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Laich: Discipline for Caps 'An Achilles' Heel'

Here are some notes from this morning's practice at KCI:

The Caps held a very optional practice this morning with most of the big-minute players exercising their option. By my count, there were 11 players on the ice today and six of them didn't play last night (if you count Brent Johnson and Jose Theodore).

If the Caps ever deserved a day off the ice, it was today, which comes a month into a postseason that's seen them play in 13 games, three of them decided in OT, including last night's 5-4 win at Mellon Arena.

Discipline Needed
One of the Caps' focuses going into tomorrow's Game 7 will be staying out of the penalty box. They had a tough time doing it in the regular season, and they're the most penalized team in the postseason, having been assessed 6372 minor penalties (1211 more than Vancouver).

Penalties -- a few of the undisciplined type -- almost cost them last night. The Penguins struck twice on the power play -- once with Brian Pothier in the box for interference and the other with David Steckel in the box for slashing -- and had another late power play when Brooks Laich was sent off for slashing with 2:02 left to play. Earlier in the game, Laich was assessed a cross-check on Sidney Crosby, putting the Caps down two men for a minute.

In this series, the Caps have taken four slashing penalties, four cross-checking penalties, two for delay of game/puck over glass, one for elbowing and one for high-sticking.

Tomorrow, an undisciplined penalty could cost the Caps their season.

"It's important especially against a good power play like Pittsburgh has," Laich said. "For us, discipline has been a problem all year, an Achilles' heel. Hopefully it's not tomorrow."

Big Game in Hershey
There are several Hershey graduates on the Caps, and all of them will be tuned into tonight's second-round Game 7 between the Bears and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Baby Pens (who, ironically, are the AHL affiliate of the Big Pens). The game is not on television, but it can be watched over the Internet.

Tyler Sloan "has a laptop, so we're going to watch it in the [hotel] room and feel helpless," said Jay Beagle, who was called up last week. "It's going to be weird, weird feeling knowing that guys I've played with all year are going to battle. It's weird you can't really contribute."

Coach Bruce Boudreau added: "I'll be [watching] because every time they've won, we've won. And every time Wilkes-Barre has won, Pittsburgh has won. So I told [Hershey Coach Bob Woods] he had better win."

Gonchar Skates
Star defenseman Sergei Gonchar skated this morning at the Pens' suburban practice rink. Gonchar was injured in Game 4 when he was hit knee-on-knee by Alex Ovechkin. There's no official word on Gonchar's status for tomorrow's game.

More on Green's Lucky Stick
As you read last night, Mike Green's record-breaking stick, the one that was earmarked for the Hockey Hall of Fame, made it to Pittsburgh in time for the opening faceoff. But Green didn't use the Stealth because he said he had already decided to go with S17.

"I couldn't use it" in Game 6, Green said. "I just got used to the other one. To go back right before the game ..."

Apparently, the hall-of-fame stick wasn't the last Mike Green edition Stealth in the world, as I claimed yesterday. Green said at least a half dozen are supposed to arrive sometime today or tomorrow -- from fans and friends of friends.

"Somebody wrote something yesterday," Green said, referring to my blog post yesterday. "So [Stealths] are coming in like no tomorrow. They're coming out of everywhere. Fans and one of the reporters even had one.

"I'll use [a Stealth] in the morning and see how it feels," he added.

Laich on 'Chiseling'
That term is used by hockey players when a goal originally given to the shooter gets switched to a player who just happened to be standing in front of the net and got a shin pad, or arm, or -- in the case of Laich last night -- a knee on the puck before it went in.

"Somebody usually comes and says, 'Hey did you tip that?'" Laich said. "And I'll say, 'Yeah.' But I feel bad, because I feel like I'm stealing."

Laich was credited after the game with scoring the goal that had originally been credited to Alexander Semin early in the third period.

Boudreau on the Importance of the Series
"I was hoping it would only go four, quite frankly," he cracked. "It's fabulous for our game. We're getting media attention, our game is getting media attention that it's never gotten before in areas where it's never been. For the casual observer, people are going to be turning on the TV just to see portions of it. We're hoping they get hooked and our game becomes bigger everywhere."

Boudreau's Emotions Behind the Bench
"Quite frankly, the only time you're nervous is when you're ahead," Boudreau said. "Because when you're losing, you're too busy thinking, 'What do I have to do to make changes? Do I have to switch lines, or do I quit [line] matching?' There's not a lot of time to get nervous unless you get a lead ...and then any time Evgeni or Sidney get the puck, you're biting your nails."

Caps' TV Ratings Soar

From Comcast SportsNet:

Comcast SportsNet, the leader in local sports television, received its highest Washington Capitals rating of the 2008-09 season yesterday, on Monday, May 11, as Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals earned a 5.3 average household rating in the Washington, D.C., area. The Baltimore area received a 3.4 rating for the game, as 162,000 households tuned in on Comcast SportsNet for the Washington Capitals victory over the Penguins in :placePittsburgh. The broadcast peaked at 238,000 households tuning in between 9:45-10:00 p.m. to see the Capitals win in overtime.

The game received 6.0 average rating and peaked with a 9.1 for the network's target age group, men 18-49, in Washington, D.C. Approximately 125,000 men in that demographic tuned as the Capitals clinched victory.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  May 12, 2009; 2:10 PM ET
 
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Comments

Gonchar skates. I guess Ovie didn't break his knee into a million little pieces like Pittsburgh claimed.

Posted by: RedBirdie | May 12, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

With all the junk on tv now, wish someone would show the Hershey game.

Posted by: mikebrady1 | May 12, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully the refs will even out the series PP advantage tomorrow night and the Caps end up having a 9-2 advantage. Seriously though, the call with 2:02 remaining was poop when two pittsburgh infractions went uncalled in the prior minute. Come on Caps!

Posted by: ovys8 | May 12, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

One more. Lace 'em up and blaze from the drop. The crowd will be delirious. I'd like to have the Caps out for the opening - the smoke, Rock the Red, and video before the game - I doubt they've seen how cool it is unless they've been in the stands during the playoffs. Might fire them up; it gets the crowd going.

Posted by: saintex | May 12, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Green can't just blame the equipment, he's not playing tough, physical hockey like he needs to. there are too many guys floating in our crease in front of Varly. let's fix this for game 7 and beat these guys!

Posted by: nwilson2 | May 12, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Oh and did anyone see Crosby cry to the ref when he tried to crash our crease and got popped in his mouth. didn't see what D man it was, but kudos. I was laughing when he went over to the ref .. hahahah

Posted by: ovys8 | May 12, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

where can the hershey game be seen on the internet?

Posted by: sirbobalew | May 12, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

BB got caught lip SYNCing last night.......good stuff too.

Posted by: bhound69 | May 12, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Brooksie can follow his own advice? No one has been less disciplined than El Capitano himself. Much of the problem comes from the Caps not skating at full tilt to keep up with the Pens, and start reaching with their sticks, or doing very stupid retaliation hits (Brooks again).

Posted by: Exile_in_Philly | May 12, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

nothing short of amazing? HE GAVE UP FOUR GOALS, INCLUDING A SOFT ONE TO EATON THROUGH THE FIVE HOLE!

Posted by: SC87

Seriously, you're gonna rag on Varlamov and talk about how he's played? In every single game of this series Varlamov has faced more shots than Marc Andre Fleury. He's had to make tougher saves and sometimes many saves in a row, unlike Fleury. Varlamov has outplayed Fleury in this entire series, given that he's had a lot more to do. This entire series:

Varly:
206/227 SV% 91

MAF:
140/160 SV% 88

Go ahead and keep on talking about Varly, for some reason MAF's struggles are the least talked about, he's played worse than Varly.

Posted by: rachel216 | May 12, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

where can the hershey game be seen on the internet?

Posted by: sirbobalew | May 12, 2009 2:23 PM |


go to www.theahl.com , you can buy a 1-game pass for 8 bucks. Personally, I'm going to use the internet application through my Playstation 3 to get the game, so I can watch it on my big screen, even though the picture quality is not the greatest from the highlights I've seen of the AHL action.

Posted by: CPortisRun | May 12, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

LOL gonchar skating...

Pittsburgh: "ovie hurt gonchar so bad that he'll be out for the rest of the playoffs!!! WAH!!!!"

"oh wait, ovechkin's not gonna get suspended? well, i guess we can start skating gonchar again"

Posted by: BondraMan | May 12, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

how about the no-trip call on semin at end of 2nd period. refs need to go back to school if they cant call that. obvious.

Posted by: BondraMan | May 12, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

There should be no confusion at this point about who has the better goalie: Varlamov is far superior to Fleury.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | May 12, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

TARIK,

Can we get an update on the Hershey game tonight?

Posted by: lylewimbledon | May 12, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Mike Green with two turnovers in the last shift and of course the turnover that led to the last goal. Way to go AllSTar!

Now our vaunted PK goes to work. Should be a fun 2 mins

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 11, 2009 9:27 PM |


Sorry this response is so late, but I saw this last night and didn't think it was right at the time. I went back and checked the replay, and Green is clearly not to blame for Crosby's tying goal with just over 4 minutes left. If you look, as he skates into the corner along the back boards with the puck, 2 Pens converge on him and he moves the puck up along the boards to a wide open Matt Bradley, who misses the pass and it goes right to one of the Pens D-men, who then shoots to set up Crosby's rebound. I love Brads, and he has played very well throughout the playoffs in my opnion, but that one was on him. Also, Green has made a lot of mistakes and turnovers in this series especially, but I think that a lot of people are just sort of piling on now and being hypercritical of everything he does. Let's try to show a little loyalty to some of our stars that may just happen to be slumping a little now, for whatever reason. Remember who got us here, and keep supporting them until they turn it around. This team has character and we're lucky to have the group of guys that we do. LET'S GO CAPS!!!!!!!!

Posted by: CPortisRun | May 12, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Varly let in 4 goals but he stopped what? 150 shots last night? Haters everywhere.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | May 12, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Gonchar on whether or not the hit on his knee was dirty...no comment. I am not sure that Ovi and Gonch will be friends after this series.

Lets go Caps.

Posted by: kevin7 | May 12, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

nothing short of amazing? HE GAVE UP FOUR GOALS, INCLUDING A SOFT ONE TO EATON THROUGH THE FIVE HOLE!

Posted by: SC87

Let's see... Varly gives up 4 goals in 42 shots, MAF gives up 5 in 24 shots. I think I'll take Varly.

Posted by: rachel216 | May 12, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

ON 42 shots, ON 24 shots. Sorry.

Posted by: rachel216 | May 12, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

I love Bruce, really. But I think that quote is actually pretty telling. When we got up a goal, and the Caps went into major dump and change lines mode... With 12 minutes left... They looked really nervous, tentative and completely off their game.

The team gets WAY too tight with a lead. As good as the attitude is when they're behind, or even tied, they've really got to get better with a lead.

Posted by: nonlinear_fc | May 12, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Nice write-up on Ovi today:
http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=422498

Go Caps!

Posted by: yosemite_sam | May 12, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I wonder why they are not using Chris Clark more. He seems to do well when he is out there.It would help them spread out the minutes a bit more so they dont bonk at the end. Maybe Bruce has not seen enough of him to trust him in the playpffs

Posted by: jsandes | May 12, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Brooksie does have to work on his discipline, but seeing him rough up Cindy was almost worth the 5-3. Mind you I can only say that because the PK shut that one down.

We do have to work on being more diligent about keeping them out of our crease. They seem to have their crease on lockdown most of the time, wish we could do the same more often.

That said- I believe in the caps!! LETS GO BEARS AND LETS GO CAPS!!

ps- does anyone a good link to watch the bears tonight?

Posted by: mrszilla | May 12, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

hell, i'd take jose threeormore over marc andre five hole.

Posted by: capsfansteve | May 12, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

you can get the radio coverage of the bears game for free @ http://sportsjuice.com/broadcaster2.aspx?bid=MjQz-QPghutLxoFc=

i dunno about the TV, i think the only way to get it is to pay through the AHL website.

Posted by: capsfansteve | May 12, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

go to www.theahl.com , you can buy a 1-game pass for 8 bucks. Personally, I'm going to use the internet application through my Playstation 3 to get the game, so I can watch it on my big screen, even though the picture quality is not the greatest from the highlights I've seen of the AHL action.

Posted by: CPortisRun | May 12, 2009 2:38 PM


How do you do this through your playstation 3? I never knew you could and I would love to watch the game tonight.

Posted by: capsfan5252 | May 12, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: novamatt | May 12, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

@jsandes

Agreed, though for yesterday's game, it seems like it might have something to do with how Clarkie badly got beaten on the 1st goal.

Posted by: yosemite_sam | May 12, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Part of the reason for the penalties is fatigue. In the third period the Caps were assessed penalties because the Penguins seemed to have faster legs and got to pucks even in the Washington end a step faster.

That needs to change in Game 7.

The Caps recalled Jay Beagle from Hershey whom they really don't need, meanwhile they left Keith Aucoin and Karl Alzner on the Bears when I think both could be contributing in this series.

Posted by: leopard09 | May 12, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Defense - stop turning over the puck in our zone and pleeeeeease, no more odd man breaks...those sorry penguins need to earn the goals and not have them handed on a plate. You are gonna win tomorrow, and I hope you blow them away.

Posted by: la_terp | May 12, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

To Exile_in_Philly:
Hello. Brooks Laich does not wear the "C" for the Caps, Chris Clark does. (Unless "El Capitano" is just your own pet name for Brooksie.) Actual Caps fans like to call him "The All-Knowing One". And he was all-knowing when put a bit of a smack-down on the Pens' very own pequeñito El Capitano. Sid needs to know the game is rough lots of times when he doesn't want it to be and that his golden ticket isn't going serve to bail him out every time. There was no retaliation there from Laich, just a plain old "stay put" move. Just a hockey play and no physical harm noted. Well worth seeing from my perspective and a long time over due - even with the call. No doubt, Sid's terrific but not even that amount of terrific outweighs the baby in him.


Posted by: nena1 | May 12, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

@leopard09:
Alzner is currently out of the Bears lineup, rumored to be a concussion.

Posted by: tess2201 | May 12, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Tarik:

I'm confused. You said the Caps are the most penalized team in the post season with 63, Vancouver 2nd with 51.

But looking at the numbers on the NHL site (http://tinyurl.com/PostSeasonPenalties), the Caps have 72 penalties (in 13 games) and the Cannucks have 62 (in 10 games). The Caps have averaged 11.8 penalties per game, the Pens 11.3, Vancouver 19.1.

The Caps do have the most penalties in the post season, but the highest average penalties per game is Montreal, 25.8 (but only 4 games).

In the second round, the Caps have taken 34 penalties, an average of 5.67 per game. The Pens have taken 23 penalties, an average of 3.83 per game.

I don't have the time or energy to figure the 2nd round penalties for all teams, so I don't know where the Caps rank overall.

Posted by: lalalu1 | May 12, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

@lalalu1

you're right. i didn't hit refresh when the page loaded. it's 72 minors for the caps.

--Tarik

Posted by: el_bashir | May 12, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

They can talk all they want about Green's stick woes, but I'll bet $1000 that it's an injury that BB is trying to cover up. I'd say a wrist or a knee. Wrist, b/c he's not shooting the puck or knee for same reason (can't take the weight transfer) + he's not hitting anyone.

Even if hurt, though, if he's well enough to skate, he takes a percentage of the Pen's defensive attention away: can he shoot? will he shoot? And then Ovie gets a few inches of breathing room that he didn't have before.

But we have to blame it on the equipment. If we tell everyone it's an injury, then Orpik or Gill runs over and leg whips Greener and takes him out (and, no doubt, would claim make-up for Gonchar).

Stay healthy, Mike! We'll need you for the Eastern Conference Championships against the 'Canes!

Posted by: miden6 | May 12, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

"BB got caught lip SYNCing last night.......good stuff too."

caught that. was he yelling at the Cap for turning over the puck inside our zone, or was he yelling at the refs?

Posted by: millionea7 | May 12, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

@redBridie (from previous posts)

I get it. You're probably named Robin (or possibly Roberta). I once worked with a Robin whose given name was Roberta. There were lots of Robins in my age group but not as many nowadays, although my younger daughter once had a friend named Robin. My elder daughter had a friend from elementary and HS whose mother was named Robin. The friend is actually 6 days younger than Ovi and has 2 cousins who are within a week of her in age.)

I see your an O's fan but not a Cardinals fan. I myself am both a Cardinals fan and an O's fan. After that, a Nats fan (along with whoever happens to be playing the Yankees.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 12, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

@CPortisRun

Yes, there is certainly enough dumping on our players, including Green at the moment. We can't be too hard on him -- he did get us there. Maybe the stick issue is what's wrong (being uncomfortable with a new stick that's not broken in) but it could be a red herring and he could be injured but no one wants to admit it.

And it's amazing the amount of dumping on Semin. Okay he hasn't scored yet this series and is "off" but he's had 5 assists in 6 games. Not that shabby. He denied being injured but I wouldn't be surprised if there is a slight injury of some sort, what with all the stuff that Orprick did to him this series. (Served Orprick right, to be in the penalty box when Semin shot the puck and Laich dumped it in.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 12, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

238,000 households. Amazing. Did anyone hear Kevin Sheehan bad mouthing the popularity of hockey and the Caps on WTEM? In so many words he was doubting that there was that much interest in the series until Jim Williams of the Examiner called in and told him that a HALF BILLION people in 125 countries would be watching tomorrow nights game. Sheehan was speechless.

Posted by: MKadyman | May 12, 2009 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Great to hear the viewership is up, but if you live East of the Chesapeake Bay and not in a region where Comcast is the local cable provider -- you're out of luck. Thanks to Comcast, which hiked the rate it charged other providers for CSN to ridiculous rates yet wouldn't even allow them to push the channel to a higher tier -- most places around here don't offer CSN.

Fine, but because CSN has rights to the games, they'e blacked out on Versus. Too bad; there are a ton of hockey players and fans where I live.

I hate Comcast with a passion.

Posted by: scrappledog | May 12, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

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