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Afternoon Update From Dallas

After getting in around 4:30 this morning, the Caps held a team meeting at American Airlines Center this afternoon to review some video from last night's 2-1 loss in Phoenix. Practice was optional, and many players decided not to bus over to the Stars' suburban practice rink.

I caught up with Alex Ovechkin and Coach Bruce Boudreau and I'm planning to write a short story for tomorrow's paper about Ovechkin's slow start. The overriding theme that I heard from both of them is that Ovechkin (and his struggling teammates) must guard against panicking and remain confident that they'll start scoring -- and winning -- again.

"We're just off on doing the little things," Boudreau said. "Three feet here and three feet there. It's something that's very correctable. When people start struggling to score goals, what happens is they don't become proactive in going after goals, they become hopeful and begin waiting for things to happen for them. That's one of the things we noticed. And it's not just the guy you are thinking of. It's other people, too. They're waiting for the puck to come to them rather than saying, 'Damn it, I'm going to go get the puck and create the opportunities and maybe something will happen.' That's what we have to get back to."

Boudreau also said he's noticed that teams are focusing more on Ovechkin - if you can believe that.

"He works his rear end off," Boudreau said of Ovechkin. "He competes. He's not getting the room he's accustomed to getting. Maybe everyone realizes how great a player he is. But he'll fight through it. He will have a great year. It happened in March last year, when he went eight games or nine games without a goal and he got 65."

"There's a [video] clip from the Calgary game where he's got the puck and coming over the blue line and everyone leaves their man to come and get Alex. There's three guys swarming him as he comes into the middle. Everybody else was open, and he tried to get the puck to them."

As for the three game losing streak (0-2-1), Boudreau spoke to his team today in an effort to reassure them, especially some of the guys who are "getting down on themselves".

"We could very easily be 6-1 instead of 3-3-1," Boudreau said. "If we were 6-1 and finishing all those little things right now, we would be the talk of the town. Now everyone wants to say, 'What's wrong with the Caps'. There's nothing wrong with the Caps. We're very close to being where we want to be. Once we all get back to those habits, and everybody going toward that same goal. We'll be fine."

"We never want to panic," he added. "The sun came up. We're not 0-9. We believe we're a good team. It's just now going out and accomplishing what we want to do and not getting down on ourselves. Some of our guys want to win so bad, they are getting down on themselves. And when you get down on yourself, it's counterproductive. So we showed them how good they are."

Ovechkin took a similarly sunny disposition.

"I just want to continue what I do," he said. "I play the same way I play last year, but I'm not scoring or making some points. I have still hits, I have still lots of shots. You remember last year, I didn't score for eight or nine games probably. Then I shoot the puck from blue line and puck goes in. And everything goes well. I just [need] one goal. I need to keep shooting."

Like I said, some of this will appear in my story for tomorrow's paper. Just wanted to give you all an update before I start writing.

Boudreau also said Tom Poti (groin), Viktor Kozlov (knee) and John Erskine (bruised calf) are all questionable for tomorrow. It's possible none will play, but it's also possible two of them will play, he said. But he would not be specific. If I had to guess, I think Kozlov and Erskine are closest to returning. I'll have a better idea after the morning skate.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  October 24, 2008; 4:32 PM ET
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Next: Morning Skate Update (Updated)


ChiefCheese in an idiot.

I'm still trying to figure out the Erskine contract. Much confused.

Posted by: Steve_R | October 24, 2008 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the update, Tarik. I don't envy your schedule right now!

Posted by: armonroe | October 24, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Here's hoping Kozzy can get back in there and help get Nicklas and Alex going.

Posted by: _jordan | October 24, 2008 5:47 PM | Report abuse

I am ready for them to figure this out! Also ready for them to come home! I'm tired and cranky from staying up so late. The least they could do is win!

Posted by: majiksea | October 24, 2008 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Is Chris Bourque travelling with the team as a healthy scratch? I never heard that he was sent back down to Hershey.

Posted by: JEFO | October 24, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Tarik,

I dont know if you know how nice it is to have this type of information so easy to read. Thanks again.

If you get a chance, I dont know if the guys read what people write on here but let them know that we the fans are still behind them. Like Bruce said its correctable and its not like we dont have talent. Its a game of inches and soon we will be getting wins night in and night out.

Have fun in Texas,
Whsqb10 was Phil9

Posted by: whsqb10 | October 24, 2008 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Chris was sent back to the bears the next day he came up to the Caps.

Posted by: washingtoncapitals | October 24, 2008 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Bourque was sent back after the game last Saturday. He played for the Bears on Sunday in their loss, getting a goal and an assist with 8 shots.

Posted by: _Mark | October 24, 2008 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Chris Bourque isn't traveling with the team, but I do believe that Tyler Sloan still IS, yes?

He got ice time in both games so far, and he did a great job. Looking forward to seeing more of the big guy!

Posted by: irockthered | October 24, 2008 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Josh Godfrey got sent to South Carolina along with Pinizzotto.


Posted by: TheRealOneal | October 24, 2008 8:47 PM | Report abuse

In other hockey news, Manny Legace was injured stepping onto the ice tonight. They had a carpet out as apparently Sarah Palin is making the puck-dropping circuit and he slipped and fell on it as the team as coming out on the ice. The lights were out with the spotlight on him as he led the team out and (Chris Berman) "Whoop!"


(Tv's on as I do laundry for my trip up to Dallas tomorrow for the Caps game)

Who's Godfrey?

Posted by: TXguy | October 24, 2008 10:22 PM | Report abuse

I guess they just want Godfrey to get some more icetime. He's been in and out for Hershey so far. Hopefully he tears up the E.

Posted by: _jordan | October 24, 2008 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Ugh, the Flyers actually *won* today. Who saw that coming?
Glad Ovie is optimistic about everything. Will have watch the game sometime on Sunday. The one day I have to go to DC, the Caps aren't playing there. However, if they win, I may have to start watching another team. They're pretty close to oh-fer when I watch the game live. Somebody please give Sean Avery a good face-wash for me for being such an idiot.
Enjoy the game tomorrow folks! Let's go Caps!

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | October 24, 2008 11:37 PM | Report abuse


Bloggers decided unanimously to give you 20 more test games before permanently banning you from watching Caps live.

hehe jk, no way, stop the superstition and let's watch many victories :D

Message to BB: please, please, please, stop putting Ovie on the PK. Please.

Posted by: mauree | October 24, 2008 11:44 PM | Report abuse

The Hockey Gods have spoken. We allowed a political candidate to use Hockey for a photo op and Manny Lagacy gets hurt on the ceremonial rug. Sports are something people turn to to escape things like elections and financial turmoil and when we don't honor that seperation the hockey gods exact their revenge! (for the record this is not a cue for you to offer your support or distaste for any political candidate)

Posted by: TheCapitalist1 | October 24, 2008 11:53 PM | Report abuse

Was waaaaay surprised at the lack of the number of posts! Perhaps it is the pain in the backside of the new process.

Hey, Tarik...I know this is out of your control, but this stinks (except for keeping Chief, somewhat, in check.

Please pass along customer (dis)satisfaction comments to WaPo!

Posted by: WCAPS1 | October 25, 2008 12:07 AM | Report abuse

@ TheCapitalist1,

No confusion here...there aren't too many (if any) REAL Capitalists in this race, are there?

Posted by: WCAPS1 | October 25, 2008 12:10 AM | Report abuse


I don't think so. I see all usual bloggers made the transition.

Honestly? I think the problem is lack of inspiration. A good victory tomorrow might help.

Posted by: mauree | October 25, 2008 12:10 AM | Report abuse

I'm hoping to see a concerted effort tonight from the Caps. Hopefully the team meeting they supposedly held helped them focus.

Also @ JMU, I'll be partying down there this Friday.

- CapsCorndog (The commenter once known as)

Posted by: TheVampireCorndog | October 25, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

I, for one, am glad of the sign-in process. It limits the number of trolls willing to go to the trouble. :)

Posted by: irockthered | October 25, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Did BB every see OV play in the WJHC Russia VS Canada?

Posted by: razzorgod | October 25, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Still not happy about the resigning of Erksine. I'm glad that Ov and BB are not getting tight about this slide. I'll be very happy to see Kozlov back on the top line creating space for OV and Backs. Poor Backs, he seems to be beating himself up; he'll get out his sophomore slump soon enough. BTW those bloggers who contend anyone can skate with OV and get a ton of points -- are you reconsidering your position yet?

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS | October 25, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

It really looks like the team is out of sync. THey are trying too hard for the pretty shot, over passing, holding the puck, etc. I hope it breaks out tonight!

Posted by: Leeguru | October 25, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Caps are going to be fine. enough with the petty carping (especially about Lumberjack's extension): We need a win tonight against sissy Sean Avery and the Stars. LETS GO CAPS!!!!!

Posted by: doughless | October 25, 2008 10:26 AM | Report abuse

I have no problem with fewer comments as long as they have more substance than what typically fills the pages. Please pass my THANKS to WaPo.

Posted by: armonroe | October 25, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

@ Leeguru -- agreed, too pretty by a mile (and some of the shots are sailing that far off, too). Backs and Nylander really seem to be playing too fancy -- simplify, put tons of rubber on the goalie because rebounds and garbage goals count as much as pretty tic-tac-toe goals.

@ doughless -- I reserve my right to "petty carping" about the size of Erksine's extension. I don't think he merits that money and his salary makes getting under the cap that much harder. How goes -- Kozlov or Federov? Who stays in chocotown -- Alzner or Bourque? Does this mean that the Caps have totally written off Pothier? Did gmgm seriously think that some other NHL team would try to steal La SexieLumbreJacques? Bad call in my book.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS | October 25, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse


Don't feel bad about your bad luck. I've only seen the caps win 1 game this year and it happened to be opening night.

It just so happens I had class on the Monday night where we dominated Vancouver and class as well the night we played Pitt.

Maybe I should stop skipping classes on occasion to watch the Caps play. lol

Posted by: TowsonCapsFan | October 25, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse


I agree. Erskine is not worth enough for a contract of that size, especially since we have at least 2 potential free agents to pay on the blue line after this year. (schultz, morrisonn)

I'd guess Pothier is done completely. His concussion still agrivates him at times during everyday activites and one more serious hit could cause permanent damage or symptoms.

Posted by: TowsonCapsFan | October 25, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the fuss and hubbub about the Erskine resigning. Can't always agree with GMGM's moves I guess, but I just don't see this one. Erskine scares me every shift he's out there. He's a step slower than the other team's forwards, and makes defensive blunders. His plus side is that sometimes he'll deliver a big hit (often taking himself out of position to do so) and he's willing to drop the gloves.

We've got too much stock on D prospects to be signing this guy, and especially for over a million per. You have to believe Lepisto is ready this time next year, I think he was probably ready this year. Who's the odd man out with this extension? Even if Pothier is done we've still got Poti, Green, Schultz down for next year. I'm not sure of Juice's status for next year. Then we have Mo as (I think) a RFA, and then you have a ready Alzner and Lepisto. I'm not sure 1.25 million is how much we should be paying a number 7 dman.

Maybe they see something I don't but I've followed and played the game since I was 5, which doesn't make me a pro, but does mean I can notice Erskine's play is suspect.

And I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

Posted by: TheVampireCorndog | October 25, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

irockthered: I agree, the sign in process, although somewhat tedious, is worth it. Some of the trolls will eventually find their way in, but for now it's keeping them at bay. I'm sure some will be discouraged by it and won't bother to make the effort.... Thanks, WaPo!

I'm totally disappointed about Manny and the cause his injury. Didn't she learn her lesson in Philly? It just doesn't mix!

On another note, I'm considering going to Bugsy's in Old Town tonite to watch the game. Anyone else have plans to watch it somewhere? I was just wondering if we'll see anyone there?

Posted by: BlondeCapsFan | October 25, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

@WCAPS1 (and way off topic so ignore unless you are a total geek)

Well, all are rushing to save the economy by intervention but don't forget that without the 'evils' of regulation we wouldn't have standards for what a stock is, a banking system, money or know which side of the road to drive on. So to say anybody is a pure market capitalist is to say that want to barter food for horseshoes. Once again it's all about balance and occasionally losing our equilibrium.

Back to Hockey - I've never seen anything about Erskine that particularly impressed me but have noticed that the team seems to do better when he's on the ice. I noticed that the first call up he got. So if BB and GMGM think he's worth that new deal, I'm just gonna trust them on it.

Posted by: TheCapitalist1 | October 25, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

regarding your comment yesterday about Sloan playing well, didn't you see him not use the glass to clear the zone and the yotes score.
in line with that poor play, Fedorov made at least 4 poor outlet passes that were taken by the yotes,
we are lucky it was only 2/1. JT kept us in that one.

Posted by: billd2 | October 25, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

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