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Posted at 11:57 AM ET, 01/31/2011

Line change: Can the Caps get their swag back?

By Washington Post Sports

As Katie noted yesterday, of the Capitals' 31 games left this season, 22 will come against Eastern Conference opponents and seven against Southeastern foes. Fifteen games will be against teams currently in playoff position and 18 will be played on the road.

Here's how Ovechkin put it: "I think right now, it's time to wake up and play well."

Today's question, while we wait for practice this afternoon: Is this easier said than done?

By Washington Post Sports  | January 31, 2011; 11:57 AM ET
 
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Comments

Caps are saving their energy for the playoffs. Lesson learned from last year. Watch them stampede thru at least the first two rounds this year.

Posted by: cakehydrant | January 31, 2011 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I just don't think they're that good. It's one thing to say "wake up" but it's not like this has been going on over 10 games...this has been going on since October....that's more like a trend.

I love um, and wish nothing but good things, however I fear this season is going to end up with them being out of the playoffs or another first round loss.

Posted by: joshu1 | January 31, 2011 12:16 PM | Report abuse

lol what u smoking hydrant?

Posted by: wendel2 | January 31, 2011 12:21 PM | Report abuse

the Cpas voted most overated team in nhl by nhlpa.........hmmmm is gmgm listening?

Posted by: wendel2 | January 31, 2011 12:23 PM | Report abuse

the Caps voted most overated team in nhl by nhlpa.........hmmmm is gmgm listening?

Posted by: wendel2 | January 31, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

This season has nothing to do with saving energy, this season has to do with changing systems. And the system this team is playing is not suited to the talent on the team. Management is going to have to make some decisions as playoff time nears about what they are asking the players to do. There is no switch that is going to be flipped and the team had better figure out how to score in the new system or they'll be lucky to make it out of the first round if they even make the playoffs.

Posted by: StikSav | January 31, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Been away since the Semin signing and just wanted to ask if anyone else thought that GMGM once again overpaid. 6.7 is way too high a number for a guy who can't stay healthy and simply disappears for games on end.

Now if he resigned him so he would have more trade value then I will give credit where credit is due but I just do not see that happening.

Posted by: PhilR | January 31, 2011 12:33 PM | Report abuse

@PhilR

I said pretty much the same thing. I dont understand it. Could have waited to see if he ever got healthy and started scoring again before throwing money at him.

Posted by: ThePat | January 31, 2011 12:40 PM | Report abuse

An inefficient, stagnant and disorganized power play, does not typically signal playoff success. There's still time to fix it, but you absolutely need to have PP success, to go deep in the playoffs [and that's with everything else working], the checking is just too tight to expect a ton of even-strength goals.

The concern is, other teams seem have studied MTL's playbook from last spring, as as yet we haven't adjusted.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | January 31, 2011 12:44 PM | Report abuse

caps have 2 weeks to figure out their offense (@ coyotes 2/14)

i'd hate to get up that tuesday morning and have to go shopping for goats blood :D

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 31, 2011 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Capt, yes, two weeks from tonight. The big road trip. Let's hope somehow this all gets figured out. Right now it's just bizarre.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | January 31, 2011 12:48 PM | Report abuse

McPheeeeeEEEEEE!!!!!!!!

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 31, 2011 12:49 PM | Report abuse

I think the Semin signing was smart. Sure he got a raise, but he plays for his contract or he gets shipped out. I don't know how many GMs would have traded for him before the deadline without having a contract in place for next season. If he plays well (which we all hope and expect) he stays, if not.....he's an Islander or King next season.

Posted by: j3rockstar | January 31, 2011 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Most overrated team & the coach is easy to play for, Stanley Cup recipe for sure. Here is the list of soft coaches that have won championships:
Do you want to see the list again?
A hard-nosed coach tends to produce hard-nosed players. Teams take the personality of the coach. BB is soft & doesn't focus on playing the system. What are the Caps?
As for that MP trade, I think GMGM should hold out for a bag of NEW pucks. He is worth more than a bag of old pucks.

Posted by: chriscaps | January 31, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

@PhilR - a lot of people thought it was too much, others, like me, happy with the signing. It gets us a PPG scorer (in the playoffs and regular season) at a rate that's lower than the average when you throw away the people on entry level deals.


GMGM thought Semin might've gotten 7 mil + on the open market, so in a way, Semin shorted himself two ways with this contract: he got no years and he got less money than a PPG player can expect in the NHL. There are almost no players in the NHL that don't "disappear" from time to time.

A bit of a rant on my part now: Semin, btw, most emphatically did not disappear against Montreal. Had he disappeared, then his presence would've made no difference. He didn't score but he worked very hard, created chances when his teammates utterly failed to do so, and thus required of Montreal the expenditure of great effort and resources.

Since Montreal successfully stopped the entire team from scoring, you would have to say that Semin made them work harder than any other player to do so. By my own logic he was the best forward on the ice for the Caps in that series.

I hope he scores 15 goals in the playoffs this year and takes the team three rounds deep. Of course, we lose in the semis and Semin only gets an assist, he'll be blamed for it...

Posted by: RedLitYogi | January 31, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I echo: the key is the power play. Get that working, no matter what the 5-on-5 system is doing, and the PK is working fine, and they will go far. No power in the PP = quick exit, or even no playoffs at all.

Posted by: OakdenWolf | January 31, 2011 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Caps are saving their energy for the playoffs. Lesson learned from last year.
----------------------------------------

That sounds good in theory but they don't have enough guys who have job security to coast during the season.

Maybe Ovi, Green, Knuble and Backs can give 80-90% during the season and get away with it, the rest cannot.

Posted by: joek443 | January 31, 2011 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Put a fork in them - they are done. How can they have any swagger? They were unbeatable in the regular season last year and had plenty of swagger...only to get water thrown in their face yet again. This year's team is exhibiting the EXACT same problem's as the one that choked in the playoffs vs. Montreal. They couldn't score at a rave with a pocketful of Ecstasy...and our star players (ov, semin, backstrom) act like they can't be bothered. You can't just flip a switch. The Caps and team management just don't get it.

Posted by: dingram3 | January 31, 2011 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if 6.7 was a good deal, but I do think he would have gotten more from a team like LA.

Caps have got to start pushing! No more half hearted efforts!

Posted by: capscoach | January 31, 2011 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Keep lines the same for consistency and get a second line center

Posted by: lylewimbledon | January 31, 2011 1:07 PM | Report abuse

@capscoach
Sounds like you may have drifted to the dark side: "no more half hearted efforts!". Welcome to the caves!

Posted by: kcbrichmond | January 31, 2011 1:09 PM | Report abuse

The biggest obstacle this team has to overcome is the man that put it together.

Who's looking forward to McPhee swinging and missing again before the trade deadline?

Who can already see McPhee with that constipated look on his face as he explains away our early dismissal in the playoffs or us missing the playoffs altogether?

We'll likely hear some crap about sticking to the long-term plan of being good but never good enough. And Ted will buy into that crap as long as enough fans are still Rocking the Red.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 31, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

"You can't just flip a switch."

We will see if the Caps can, but the Flyers did it last year so it is possible.

Posted by: sgm3 | January 31, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

@RedLit - I agree, if anything the Semin signing favored the Caps. You need two scoring lines to do anything in the NHL - let alone the playoffs - and right now it's just way too easy for other teams to focus on Back and Ovie, and forget about everyone else. I.e., Gordo, Stecks etc. don't mandate attention from top-pairing d-men - he!!, they don't even make them work that hard and expend much energy.

And as has become painfully apparent with Semin out, Laich, Fehr, Knuble and MP are not standalone blue chip top-6 forwards, their supporters' [including GMGM]'s offseason claims notwithstanding.

To be fair, maybe each guy - carefully slotted, with dynamic linemates - can be a complementary piece; right now however, the Caps are simply not that difficult a team to shut down defensively, other than that one line. And just having to worry about stopping one line makes it easier for the rest of the team.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | January 31, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I like Semin and Laich but you could package them for something which the team needs and that is toughness. Throw in Fehr and it could be one of those blockbuster trades. Throw in a 1st round pick as well.

Posted by: pkme | January 31, 2011 1:14 PM | Report abuse

The Flyers had a far more balanced roster and they play a brand of hockey that is suited for the playoffs. We are nothing like that team.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 31, 2011 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Man I wish I would have invested in Goat's Blood stock about 30 games ago...i'd be rich. Oh well, thats what I get for fence sitting I guess.

Hope Semin is good to go against the Habs tomorrow.

As for MP vs Snoopy...i'd much rather be doing my beagle bark at home games than MP Smack (the sound of my hand slapping my forehead when I go UGH).

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | January 31, 2011 1:16 PM | Report abuse

"Who's looking forward to McPhee swinging and missing again before the trade deadline?"

I am. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while. I think GMGM is due to hit a home run at the deadline just because of the luck factor. He is due.

Posted by: sgm3 | January 31, 2011 1:19 PM | Report abuse

@tmac - what comforted me about the Flyers was their goaltending, I discounted Bobrovsky because I'd never heard of the guy. Nice call me, man was I wrong about that one.

Holmgren felt the D depth dropped sharply after Timonen and Pronger, so he went and grabbed [stole!] Meszaros. And Richards, Carter, and Giroux get all the attention up front, but the Leino-Briere-Hartnell line has been basically unstoppable since they were put together vs. the Bruins last spring.

It freaking kills me to say this, but Philly's gonna be very tough to beat in the playoffs.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | January 31, 2011 1:24 PM | Report abuse

The Flyers had a far more balanced roster and they play a brand of hockey that is suited for the playoffs. We are nothing like that team.

Posted by: tmac2yao

That has nothing to do with the question of whether a team can just flip a switch at the start of the playoffs.

Posted by: sgm3 | January 31, 2011 1:25 PM | Report abuse

GMGM overvalues his high picks.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | January 31, 2011 12:34 PM

Even worse, he overvalues his entire set of GM skills.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 31, 2011 1:25 PM | Report abuse

That has nothing to do with the question of whether a team can just flip a switch at the start of the playoffs.

Posted by: sgm3 | January 31, 2011 1:25 PM

It has everything to do with it actually.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 31, 2011 1:26 PM | Report abuse

- Can the Caps get their swag back?

At this point I would have to say no. In order to have swag you have to have confidence. You get confidence by winning and swag by winning a lot. I don't think they can win consistently enough to get either. :(

Maybe people returning from injury will give them a lift and they'll be able to string together some wins and get things going in the right direction. Until then they are struggling to score and have a struggling PP.

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | January 31, 2011 1:27 PM | Report abuse

"I like Semin and Laich but you could package them for something which the team needs and that is toughness. Throw in Fehr and it could be one of those blockbuster trades. Throw in a 1st round pick as well."

Posted by: pkme | January 31, 2011 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Why stop there? Throw in Ovechkin and Varly....god knows contributing hockey players are a dime a dozen.
I mean seriously?

Posted by: ajian1 | January 31, 2011 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Season starts tomorrow!

HUGE week for Caps. MTL, TB, and Pitt. I want at least 5 of the 6 possible points.

Posted by: MattBradley10 | January 31, 2011 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Touche - dude, that was pretty freaking funny.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | January 31, 2011 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Btw is it true that Kuznetzov's being looked at for the national team? Buddy told me that last night; damn - if it is true that's pretty freaking impressive, the track record of 18-yr old making that team is unbelievable, IIRC [we're talking Feds, Bure, Larionov type guys - I don't know if even Fetisov did that].

Posted by: Timbo_1 | January 31, 2011 1:33 PM | Report abuse

It has everything to do with it actually.

Posted by: tmac2yao |

Nice return! Now try to stay on point here.

How does the makeup of the Caps or Flyers have anything to do with the GENERAL question of whether A TEAM(that is any team) can just flip the switch at the start of the playoffs? It has nothing to do with the question.

Now if the specific question was whether the CAPS can flip the switch this year, then points you noted would be relevant. However, that was not the question asked or the point made.

The point was that A TEAM could, and has, flipped the switch at the start of the playoffs before. Going on about the makeup of specific teams is irrelevant to this point.

Try to stay on point.

Posted by: sgm3 | January 31, 2011 1:37 PM | Report abuse

hard to have swagger when no one in the league respects or has fear playing you.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | January 31, 2011 1:38 PM | Report abuse

lol... gotta love that sgm logic.

If you weren't alluding to that meaning that the Caps may be able to do it, what was the point of saying it?

Just to make a general and obvious point?

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 31, 2011 1:43 PM | Report abuse

hard to have swagger when no one in the league respects or has fear playing you.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | January 31, 2011 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Win some games against some elite teams and earn respect. We go out and push around TB and Pitt this week and take both games, respect will start coming.

Posted by: MattBradley10 | January 31, 2011 1:44 PM | Report abuse

It is obvious (to me) that the lil' rotund, bald, bowling-ball of a coach needs to leave the team and spend full-time working his bird calls!

He's had enough time and certainly enough talent, but is more in tune with BMWs and the inane commercials he must do do drive a new one each season - free of charge! Perhaps the one he has with the very large "cup holder" can be used to carry bird food? Lord Stanly's Cup isn't going to reside there.

Posted by: duru44 | January 31, 2011 1:52 PM | Report abuse

@Matt

How about winning in the playoffs? That's why no one repects us because they all know they can beat us in the first round.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | January 31, 2011 1:53 PM | Report abuse

hard to have swagger when no one in the league respects or has fear playing you.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | January 31, 2011 1:38 PM

Yep... the rest of the league has seen through the one-way, run 'n gun crap.

Now that our players and coaches are starting to realize that you need to play responsible team hockey in all 3 zones and that sacrificing defense and structure to generate offense is a poor recipe for success at this level, is there really a reason to stick with Boudreau?

Playing the right way in all 3 zones and attention to detail don't seem to be concepts within his comfort zone.

McPhee is a bigger problem but if we want to continue in this direction of playing smarter and more responsible hockey, bringing in a new coach who has more of a background in this philosophy may not be a bad idea.

I like the direction of the team recently despite the offensive struggles but I doubt BB will be able to resist going back to his old ways at some point. It ain't easy to generate offense within the structure of good team defense and responsible 3-zone play. Only the best of the best teams are able to do that. Chicago last year was an excellent example.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 31, 2011 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Just because all the naysayers here on the blog think our team is trash and wont be able to make the playoffs, etc etc does NOT mean "no one in the league respects or has fear playing you". That is just an inane comment with zero support. At least go find a quote from a coach or player that said that (granted you wont find it because "Head Movies" dont count as media). In fact you will find the opposite. Caps are seen more like a sleeping giant rather than the push over losers you have dubbed them in your mind. It's sad really.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | January 31, 2011 1:54 PM | Report abuse

If you weren't alluding to that meaning that the Caps may be able to do it, what was the point of saying it?

Just to make a general and obvious point?

Posted by: tmac2yao

The reason for looking at the general question first is to see what the possible chances are that the Caps could possibly "flip the switch".

First, you examine whether any teams and what percentage of teams have been able to "flip the switch" at the start of the playoffs and have success in the playoffs.

If the results are that no team has ever flipped the switch then that would be a considerable worry as that covers a lot of years and is pretty good sampe size. So you get an idea of how often any team "flips the switch" at playoff time.

Second, after getting the results of the initial question you can then examine the qualities of each that was able to "flip the switch" and look to see what sort of similarities existed between those teams. Since the sample size is probably relatively small the evidence would not be conclusive but it could help indicate what teams may be more likely to "flip the switch" than others.

Third, then you compare the traits that you found as being attributed to teams who are more likely to "flip the switch" and try to identify if the Caps, as currently built, has any of those traits to help determine if they may be more, or less, likely to be a team that "flips the switch".

You skipped step one, performed a poor step two as you only examined one team, and then performed step 3.

I know that Flyers have done it, so it is possible. I have no idea what percentage of teams "flipped the switch" each year or how many have overall, but you could say that Montreal also "flipped the switch" last year.

I was just point it out that "flipping the switch" is possible and happened as recently as last year.

Posted by: sgm3 | January 31, 2011 1:54 PM | Report abuse

@SAOTI

they polled basically half the league, and the players voted that we are the most overrated team in the league. So id say a good percentage of the league does not fear or respect the Caps.

If I was playing I wouldnt fear playing the Caps, but I'd respect them. You have to respect every opponent in my opinion.

Posted by: ThePat | January 31, 2011 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I always cringed in the past when I heard us characterized as a puck possession team. We were never a true puck possession team. Last season's version of the Blackhawks was the epitome of a puck possession team.

During BB's tenure, we've more accurately been a team that spent too much time getting hemmed into our d-zone because of the forwards not being held accountable to support the d-men consistenly and sufficiently. Offensively, we were more about one-and-done rushes than sustained offensive pressure and good forechecking.

I don't know how many people caught a lot Chicago games last season but they were pretty amazing to watch during the reg. season and playoffs in terms of how they dominated and tilted the ice. They often looked like they were on a PP at even-strength and all of their forward lines not only had the ability to keep the puck in opponent's end for sustained periods but they were committed to doing the right things in all 3 zones.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 31, 2011 2:03 PM | Report abuse

At least go find a quote from a coach or player that said that (granted you wont find it because "Head Movies" dont count as media). In fact you will find the opposite. Caps are seen more like a sleeping giant rather than the push over losers you have dubbed them in your mind. It's sad really.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | January 31, 2011 1:54 PM

You're probably looking for a quote from this season but RJ Umberger may ring a bell.

When was the last time you heard a player on a losing, non-playoff team question the style of play of Pittsburgh, Chicago, Detroit, etc...

And when a sample of NHL players vote Boudreau as the softest coach in the league -- okay, "easiest to play for" or whatever -- what does that tell you?

How about most overrated team? When a bunch of players think that, I doubt they fear playing you or see you as a "sleeping giant."

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 31, 2011 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Caps were the best offensive team, but very little, if any defense. Bounced, again, in the first round of playoffs, management decided they needed to pay more attention to defense. So, instead of getting the two D-men they needed, plus a winger or two, they decided to change the entire system and convert their offensive players to defensive players. These guys built their entire careers based on scoring goals and being offensive-minded. They got drafted because of their offense. But now, these very talented goal-scorers have been asked to drastically change their game, in mid-season! These guys have probably never been 'back-checkers', probably never been asked, nor made to, play defense first. So now the entire team seems to be confused...there's no flow to their game. They all look hesitant to 'break-out'. It just seems that they are thinking too much about their new responsibilities, where to be, what do to, making sure they get back, etc. GMGM and coach B took a 'run-n-shoot, 3guard team' and made them a post-up team. They took a team built for a 4-3 defense and made them play 3-4...all with the same personnel. Chances are it won't work.

Posted by: scmonty1 | January 31, 2011 2:09 PM | Report abuse

@ThePat

Being called overrated does not mean that they dont fear/have no respect for them. It simply means that they disagree with the media on how they rated them. Lest we forget, the Caps were ranked #1 before the season began. Meaning, any player that does not consider us #1 still, would say we were overrated. Make sense?

Does this mean they dont fear/respect that Caps? Absolutely not. It just means they feel there are better teams out there than the Caps. At least thats how I take it.

And I totally agree with you that there isnt a team out there that gets zero respect. Maybe if the team was 0-52 at this point...but even then it's safe to say a team always respects its opposition.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | January 31, 2011 2:09 PM | Report abuse

There's still a lot of hockey to play. Fehr and Semin are hurt. Those guys are #2 and #3 goal scorers (or are supposed to be)! That's why we aren't scoring. Ovi-Backs and Chimera is the only potent offense we have, so the other teams focus on shutting them down.

We need a scoring wing and a #2 center. McPhee has made some good moves at the deadline before. I say he can swing it again. I hope anyway

Posted by: jmurray019 | January 31, 2011 2:10 PM | Report abuse

You have to love that most players think BB is the easiest to work for. It tells us fans everything we need to know. The Caps are the most out of shape of most NHL teams. Yes I know all of us fans are not in the physical shape of any of the other teams. But again that is not our full time job.

Posted by: pkme | January 31, 2011 2:11 PM | Report abuse

I haven't seen a lot of swagger this year for them to "get back". Face it, when GMGM made no moves last summer, he was betting 8, 19, 52, and 28 would have the same offensives seasons they did the last few (of course he ignored the playoffs because the hot goaltender was to blame). As we all know, they did not duplicate their hot hands from previous campaigns, so now everyone is stuck hoping somehow the magic just happens to show back up. There has been no evidence that it's going to happen. GMGM can try to add a couple guys at the deadline and hope it sparks something, but that is really a big hope. Don't get me wrong, I want to believe and think the "fury" will be unleashed, but I wouldn't bet the farm...

Posted by: kcbrichmond | January 31, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

@Semin
What are you smoking?

http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy/post/Was-R-J-Umberger-right-about-Capitals-playing-t?urn=nhl-237624

Umberger was right, obviously. That seems to be the general consensus around the league.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | January 31, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3

The Flyers did not just flip a switch. You aren't considering who they played. The Flyers were a middle of the road team who made the playoffs on the last day of the season, that much is true. However their matchup was much more favorable in the first round. They got the Devils, a vastly overrated team (see this year) with a faltering goalie, whom they beat five out of six times in the regular season. Result? A great matchup and a 4-1 series win.

In the second round they played the Bruins who they went 2-2 against in the regular season, playing so close that 3 of the 4 games went to OT (or a shootout). Result? A hard fought 7 game series win (very similar to the regular season matchups with 5 of the 7 games being decided by 1 goal and 2 of the games going to OT).

In the third round they got the Habs, a result of the Caps and Pens choking, a team they went 2-2 against in the regular season but a team that had clearly run out of gas. Result was a 5 game series win. By this time the Flyers had used their run, and the emotion of the comeback in the Bruins series, to solidify the team, something that doesn't come from flipping a switch.

And, of course, we all know what happened in the finals, with the Flyers losing a close series to a team they lost a close game to in their only regular season meeting (a 3-2 Hawks win).

So if anything, the regular season was actually very indicative of the Flyers regular season performances against the teams they were matched up against, and nothing like flipping a switch.

Posted by: StikSav | January 31, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

"Being called overrated does not mean that they dont fear/have no respect for them. It simply means that they disagree with the media on how they rated them. Lest we forget, the Caps were ranked #1 before the season began. Meaning, any player that does not consider us #1 still, would say we were overrated. Make sense?"

@SAOTI

Agreed. I was expecting the Caps to be called the most overrated team.

When you think how much press and tv time the Caps have received over the past two years(a lot has to do with Ovie) and the fact that the Caps have not won a SC or been to the finals, it would be expected that players would vote them overrated.

That's why it wasn't surprsing to see Vancouver 2nd. They receive a decent amount of press(not nearly as much as the Caps though) and have also not won a SC or been to the finals. The other teams who have received a lot of press and tv time in recent years have been the Pens, Red Wings, Blackhaws, Flyers, and Bruins.

But the Bruins(or Rangers) rarely get hyped as being a SC contender.

Since the other teams in that group have all at least been to the finals recently it is not surprising to see the Caps being called the most overrated.

Posted by: sgm3 | January 31, 2011 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Caps were the best offensive team, but very little, if any defense. Bounced, again, in the first round of playoffs, management decided they needed to pay more attention to defense. So, instead of getting the two D-men they needed, plus a winger or two, they decided to change the entire system and convert their offensive players to defensive players. These guys built their entire careers based on scoring goals and being offensive-minded. They got drafted because of their offense. But now, these very talented goal-scorers have been asked to drastically change their game, in mid-season! These guys have probably never been 'back-checkers', probably never been asked, nor made to, play defense first. So now the entire team seems to be confused...there's no flow to their game. They all look hesitant to 'break-out'. It just seems that they are thinking too much about their new responsibilities, where to be, what do to, making sure they get back, etc. GMGM and coach B took a 'run-n-shoot, 3guard team' and made them a post-up team. They took a team built for a 4-3 defense and made them play 3-4...all with the same personnel. Chances are it won't work.

Posted by: scmonty1 | January 31, 2011 2:09 PM

Well, we were going nowhere with that run 'n gun crap, either. Most players can learn to be more complete two-way players under the right coach. I heard Babcock complimenting Bertuzzi's defense earlier this season and dismissing the notion that he couldn't play that way. If an old dog like that can learn new tricks, so can and should our skill guys.

You seem to like that we were the Phoenix Suns of the NHL. It's flashy and all but it gets eaten alive eventually in a playoff environment. We need to become a more balanced team. They are learning that it's hard to be sound defensively and generate offense instead of sacrificing defensive structure to create scoring chances. This is the right direction they're heading in and it'll take time to learn to be a more balanced team - probably a lot longer that just this season, esp. if McPhee and Boudreau are still here going forward.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 31, 2011 2:20 PM | Report abuse

@SAOTI and @sgm3

I assume both of you guys have played a sport. If you were asked to name a team that was overrated, and you answered the question naming a team. Would you fear playing against that team???? Respect is different and I agree that is harder to determine and no one should ever disrespect an opponent. But if someone has no problem answering a question and naming an overrated team, that to me signals they do not have any fear in playing that team.

Thats what it would mean to me having played and coached anyway.

Posted by: ThePat | January 31, 2011 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Why stop there? Throw in Ovechkin and Varly....god knows contributing hockey players are a dime a dozen.
I mean seriously?


Posted by: ajian1 | January 31, 2011 1:29 PM | Report abuse


Noticed I did not mention OVI, Green, Backstrom, Carlson, Alzner, Varly, Eakin, Orlov, Kryg, Kutz and any other players. I think they are franchise or in the case of those that have not made the NHL yet future franchise players. However if getting a different kind of winger and another shut down defenseman I would do it. For instance I would trade Laich, Fehr and Semin to the Blue Jackets for Nash and Hjeda straight up. Maybe the Blue Jackest would throw in a 1st round pick in 2012 draft.

Posted by: pkme | January 31, 2011 2:27 PM | Report abuse

It would also create some serious cap room for The Caps in the future.

Posted by: pkme | January 31, 2011 2:30 PM | Report abuse

@lylewimbledon

No need to link that article, I already read it.

LOL so according to you...100 NHL players represent the entire league huh? And of course people toss around the the BB was voted the easiest to play for. Uh...how many of those voting have played for him/other coaches? We dont know do we because the poll didnt say that. You realize in the same poll the favorite ref was None. And perhaps you missed this quote while attempting to read and comprehend..."The Capitals failing to live up to their hype and maintain the scoring stats they've had in previous years earns them "most overrated.""

Oh wait...RJ Umberger said something about us, ergo it must be true. You got me there bud. Dang (hangs head in shame).

By the way, I totally agree with this "The Verizon Center escapes a mention on the "worst ice" list. Interesting."

Read the article next time.

Oh and anyone else find it funny that only 44% voted Chara with the hardest shot. Hmm, so there are really that many guys shooting 106 mph out there? =)

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | January 31, 2011 2:42 PM | Report abuse

I think Verizon Center is not on the list of bad ice because the ice has been a lot better this year. The temp at games is lower and the ice has generally looked better (excepting night games after day b-ball games). It was a this season poll, right? I think that's why, given what I've heard the ice in all the other arenas mentioned is worse than VC this year.

Posted by: StikSav | January 31, 2011 2:47 PM | Report abuse

tmac...
It's not that I prefer one system over the other. We may not have gone anywhere with the run'n gun, but I happen to think that by adding a couple of guys on D, and a winger or two, may have provided a more effective, quicker success than by changing the entire system in mid-stream. The Caps have a very talented team...let them do what they do best, and bring in the pieces needed to make them a championship caliber team. Now, by changing the system, you have a team that's neither 'here-nor-there' and the record, and frustration, show it. At least for now.

Posted by: scmonty1 | January 31, 2011 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Per the umberger statement...

I am not saying he is wrong, but we are now playing a style that he said is the "right" way, yet we seem worse off than last season.

As far as the possibility of clicking...well while unlikely it is very possible...what is going so terribly wrong for this team besides scoring? Our PK is good, our GAA is good, and our SOGs are "ok". So if scoring suddenly picks up I think we are in great shape...but it still has to happen....and I am waiting

Posted by: capscoach | January 31, 2011 2:49 PM | Report abuse

In the article that lylewimbledon posted, BB pretty much stated what we have been seeing this year or the "system" that the Caps have implemented:
"And if we had to make all these guys into checkers and play a trap game, I think it would have been a pretty boring team to watch and we wouldn't have been anywhere near as successful as we were."

The team is transitioning. Will it be successful this year? IDK. I'll be watching regardless because I support the local team and enjoy learning about the sport.

Posted by: nicety251 | January 31, 2011 2:52 PM | Report abuse

1) This team as currently constructed is going NOWHERE! They are not good enough to beat any of the top 4 playoff teams in a best of 7 and it could be argued they might hav etrouble with the non playoff teams in a best of 7!

Posted by: jmol2112 | January 31, 2011 2:57 PM | Report abuse

@ThePat

Yeah, I play/have played many sports, including hockey.

As I mentioned above, to me calling someone overrated isnt saying "I fear them", but rather "I disagree with how they were rated" by whoever rated them.

"But if someone has no problem answering a question and naming an overrated team, that to me signals they do not have any fear in playing that team. "...meh, I think fear is a silly word, I would say they are simply saying that they match up against Team A better than they would against Team B, even though Team B was rated lower.

For arguements sake...lets say a team is ranked #1 and you feel they are more the #8 team (hence you think they are overrated), yet you play for the #30 team and think they are still better than you...do you still think there is this "lack of fear"? I dont think so, I think they are just saying...they arent the top dog everyone thought they are, but this in no means says you think they are a terrible team.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | January 31, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Sadly, this is all too funny.....no swagger, lack of toughness (reg season and/or playoff), poor coaching, team commitment, etc. I hope many of you remember the derision thrown my way (and at a few others, too) for saying the same things months ago when the Caps were FIRST IN THE LEAGUE.

By the way, I think the NHLPA poll about the team and BB is vindication for a lot of things I've said on these boards. Yes, today is "pat myself on the back" day as I anticipate being in full-rage mode tomorrow (and there'll be no time to reflect on all the truths I've brought to the forefront here) :)

YOUR DAYS ARE NUMBERED, JOHNNY, MAKE EACH DAY COUNT!! SORRY DJ, I DID THE BEST I COULD......

Posted by: vermontcaps | January 31, 2011 3:14 PM | Report abuse

1) @vermontcaps.....Remember the 'derision' Umberger recieved when he pegged this teams BEFORE they had the spring melt down!
2) Get your heards out of the sand folks they are not a playoff team. Sure they might get in but I don't see them doing anything but losing in 4 or 5

Posted by: jmol2112 | January 31, 2011 3:31 PM | Report abuse

You don't reap the benefits of playing the right way overnight. It takes time (months and sometimes seasons) to develop good habits and it's hard to learn to play sound defensively and be a top offensive team. Few teams achieve that level.

Things may never come together, esp. with McPhee assembling the roster, but the way we were playing before was never going to cut it.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 31, 2011 3:33 PM | Report abuse

tmac...
It's not that I prefer one system over the other. We may not have gone anywhere with the run'n gun, but I happen to think that by adding a couple of guys on D, and a winger or two, may have provided a more effective, quicker success than by changing the entire system in mid-stream. The Caps have a very talented team...let them do what they do best, and bring in the pieces needed to make them a championship caliber team. Now, by changing the system, you have a team that's neither 'here-nor-there' and the record, and frustration, show it. At least for now.

Posted by: scmonty1 | January 31, 2011 2:47 PM

If you see things as some of us do, it wasn't just a matter of bringing in player x, y or z. It was a systemic issue, regardless of personnel. Better roster construction would help but the fundamental problem is that Boudreau was employing a high-risk, run 'n gun system where forwards weren't flying the zone early and not providing enough support in the d-zone. That's what Umberger was getting at. That's what one of Pitt's coaching staff was referring to in that snippet from 24/7. That also probably has to do with why some people see Boudreau as "easy to play for." I imagine forwards hold that view more than defensemen.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 31, 2011 3:37 PM | Report abuse

* "were flying the zone" not "weren't flying..."

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 31, 2011 3:38 PM | Report abuse

@SAOTI

I agree fear is a dumb word and you will probably never hear it brought up once in a locker room at any level. If the word "fear" is ever actually brought up the coach or players on that team are failing miserabley.

So to me no one should ever fear an opponent. But at the same time everyone's goal when they step on the ice, court, field, is to strike fear in the opponent. Make them uncomfortable.

Obviously its all a stupid word game and not worth arguing about, so I dont really care. haha.

Posted by: ThePat | January 31, 2011 3:39 PM | Report abuse

@ EVERYONE

Any one else get the stupid e mail from Aramark about their survey????

Better get ready their about to start over charging for wait for it, wait for it, Seasoned Fries and there is more. They are going to give us dipping sauces.

Thank God our season is saved

Posted by: bqts | January 31, 2011 3:42 PM | Report abuse

vermontcaps, I remember what you were saying. I was saying the same things. I still think the most important move this team could make is the coach.

capscoach is finally starting to see the light. She is certainly welcome on our enlightened Caps fan team anytime she would like to join.

I'm hoping for the best but, expecting the worst with no changes for the playoffs.

Posted by: chriscaps | January 31, 2011 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I noticed a lot of folks here talking about flipping the switch. They have it all wrong. We use the clapper around here!

"Clap on."

Washington Capitals - 2011 Stanley Cup Champions

Washington Capitals - 2012 Stanley Cup Champions

"Clap off."

Washington Capitals - 2013 Stanley Cup Runner up.

"Clap on."

Washington Capitals - 2014 Stanley Cup Champions

Lets go CAPS!

Posted by: DCSportsfanatic1 | January 31, 2011 3:43 PM | Report abuse

A lot of people were also overrating our skill level and offensive prowess coming into this season. A lot of the edge we had over other teams was due to the high-risk style of play Boudreau employed and the lack of defensive accountability he demanded of the forwards.

I always go back to what I heard when listening to a Buffalo game early last season. The guy was talking about how the players sacrifice some offense to play the right way in the d-zone. Sure, Buffalo hasn't made much noice but that isn't my point here.

The point is that any team that plays run 'n gun hockey with forwards not being held sufficiently accountable for being in the right spots and putting in the right effort defensively is going to have an increase in scoring output over time.

A team like Chicago may not have scored quite as many goals as us but they were both a top offensive and defensive team last season. They, along with quite a few other teams, were always better than us by a wide margin last season, regardless of the Pres. Trophy and whatever else. They were a far more balanced team playing in a tougher conference and well... they won a cup to show for it.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 31, 2011 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Championship teams don't necessarily have the best individuals at every position, but rather are a sum of the collective whole. BB has proven himself incapable of cultivating team unity and cohesion because of the caste system and favoritism he employs. DJK won't play again because, as so many here like to point out, "we've got Hendricks and Bradley to fill his role." Yeah, right.

BB will continue to try to "match-up" against other teams, and we'll see the same different variations of our team: the fast Caps, the skilled Caps, the specialty-teams Caps, the tough and physical Caps, etc......still searching for an identity and letting teams off the hook when it comes to their preparation for facing us.

The comments being critical of BB were a pleasure to read.....preach on, chriscaps!!

Posted by: vermontcaps | January 31, 2011 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Free the Caps! Free the Caps! Free the Caps!

Posted by: dezlboy1 | January 31, 2011 3:53 PM | Report abuse

"It's not that I prefer one system over the other. We may not have gone anywhere with the run'n gun, but I happen to think that by adding a couple of guys on D, and a winger or two, may have provided a more effective, quicker success than by changing the entire system in mid-stream. The Caps have a very talented team...let them do what they do best, and bring in the pieces needed to make them a championship caliber team. Now, by changing the system, you have a team that's neither 'here-nor-there' and the record, and frustration, show it. At least for now."

---

The point is that you can't win championships playing that kind of system, no matter what players you bring in.

Posted by: VTDuffman | January 31, 2011 3:56 PM | Report abuse

It seems like a lot people are blaming the system change for the Caps' issues. I think some blame should be aimed at the players for not executing and for not adjusting. Opponents have figured out how to defend against Ovechkin's two moves. He keeps trying them and they don't work. He needs to come up with something new. He doesn't look like a superstar. Neither does Backstrom. That's the players, not the system.

A major reason for the drop off in scoring is the power play. That is a management and a player issue. Ovechkin on the point isn't working. It looks like they're starting to migrate away from that, but that change took too long. But, the players just aren't moving the puck like they should. They're standing around flat footed too much.

Because of the lack of player adjustments and execution and the state of the power play I think scoring would be down regardless of the system.

The upside is that they are playing better defensively.

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | January 31, 2011 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Too many people on here worried over nothing at this point. This is one reason it is so difficult to play on a Pro team in Washington. The fans get a little sniff of success and all of a sudden they expect a flawless season of domination while the other teams simply sit back in awe. The Capitals are playing well, and if it weren't for their win-less streak in December would likely be in first in the East (and are only a few points out as of now). So for as poorly as they are playing (or at least some think so) they are pretty darn close to first place.

Take the last game for example, Pavelec played out of his skull. 36 saves with a bunch of them dandies. Simply bad luck. Sure, this is the same "problem" the Caps have had in the playoffs, but you can't control a goalie standing on his head. Also, the Caps have lost a ton of games in overtime 4 on 4. They have been stellar 5 on 5. No 4 on 4 OT's in the playoffs.

Lastly, other teams in the league aren't just going to give up to the better teams. Carolina is better this year and so is Tampa. There are more solid teams this year than in the last couple (something like 11 team in playoff contention). The competition is about equal. Let's not start panicking three months before the playoffs. Remember, Chicago had a nine game losing streak last season, and I think they ended up winning something last year didn't they?

Posted by: smfoster3 | January 31, 2011 4:05 PM | Report abuse

For those of you that think too many players are out of their element in this more defensively-oriented system and think we should go back to high-risk, run 'n gun pond hockey, be prepared to never win a thing when it matters. Sure, they will generate more offense over time (much of it at the expense of sound defense) and they'll be flashy and fun to watch again but they will always run into a more balanced team in the playoffs that will exploit that one-way, run 'n gun crap.

There is no guarantee that they win it all by trying to become a good offensive team without sacrificing on the defensive end but they're headed in the right direction. A coach that truly believes in this defense first mentality and has experience implementing and getting players to buy into it would probably help us going forward.

Boudreau is like the Mike D'Antoni of the NHL. His "offense first/good offense is your defense" crap is a joy to watch but you don't win anything playing that way.

Meanwhile, a lot of NBA fans often said that the Spurs were boring to watch while they racked up 4 championships over roughly a decade.

Some of those Suns teams of a few years ago had loads of talent. Player for player, they were probably more talented than the Spurs but, despite their regular season dominance, they never even made it out of the Western Conference. They might have gotten jipped a few years ago against the Spurs and they did finally knock the Spurs out last season but the fact remains that they never came close to winning when it all and it was almost always because of the imbalance in their style of play.

"Offense first" rarely wins you anything in pro team sports and in the rare cases where it does, it isn't sustained success. This is even more true when a cap structure is in place and it's difficult to create a wide talent advantage over the competition by simply loading up on the best players.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 31, 2011 4:06 PM | Report abuse

"@sgm3
I hope that was a joke because [Nylander] broke his neck a couple months ago."
Posted by: ThePat

Here's proof:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5lFf-7puOI&feature=related


Posted by: Wiley_One1 | January 31, 2011 4:15 PM | Report abuse

It seems like a lot people are blaming the system change for the Caps' issues. I think some blame should be aimed at the players for not executing and for not adjusting. Opponents have figured out how to defend against Ovechkin's two moves. He keeps trying them and they don't work.

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | January 31, 2011 4:03 PM |

********

This is why you have to make hay while the sun shines. Its a copy cat league. The Caps had to change the style and take some nasty lumps learning it. They have improved some things along the way and will have to win differently.

This is why being on the radar is so much different from being off the radar. Any team that goes out and does what the Caps did the last 2 seasons will be emulated and attacked by other teams...its hard to stay dominating just by showing up.

I knew from the start of the year that we were a target that every team seems to get up for us...and now the only way to not stand out is to get others complacent thinking we cant win...31 games and lots can happen - but I like that this year we have goals while last year in March the Caps seemed to slow down and take too much for granted....

Anyway lets enjoy the challenge - and under great adversity winning would be sweet too..

Posted by: yesisaiditfirst | January 31, 2011 4:18 PM | Report abuse

vermontcaps:
"...DJK won't play again because, as so many here like to point out, "we've got Hendricks and Bradley to fill his role." Yeah, right...."

DJK had been out of the lineup for a while so I kinda let things go his first couple of games back. I continued to watch him more closely. I'm not seeing it. I didn't see anything special. On the other hand during those same games I saw something special from Hendricks. I still have a couple of games on DVR if you could point out the game and play I'll take a look. I'm just not seeing why DJK should start instead of other players.

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | January 31, 2011 4:25 PM | Report abuse

teams DID used to fear us when we were run and gun - because they couldn't keep up. They were forced to be perfect defensively, or play our style of game. but now that we've switched from run and gun to "none and done" (as in no goals and put a fork in us...) - the other teams aren't worried at all. Our goals against are down because no one needs to score more than one or two to beat us. We haven't just lost our swagger - we are clueless and rudderless. It starts with the captain on the ice and the coach on the bench. neither are doing their job. i'm not sure if they are even capable. so far - this team has reaked for so long that they can't even be taken seriously as a post season contender. they are firmly entrenched in the "pretender" category.

Posted by: dingram3 | January 31, 2011 4:26 PM | Report abuse

You guys pretty much covered it.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | January 31, 2011 4:28 PM | Report abuse

That also probably has to do with why some people see Boudreau as "easy to play for." I imagine forwards hold that view more than defensemen.
-------------

Haha, nice one. And too true - well, for d-men not named Green and Schultz, anyway.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | January 31, 2011 4:28 PM | Report abuse

"Offense first" rarely wins you anything in pro team sports and in the rare cases where it does, it isn't sustained success.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 31, 2011 4:06 PM

i'm not an NBA fan, but i did watch the suns because it was always an entertaining game. their playoff 'problem' was that they could never stop anybody when it mattered.

i believe the caps are trying to 'learn' how to play d and shut teams down - meaning learn how to hold a one goal lead.
we already know they can turn it up a notch on offense - they've had to do that more than a few times in the third while trying to overcome a one or two goal deficit.
can they effectively play a game using two styles? - i have no clue
have they increased their chances of winning any given series - i think so

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 31, 2011 4:33 PM | Report abuse

I agree with some of that, Capt.

I don't think it has to be two styles though. The ideal is to execute well enough in all 3 zones that you are elite or near elite both offensively and defensively. Few teams achieve that level of play but the rare ones that do are best equipped to win games in a variety of ways. Chicago was one of few teams that was great offensively and defensively last season. I'd be happy if the Caps can make this postseason as a top 10 offensive and defensive team and can get their special teams in the Top 10 for both categories by season's end. Even if we get bounced early, I'd still believe that they were improving for the long-term by trying to play a more complete, balanced brand of hockey. And I'd certainly rather be a very good defensive team that isn't statistically good offensively than vice versa. Give me a good defensive team with the top end players we have and I'd believe that we had a fighting chance to battle any team over 7 games. Conversely, regardless of our top talent, if we were the same or worse defensively as last season, I wouldn't have much faith in this season and beyond. I understand the theories of why we lost to MTL, but even if we had beaten them, I still think our defensive issues would have come to the forefront against other teams.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 31, 2011 4:44 PM | Report abuse

The delivery truck just pulled up to the back door of the bar.

20 fresh barrels of goat's blood being rolled off the truck and one small, 6-oz packet of Kool-Aid being handed to the bartender.

vermontcaps, for some reason I picture you like one of those Vikings in the "What's in your wallet?" commercials.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | January 31, 2011 4:46 PM | Report abuse

20 fresh barrels of goat's blood being rolled off the truck and one small, 6-oz packet of Kool-Aid being handed to the bartender.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | January 31, 2011 4:46 PM

the kool-aid is mine - don't touch it!!

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 31, 2011 4:50 PM | Report abuse

There are TWO tough road trips coming up. The second one, like the first, includes two back-to-backs.

Posted by: Bartolo1 | January 31, 2011 6:44 PM | Report abuse

ovie should tell that to himself. he should wake up. the way he represented the capitals to the star games, the way he played was embarrassing. i hate to say that but that's how i feel. i still want the capitals to win but i hope ovie should lead the way being the captain , he's being looked-up to. he's letting his team down. just frustrating to see.

Posted by: capsfan2007 | January 31, 2011 8:36 PM | Report abuse

No.

Posted by: JohnWWW | January 31, 2011 8:49 PM | Report abuse

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