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Hurricanes 6, Caps 3

First, the Caps lose two good friends when popular teammates Chris Clark and Milan Jurcina get dealt away. Then, the Caps lose to the NHL's worst team in what might have been their worst loss of the season.

The 'Canes had dropped three in a row, hadn't scored six goals in regulation all year and came to town with exactly one win on the road. One.

Make that two.

It can be debated whether the trade had any effect on the Caps' preparation or performance tonight. But what else could cause the best first-period team in the league look that bad early? Can't think of any other reason.

Check out my game story here and my trade story here, then come on back for an abbreviated post game blog (really, really early flight to San Jose in the morning):

*The newest Cap, Jason Chimera, arrived in Washington tonight and took his physical here at Verizon Center, I'm told. He's supposed to fly with the team tonight to San Jose. So I suppose I'll catch up with him tomorrow at Shark Tank after practice.

*With rookies Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth challenging him, Jose Theodore needed an outstanding effort tonight. He didn't have one. The vet didn't get a whole lot of help, but Coach Bruce Boudreau wasn't thrilled about the rebound that led to Brandon Sutter's second period goal, which turned out to be a winner.

With San Jose up next, it's going to be interesting to see which goalie Boudreau turns to.

*So how bad was the first period? The 'Canes scored three goals. The Caps took four shots. No one was within 10 feet of Eric Staal on the 'Canes' second goal. Might have been the worst period of hockey on F Street this season.

It marked only the second time all season the Caps yielded three goals in the first period. The last time was Nov. 11 against the Islanders, when the Caps went down 3-2 en route to a 5-4 OT loss.

The first period shot total matched their lowest in any opening period this season.

*Mike Knuble on whether the trade was a distraction: "Some guys didn't find out until they got to the rink. It's always kind of a strange day but it doesn't take away from the fact that we knew we would have a team that would come out quick against us. We try to be ready for that but they were able to take advantage of us early. Killing off 1:55 of a five-one-three against, our penalty kill guys did an admirable job but just couldn't hold there at the end. Then, they kind of get a fluky goal there, where [Eric Staal] knocks it out of the air. With that being said, I don't want to use a trade as an excuse but we sorta came out flat."

*Alex Ovechkin took eight shots and scored his 26th goal, which moved him into a tie for the league lead with Marian Gaborik. Ovechkin, by the way, has missed eight games because of injury and suspension.

*Mike Green also scored and moved into a three way tie for the league lead in goals among defensemen with nine. Green already holds the lead for points. He played 30:23 tonight, his highest ice time total in 16 games.

*Speaking of goal scorers, Brooks Laich almost got one tonight. His apparent tally seconds into the second period was scrubbed because Nicklas Backstrom had played the puck with a high stick. Laich got an assist but has gone 10 games without a goal.

That's it for now. I'll check in late tomorrow from San Jose, where the Caps are scheduled for a 5 p.m. EST practice.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  December 28, 2009; 11:48 PM ET
 | Tags: Carolina Hurricanes  
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Next: Morning roundup: Trade hangover


It will be very interesting to see the goalie against San Jose. Jose obviously cant handle the sharks but can a rookie who's played what 15 career games in the NHL handle them either?

Posted by: nickiefan83 | December 29, 2009 12:09 AM | Report abuse


Invisible list: 53-15-10 line, 27, 55, 89.

I thought 9, 22 and 4(!) had pretty good games.

Too many negatives to list.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | December 29, 2009 12:15 AM | Report abuse

I am guessing then that all three goalies made the trip. And nickiefan if he can beat two of the best goalies in the league in Miller and Brouder then I think he might be able to. I really hope Varly can finally come back and start in SJ though.

Posted by: icehammer97 | December 29, 2009 12:15 AM | Report abuse

I still think Theodore got hung out to dry. The Caps played God-awful D and to suggest that he had a mediocre effort because of one rebound is ridiculous.

I want to see him traded too, but let's clean up our D and not scapegoat the goalie.

It was just a crap effort all around.

Posted by: CF11555 | December 29, 2009 12:18 AM | Report abuse

A bigger reason than the "flat because of trade" excuse is big rebound threeormore. Jose throws a temper tantrum at practice and then goes out and plays like an ECHL back up goalie.

Posted by: O-V-P | December 29, 2009 12:21 AM | Report abuse

Theodore played like doodoo. One or two less ill-timed softies, or one or two steals in the 1st period when the team came out flat, and the Caps could have won this game.

He let in bad goals TWICE as they were starting to mounting comebacks.

That's not the way an NHL goalie performs, especially after he's been breaking sticks and pitching fits to the media because the coaches are giving more playing time to the rookies with the gaudy numbers...

Posted by: Hatfield223 | December 29, 2009 12:30 AM | Report abuse

For those who were asking about Jason Chimera and his PK numbers. He averages 1:16 of PK time per game which was 5th of the forwards on the Jackets although one of the forwards ahead of him in average time was Fredrik Modin who has only played 9 games. For a guy who I keep hearing is a "gritty" player he was 16th on their team in hits with only 28. He also is not a fighter with only one major penality all season (don't know if it was for a fight or something else) so I don't think he is going to be dropping the gloves as some have suggested.

Right now I do not really like this trade but if it leads to something bigger later I would change my mind but right now I don't like the trade.

Posted by: icehammer97 | December 29, 2009 12:33 AM | Report abuse

How bout the incredibly horrible officiating, Tarik? No mention of that? This might've been our worst game of the season, but I don't know which was worse--the fact that we let the Canes score 6 or the refs who put those pieces unjustly together for that to happen in the first place. A 4-minute high sticking to start off? C'mon now.

Posted by: crzytwnman | December 29, 2009 12:38 AM | Report abuse

And nickiefan if he can beat two of the best goalies in the league in Miller and Brouder then I think he might be able to. I really hope Varly can finally come back and start in SJ though.

Posted by: icehammer97 | December 29, 2009 12:15 AM | Report abuse

he didnt beat the goalies he beat the teams scorers and san jose is much better at scoring

Posted by: nickiefan83 | December 29, 2009 12:39 AM | Report abuse

Ugh! Bad game. Theo needed more Velcro with the puck but then again the Caps let the Canes stick to the crease just like Velcro. So I see this as a team failure. The penalties just took the starch out of us. Everytime we got momentum we got a penalty setback. And what a dismal way to start the game--needing to kill nearly 2 minutes with 5 on 3. Ugh. Just set the tone for the whole game.

This Caps fan will miss Clarkie and Juice but trades are part of business. Sounds as if the trade was in the works for a few days. Not sure if there ever is a good time to announce the news. Next up we can all squabble over who should get the "C". I throw my 2 cents in and say it should be Ovi. He has played this season with more gravity and maturity. Used his position to speak out on NHL issues and hasn't been quite the free-wheeling happy dude as he has in the past. Not nearly so much glass jumping (not that Cherry would ever notice). The othe. Contenders are IMO most likely Laich and Knuble. I think they would make great Captains too. How are Captains chosen anyway?

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | December 29, 2009 12:44 AM | Report abuse


I agree with you. It's time for Ovi to be Captain. Granted he wasn't ready the first time he was asked. But he was only 21 then.

He's a good a choice as the other "kid" captains on other teams: i.e. Crosby, Richards, and Toews.

Ovi's our real leader.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 29, 2009 12:52 AM | Report abuse

Everyone expected one of the D to be traded. In fact, they still have too many D and Carlson will play next season. I think they should get rid of Theo, Poti and Erks for one guy like MArkov or Neids. Theo isnt playing well enough to sit the other two.

Posted by: jgrasse | December 29, 2009 12:54 AM | Report abuse


That 4 minute high sticking penalty on Nicky followed by the penalty on Green pretty much got us in trouble at the outset.

I could not believe the diving penalty that was called on Laich when he was tripped by the Carolina guy.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 29, 2009 12:54 AM | Report abuse

I was saddened by this trade as Clark has been a solid leader both on the ice and off the ice. However, he just wasn't the same player anymore so I understand why it was done. As far as tonight's game is concerned, I believe the team lacked focus and intensity due to the trade. If it saddened me then it must have done the same to the players. They are professionals but they are also human. Diversions such as this are exactly why a team cannot stay focused every single night of an 82 game season.

Posted by: croftonpost | December 29, 2009 12:56 AM | Report abuse

About Chimera? Well I don't know much but I have read that he a pest kind of player with a mean streak and is fast and can score. I. heard someone compare him to Matt Cooke. Posters have been saying we needed a pest, a player who can get under the skin of the opponents. Pests don't necessarily fight but they are very useful. He did start the scrum in which Ovi got hurt. So this may be a good trade for the Caps. Just very glad that Semin got signed first.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | December 29, 2009 12:58 AM | Report abuse


I'm almost afraid to see what the next move might be.

I personally think the move was to reduce the number of our defensemen (and to reduce salary).

While Clark was expendable, due to his performance not being what it was before the injury, I am still sad.

Essentially our Captain was traded for a player on my personal Rogues Gallery, a player who is the reason I rooted against the Columbus Blue Jackets. (Well maybe Chimera will be good for us in the long run. He is slightly younger than Clark.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 29, 2009 1:02 AM | Report abuse


Glad Semin was signed first, as well. But there has been speculation on trading Semin anyhow. Some people feel that the Caps can get more for him now than later.

I think he should be kept. He's as productive as Mike Richards of the Flyers who I bet no self-respecting Flyers fan would dare suggest trading.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 29, 2009 1:05 AM | Report abuse


I agree with that our Ovi is most defintely as good as those other youngster captains Crosby Toews et al. I think too his English needed to improve but now he can more than hold his own with the media etc.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | December 29, 2009 1:07 AM | Report abuse

Theo at this stage of his career is a good backup at best even if he thinks he's still a number one goalie.

Posted by: joek443 |

I agree but that's just the problem. He is in denial and pouts when he is not accorded a position he has not earned.

I don't care how some (including Theo) will justify one-by-one goals scored against us and find new excuses each time. The end result is that Theo's bad or simply weak games by far outweigh his strong performances. There is also the added fact that we now have two young goalies who are better than him.

I kept waiting for him to find his rhythm and return triumphantly to his former glory days but I am now convinced that it will not happen. What we see is what we get. So why would BB send Neuvy back to Hershey and keep Theo up here? And if he pouts when he is not played, isn't this a distraction?

Posted by: caraveli | December 29, 2009 1:13 AM | Report abuse


Yeah I've read that speculation about Semin too but didn't really think too much of it. That line is too scarily awesome--why break it up. I was not surprised by Juice at all. Good d-man and but expensive and we have several of those--ripe for the picking.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | December 29, 2009 1:14 AM | Report abuse


I heard a rumor (by a Japers poster) that Varly is getting a rehab start and no roadtrip for him. (Is he being sent to Hershey for the rehab start but the H word was not mentioned.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 29, 2009 1:14 AM | Report abuse


If anything, Semin looked very happy lately, after signing his 1 year extension. Smiled in his interview with the press over the weekend.

He looked to be smiling at practice yesterday.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 29, 2009 1:17 AM | Report abuse


I don't think Neuvy will be getting sent to Hershey any time soon. With Varly injured (and who knows when he'll come back), it looks like Neuvy is our #1 goalie by default.

Theo is now the backup. And I assume he'll be allowed to walk at the end of the year.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 29, 2009 1:19 AM | Report abuse


For our D. I agree that another trade could be coming. I would not be surprised to see Poti get moved due to his age and salary. And we need to clear space for Carlson for next year.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 29, 2009 1:21 AM | Report abuse


Interesting that you see little Neuvy as the #1 goalie. I wonder if BB does. He seems to have a soft spot for Theo though I sense his patience getting thin.

Thank God that Neuvy got better with each game and is proving that he belongs on this level. I hope he keeps this up.

Posted by: caraveli | December 29, 2009 1:26 AM | Report abuse


I was seeing Varly as our #1 until his injury seemed to drag on forever.

But Neuvy has done good lately so he's our #1 -- at least until Varly's back.

Theo had done well in his previous outing (against Colorado). It was understandable that he'd be upset. He hadn't played that badly -- until tonight.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 29, 2009 1:35 AM | Report abuse

Which D-man will be scratched on Wednesday against San Jose? Poti is expected to be back then.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 29, 2009 1:39 AM | Report abuse

Is Boudreau going to change the forward lines? Corey is calling for changing them. Of course, Corey is no fan of Semin.

If changed, here is my "modest" proposal. If we're breaking up the first line, let's go all the way. (Of course, this proposal is short term and not expected to be permanent. I figure the first line will be back together before long.)


Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 29, 2009 1:44 AM | Report abuse

I'm sad to see Clark and Juice go, but a change needed to be made. I just wish they could have given the Captain a heads up, but I guess that is the business.

Theo didn't have a good game, but I'm not sure about throwing Neuvy in against the Sharks at the Shark Tank. He made some good saves against the Sabres and Devils, but they are not really known as high scoring teams. The Sharks are the western Capitals. This will be a true test for him and the Caps defense.

Posted by: ablake70 | December 29, 2009 1:49 AM | Report abuse


Unfortunately, we have no choice but to throw the "new kid" into the Shark tank.

I doubt if Varly's ready. And I would suspect that BB is not starting Theo against them.

So, our only option is ..... the New Kid who has to prove his "virth" once again.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 29, 2009 1:53 AM | Report abuse

I still think Theodore got hung out to dry. The Caps played God-awful D and to suggest that he had a mediocre effort because of one rebound is ridiculous.

I want to see him traded too, but let's clean up our D and not scapegoat the goalie.

It was just a crap effort all around.

Posted by: CF11555 | December 29, 2009 12:18 AM | Report abuse

Keep in mind that of this teams 15 losses (of both OTL and L variety) 10 of them came with Theodore in net. Neuvy and Varly have 5 losses combined, in which case Theo and the Neuvy/Varly combo have 21 games under their belt, each.

Now weather or not the team doesn't play as hard when Theodore is in net is a different story, but the fact of the matter is we are loosing when he's there all while the other two have been playing lights out.

I know Theo's been through a lot lately but the fact of the matter is that this is a business, and it's not like the guy doesn't have a good career to look back on with a Stanley Cup trophy, a Hart trophy, and millions in the bank. Maybe he can recapture his magic somewhere else, but right now I don't believe that Washington is the place for him to do that. Washington might be 3 deep at goalie without Theo, Holtby is 7-0-1 for Hershey and could easily develop into a solid net minder in the near future.

Posted by: CapsXXVI | December 29, 2009 5:53 AM | Report abuse

Theodore's rebound control was just awful last night. He makes one save and lies on the ground. How many of the Canes' goals were off rebounds? It was just too easy for them to score last night. But the whole team was out of sync so not gonna put it all on Theo... just wish he could've played a little better since he was complaining about not playing. I don't know about BB, but I would've pulled him after it was 3-0. Not that it was all his fault, but the team needed a spark. Oh well. Just don't know why we didn't stick with Neuvyirth because he was on a roll. Hope Varly is back for the Sharks game.

Posted by: rachel216 | December 29, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

@oldtime hockey

I don't think 10 and 27 were invisible last night. Bradely had limited ice time but was flying out there and really provide some energy. Alzner I thought played a pretty solid game and his positioning on that 5 on 3 was amazing. I would imagine playing with a guy that's not positioning sound like Erskine is difficult.

What the heck was the deal with the ice last night? Erksine, Sloan and a few others kept falling. (I didn't include Schultz because we all know he's still learning how to skate backwards)

Posted by: jake81 | December 29, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

I rarely post here but....

Theo sucks. I mean he really is not good and the scoop is out on how to beat him in the NHL.

Everytime I see him in net I think the Caps are going to lose, and I think it effects the players the same way.

They never seem to play as hard for him and it's kind of hard to when you know he's going to give one or two up "through the 5 hole" or long slap shot or something stupid like that.

It's kind of like picking last in something and it happens to be the kid that nobody wants on thier team in gym class.

"Oh man, were stuck with him! We're going to lose!"

Theo really sucks, there's no defending him at this point. I was wondering if he got the nod last night because maybe GMGM is trying to trade him, especially after the Clark/Jurcina move.

Let him pout, the Caps shouldn't play him anymore this year. It actually might increase his trade value. :P

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | December 29, 2009 9:00 AM | Report abuse

I'll chalk that ugly loss to the team being distracted by the trade...they get a free pass.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | December 29, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Theodore didn't get a ton of help on a couple of goals but he also wasn't able to control any of his rebounds. Anything that went into his body just bounced right back out in front of the net. The defence should be clearing the front but when bad rebounds are going out on nearly every shot, you can't get to all of them. Not the type of game that will let him back in the net anytime soon.

Posted by: Stu_c | December 29, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

The first thing I want to know is who were the brain dead crack heads booing last night? I mean WTF, 2 years ago we were in dead last and now first (off & on)Jesus H the team just 2 of their good friends to a trade they didn't see comming and the Candy Canes always play us hard! You can't win every game. These are probally the same retards who sit around me yelling SHOOT every time someone has the puck.

Posted by: Iceman10 | December 29, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

We lost because we traded away the team cancer that was Jurcina. Every locker room needs a team cancer...

I kid.

Next season with a Knuble, Semin, Fehr, Bradley and anyone from Hershey, there just wasn't room for $2.6M 4th line RW/healthy scratch.

It was glorious that we were able to find a trade partner for him (Clark).

That game was lousy, luckily my buddy Al Cohol was there to cheer me up.

Posted by: JSchon | December 29, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse


I think your boy will be in net at the Shark tank. He's now our #1 goalie by default.

Varly's apparently been sent back to Hershey for a rehabilitation start.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 29, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse


Why concentrate on te couple boos of the game...I wasactually impressed with the support of the crowd last night...and the couple times tey got booed or not beng able to clar out the puck, I thought it was probably deserved. They looked sluggish at some points. I did however LOVE the best ref u suck chant I have ever heard...not excusing their play, but there was some HORRIBLE officiating last night!

Posted by: capscoach | December 29, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Keep in mind that of this teams 15 losses (of both OTL and L variety) 10 of them came with Theodore in net.

Posted by: CapsXXVI

I think that is very telling. How can anyone explain that? Either the defense really does play differently with him as the goalie or he's just not very good.

Posted by: rachel216 | December 29, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

CapsFan75- I really don't want Theo to start vs. the Sharks. If Mikey is starting, it's going to be a huge test for him. Like someone else said earlier, the Sharks are the western version of us.

Posted by: rachel216 | December 29, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse


Salarywise, the trade made sense. Clark was expensive, given his current productivity. But the timing of how it all happened between practice and game time was such a shock to everyone. I think it was hard on the guys. It's even hard on me -- our captain suddenly traded for the guy who injured Ovi. And Juice thrown in as well. (Or maybe from the Columbus point of view, Juice is who they wanted and Clark is the throw in.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 29, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

For your information...
2010/2011 Salary Cap/Roster, your Washington Capitals

Line 1
Ovechkin - $9.538M
Backstrom - $6.5M (projected)
Semin - $6.0M
Line 2
Flash - $3.5M (projected)
Morrison - $3.0M (projected)
Fehr - $2.0M (projected)
Line 3
Chimera - $1.875M
Laich - $2.067M
Knuble - $2.8M
Line 4
Laing - $600K (projected)
Steckel - $1.25M (projected)
Bradley - $1.0M

Green - $5.25M
Alzner - $1.675M
Erskine - $1.25M
Schultz - $1.75M (projected)
Carlson - $875K

Varlamov - $822K
Neuvirth - $822K

Beagle - $800K (projected)
Sloan - $600K (projected)
Perreault - $717K

Total - $54,690,130.00
Salary Cap - $56,800,000.00
Balance - $2,109,870.00

This is a projected lineup. This is also considering the moving of Poti's contract. There is one hole to fill, 6th defensemen. You can put Sloan or any hack we have in Hershey, or you could use the $2.109M to resign Mo or Pothier. Maybe Pothier returns at a hometown discount?

Posted by: JSchon | December 29, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

I agree with jake81, the ice was terrible. Lots of people falling, the puck was not staying on our sticks. I think one of the telling goals for Theo was, i think, the 5th one. He made a save and ended up on his stomach. The rebound went out and was passed around to Theo's right, he had no idea where the puck was and was still down and way out of position as one of the Canes shot it over him and into the goal. The problem is that Theo is really streaky, if he gets out of that 5 on 3 with no goals he has a great rest of the game, but that goal goes in, and then he lets in some softies and by then his confidence is shot and he overplays pucks which puts him out of position and he gives up big rebounds.

Posted by: aglatfelter | December 29, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse


Yes, it will be a true test for Mikey. In goal against the Sharks. But I doubt that after last night's game, BB will use Theo against them. So, it's Mikey by default.

The "New Kid" will truly have to prove his "Virth" now. He is now our #1 goalie -- by default. Varly's in Hershey at the moment.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 29, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Was at the game. I am the first to get on Jose when he's crap, but honestly, most of the team was flat and it looked like a bunch of guys not used to playing with each other. This may have been the worst game I've watched them play in years with regard to just looking "out of it." Even OV was missing passes and getting stripped way more often than usual. Semin was almost invisible minus a few well placed passes. It was not just the goaltending. It was painful watching the first period with Carolina players (Stahl) just hanging out on the far side of the net wide open waiting for the passes.

Posted by: vkova10 | December 29, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

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