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Gordon not practicing in Carolina

The Caps just hit the ice here at RBC Center and everyone is practicing with the exception of Boyd Gordon, who aggravated a back injury last night in Sunrise.

I haven't received an update on Gordon's status yet, but Coach Bruce Boudreau said after the game that he wouldn't be surprised if the checking line center misses some playing time.

Although Alex Ovechkin is not eligible to play tomorrow, he is rotating in on a four-man top line alongside Tomas Fleischmann, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Knuble. The other lines have not changed.

Boudreau has not announced his goaltender for tomorrow, but all indications are that Semyon Varlamov will get the nod against the 28th-ranked Hurricanes. Varlamov is expected to face another rookie, Justin Peters, because Cam Ward is still out with a back injury.

With a late practice today, it will be a bit of a scramble to make an early deadline tonight. But I'll have another update at some point later.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  March 17, 2010; 1:34 PM ET
 
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Comments

Is is time yet to start talking playoff match ups? I am hoping that Pens and Flyer meet in first round and just beat the crap out of each other. Looks like Boston for Caps......appears to be a good match up, they are having a hard time scoring.
Comments

Posted by: RichC3 | March 17, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I think Boston would be a good first rounder as well. Get the Caps into playing a 'D' heavy team early.

Anybody see any upsets lurking in the playoffs? Detroit in the West is liable to take down whoever they face in the first round.

Posted by: fesslercw | March 17, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Some guy on the TSN site had the nerve to say that Howe and Messier played physical but never seriously injured anyone. I supplied them this:

Oilers architect Glen Sather had, after all, drafted Messier after watching him kick the stuffing out of Dennis Sobchuk in a fight. He once broke Calgary defenseman Jamie Macoun's jaw with a sucker punch.

The destruction he could wreak was perhaps never better exhibited than in Game 7 of the 1984 series against the rival Flames.

That night, Messier proved to be a one-man war of attrition, knocking three Calgary players out of action during the decisive third period. Paul Reinhart had long since been stretchered off; Mike Eaves lay crumpled like a discarded cigarette pack in a corner after being run over ("It was as if he got hit by a bus," recalled Oilers goaltender Grant Fuhr. "There were tire tracks running up and down his back."); and Al MacInnis exited early after being cut down by a knee injury. All courtesy of one man.

Carnage. Sheer carnage. Messier carnage.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/columns/story?columnist=johnson_george&id=2159838

Messier played like a beast his entire career and had a nice long career. Hopefully Ovi will be as lucky.

Posted by: fanohock1 | March 17, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Boston's a great matchup for the Caps. But it would be a great fun pounding series, our big forwards against their D. I'd prefer to watch that matchup over anything else from a fan's standpoint.

And can we end the Gordo experiment please? He's not durable enough and when you have recurring back issues like his its going to impact him even when he's "healthy" enough to play again. Its time he gets cut loose. He's never had one NHL game where he's been dominating in any aspect. And its not just about scoring. I can think of many games where Bradley and Steckel have stood out above the rest with their forechecking, hitting, creating some offense, strong defensive play etc. Gordo can't do that. And he can't do what BMo did either because he doesn't have the offensive touch. He's the classic 'tweener.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 17, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

if i could pick a team to play in the "offs" it would be florida!!! then rangers, boston.

Posted by: LettsDropThePuck | March 17, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I'd much rather have Boston than the Rags.

Posted by: richmondphil | March 17, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Oilers architect Glen Sather had, after all, drafted Messier after watching him kick the stuffing out of Dennis Sobchuk in a fight. He once broke Calgary defenseman Jamie Macoun's jaw with a sucker punch.

------------

i remember that punch. I think he got nailed for 11 games for that. And Gordie Howe was all elbows. Ask Rick Tocchet, thats who he modeled his game after, especially in the corners which is why no one liked to really follow guys like Messier and Tocchet into the corners because they'd be greeted with a stiff elbow.

Mark Messier was one of the dirtiest hockey players I ever watched. And he got away with murder. But he was also one of the best leaders.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 17, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I'd much rather have Boston than the Rags.

Posted by: richmondphil | March 17, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Boston's D is probably more physical. Seidenberg's fitting in nicely on their blueline. But can't argue one matchup over the other although I think Lucic is probably harder to handle down low than any other Rags forward. Can you imagine Lucic against Corvo? ouch

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 17, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

frankly though, from a fan's perspective, you want the best team as early as possible because if you get bounced early it puts more pressure on your front office to address holes the following offseason. I've seen too many cases of teams (not just the Caps) who get favorable matchups in the 1st two rounds and it fills them with a false sense of accomplishment.

And if you persevere past an early tough opponent it makes the next round or two go a bit easier.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 17, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Boston's D is probably more physical. Seidenberg's fitting in nicely on their blueline. But can't argue one matchup over the other although I think Lucic is probably harder to handle down low than any other Rags forward. Can you imagine Lucic against Corvo? ouch

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 17, 2010 2:20 PM |

Lucic is a wuss this year, and actually I've heard Seidenberg will make a great play, and then have a string of bad ones. This is what I keep hearing from B fans at least.

Anyways, my rationale for the B's over Rags is this;

Boston has no offense. That offense, even with Lucic, is going to have a harder time scoring against our inept defense than Gaborik and the much faster Rags offense.
As far as their defense goes, it's almost a wash. Boston is probably more physical than the Rags, but they aren't really that much better at preventing goals, if not worse. That's the way I see it, at least.

Posted by: richmondphil | March 17, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I agree. I really don't care who we get, if the team should be able to win the Cup, they should be willing and able to win a 7-game series against any team.

It's all about the match-ups though.

Posted by: richmondphil | March 17, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

agree with cstanton. i would rather the Caps get a good test in the 1st round and know that they have to work for hockey's ultimate prize.

ask the sharks what they thought last year. going in w/ pres. trophy, top pp, high scoring (top 5), AND best home record...they got trounced in the 1st round to a much more motivated team.

let this be a warning that no opponent shall be overlooked, and take each game one at a time.

Posted by: netminder71 | March 17, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Boston has no offense. That offense, even with Lucic, is going to have a harder time scoring against our inept defense than Gaborik and the much faster Rags offense.
As far as their defense goes, it's almost a wash. Boston is probably more physical than the Rags, but they aren't really that much better at preventing goals, if not worse. That's the way I see it, at least.

Posted by: richmondphil | March 17, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

thats a good argument. And I think overall the Ranger forwards are probably more physical than the B's - (Avery, Jokinen, Prust, Dubinsky, Callahan)

I think you're right, the Rags are probably the harder matchup but they have a worse coach.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 17, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

I don't see the Rags even making it this year, so it's a matchup we probably don't even have to worry about.

I don't see Tort's being around much longer either. He seems to cultivate negativity.

Posted by: fesslercw | March 17, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

To be honest, Montreal scares me a little bit. Their PP is really good and our PK is really bad. If they didn't have so many injuries, I'd see them as the possible late-seeded Cinderella story.

Posted by: richmondphil | March 17, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

agreed, montreal is a tough matchup. rather not get them...let pitt get phi or mtl...

Posted by: netminder71 | March 17, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

To be honest, Montreal scares me a little bit. Their PP is really good and our PK is really bad. If they didn't have so many injuries, I'd see them as the possible late-seeded Cinderella story.


Posted by: richmondphil | March 17, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Much agreed. If the Habs draw the Buffalo, there could very well be an upset.

Posted by: fesslercw | March 17, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

prbably the best thing to happen to the Sharks was getting bounced early last yr. They revamped their approach and cut some ties to players. You're better off knowing early rather than later how good a team you have. And the worst thing that could happen would be to play 2 weak opponents (matchup wise) and advance past the 2nd round and have your GM sit on his thumbs and do nothing to improve the team because he thinks progress is being made. You can potentially have a weaker team that goes a bit deeper into the playoffs depending on matchups from one yr to the next.

heck last yr we coulda lost to the Flyers in the 1st round, you never know.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 17, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

disagree, i think the Habs are a good matchup for us because our forwards can really wear down their defense. They're a quick team but we're quick also with a size advantage.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 17, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

this is random but anyone ever see this hit on Toews by blind Willie mctell Mitchell?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLbLiGXqHIA&feature=player_embedded#

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 17, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

this is random but anyone ever see this hit on Toews by blind Willie mctell Mitchell?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLbLiGXqHIA&feature=player_embedded#

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 17, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

MTL definetely couldn't hang with us in a 7-game series 5 on 5, but it could come down to the special teams.

They've got so many injuries though, I don't see it happening.

Posted by: richmondphil | March 17, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Toews need to learn to keep his head up more. He is frequently getting clocked away from the boards.

Posted by: richmondphil | March 17, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Pittsburgh will tank. They will not want to play Flyers. Flyers are a difficult team to play against; Flyers had an extremely bad luck with goalies this season (or for past few seasons actually) but they can hurt and bang the heck out of Pitts. I believe they will let NJ to catch up with them and play Ottawa or Montreal.

Posted by: ATOMIX1 | March 17, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

the Pens aren't tanking for any reason whatsoever. The Pens aren't afraid to beat the same team they beat last year in the first round.

Posted by: richmondphil | March 17, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Flyers have games in hand..they can easily end up in the 5 spot if they play decent down the stretch.

Posted by: SA-Town | March 17, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

@fanohock - TSN appeals to a redneck mentality Canadian hockey fan. Facts don't matter to them, when they have a vendetta going. Ovi is the bad guy for playing physical, but their good ole boy goons who seek to injure are fine. I would say they are irrelevant, except they seem to be very tied in to NHL HQ, and they seem to get what they want in terms of enforcement issues and, to some extent, policy. They are the enemy of any hockey fan who wants to see a hard-hitting but clean game where skill is at a premium and policy is applied consistently.

Posted by: zmega | March 17, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Flyers have crazy goalie issues. They lost Leighton last night to injury.

Posted by: ATOMIX1 | March 17, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I'd rather face Boston over the Rangers because while both have very weak offenses I think the Bruins offense is a little worse, especially with Savard out. Gaborik is always a threat to score some good goals.

Most importantly, the Rangers have Lundqvist. Thomas and Rask are good but not in the same league as Lundqvist.

@cstanton1

Yes, while Lucic is bigger than Corvo I could also picture Corvo skating around Lucic and creating many open breaks through the neutral zone leading to scoring chances. While size is important you can't for about the importance of speed too.

Posted by: sgm3 | March 17, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

@richmondphil, I was not talking about Pens losing the series against Flyers but of being hurt and banged up.

Who knows,Caps might face Flyers.

Posted by: ATOMIX1 | March 17, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

They are the enemy of any hockey fan who wants to see a hard-hitting but clean game where skill is at a premium and policy is applied consistently.

Posted by: zmega | March 17, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I don't mind seeing an occasional dirty game, lol

And I bet neither does the NHL. Do you realize to this day the Avs fans still make it out droves to see a Wings game because of what happened 10 yrs ago? Thats the only thing that makes those two teams still rivals, is the Claude Lemieux hit on Dino and the eventual Wings response.

Like it or not, dirty plays are part of the history behind any real rivalry. Why do you think Caps fans hate the Flyers? We haven't played in the Patrick div in years but there's a feeling among Caps fans that Flyer players past and present have victimized some of our players with dirty plays. I'm tellin ya, don't discount the value of a cheap shot. It goes a loooong way

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 17, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

Yes, while Lucic is bigger than Corvo I could also picture Corvo skating around Lucic and creating many open breaks through the neutral zone leading to scoring chances. While size is important you can't for about the importance of speed too.

Posted by: sgm3 | March 17, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

We're not talking about handing Corvo the puck with Lucic nowhere near him. How many times does that happen in the playoffs where players fight for every inch of space on the ice? More times than not, Lucic will be bearing down as a defenseman is racing to get that puck. Or the fact that Lucic already has the puck along the boards in Corvo's area and gets to cycle that puck at will b/c JC can't push him off the puck.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 17, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

how do you defend a dump and chase? If teams want to dump and chase, you have a few different scenarios that will determine who wins that battle.

1-- if the forwards aren't committed to the dump and chase, they don't get there in time to pressure the defense in which case the defense wins

2-- if the forwards ARE committed, then the burden falls on the D
2A) the D can try to beat the forwards to the puck which means they'll either get pounded heavily and
2Ai) maintain puck possession after absorbing the hit (D wins)
2Aii) lose the puck after absorbing the hit (forwards win)
or
2B)allow the forward to get there first and then try to take the puck away (forwards win)


The last two are what usually happens after numerous dumps and chases where a smaller defenseman gets repeatedly pounded by a heavy forecheck. It happened to Mike Green 2 yrs ago v Philly. At some point he just didn't want to go back and pick up that puck anymore. And Green's at least TWICE the defensive warrior that Corvo is. But even a smooth skating defenseman like Green can get affected by a dump and chase game which is utilized by at least 3 of the 4 lines employed by the Rangers/Bruins


You give a guy like Corvo plenty of skating room and time and of course you're playing to his strengths. But seriously, how often does that happen to a defenseman in the playoffs?

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 17, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

And how do players (defenders) get the puck when it is dumped in? They skate to it. The faster the skater the quicker the players gets to the puck which in turn allows for more time to handle the puck to pass or make a move.

In addition a defender is often passed the puck by another defender once the Caps retain possession. If Corvo receives a pass he will better able to possibly skate by Lucic or skate to an open area in the defensive zone to enable himself to make a clearing pass.

Being able to maintain possession of the puck is very important in the playoffs. A player who is fast and skilled to better enable himself to make passes out of the zone instead of dumps along the boards will help keep the puck in the Caps possesion which then will decrease the opposing teams scoring opportunities while increasing the Caps scoring opportunities.

Size and physical play also matters, and the crease clearing examples you bring up are all true, but there are so many other factors in a game. Lack of size can often be offset by speed and stick skills (i.e. Brian Leetch)

Posted by: sgm3 | March 17, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton - you sure called it on Corvo. Lots of sizzle but pretty ineffective. For an 'offensive' d-man his passes sure aren't very crisp, and he makes some curious decisions, to say the least. And yeah, Lucic would absolutely manhandle Corvo in the playoffs. Carlson is already better. Whoever compared Corvo to Brian Leetch - wow, I sure don't see that, not by a long shot.

Torterella definitely has self-destruction potential. He's already got Lundquist wound way too tight, after a marathon season with a bunch left to go.

PS. Oh yeah - for all Corvo's vaunted foot-speed, he doesn't seem to win many loose puck battles.

Posted by: govtimbo | March 17, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

@govtimbo

Please read things how they are written. At no point did I compare Corvo to Brian Leetch.

I said a player's good speed and stick handling ability can overcome a lack of physical play such as Brian Leetch.

This is using Leetch as an example of a defender's style of play to show that a defender doesn't necessarily have to be big and physical to be great. Corvo clearly doesn't have the skills of Brian Leetch.

Posted by: sgm3 | March 17, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

@sgm - my bad, as a native CT boy perhaps I'm a little quick to defend Brian Leetch, even when no defense was needed! Two things though:
1) your point about foot speed overcoming size is very well-taken - I'd take it over height any day; what you call stick-handling I'll call passing/puck-possession ability - for a d-man, anyway, they're absolutely crucial;
2) Unfortunately, I'm not sure about Corvo, re: any of the above. Obviously he's talented, otherwise he wouldn't be in the NHL - but I'd take Carlson over him, right now, in a heartbeat.

Posted by: govtimbo | March 17, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

I think Carlson will be better and likely significantly better.

Carlson is close to being better now, but I don't think he is there yet. But with the great strides he seems to be making it will likely be soon when Carlson passes Corvo. The sooner the better because then the Caps have will have even more depth if Corvo is relegated to third pairing defenseman duty.

Corvo does beat a lot of guys to pucks in the neutral zone. His speed is pretty good and, IMO, his passing/puck possession skills are better than most of the Caps defensemen.

He has many flaws and is by no means a great defenseman. But I think his positives outweighs his negatives more than Pothiers and he has improved the overall talent of the Caps blue line since before the trade.

Posted by: sgm3 | March 17, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

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