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Laich expected back tomorrow

Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich is on course to be in the lineup for tomorrow night's home game against the Atlanta Thrashers, according to both the player and Coach Bruce Boudreau.

The second-line left wing has missed the past four games after getting struck in the face with a puck during practice. That ended Laich's streak of 257 consecutive games played.

Laich was hit by a puck coming off the crossbar and had to go to the hospital for stitches. The injury took place at the end of practice, when players often partake in lighthearted shooting contests. Defenseman John Carlson's shot deflected off the crossbar and into Laich's face.

The Capitals certainly missed Laich's scoring and leadership while he was on the mend. Washington has lost its past three games, coming out uninspired each time. The worst offense was Sunday's 5-3 loss to Calgary in which the Capitals gave up four goals in the first period and were booed coming off the ice for intermission at Verizon Center.

"They've won games without me in the lineup, too," Laich said today after a short practice at Verizon Center, where the team gathered to take group photos before skating. "We've played some good hockey teams, and they've played well against us, so I don't know if it's just me being out or maybe just other teams playing well."

Laich said he would be wearing a helmet with a cage to protect the injury under his eye but that it would not deter him from driving to the net.

Laich said earlier this week that the injury to his face was the second of his career. The last time (prior to this stretch) in which he was sidelined because of injury came during the 2003-04 AHL playoffs, he said, when he was struck by a Lawrence Nycholat slap shot. At the time, Laich was playing for Portland and Nycholat was playing for Hartford.

By Gene Wang  |  March 31, 2010; 12:16 PM ET
 
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Next: Boudreau mum on goalie situation

Comments

Good to have Laich back. The recent struggles have nothing to do with Laich. The squad, and fans are looking ahead, hard to play out those last six games, let's get to the playoffs.

Posted by: sroessle | March 31, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

playoffs...some people act like it is a curse to have the #1 seed wrapped up.

The boys want to play well, but guess what?? It doesnt mean a damn thing...

Posted by: SA-Town | March 31, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Eh, I think that going into the playoffs hot is important. It's not a series-ender by any means, but coming in cold is something I would like to avoid.

Posted by: richmondphil | March 31, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I'll tell you one thing, if we're going to lose games down the stretch I'd rather start losing them 2-1 than 5-4. We can always tweak our offense when we need to. This is the time to figure out how to play some shutdown defensive hockey.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 31, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

"Maybe we're not ready for the first period, but we have to be because I remember last year in the playoffs," Nicklas Backstrom said. "We weren't ready the first two games. We have to get ready now, maybe play a good 60 minutes. We haven't played a good 60 minutes for a while."

Yep.

Posted by: richmondphil | March 31, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

OH NO!!! is it time for me to come out of my coop again? OH NO!!!!

Posted by: ChickenLittleCapsFan | March 31, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

hopefully chickenlittle doesn't get eliminated in the first 2 rounds this year

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 31, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Laich is important to this team because he is one of the few players that goes 100% all the time and is willing to make the sacrifice to play both ends of the ice for the team when necessary.

Truthfully, Laich should have been named the captain. He embodies what you want your hockey team to aspire to. Getting 100% out of every shift game in and game out.

Ovechkin is far more talented, obviously, but the most talented player was not the captain on the Montreal Canadiens Cup Champions in the 1970's. The most talented player was not the captain on the Red Wings teams that won back to back in 97-98.

Posted by: leopard09 | March 31, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

I agree with cstanton1...the Caps need to focus on their team D, from the forwards to defense to goal, let's get a tight checking game or two under our belts....remember that during the win streak they averaged giving up just 2 goals per game!

Posted by: boomer44 | March 31, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

@boomer44

I agree too. Defensive zone coverage is often about effort and unfortunately I don't see the Caps putting forth much effort in any of the remaining games except the Pens game. At least they will get one game to see if they can just turn it on.

As much as I hate the Pens, it may actually be beneficial if the Caps got spanked that game to give them extra incentive to start working harder immediately.

Posted by: sgm3 | March 31, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

another thing -- i want us to face the Bruins or the Flyers in round 1.

That will be a litmus test of whether this team can adjust its game to a more banging grinding playoff style.

I don't want us breezing past Atlanta because we happen to do a better job of what they do themselves - skating, skill. That'll just lull this team/org into a false sense of security. We need to face a team that forces us to adjust our game.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 31, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of the Pens, it's interesting to see how the two teams have the same defensive woes.

Thing about the Pens is, is that they are used to fixing up their game for the playoffs already.

Posted by: richmondphil | March 31, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

leopard09

Stevie Yzerman was perhaps the most talented member of the Red Wings when he was named Captain and was quite talented when they finally won the back to back cups.

As far as the great Montreal teams they had Captains named Richard (both of them) and Beliveau during the 50s and 60s. Not exactly folk without talent.

Posted by: rbluesw | March 31, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Speaking more of the Pens, from CNNSI:

"Sens deal league-leading Pens 3rd straight loss".

I guess even SI can't believe their eyes.

Posted by: kevinTheK | March 31, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

leopard09: really enjoyed your post and agree 100%

I think Laich embodies the passion and heart of this team that Clark used to before his injuries. Great to get Brooksie back!

Posted by: dsphvywght | March 31, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I like Laich but let's not get carried away... no way he should have been named captain instead of Ovi

Laich isn't like Bob Gainey and Guy Carbonneau... those guys were mainly defensive centers

Posted by: joek443 | March 31, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Japers' Rink's twitter has this stat:

"the PK has only been 73.5% effective since the Oly break. That'd be worst in the League on the season."

wow.. panic time.

Posted by: rachel216 | March 31, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

joekk43, in the previous post you said it's not being agressive and not having the best players out there for the PK struggles but is it really that simple? I don't understand why the PK is this bad. What can they do to fix it/improve it?

For some stretches of this season the PK has been okay but overall this season it has been near the bottom of the league.

Posted by: rachel216 | March 31, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

there's a ton of guys named Captain on their respective teams and it had nothing to do with them being "best player"

Mark Tinordi
Brian Skrudland
Shayne Corson
Scott Thornton
Dale Hunter
Derian Hatcher
Dave Lowry
Steve Smith
Curt Giles
Craig Rivet
Adam Foote
Ethan Moreau


the list goes on and on.

There is very little correlation between being the best player and being a captain. Most of those guys listed above were just gritty leaders. Half were rugged defensive defensemen. And half of them weren't even top 10 on their own team when it came to talent.

Even Bob Rouse was a captain. Youngest captain in the NHL at the time actually, for the North Stars. Something Larry Murphy never got, lol

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 31, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Japers' Rink's twitter has this stat:

"the PK has only been 73.5% effective since the Oly break. That'd be worst in the League on the season."

wow.. panic time.

Posted by: rachel216 | March 31, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

funny thing is, not once have the Caps even mentioned it in the last 2 months. They've been basking in every glory possible. A good coach would use that statistic to pull his team down to ground zero. I'm tellin ya, he doesn't give 2 shts about defense or the PK. Its only when we lose multiple games that stuff like this even climbs above radar. You can argue that McPhee's move to get Belanger was a slight attempt to help the PK unit. But Belanger is decent, not great on the PK that I can see. And Corvo doesn't help the PK at all. Proof is in the pudding.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 31, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I agree that the best player does not have to be captain. But I think having Ovie as captain was the right move.

This doesn't take away Laich's ability to talk to the guys in the dressing room or take on a leadership role. He's building up the tenure and respect to be the guy who lights into everyone when things aren't going right. Ovie seems like the leader who will rarely do this, but on the few occassions he does it would be that much more signifcant.

It seems as though all the players wanted Ovie to be captain and I'm glad he got it. Ovie does do a very good job of leading by example. I think having an A on Laich is the way to go and let him lead from that standpoint and do the things that Ovie doesn't.

Posted by: sgm3 | March 31, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

none of those guys had a guy like Ovi on their teams... Steve Smith wasn't Captain when Gretzky was around

Ovi isn't just the best player on the team, he's arguably the best player in the entire NHL... Ovi was the right choice and it was a no-brainer

@ rachel216,

I think it's just a matter of priorities... I don't believe PK or defense in general is a high priority in BB's system. that's why you never see Ovi killing penalties under any circumstances. So far he's been successful so really can't argue with success but we'll see how far they go this year... it just puts more pressure on the goalies

Posted by: joek443 | March 31, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

what does "best player" have to do with being a leader (i.e. team captain?)
answer is nothing. It has nothing to do with it.

sometimes its better to shield your "best player" from the captaincy because they may not be able to deal well with the pressure.

By the way, most of the captains I listed had some very good talent on it. When Derian Hatcher was team captain, Mike Modano had been there for years already. And he was arguably one of the top players in hockey.
Dale Hunter had a guy like Bondra on his team.

I'm not arguing against Ovy, but I do think a player such as Laich would have been a very good alternative.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 31, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

I agree with all of that.

One thing to think of too is that if Ovie wasn't named captain that would have been another thing constantly spoken of when comparing Ovie to Crosby. I can just imagine now having to hear Milbury groan on about it incessently during the playoffs.

Then there would've been all the questions of "why isn't Ovie captain? Do his teammates hate him?" Even though it would only mean that Laich is just a great team guy and a very good choice of captain.

In the end, it was just a case of the Caps having two very good choices for captain and they had to pick one, and everyone knows Ovie can handle the spotlight.

Posted by: sgm3 | March 31, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

there were other qualified choices to choose as a captain for the caps - and i would put laich at the top of that list. being a captain has to do with leadership not just skill.
the above statement does not mean that ovi was the wrong choice.

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 31, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

wasted breath on the Captain debate - what we need to worry about is playoff defense and goaltending!

Posted by: lylewimbledon | March 31, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Gretzky was captain when he played with Messier... there is a differece between being the best player on the team and the best player on the planet

Posted by: joek443 | March 31, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Gretzky was captain when he played with Messier... there is a differece between being the best player on the team and the best player on the planet

Posted by: joek443 | March 31, 2010 3:46 PM

and being the best player on the planet is not automatic qualification for being a captain

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 31, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

maybe not in your world but in the real world it is... unless you have someone who's been with the team a lot longer and was already captain when guys like Gretzky, Lemieux or Ovi got there, you can't pass'em over and name someone else with the same amount of experience captain of their team...

like BB said, it's a no brainer

Posted by: joek443 | March 31, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Gretzky was captain when he played with Messier... there is a differece between being the best player on the team and the best player on the planet

Posted by: joek443 | March 31, 2010 3:46 PM

only in Edm. Not with the Rangers. Messier was captain there even when Gretz joined the team in the mid 90s.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 31, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

The reason Ovie isn't on the PK is that BB doesn't want him blocking shots. Either do I.

The Caps D played very well during their winning streak, and has most of the time since January. It's a little hard staying tuned up when they've put everything away so early. They'll ramp it up and be fine.

Posted by: bflorhodes | March 31, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Gretzky was no longer the best player on the planet in the mid 90's.

Posted by: sgm3 | March 31, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

ryan walter and rod langway were team captains while the Caps had Dennis Maruk.

Bob Rouse was a team captain in MN while the Stars had Dennis Maruk too.

Dirk Graham, a defensive forward, was team captain when Roenick was around. Look at what JR said about him (notice, no mention of best player or skill or whatever)


A young Jeremy Roenick was awed by Graham's leadership.

"Dirk Graham, I've said many times, is the captain of captains. He is a man that has gone through so much adversity, who has paid his dues well beyond anybody's expectations."

Joe Murphy agreed.

"I think Dirk Graham is probably the most important player on our team, being the captain right now. He holds the group together. He's our captain. He's the guy the guys look up to. He's a quiet leader, but when he has something to say, the guys listen to him. He just goes out and plays hard. Night in and night out he does it.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 31, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

@cstaanton1...

I knew it was too good to be true, I was liking all your posts today, but the PK post -
Boudreau has talked about their PK struggles, he also talke dabout how he and Coach Evanson had put in extra time watching film of the CapsPK to see what they could do to improve, and he talked about looking at tape of some of the good PK teams like the Rangers to learn what they could implement into the Caps system...not sure whre I read this , but pprobably either the POST CI or Caps website

Posted by: boomer44 | March 31, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

joek443:
you just don't get it do you - no one said ovi shouldn't have been selected.
but your logic of being the best at something qualifies you to be a leader is off base.
maybe ovi should be the coach too - we all know how well that worked for greztky

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 31, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

maybe not in your world but in the real world it is... unless you have someone who's been with the team a lot longer and was already captain when guys like Gretzky, Lemieux or Ovi got there, you can't pass'em over and name someone else with the same amount of experience captain of their team...

like BB said, it's a no brainer

Posted by: joek443 | March 31, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

the bottom line is, unless this "best player" also displays strong leadership abilities, its nothing less than stupid to name him captain over a better candidate for a leader. In Ovy's case, he seems like a good leader. So the only reason to perhaps name Laich captain is to take some of the burden off Ovy's shoulders.

i wouldn't call that a no-brainer. A no-brainer would be if you have Ovy surrounded by Ivan Cierniks, Kip Millers, Jeff Toms and Jason Doigers

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 31, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

@cstaanton1...

I knew it was too good to be true, I was liking all your posts today, but the PK post -
Boudreau has talked about their PK struggles, he also talke dabout how he and Coach Evanson had put in extra time watching film of the CapsPK to see what they could do to improve, and he talked about looking at tape of some of the good PK teams like the Rangers to learn what they could implement into the Caps system...not sure whre I read this , but pprobably either the POST CI or Caps website

Posted by: boomer44 | March 31, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

damn. hate to disappoint my fans

but regardless, there isn't any real focus on the PK. The focus appears to be "ill-timed penalties" and "iffy goaltending" instead of starting games strong and a real emphasis on a personnel/system change on the PK units.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 31, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

like i said earlier: Bouds nickname (Gabby) fits him to a T!! talktalktalk

Posted by: doughless | March 31, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

@clueless...talk all the way to the current #1 team in the NHL and top team in the Eastern Conference...I hope he keeps talking!

Posted by: boomer44 | March 31, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1...I do think the goaltending has noot been good on the PK, he has apoint there, but our D just doesn't make a commitment to play strong around the net and getting position on the attacking forwards so they can be cleared out in front of the goalie, rather than knocked into them like Morrison did last night, or screen the goalie like has happened many times this year...your thoughts

Posted by: boomer44 | March 31, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

cstanton1:
i really don't care for BB's comments about goaltending when the rest of the d is mediocre at best.
the d (or entire team d) has shown that they can be capable of limiting the oppenent to just a few quality chances durning a game - but this would be the exception - not the rule. every goalie will allow 'iffy' goals - but to lay the blame on theo or varly for some of this just doesn't seem fair to me.

on another note - i had hopes for corvo when he was picked up because i didn't know much about him. now i'm hoping for juice to come back and corvo can be set aside in case green gets hurt. the caps d issues do not rest with corvo - but when he is one the ice - his d is scary - and not in a good way

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 31, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1 et al., I think it's useless to deign to know what Boudreau emphasizes at Kettler, pre-game, and in-game from what he says to the press. Like the elusive "body injury" I'd more wager what he chooses to say (and what gets printed) is different from what he says privately to the team.

Extrapolating from the small slice of his public statements that makes it into the press to claim to know Boudreau's current coaching philosphy is naive, I think (and I don't believe you are a naive sort generally).

Posted by: Sonyask | March 31, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Sonyask:
you're probably right about what gets said outside of the press. what i don't get is that at times BB will call someone out for their individual play - but then appear to tap dance and pay 'lip' service to shortcomings that exist based on the style of game they play.
hearing this over and over is just frustrating - don't take this to mean that any of us are entitled to know what is really going on - just that it is frustrating

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 31, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

I'm very glad Laich will be back. While there are a number of players more skilled on the Caps, very few have the heart and grit that Laich brings. To me, he was the only other alternative to Ovie at captain, because of those qualities - although I definitely think Ovie earned the captaincy. I hope the energy and toughness that Laich brings will help the Caps get back on track.

Posted by: timmyv38 | March 31, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

i like the word "deign" and I will incorporate this word into future postings.

But Capt Kirk states it best. Boudreau chooses to single out players here and there. So there really isn't any logical reason why he would choose to place a high emphasis on the PK units and team defense behind closed doors but cover that up in the press. Doesn't make sense. It isn't like other teams don't know we suck on the PK.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 31, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Timmy, I think Corvo exemplifies the true nature of this team and should therefore be considered as a strong candidate to wear the "C"(_cksucker)

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 31, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

@ Capt_Kirk_in_AZ

No, it's YOU who doesn't get it... I never said being the best player on the team automatically qualifies him to wear the C.

but like anything there are exceptions... guys like Gretzky, Lemieux and Ovi only come around once every generation. I'm sure if you look at their rosters, there were better "leaders" on their teams.

But in the real world, unless they say," no I don't want the burden", you give it to them.

Posted by: joek443 | March 31, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Extrapolating from the small slice of his public statements that makes it into the press to claim to know Boudreau's current coaching philosphy is naive

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

sonyask, why should we pretend not to know a coach's coaching philosophy? Its pretty easy to figure out what a coach's preferences are. You do it based on what you see on the ice with regards to systems and personnel. You can form educated opinions on who is a healthy scratch. When you see players like Semin and Flash on the PK, its pretty easy to figure out what Boudreau's overall philosophies are. Its all geared to offense. When McPhee pursues yet another offensive dman in the trade market who is suspect defensively, it speaks volumes about the overall philosophy of this organization.

When you look at a coach or GM's history over a period of time, its not rocket science trying to figure out what they believe in, what they like or dislike, etc.

When Boudreau was at Manchester, the knock on him was that his teams didn't know how to play a playoff-style brand of hockey. Thats why he eventually lost his job there despite significant regular season success. That was public knowledge.

He beat that rap a little when in Hershey but I think Doug Yingst played an integral role in providing very strong role players to complement Bruce's overall offensive style.

In DC however, McPhee and Boudreau appear more closely aligned in their views. Thats not necessarily a good thing. There's an imbalance.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 31, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

on another note - i had hopes for corvo when he was picked up because i didn't know much about him. now i'm hoping for juice to come back and corvo can be set aside in case green gets hurt. the caps d issues do not rest with corvo - but when he is one the ice - his d is scary - and not in a good way

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 31, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

i took an inordinate amount of abuse when i described the Corvo trade. I feel vindicated. But I don't feel happy about it. The only thing worse that could happen now is if McPhee signs Corvo to an extension. And nothing like that is out of the question. For one, I don't trust McPhee one bit with how he goes out of his way to cover his own butt. When he drafts players, his usual self-serving response is "we're ecstatic to get our guy, we didn't think he'd drop this far"

thats total bs. A lot of the players he has said that about have been total reaches.

He handles his trades the same way. Just smug and self-assured and frankly, a liar. I have very little respect for the way McPhee handles his business. I don't expect him to throw himself under the bus. But thats a far cry from how he promotes himself.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 31, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Other teams are coming out hard early in games. They feel that if they can get to us early and ofter then they can beat us. I guess that is a no brainer. The Caps have to find a way to be ready in the first period. They can score but cannot keep coming from behind consistently. When the playoffs come, if they get behind in a series and "wake up" in game 3 or 4, it may be too late. I know its hard to be motivated at this time of year when they have first locked up. but now they need to play to be ready for Game 1 of the playoffs. These games mean more than anything.

Posted by: bigschu8 | March 31, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

you're right joek443 - you didn't actually say that - but you do imply that the best player should be choosen as captain
"but like anything there are exceptions... guys like Gretzky, Lemieux and Ovi only come around once every generation. I'm sure if you look at their rosters, there were better "leaders" on their teams."
so i guess you do understand the the most skilled is not always the best leader

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 31, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

frankly, i was a bit stunned when i saw how the Caps got outplayed in the 1st by the Sens. Just that morning Boudreau places a public emphasis on starting out strong and playing a 60min game. For his team to ignore this a few hrs later is troubling. This wasn't the first time this season its happened either. I remember this very scenario occur 3 or 4 times this year where there was pressure on the Caps to come out strong and they didn't. And at home, no less.

I think the Sens had a lot to do with that though. And that should be even more concerning. We couldn't handle their speed and physicality. And they didn't even have Volchenkov. Speaking of, would you rather have had Andy Sutton for a 2nd? or Corvo for a 2nd, Pothier, and Osala ?

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 31, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

It isn't a matter of "the sky is falling", BUT I think basically Caps fans wanted to see this team roll into the playoffs on a strong note. They are coming in as 1st round exit'ers the year before, and 2nd round exit'ers last season. (Yes, I know exit'er is not a word). I'm not going to play that game of which group are real Caps fans, etc... but if you've followed long enough, the playoff heartbreak is real. I think we're all just apprehensive...

Posted by: kcbrichmond | March 31, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

The Caps are #1 in TSN's ranking of defensive units:
http://www.tsn.ca/columnists/scott_cullen/?id=316197

Posted by: mlody67 | March 31, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

yes I certainly do understand the most skilled players aren't always the best leaders... but when you have a multiple Hart trophy winner in his prime such as Ovi on the team and you just traded away your captain, you have to offer it to Ovi first...

if he doesn't want it then fine, give it to Laich or anyone else you choose but not giving him the first crack at it would have been a huge mistake even if you thought Laich would make a better captain

Posted by: joek443 | March 31, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

the only person stupider (thats a word right) than Scott Cullen is Pierre McGuire.

Let me shed some light on these johnny come lately hockey writers. They're all tools. They evaluate trades and make projections based on a very narrow view on what it takes to win hockey games. There's no computer analysis program that will spit out any relevant data. You either understand hockey by WATCHING it, or you don't.

who does Cullen mention when it comes to Caps defensive hockey? 3 players tagged with the moniker "offensive defensemen"

i rest my case

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 31, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

now see joe, that was a very well thought-out response. Why can't you be more civil and intelligent-sounding more often instead of constantly riling up the crowd here?

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 31, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

mlody67:
that's an interesting view on ranking blueliners - but i think we can all agree that caps do not have the best defensive unit

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 31, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton

I sometimes don't agree with your analysis but you are dead on re: the Corvo deal. Was thinking Sutton woulda looked a lot better in a Caps sweater than Corvo (who has not impressed IMO).

Posted by: ralCapsFan | March 31, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

That's all skewed. Just watch the games. I think we all know our defensive unit is in the bottom half of the league, and the stats will show it, not those numbers that Cullen used to spew out a ranking number. And there's no way Pittsburgh is the second best defensive unit. I wouldn't put anything into that ranking.

Posted by: rachel216 | March 31, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

The problem with the PK is that they allow opposing team to take way too many shots. Sooner or later one of them would go in on a deflection, on a rebound or any other way. Good PK units don't allow as many shots on goal by putting pressure on a shooter, but Caps don't do it for some reason.

Posted by: fizhe | March 31, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

I agree that GMGM had another trade lined up that fell through at the deadline and settled for Corvo. Maybe Hamuis, the timing makes sense. The Preds announced at 2:58 that Hamuis was off the market then 2 minutes later you hear of the rushed Caps trade for Corvo.

But what do you want GMGM to say? "well, we didn't really want this guy but we settled for him because we couldn't get the guy we wanted." That would make the new guy feel great to be on the team. Part of managing is to make your employees feel wanted and needed. Giving that lip service is more to make the acquired player feel better than to pump up his own ego.

Also, just as dumb as it is to only use stats to evaluate hockey it is also incredibly dumb to refuse to look at stats.

Statistics are objectice. They are esepcially useful when a person completely hates one player and looks for any reason to criticize him. Stats makes him have to back up his words with some objective proof. A play here or there is not proof of play throughout a season. A statement of "he can't guard anybody" is also not objective.

While those stats alone do not prove or disprove anything, they do provide a morsel of evidence to determine how good a player is.

Posted by: sgm3 | March 31, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

but when you have a multiple Hart trophy winner in his prime such as Ovi on the team and you just traded away your captain, you have to offer it to Ovi first...

if he doesn't want it then fine, give it to Laich or anyone else you choose but not giving him the first crack at it would have been a huge mistake even if you thought Laich would make a better captain

Posted by: joek443 | March 31, 2010 5:58 PM

i give up

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 31, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm trying to figure out how the Caps defensemen could be ranked #1 in any sort of ranking. They do have the highest +/- (by 56 if I am not missing any higher than the +66 the Canucks defense has), but when it comes to defensive play, they are mediocre. But when you look at the 5 who have been here all season (Schultz, Green, Poti, Erskine, ShaMo), all 5 rank in the top 30 in +/- among defensemen. What it seems to comes down to is that the Caps dmen put up a lot of points and +/- in the Caps system. Why that would make them top-ranked is beyond me though.

Posted by: timmyv38 | March 31, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

@timmyv38

They are ranking the defenseman in terms of their overall production. This considers offensive production as well as defensive production.

Posted by: sgm3 | March 31, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Corvo has not been very good and if he continues to play this way, I hope he sits in the playoffs. He pinches well and holds the puck in the O zone, but that is about it. I will take Juice or Erskine over him. John might be a bit slow but he comes to play. If McPhee thinks he got the best D on the Canes, someone should have told him Gleason is on their roster. Gleason would have fit nicely on the Caps blueline. McPhee will probably sign Corvo to a contract extension.

Posted by: StanleyCap | March 31, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

I bet all the people that said the caps made some great deadline deals are eating crow now.Cause lets see,belenger just sucks all around,corvo couldnt defend is way out of a paper bag,walker had one good game,has some grit but hurt now,and the best one of all the guys we got (juice) is still gonna be out for a while.All the caps did was mess up the chemistry between the lines we had that were all ready fine enough.I just hope BB can figure this thing out before playoff time.He needs to get the lines together for the playoffs and stick to his guns.Dont care about hurting other players feelings cause there not playing,if ur not playing good,you dont play.(i.e. belenger,corvo,morrison...) Get it together caps and bring this thing around.GO CAPS!!!

Posted by: gratefuldid | March 31, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

@timmyv38

They are ranking the defenseman in terms of their overall production. This considers offensive production as well as defensive production.

Posted by: sgm3 | March 31, 2010 6:37 PM

i think using +/- in this context is was skews this ranking. just because the caps have 7 20+ goal scorers (and green with 18) and have outscored their opponents by a large margin - does not mean it should be used to determine if their defense is more productive than another teams. all it does mean is that their defense benefits in the +/- category

if this ranking took into account missed assignments, bad positioning and other 'on ice' factors - i'd give it a little closer look

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 31, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

McPhee will probably sign Corvo to a contract extension.

Posted by: StanleyCap | March 31, 2010 6:47 PM

lets hope not

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 31, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

I actually think that Semin may be our best penalty killing forward and it has zero to do with him being a threat to score a goal. He's just phenomenal with his stick and his tremendous anticipation skills.

I would use Semin and Chimera on the PK as much as possible at the points. Chimera for his speed if nothing else. We are horrible at pressuring the points and recovering when the puck is swung back and forth.

Steckel is a nightmare on the PK after the faceoff. He is slow, can't win battles along the boards, has terrible reaction time, is horrible and changing directions and seems to have no anticipation skills or ability to read the play, often getting caught out of position or watching the puck, and he has hands of stone and trouble clearing the puck in the rare instance that he does find it on his stick or win a battle.

I don't care how long his reach is, Steckel just isn't a good PKer or defensive player. I always struggle to see what people like about his game. As important as faceoffs are, that doesn't mean you can be terrible in every respect. I don't buy the "he's a big game player" argument that Boudreau throws out there from time to time. There is little to no evidence of that being the case. He had a tip fluke from 15 feet away from the net. He's 28-years-old and hasn't proven to be a consitent big game player at this level. I don't think he's any different in big games than he is in the regular season. Small sample size.

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 31, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

And Belanger hasn't looked very good defensively despite his reputation. I'd still continue going to him because he's probably still an upgrade over most of our other PK forwards. I think part of him being good in the past was playing for defensive-minded coaches and constantly feeling compelled to play responsibly. Playing for the Caps for a few weeks can probably quickly erase a lot of those good defensive habits.

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 31, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

sgm3, I understand that, but I still don't see how you can rate the Caps defense even in the top 10. Their +/- is only so good because of the incredible offense.

gratefuldid, the Caps DID make some great deadline deals. We got Walker for virtually nothing - even if he has only stepped up a few times, he has done the type of thing we need him for, and has been more than worth it. Belanger has been very helpful, since we really only had 3 good centers, and he is a good fit on the 3rd line. We need to wait to see how Juice works, but he was a steal as well. The only one I am still not convinced about is Corvo, who has had flashes of brilliance, but has not really settled into the system yet.

Posted by: timmyv38 | March 31, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

grateful, you really think Belanger sucks all around. Were you expecting him to come here and score a goal a game. The guy has always been a third line player everywhere he has been. You can play him a lot of different situations, (PK/PP) and he won't hurt you. He does a lot of little things coaches love. You all have to remember him and Corvo have been here 3 weeks, so it's not like they are usrf to playing with all the other players yet. And as far as getting Gleason, the Caps would've had to give up a heck of lot more for Carolina to even consider trading him.

Posted by: topshelf | March 31, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

@Capt_Kirk

I agree that there are flaws in those stats and that's why they can't be considered alone.

While I completely agree that the +/- of the defenseman is greatly benefitted by the great play of the forwards, you can't say that the defenders have no effect on this at all. Most plays begin in the defensive end and start with a good first pass by a defender leading to a break.

Does this mean the defenders should get equal credit? No. But you can't give the forwards all the credit for goals scored and only blame defenders for goals scored against.

But obviousy, +/- is greatly effected by the quality of players you play with and the defenders ability to play with so many talented forwards has greatly increased their +/-.

But maybe the +/- of those forwards would be a little lower if different defenders were on the team than the present ones. I'm not saying it would, but it is pure skepticism to say other defenders definitively would increase or decrease the overall +/-.

Posted by: sgm3 | March 31, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

bet all the people that said the caps made some great deadline deals are eating crow now.Cause lets see,belenger just sucks all around,corvo couldnt defend is way out of a paper bag,walker had one good game,has some grit but hurt now,and the best one of all the guys we got (juice) is still gonna be out for a while.All the caps did was mess up the chemistry between the lines we had that were all ready fine enough.I just hope BB can figure this thing out before playoff time.He needs to get the lines together for the playoffs and stick to his guns.Dont care about hurting other players feelings cause there not playing,if ur not playing good,you dont play.(i.e. belenger,corvo,morrison...) Get it together caps and bring this thing around.GO CAPS!!!

Posted by: gratefuldid | March 31, 2010 6:53 PM

good or bad he didn't stand pat like he did last year, which he got blasted for even though he had no money to work with.
no matter who you pick up in a trade you won't know how it will affect chemistry - so looking at that after that fact is not quite fair.
if you were expecting a major imporvement to the team - then yes, these moves wouldn't do that. if you were looking have some depth where these guys could fill in, then i think he did this.
if everyone is healthy come game 1 of the playoffs - it wouldn't bother me if the trade deadline deals sat on the bench waiting for somebody to get hurt - but they must be played to find out where they fit in and to let them try and learn as much about the BB's 'system' as possible before the playoffs get here.
some of the chemistry that seems to be missing is due to the rotating of players right now. i hope BB settles on his playoff 'roster' soon so some of that chemistry can be 're-gained'

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 31, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

i give up

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 31, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse
------------------------------------------

Welcome to the club Capt. I knew you'd make it here some day.

Posted by: pokerface1208 | March 31, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Boudreau is asking Belanger to play more aggressively and take more risks. Belanger was used to playing more conservatively and responsibly and focusing on good positioning. I still think he's probably a solid defensive forward when playing in the right system for a coach that preaches defense.

Since joining the Caps, I've noticed him getting caught out of position quite a bit both at even-strength and on the PK, probably in an effort to do what Boudreau wants of him. He's starting to look more and more like a typical Caps forward. Welcome aboard, Mr. Belanger!

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 31, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

tmac - good point on Belanger. Any defensive habits he had have been wiped clean in our system :)

But I think you're off the mark with this one:
"I actually think that Semin may be our best penalty killing forward and it has zero to do with him being a threat to score a goal. He's just phenomenal with his stick and his tremendous anticipation skills."
-------------

no way is Semin a great PKer, and for one main reason. His play on the half-wall, a critical component of a forward's defensive game, is non-existent. Semin doesn't help squeeze the puck out and clear it, he stays away from the boards and tries to pick up the puck and skate out with it when he needs to simply crash the half-wall and chip the puck out.

Too many times I've seen him try to be overly cute on the PK and he's missed easy chances to clear the puck.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 31, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

i give up

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 31, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse
------------------------------------------

Welcome to the club Capt. I knew you'd make it here some day.

Posted by: pokerface1208 | March 31, 2010 7:07 PM

i didn't mean forever - i just meant this particular topic.

some days are slower than others and i just might go back to that well again

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 31, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

good or bad he didn't stand pat like he did last year, which he got blasted for even though he had no money to work with.
no matter who you pick up in a trade you won't know how it will affect chemistry - so looking at that after that fact is not quite fair.

-----------

i would rather my GM stand pat, then make bad trades. Corvo was a bad trade from the start because his reputation for years around the league was as an offensive dman who was suspect defensively. He's lived upto his rep.

Also, I think Pothier offers us what Corvo offers us, except he's more defensive minded and is more aggressive challenging a forward. Not by much, but at best we traded equal players plus we coughed up a 2nd and a good prospect.


you can't excuse McPhee by saying at least he didn't stand pat. Standing pat or making bad moves is still not a good way to improve a team. If he couldn't land Sutton or Hamhuis, he shoulda not made any moves for a Corvo type.

He also should've tried to pick up a grittier version of a Belanger (maybe a Dubinsky type) at some point this season. Trades ARE allowed to occur at other points of the season too

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 31, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

tmac2yao/cstanton1:

"tmac - good point on Belanger. Any defensive habits he had have been wiped clean in our system"

this could be true for any player that comes into this system
if so - then i commend (cstanton1 - is not gonna like me for this... but) GMGM for not trading the likes of varly/neuvy, carlson/alzner, flash/fehr, semin, etc. for some high priced, crease clearing, in your face S@H dman rental that will just end up pinching at the wrong time or decides its more fun to rush the net for that 'back door' pass.

imo - if you don't buy into the fact that offense can win a championship, then your ride probably won't be as much fun as mine. think about it - they will either win the SC or they won't and the only thing we can control is how we feel about the caps chances.

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 31, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

cstanton1:
debating GMGM's moves would probably be a waste of a lot of internet bandwidth. i understand why you don't care for him. in reality he's probably not as good as i think he is and maybe not as bad as you think his is.

point taken on: "Standing pat or making bad moves is still not a good way to improve a team. If he couldn't land Sutton or Hamhuis, he shoulda not made any moves for a Corvo type"

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 31, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

@stanleycap
Corvo has not been very good and if he continues to play this way, I hope he sits in the playoffs. He pinches well and holds the puck in the O zone, but that is about it. I will take Juice or Erskine over him. John might be a bit slow but he comes to play. If McPhee thinks he got the best D on the Canes, someone should have told him Gleason is on their roster. Gleason would have fit nicely on the Caps blueline.

-i couldn't agree more; for whatever reason big john can't seem to play his way into the lineup while corvo (inexplicably) can't play his way out of it...BB clearly has favorites and others are held to a different standard (erskine, theodore come to mind)

Posted by: vermontcaps | March 31, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

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