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Posted at 12:26 PM ET, 02/17/2011

Line change: Can the Caps put it all together?

By Washington Post Sports Editors

Last night's game was a vintage Washington Capitals performance, with an Alexander Semin hat trick highlighting a wild, 7-6 victory over the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center.

But the defensive improvements Coach Bruce Boudreau had installed were nowhere to be seen, and the goaltending wasn't exactly up to par, either.

Boudreau recently told the Post's Tarik El-Bashir that adjusting to a new style wasn't difficult, but "creating offense from it gets frustrating when you're used to going the other way attacking."

Will the Capitals be able to generate offense while continuing to tighten up defensively this season? If you had to pick, should Washington go back to the run-and-gun plan (at least for the regular season)?

Some readers have already weighed in:

tmac2yao wrote: "And for all the people that I'm sure will praise the Caps for this performance cuz it reminds them of the run 'n gunners from last year, no... just no. ... I don't care how good Getlaf's line is, we were giving up way too much time and space all night long and not just to their line. This game needs to be an outlier from a defensive perspective."

sgm3 writes: "The defense was terrible and that the goaltending was as bad as it has been in any game this season that you could write a book on how bad the D and goaltending were this game, but that was the most fun I've had watching a Caps game in a long time. That was entertaining, screw the 2-1 games, I want to be entertained."

Capt_Kirk_In_AZ likes the high-scoring affair -- for now: "they abandoned everything they've been doing lately. BB needs standings points. until they lock up a spot in the top eight - i'd expect them to stick with this game. it's nice to know they can play D - but either or won't cut it. i hope they find a nice middle ground."

By Washington Post Sports Editors  | February 17, 2011; 12:26 PM ET
 
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Next: Breaking down the Caps' trade possibilities at second-line center

Comments

1) I wouldn't call this 1 game a turn around. Nice to win but their(anaheim's) goaltending was pathetically bad.
2) Nice to see semin finally get on the board. Hopefully it'll propel them forward(finally) but the exhilaration could be short lived if they pull a stinker tonight

Posted by: jmol2112 | February 17, 2011 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Heard Bieksa is out for 2-3 weeks with a broke foot. Sounds like they need defensemen bad. How bout Shultz, Sloan, and Poti for H Sedin? =)

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | February 17, 2011 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Thoughts on this trade idea.

To FLA MP (young if they want to resign him they can if not he is gone at the end of the year), Neuvy/Varly (I think they would want Neuvy since his salery is locked in low for next year), Knuble (To help balence out saleries and he has been on our third line most of the year), and our 1st and possibly 3rd if needed.

To Caps

Vokoun and Weiss.

We would still have just under $500,000 in cap space and even if we are slightly over with Alzner's bonus it will only be by $350,000 which would not hurt us much next year. And I think that we can help that space when we send down guys when people come back for injury like Fehr and Green.

We would then have lines similar to

Ovie-Backy-Fehr
Semin-Weiss-Laich
Chimmy-MJ-Hendricks
Gordon-Stecks-Bradley-King

we can also add guys from the minors if needed.

D would stay how they are now and our goaltending improves.

Would you make this deal and do you think Fla would do it?

Posted by: icehammer97 | February 17, 2011 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Hejduk and Weiss are the guys I want.

Posted by: underpants2 | February 17, 2011 10:34 AM


@underpants2:

Hedge Duck skated with Sakic, so wouldn't that make him, like, 1000 years old? Somehow, I think Hejduk is not the droid you're looking for.

Posted by: Rhino40 | February 17, 2011 12:57 PM | Report abuse

A final post about Semin's performance last night...

That was one of the worst +4 3 goal games you'll ever see from a player. I'd attribute the majority of that +/- to the play of Johansson and others. Semin was mishandling the puck left and right for the vast majority of the game outside of his scoring plays. He could barely keep the puck on his stick. I think he literally lost the puck about the first 5 or 6 times he touched it in the game and that wasn't close to the end of his struggles. It got so bad at one point last night that Laughlin called Semin out for not executing a simple pass on the PP that cost us possession in the offensive zone.

I challenge anybody to rewatch that game and focus entirely on Semin's shifts and argue that he had a good game. A lot of people forget about the entire process if a player scores a goal or even 3 as in this case. In other words, many of of you are just like Boudreau in that respect - too much about results, not enough about the process. Scoring a goal, even in losing efforts, often gets you off the hook with him.

I wish I was good at video editing. I'd go through that game and pull out Semin's myriad of bad plays and how many times Johansson and others covered for him offensively and defensively. On his first goal of the game, he nearly blew the 3-on-1 by wrongsiding JOhansson with a poorly timed and delivered pass. Johansson made the best play in that sequence by controlling the bad pass and getting it back across the goal mouth, preventing the play from falling apart.

Semin gets cut some slack because he probably still isn't all the way back yet. He missed a lot of time and it takes a while to get your legs back and to get fully into game shape.

And he obviously di make a few good plays, including that huge clutch goal. The fact still remains that he had a game much, much worse than the boxscore would indicate. I'd say that literally his only 2 high quality and complete plays of the entire game were the ones he made on the 2nd and 3rd goals. Even if finished well on the 1st goal, that play was all Johansson.

And those 2 positive plays went against about 10-12 bad to awful ones. I remember Johansson alone covering for a number of his sloppy plays. Another example was a shift where Johansson worked his tail off to keep the puck in the o-zone. Semin eventually came over to poke at the puck along the wall and ended up sending it weakly towards the middle of the ice where an ANA player intercepted it. Johansson then backchecked passed Semin and helped minimize the damage.

There were a number of plays along the wall and in open ice where Semin literally just lost the handle of the puck even when there was minimal to no pressure. It was agonzing to watch but understandable to an extent cuz a player will have ups and downs for a while after missing so much time.

Posted by: tmac2yao | February 17, 2011 12:57 PM | Report abuse

So the Blues just put Halak on IR, guess the Habs made the right choice after all.

On the center issue, everyone needs to remember we will only get J.A. from Jesery because GMGM has TOTAL belief that he already has the right players here.

Posted by: bqts | February 17, 2011 1:00 PM | Report abuse

(cont... didn't realize I had so much to say on the topic)

The biggest thing that came out of that game for Semin was him potentially regaining some confidence, assuming he's able to forget the fact that he played poorly for about 95% of the game and take away only the few positives.

I'd easily say that a number of players had better games than him, most notably his linemate Johansson, regardless of the stats.

If it were Game 7 of the finals, you don't care about anything but the result. It wasn't Game 7 though and despite Semin having at least one good excuse for being rusty, the fact is that he needs to get back to performing more consistently throughout a game and from game to game. He probably will and I wasn't doubting that. I was just calling like I saw it last night but it seems like some people just don't get the concept of looking past goals and the box score and use their eyes to evalute the good and the bad, not just with Semin last night but in general.

Posted by: tmac2yao | February 17, 2011 1:01 PM | Report abuse

How come the Cup winning Wings had no problem playing "D" and scoring goals ?
Hawks defensemen were creaming forwards, and feeding Toews/Kane/Buf last year.

Defense is an "attitude". Just look at the way Datsyuk shuts guys down and does the hard work of crashing the slot on the attack.

Bowman, I'm sure, would say that the Caps don't want to do the hard work of playing good "D". Just like they will not "grind out" a power play goals like the Flyers.

The team is fun to watch when playing "jail break" hockey, but too lazy
to play "Datsyuk type" defense and Flyer power play hockey.

Therefore, No cup !

Can't win four rounds not playing "D" or getting B-Ugly power play goals when needed. A Miller or Luongo would end the "jail break". (or Smurfy forwards throwing their bodies at all perimeter shots would end the season!)

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | February 17, 2011 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Heard Bieksa is out for 2-3 weeks with a broke foot. Sounds like they need defensemen bad. How bout Shultz, Sloan, and Poti for H Sedin? =)

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | February 17, 2011 12:55 PM

@SAOTI:

OK, OK, I'll let you have the "S****, S****, S****", because it was very gratifying to see Sasha Minor get the hat (and more importantly, the GWG).

It's still gross and sick, though (and I don't mean Ovie-sick).

Waka. Waka. Waka.

Too bad about BXA--I always thought he would be a good add for us. But the trade you propose wouln't work; Vancouver won't break up the Twins unless one of them dies...heck, it may even be in their contracts that where.one goes the other must follow.

Posted by: Rhino40 | February 17, 2011 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Hate to be totally negative, but that Duck's goalie couldn't hold Hiller's socks.

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | February 17, 2011 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Hejduk and Weiss are the guys I want.

Posted by: underpants2 | February 17, 2011 10:34 AM


@underpants2:

Hedge Duck skated with Sakic, so wouldn't that make him, like, 1000 years old? Somehow, I think Hejduk is not the droid you're looking for.

Posted by: Rhino40


Hejduk is 35. He has 45 points this year (17 goals), and a Stanley Cup. He could play 1RW immediately.

He is exactly the kin of player we need IMO.

Posted by: underpants2 | February 17, 2011 1:15 PM | Report abuse

@ Hunterforcoach

Hiller wears socks??

Posted by: bqts | February 17, 2011 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Hejduk is 35. He has 45 points this year (17 goals), and a Stanley Cup. He could play 1RW immediately.

He is exactly the kin of player we need IMO.

Posted by: underpants2 | February 17, 2011 1:15 PM | Report abuse

He would be a good person to get especially if we can get him for cheap. However he has a NMC and I don't know how he would feel about coming over here.

Posted by: icehammer97 | February 17, 2011 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I'll take a losing effort with lots of goals. I'd just say 'thank you' and call that a lucky day!

Isn't the idea that a consistent effort will yield consistent results? I don't think it makes sense to focus on either effort or results. You need both. When you're lucky and get some goals you maybe don't "deserve" (whatever that means), it makes up for those rough ones where you do all the right things (whatever those are) and you don't score.

Good scorers play to score. They don't complete a checklist of things to do "the right way" and wait for the wheels of sports justice to deliver their goals. Scorers just have a bit of magic and a relentless desire to score.

Posted by: jepper | February 17, 2011 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Hate to be totally negative, but......

Posted by: Hunterforcoach

I don't think you do one bit.

I kid, I kid...

Posted by: j3rockstar | February 17, 2011 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Hedjuk is also a UFA at seasons end, and played in 112 playoff games.

What would he cost? Let's say it's a lot, 1st round pick. It will be a low 1st rounder in what is thought to be a weak draft.

Also, let's say Weiss for Eakin, Holtby and Chimera.

OV-Backs-Hejduk
Semin-Weiss-Fehr
Laich-MaJo-Knuble
Bradley-Steckel-Hendricks

Thoughts?

Posted by: underpants2 | February 17, 2011 1:23 PM | Report abuse

I don't think FLA would have much interest in Holtby, they have the best goltending prospect in the Game. I'm blanking on his name, but they would probably want neuvy/varly in the event that he takes another year to develop

Posted by: chatton | February 17, 2011 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Hate to be totally negative, but that Duck's goalie couldn't hold Hiller's socks.

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | February 17, 2011 1:06 PM


@Hunterforcoach:

You're 100% right about "Mac-he'll-let-in-any"...

...but you're a liar about the rest.

Posted by: Rhino40 | February 17, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Lot's of downers here, some of these people must be Shittsburg fans...........Right now, I don't care! Get another point or two tonight any gd way you can and get the hell away from the left coast. Two more big games Sun and Mon. Get 3 or 4 more pts out of that and the Caps are right back where they belong,..........in FIRST PLACE (third seed).

Posted by: Cayugalaker | February 17, 2011 3:02 PM | Report abuse

@jepper
..........right on!

Posted by: Cayugalaker | February 17, 2011 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Katie you seem like a lady so I will clean this up a bit for you...

F@#$ the new defensive system. The Caps losing alot more with it than are gaining. All those idiot so called hockey experts and analysts can go take a dump and not have tiolet paper for all I care when they talk about how the Caps need to do this and they will be better of in the long run.

This new system is taking the very soul out of the Caps. It's not fun for them, or the fans, and not as productive.

It pisses me off thinking how the Caps have capitulated to all their critics the last few years. They sold out and became sheep.

Unless the Caps decide to rebuild themselves, they need to be true to their personel and go back. Tighten up their PK from last year is the only thing that was just killing them defensively.

I dont think the Caps threw away their D system last night permanently. I think management has completely publically bought into the pundits on this defense first crap.

Posted by: theAnswerIs42 | February 17, 2011 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Maybe they just needed to spend time making sure they were ready for the playoffs. Maybe if they go back to scoring, when they tighten up again they will have an easier time on offense. Or maybe they will figure out how to use Fun and Gun for the first half of the game, get a 2-3 point lead, THEN tighten up so we don't have to scramble for goals when the two or three opportunities present themselves. I don't know, but at this point going ALL OFFENSE for the rest of the season might be needed to launch back up in the standings.

Posted by: mcgratsp | February 17, 2011 3:37 PM | Report abuse

@tmacyao - by your logic, Semin may well have been the worst player on the ice.

But he was a major reason for Laich's goal, causing the turnover. He scored two goals that only about five players in this league can score (he must have not been trying to score, but he played so badly the puck went in). And he was a plus four on a night no one else on either side exceeded a 2. The kid had a great night - sometimes fumbling here and there doesn't tell the story. How many times did he maintain control, keep us in possesion, put pressure on his opponents. He had a very effective game, he reads the plays. He scored those goals, because, like any great player he doesn't just go to the net (stupid players do that, they think you can do things by following rules), he goes to the net when he reads the play and the time is right. Semin's biggest problem is getting players smart enough to play with him, and a coach smart enough to coach him.

Posted by: RedLitYogi | February 17, 2011 8:09 PM | Report abuse

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