Newsflash: We aren't going to win the Stanley Cup this year. We're still at least one, maybe two years behind the Pens and Flyers, who both have twice as many legit NHL veterans as we have.

I love Chris Clark as a third-liner, but doesn't OV have to be captain of this team sooner rather than later?

Posted by: Kirg | October 22, 2007 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I think it's still way too early to talk about putting backstrom on the 1st line. getting a kind like Ovy who can come straight out of the European leagues to the NHL game and excell is a rare find. Nick is still learning his way through the differences between the Sweedish League and the NHL. I think it's alot better to have him and Semin together with a proven veteren like Nylander, assuming Semin can keep his ankle together.

I guess Motzko getting "reasigned" to Hershey wasn't a done deal afterall. I'm kind of curious about the situation with Clymer though. Maybe he and one of hte other prospects are going to be part of a trade where the Caps eat some of his salary.

Posted by: EricS | October 22, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Motzko is still around?

Posted by: Finn | October 22, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Im not saying backstrom is ready for first line duty, but im saying he deserves the chance before motzko does. Putting motzko on the point during the PP was absurd. Green looks better and better each game and should be out there. We need to use him the way we used Gonchar on the PP...have him coming in with a cross pass for the one-timer. Gonchar scored so many PP goals that way

Posted by: Eric | October 22, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Green should have worked the point against the Pens and not Motzko. Motzko should have been relieved of his pointman duties after his first screwup

Posted by: Finn | October 22, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

See...I was worried that Motzko's proximity would be an issue. At least he's not on the first line. Hopefully also not on PP. That he's above Flash I think is a mistake, but a minor one.

Hopefully also, these lines are not carved in stone. Hanlon needs to be able to juggle the lines as play progresses. If something isn't quite working out right, change them up. Scotty Bowman was great at doing that during play.

Is AS in good shape, Tarik? I would hate to see him re-aggravate that ankle and have to sit for a month.

Methinks this might be an interesting few weeks coming up.

Posted by: Greg S. | October 22, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

The new lines look good, more or less. I think before too long Backstrom is going to be on the first line and Kozlov will be the RW.

2 reasons why I don't think Nylander should be on the 1st line.. One, the claim (I haven't seen it, as I haven't been able to get to any practices) that Nylander and Semin meshed really well together.

Two, I don't think Nylander compliments OV very well. They are obviously both very skilled players, but I feel like with Nylander holding onto the puck so much OV won't have the puck enough to do his magic. There are times when he tries to do too much, but at the same time if Nylander is bringing the puck in and doing his little circles OV won't have the puck to drive to the net. He might get more 1 time opportunities, but that isn't necessarily the best part of OV's game. He is a complete player and needs the puck on his stick.

Ultimately, Backstrom (I think) is a good center for him, and Semin and Nylander are a good pair. But for the time being, Clark will hopefully get his scoring touch back.

Even with the pathetic penalty killing, and the concerns with the shots on goal, the Caps are still giving up under 3 goals a game. With this offense, when it's clicking, they should be able to score enough to win games.

Posted by: Jeff | October 22, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Finn - if we applied that measuring stick to all the players, we'd have a completely vacant roster. Motzko got a shot over 3 or four games, and he wasn't the answer to the power-play woes, but to lay the entire blame for the issues with the power play at his feet is a very short-sighted.

Posted by: Steve | October 22, 2007 11:30 AM | Report abuse

The Caps need to buy a veteran defender who is not prone to stupid penalities and they need to buy a RW. Without both additions, the Caps will keep losing with the same theme -- not enough offense and taking stupid penalities by overwhelmed kids on the blueline.

Posted by: Jim | October 22, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Steve or anyone in the 'know' I thought Motzko was sent down Saturday night? did they turn around and call him up?

Posted by: Go Skins Go | October 22, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Steve, let's all agree with you. Let's keep Motzko on PP. He had more ice time on PP than Ovechkin or any other player!!!! What's that you smokin'?

Posted by: Finn | October 22, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I just looked at the penalties from each of the losses this season, and how many were attributed to the D, and which D-men. Take a look:

NYR -- Erskine, 2 penalties (forwards, 6 total penalties)
Buff -- Green, 1; Jurcina, 1; Morrisonn, 2; (forwards, 4 penalties)
NYI -- Jurcina, 1 (forwards, 3 penalties)
Pitt -- Morrisonn, 1; Green, 1; (forwards, 3, 2 fights)

In all 4 games, the offensive players have taken more (or the same) penalties than the defense.

Are the Caps taking too many penalties? Without question...but to put the blame on "overwhelmed kids on the blueline" may not really be accurate.

Whether a new D-man is brought in or not, other than Erskine every one of those D-men who took penalties is still going to be on the ice, and likely in the same game situations as they are now. And while a lot of people are dumping on Poti, Pothier, and least they haven't made matters worse by ending up in the penalty box.

Posted by: Jeff | October 22, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

much better than some bozo on the top line and first line PP. Why wasnt this done in the first place?

Posted by: thankyou | October 22, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Good that Semin is closer. He is needed. Sucks that I may have to see Motzko again. I was hoping that would never happen again. At leats he won't see 20 minutes of ice. He was greatly overwhelmed being on the first line.

Posted by: jwh37 | October 22, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse



Posted by: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD | October 22, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

I like the line combo's with the exception of Motzko skating above Bradley, Flash and Suts. Everyone says that Clark is a 3rd line guy, but the truth is he really belongs on the 1st line. We need someone who is going to rough it up in the corners and draw players away from OV to set him up for scoring chances. We also need a winger who can put the puck away when OV is tangled up. Clark might be a rough and tough dude, but when you score 30 goals for a team that "sucks" (like last year) then obviously you can score and deserve time on the top line. I also think that Nylander should be the center on line 1 and Kozlov moved down to play with 19 & 28.

In the real scheme of things, us fans can hoot and holler all we want about the line combo's and who should play where. But reality says that Hanlon is going to continue to play with things until something clicks. Is it too little too late? No, we're only 7 games in, but if we can't get the ship righted before the middle of November then we've got problems.

Posted by: Mitch | October 22, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Steve, let's all agree with you. Let's keep Motzko on PP. He had more ice time on PP than Ovechkin or any other player!!!! What's that you smokin'?

Finn, No need to be a spazz. Steve clearly stated Motzko wasn't the answer.

Comparing ice time on PP for 3 games says nothing. Hanlon isn't going to pull Motzko from a PP with the puck in the zone because he's getting more ice time than Ovey.

Posted by: slappy | October 22, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Oh NO!!! Semin on the point again. That was the biggest problem on last year's PP. Semin cannot set things up on his own. Isn't that why we spent money this offseason. I really like Hanlon but im really starting to question his decision making ability. And please tell the guys to keep their legs moving on the PP. How hard is it to get some movement.

Posted by: Eric | October 22, 2007 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Motzko shouldn't have been there altogether. IMHO Green would have been a better fit working the point. And boy is Green a fast skater!

Posted by: Finn | October 22, 2007 12:04 PM | Report abuse

"And while a lot of people are dumping on Poti, Pothier, and least they haven't made matters worse by ending up in the penalty box."

No, they just end up sticking Johnny and allowing a goal (Schultz), looking like a slug on salt (Pothier - except for saturday's game), and handing the puck directly to the opponent (Poti).

Posted by: keef | October 22, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Tarik-Do you expect Olie to be in net on Wed vs Tampa?

Posted by: Mike S | October 22, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I'm not so sure what everyone's complaint about Johnny is. With the exception of Buffalo where the entire team gave up in the 2nd period, he's played stellar. You must admit that he kept the Caps in the game against Pittsburgh and gave Atlanta no chance of getting the win on opening night.

Posted by: Mitch | October 22, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Will we see Semin on Friday at least?

Posted by: Finn | October 22, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Tarik --

Any comments about practice?

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | October 22, 2007 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Mitch; I'm with you on your observation of #1. Two players who made large improvements from last year to this are #1 and #52. Not sure why Olie is less than consistent, but let's hope his game picks up too. Based on the first 7 games, I wouldn't mind seeing 37 and 1 alternating games.

Posted by: dogdaze | October 22, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse

"I'm not so sure what everyone's complaint about Johnny is."

I was the first to mention Johnny so I'm not sure if that's directed at me. If it was...

I'm not complaining about Johnny, he's looked like a totally different man in the net this year. I was complaining about Schultz whacking him the face with his stick, allowing the Pen's first goal to go in.

Posted by: keef | October 22, 2007 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Keef, my comments about #1 were not directed to you. There have been a lot of people dogging him.

Posted by: Mitch | October 22, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Ben Clyment Hat Trick?

Clymer scored 2 goals and got into a fight in Saturday's game Bears vs Bridgeport. Bears win 3-1. Nice going Clymes! Sure could have used those goals against the Penguins .
. . . . more at patriot news

Posted by: dogdaze | October 22, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse



Posted by: Brad | October 22, 2007 1:16 PM | Report abuse

God, I think Nyls going to first line will happen before the end of the year. That said, the article about "Professor Nylander" on shows why he's he's centering Backstrom's line. I like that they aren't rushing Backstrom and he will center the second line. I like the idea of Semin skating with two centers, he should get more chances.

Posted by: C-way | October 22, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Clymer scored 2 goals and got into a fight in Saturday's game Bears vs Bridgeport. Bears win 3-1. Nice going Clymes! Sure could have used those goals against the Penguins .

Actually it was against Rochester and the last I heard the AHL Rochester Americans weren't aren't the NHL Pittsburgh Penguins.

AHL good doesn't automatically = NHL good
See Motzko

Posted by: slappy | October 22, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

PP lines like this?

Poti, Ov, Kozlov, Clark, Backstrom
Green, Semin, Nylander, Brashear, Flash(?)

Kozlov and Clark can center the first line, Green and Flash on the faceoffs for the second? Not sure about that. Use Clark and Brashear as screens in front just to see if it will work. If it doesn't, change it.

Posted by: Greg S. | October 22, 2007 1:36 PM | Report abuse

> Ovechkin-Nylander-Kozlov
> Semin-Backstrom-Flash
> Pettinger-Gordon-Clark
> Brash-Steckel-Bradley/Laich


Exactly, how long will it take for Hanlon to use common sense?

Posted by: alexovetjkin | October 22, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Just for the sake of it...why is it "common sense" to put a 30 goal scorer on the 3rd line and elevate a guy with 5 career goals into the top 6?

That "common sense", along with the absense of Semin (and general under performing), has led to an amazing 15 goals being scored in 7 games.

Posted by: Jeff | October 22, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Jeff: well, this season the Caps are trying to become a puck-possession team, and Clark doesn't fit that mold. FWIW, I think most would consider his stats last year an aberration..

Posted by: Vlad | October 22, 2007 2:11 PM | Report abuse

I'd still prefer a guy who has 50 goals in the last 2 seasons in the top six over a guy who has 5 career goals (in obviously limited play). I get the "puck possession" thing, except it's not like Flash has shown ANY ability to do that. We know what Clark will do -- and that's work in the corners, has a decent shot, and will finish most of his chances when he gets them. Flash is an unknown entity, all we really know is that he is inconsistent.

There ARE players on this team who are puck possession players -- but the majority of the team is either not buying into that philosophy or doesn't have the skill required to play that style.

I think playing OV with Clark makes sense, no matter who the center is. So, I personally am happy to see the top 6 as they are. Like I said earlier, I believe Kozlov and Backstrom will be swapped at some point, but not for a little while.

One rumor I did see today is that the Kings are offering up Frolov for goalie help. What about a 3 way trade...we sent a pick (or whatever) to Anaheim for Bryzgolov and then move him on to Frolov? 3 Alexanders in the top 6!

Posted by: Jeff | October 22, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Frolov is heckova player

Posted by: Finn | October 22, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I think it's the red uniforms. I like the white ones fine, but those red ones kinda look like practice uni's. That's what the problem is....

Posted by: Lee | October 22, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Playing puck possession is fine and dandy. However, playing puck possession with an inability to score really serves no purpose. We need to focus on scoring first then settling into a puck possession game.

Posted by: Mitch | October 22, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

ummm if you would check, we have only lost once with the Red Jersey's, so it's the white ones causing the

Posted by: Anonymous | October 22, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse


No way, man. Those red sweaters (can we still call them sweaters?) are hawt.

(maybe if we argue about the unis, we can sidetrack the convo from Caps bashing for a few minutes)

Posted by: keef | October 22, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse


Do you really think the Ducks are going to give up Bryzgalov for a pick (or as you put it, whatever?) Why would they want anything the Caps have to offer if they can just have Frolov? Even trying to get Frolov directly from the Kings would be near impossible. They have that Bernier kid, so Varlamov or Neuvirth isn't going to entice them, and even a package of say Schultz, Bouchard and a high draft pick might not be enough.

Posted by: Brian Burke Isn't Stupid | October 22, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Excellent Caps coverage today in the Post, Tarik - I guess the HUGE and impressive Redskin's victory (all the way this year, BTW) overshadows any possible reason to write about our hockey team today.

And we wonder why the Pens and their fans own us in our own building.

BUSH-LEAGUE all around - we should send our team to KC.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 22, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

bring back capital punishment. i'd like to see brasheer play in the 3rd. get erksine back and let alex be captain.

Posted by: cd | October 22, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse had in their rumor section last week that Anaheim was looking for a 2nd round pick for Bryzgalov. Today ESPN states that the Kings are willing to trade Frolov for goalie help. The Kings and Ducks are in the same division...perhaps that is why the two haven't work something out. Perhaps it's something much different.

Ultimately I don't see the Caps making a significant trade for a while. I didn't see the harm in referring to stories posted on, however.

Oh, and the reason Bryzgolov is expendable is because he is the backup and he is getting paid quite a bit of money to do so. That money could easily be spent on more important pieces to that roster as they try to replace (or eventually sign) Neidermayer & Selanne.

Posted by: Jeff | October 22, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I didn't really mean sign those 2 guys...I meant have plenty of cap space for them...

Posted by: Jeff | October 22, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Amazing, those combinations prove he doesn't get it! This team shouldn't make any player trades until a legitimate coach is behind the bench. Is D. Markov still available? Also, get off Tarik he does a great job covering the team.
What about an informal poll?
How many games does Hanlon have left?
A) Should be gone now
B) 5 more games (B2) and GMGM helps him pack
C) 15 more games (C2) and GMGM is gone too
D) Christmas (D2) and it's a house clearing
E) He stays and we fight for another lottery pick.
F) Hanlon is the next S. Bowman and the Caps win the cup. (I had to put this one in to be fair)

Posted by: someone else who knows | October 22, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

It's pretty clear something needs to change. Not sure if it's as simple as getting healthy and having Semin in the lineup (probably not enough) or changing the coach, or something else.

someone else who knows, if you are not a fan of the new lines, and you weren't a fan of the old lines, what are the "proper" lines that someone who does get it would put out there on Wednesday?

Posted by: Jeff | October 22, 2007 4:12 PM | Report abuse

why have we not heard anything about why Sutherby isn't playing?

I understand we have other players... but why call up a 27 year old guy who does not look 6'0''-196 (more like 5'9''-160) and did not impress me at all during the pens game, instead of bringing up our main alternate captain who is amazing both in and out of the locker room.

he didn't have a great season last year but he's a great team player.


can you please find out more on the whole Sutherby issue? He's played one game and barely got any ice time.

other than that, great article!

Posted by: M_Kulsk | October 22, 2007 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of trades...

CBC announced that there were several teams shopping for goalies. It's not too early to be talking trades, guys.

On the sweaters - Love the white. Not so much the red. Would have liked it to be blue instead.

Posted by: Greg S. | October 22, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Like I said, i don't know if it's the pants or what it is, but the Reds look like practice. The new logo looks good. (still trying to stop the caps bashing)

Oh, for those wanting to trade a goalie, who do you propose? Olie is getting old (still great, but at 2 years younger than me he is considered old). Johnny has proven unrealiable beyond a game or two. So who would we trade to get a top player?

Weren't the unis supposd to be some sort of sleek body suit or some new inovation this year?

Posted by: Lee | October 22, 2007 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Here's the CBC clip:

Those wild and wacky Canadians with their long addresses, eh?

Anyone notice who the +/- leaders are on the Caps? Pothier and Brashear. Backstrom leads in assists for forwards while for Defense it's Green.

Meanwhile, the Caps have dropped from 13 to 23rd in the Power Rankings. We're ahead of the Panthers, Rangers, and Thrashers.

Posted by: Greg S. | October 22, 2007 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Mitch, Jeff: I'm not a puck-possession fanatic, but at some point, you've got to choose an approach and stick to it. We're still at a point where long-term concerns have to outweigh "win next game at all costs" concerns, IMO.

Anyway, I just don't see Clark on a top line as a long-term solution, unless he develops Holmstrom-type skills around the net. I'd continue to play Fleischmann there, if I were determined to try Semin with the Swedes.

But whatever, maybe playing with the Russians will get Clark scoring again. I'm just waiting for Hanlon to break up the Swedes..

Posted by: Vlad | October 22, 2007 5:46 PM | Report abuse


Here's a video by Discovery on the new RBK System. Courtesy of Japers:

I read an article a little while ago (can't remember where I found the link...probably JP's)) discussing how ineffective these new uniforms are and the sweat they're wicking's gotta go somewhere. Soggy britches.

Posted by: keef | October 22, 2007 5:51 PM | Report abuse

i heard that the LA Kings are trying to deal the crafty/speedy russian Alex Frolov i see him doing great things with one of our top two lines trade the following players to get him asap!
Eminger,Sutherby,Fleischman, or draft pick

Posted by: ZackAttack | October 22, 2007 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Id be up for a trade for Frolov. There's a good RW acquisition. If he doesn;t work out, move him at the deadline.

Posted by: 007 | October 22, 2007 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Regarding lines, I want to see what many others want to see.


And if Nylander does not mesh with Ovechkin, then:


which actually seems to make more sense as far as playing styles, at this point. Boom-and-zoom for entree, turn-and-burn for dessert.

Anyway, for now I'm not that worried, Hanlon really wants to try Semin with the Swedes, we'll see..

Posted by: Vlad | October 22, 2007 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Frolov is on the block, so to speak. He's expensive, though. $3 mill. I wouldn't mind seeing a producing seasoned top prospect (1-2 full NHL seasons) on the first line.

Take Darcy Tucker off the boards. He was injured and is out indefinately. Ligament damage.

Posted by: Greg S. | October 22, 2007 6:46 PM | Report abuse

I think I agree with Hanlon's decision to put Semin w/ the Swedes. Semin will like people passing him the puck. The bigger issue is that when Semin is out, we need to change the lines. If the passers don't have a goal scorer to pass to we need to fix that.

OV wants to play on Kozlov's line. If we're putting a real center on that line, pick one of Nyles/Backstrom and put him in between the two.

Let's see if Clark more permanently on the 1st line improves the scoring problem. If it does, we can calm down. If it doesn't, scream at Hanlon til he splits up the Swedes to play 1st/2nd line center like we all think he should.

Posted by: Raber | October 22, 2007 9:12 PM | Report abuse

"I'm not a puck-possession fanatic, but at some point, you've got to choose an approach and stick to it. We're still at a point where long-term concerns have to outweigh "win next game at all costs" concerns, IMO"

well said. lets consider that they played "puck ursuit" last year. they need time to work the new system

Posted by: livint | October 22, 2007 9:19 PM | Report abuse

@livint and @vlad

Puck posession is 9/10ths of the game. If I can keep the puck in your D-zone, your guys get tired and can't change out. I can rotate my guys from the blue liner in and out in a pinch. My chances of scoring go way up. Also, if I control the puck, I control the pace of the game to my liking, and I can open opportunities for break outs and penetrations into your D-zone. These build scoring chances.

Now, I'd be willing to allow coach to develop his system and give him time to do it. I just don't see any semblance of a system to give him time to develop.

Posted by: Greg S. | October 22, 2007 9:37 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure about putting gordo, perhaps our best faceoff man, on the wing. Also, Nylander and Backstrom are both fantastic players, albeit primarily setup men. Split em up.
And please put semin on the first pp unit. hes back, lets use him right

Posted by: jon segars | October 22, 2007 11:29 PM | Report abuse

"If we were winning, and things were going perfectly, we wouldn't rush him (Sasha Semin) back." Those were the words of Coach Glen Hanlon. I'm dumbfounded! Appalled! Yes, outraged! That's the most irresponsible bs I've heard in a long, long time. It's inconceivable that he'd play his 2nd. best player, KNOWING HE HASN'T HEALDED COMPLETELY.
Obviously his own job security is of far greater concern to him than the health ( both long and short term )of his player. He's admitted it!!! That's absolutely reprehensible! Well, I'll tell you this. I had little to NO respect for his coaching technique. Now, I have even less for his obvious lack of humanity.
I'll say this one final time. THE CAPS WILL CONTINUE TO FLOUNDER AS LONG AS THAT JERK IS BEHIND THE BENCH. If I were George Mc Phee, he'd have never made it to camp this summer. Point Blank! Only someone in a state of serious denial, could possibly justify his STILL being the head coach. He's about as inspiring as a pair of old, soiled blue jeans. He's certainly no leader. All one need do is take a look at his "Sad Sack" face to know what I say is true. Does looking at his face inspire YOU? I don't think so. Put another way; When the bullets start flying, is he the guy you want in your fox hole? Again, I think not. Well, where I come from the coach is supposed to be the numero uno leader. He ain't! # 1. # 2. Or any other number... He's a farce!
Most of us agree he seems to have no particular philosophy ( PP, line combinations, or otherwise )as far as being successful is concerned. Frankly, I think he's in way over his head. He needs to stick to developmental hockey, where there's no real concern about winning. Because, a winner HE IS NOT! And, Glen, for God's sake don't jeopardize Sasha's career by putting him back in the line up before he's 100% healthy. PLEASE!! Don't be that selfish, or that short - sighted. I'm out!

Posted by: puckguru | October 23, 2007 1:01 AM | Report abuse

As I've posted in response on this blog before, I think the Caps need an NHL-proven coach. Not someone from the AHL. Not someone who's an assistant. The Caps need (and deserve!) an NHL-quality coach.

Yes, it's early in the season, but I'm sick of the dreck being pushed from Ted and GMGM about how we're all rebuilt now - the play on the ice lately shows that the Caps aren't much different than the recently preceding years, despite having more talented players in the fold - we need a coaching change, and quick, before a hole is dug no team could get out of. We've suffered for a few years though the rebuilding process, it's time to spend a little cash for a real coach and give the fans a product they'll actually buy.

Just a longtime fan's two cents!

Posted by: Todd | October 23, 2007 1:50 AM | Report abuse

Puckguru --

Here's a surprise... you have taken Hanlon's comments completely out of context, looking only to serve your own argumentative purposes. Hanlon was not speaking to the condition of Semin's ankle but the fact Semin's condition has suffered by the lay-off. This won't be the first time a player, in all sports, has played himself in to shape... Shaq does it every year in Miami. If you're going to bash in public and call people "jerks" you need to make sure you have a clue as to what you are speaking about... might give your points more credence. Or you may continue to howl at the moon and be dismissed as a raving nutjob.

Posted by: Dave in DC | October 23, 2007 6:54 AM | Report abuse

This is the line up I wanted since the beginning except replace Mots with Brads. Good to see Clarkie back on the 1st line where he belongs.

Posted by: Tracy | October 23, 2007 8:24 AM | Report abuse

puckguru -- settle down, man. Hanlon wasn't saying he wants Semin to play hurt -- and risk further injury - because the team is losing. He was saying Semin doesn't have the luxury of spending a week practicing to get back into aerobic condition.

that's what Hanlon was saying.

Posted by: Tarik | October 23, 2007 8:26 AM | Report abuse

"He was saying Semin doesn't have the luxury of spending a week practicing to get back into aerobic condition."

Tarik, watch people slamming Semin for "poor play" just because Hanlon wants him to play into shape. He will not be in sync for the first few games. And watch people here start calling him lazy, selfish and whatever else they are going to come up with.

Posted by: Finn | October 23, 2007 8:37 AM | Report abuse

I have to admit, Semin's sometimes lazy play makes him one of the most endearing players to watch:

he'll score a goal from his ass after he's thrown it in, get pissed off when it gets called back and he gets a penalty and a subsequent benching, then he is still SO lazy that he skates back to the bench and does his patented lean-slightly-too-far-back and spectacularly wipe out. it may have been an unfortunate set of circumstances all stemming from lazy, but man, it was damn entertaining.

Semin! Lead us out of this hole!

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | October 23, 2007 8:53 AM | Report abuse

The memory of the first three wins is a distant memory, aint it? What happened to the well oiled defensively responsible machine? Well, you still have a ton of kids on the blueline, and a bunch of scorers who aint scoring.
That's the coach's fault, to be sure. Relax - throwing Hanlon under the bus is easy and convenient, but it's not fair to him.

Posted by: shaggy | October 23, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Geez, talk about getting riled up. Puckguru needs some meds, or at least needs the prescription upped. Appalled and outraged? perhaps you need some other, less obsessive hobbies. Its entertainment, man. You must have gone ballistic when Ross and Rachel broke up.

in the end, the issue is less Hanlon and more the pieces that Hanlon has to work with. Nylander, Ovechkin and Semin are the top skill guys on the team. The rest are hopefuls and rookies, 4th liners and fringe nhlers/ahl talent. When you look at a team like Carolina, you see varting depth on all 4 lines. Last years cup winner had players that took YEARS to develop into top calliber players. Mcdonald is 30 years old. The last 2 seasons have been prosperous but he was a bust before that. He and Penner both went undrafted. Is that success due to coaching? some of it, sure. But most of it is chemistry, and that is an intangible thing at best. Ron Wilson said years ago that you train a team in practice but when it comes to games, you just let the players play. He said that your limited as to what you can do from behind a bench. You can take away and give icetime but the way that the players play, their shots, their passing, their penalties, those are on them. He was right. All those guys have played on the PP before, they're just not clicking. Mainly becasue they aren't shooting enough or when they do they go wide or put in the goalies chest. There are hardly any onetimers in the Caps game and THAT is an issue. Also, we might love Ovechkin but his passing needs a lot of work. They should be feeding him not the other way around.

What I'm trying to say is, blaming the coach all the time is pointless. (though, i'm baffled by Evanson and Leach). The players are the ones on the ice. They shoulder most of the blame, even the stars. Not enough onetimers, not enough force entering the offensive zone, not enough end to end rushing, not enough rebounds, not enough fire.

Posted by: 007 | October 23, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Puckguru -

I'm sort of with you. I understand that they're talking about conditioning after a long time off. Hockey is not the kind of activity where you can get into aerobic conditioning while playing, though. It's too dangerous to be a pylon. This isn't basketball where the players trot around the court and stand still a lot or shuffle their feet a little. The NHL level of play is way too high. It would be dangerous for Semin to be put out on the ice for conditioning if he was out of condition. It would be irresponsible for the coach to put him in this position, IMHO. Give him aerobic training off ice and on ice in practices. Send him to Hershey for conditioning then return him at 90% or better.

Posted by: Greg S. | October 23, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

From yesterday's Hockey News:

In what is essentially a paper transaction, the Caps have assigned winger Joe Motzko to Hershey of the AHL Sunday. He will likely be recalled again and in the lineup for Monday, as the team is happy with his play on Alexander Ovechkin's line so far. "

Let's hope they're really, really wrong on this!

The pairing for Wednesday's game against Tampa Bay looks really interesting. The teams seem to match up.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 23, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

What he meant was, this. What he meant was that. Blah, blah, blah. Christ!! You people are incredible. I don't need an interpreter. I'm more than simply adaquate in my usage and understanding of the English language. With all due respect, maybe some of YOU should take some refresher courses. HE SAID WHAT HE SAID! I can only assume THAT HE MEANT what he said. And, if that's the case, he's everything I've accussed him of being.
Hopefully, Sasha will make it through this less than pristine health condition. For his sake 1st., and then the team's, I certainly hope that's the case. But, if I were the man making that decision, I'd err on the side of caution. Semin is much too valuable a piece of the puzzle, and this season has a lon, long way to go. LET'S NOT BEHAVE IN A RASH MANNER. Take your time. Be cool.....
Yours truly

Posted by: Puckguru | October 23, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

I'm more than simply adaquate in my usage and understanding of the English language. With all due respect, maybe some of YOU should take some refresher courses.

It's spelled adequate, Professor Puckguru. You blew that argument like Sidney on a Saturday night at Mario's house.

Posted by: slappy | October 23, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

couldnt have said it better myself dave in dc. although unfortunately for puckguru nothing he can do at this point can save him from his title of raving nutjob. time for your meds again already?

Posted by: crazy fool hater | October 23, 2007 3:57 PM | Report abuse

shmuckguru, READ IT AGAIN, and this time go with the words tarik used and not the ones flying around in your crazy, egomaniacal head. then, maybe you'll get it.

Posted by: like talking to a child who stumbled upon amphetamines and a dictionary | October 23, 2007 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I am still amazed at most of these posts. The CAPS win 3 games in a row and we're winning the CUP! We lose 4 games in a row and its "Fire the Coach", "Fire the GM", trade players, etc, etc, etc.

7 games does not make up an entire season. We were doing fine until Semin was injured and then Gordon had back spasms. (STATS show 2.5 Goals For vs .5 Goals Against, PP at 18% and PK at 100%) OK, that's not a great PP.

You have to look at the season in groups of 10 - 15 games to see where your at. Right now the CAPs are still hovering around that 8th playoff spot but need to get better on special teams and bring thier "Goals For" average up by 1. I would rather see them experimenting now with players and lines than in Feb and March.


Posted by: LFR | October 24, 2007 1:44 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: frank | October 24, 2007 10:43 AM | Report abuse

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