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Line Combos on Boudreau's Mind

Will Mike Knuble skate alongside Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom? Or will Alexander Semin prove to be a better fit as the Caps' first-line right wing?

Who plays left wing on the second line? Tomas Fleischmann or Brooks Laich? And where does a (finally) healthy Chris Clark fit into the equation?

With less than two weeks remaining until the puck drops on training camp, Bruce Boudreau's mind is working overtime trying to answer those questions.

"I'll have to see how the mix is," Boudreau said Wednesday at KCI. "You can talk about how this should be a perfect fit and that should be a good fit. And this guy is this, and that guy is that, and we know what we're missing. There's going to be a lot of line juggling after the first week. I have ideas of what I want to do, but sometimes it's not the same when you see it in action."

Asked specifically about Ovechkin's line, Boudreau shrugged and said: "It's not a question of the top line. I'm not trying to evade the question. But the question is really, 'How do you make the first two lines great?' Is Knuble great with Backstrom and Ovie? Or is Semin a better fit with that line and Knuble a better fit with the North Americans, [Brendan] Morrison and whomever, whether it's Brooks or Fleischmann? Or do you want to balance it out by putting Semin on the second scoring offensive line with Morrison with Brooks or Fleischmann? So those are some of the questions."

Boudreau was just getting warmed up.

"So we've got seven players in the mix for the first two lines," he said. "But you look, and Brooks was also great [in the playoffs] with [Matt] Bradley and [David] Steckel. They get along well. They sit and talk together. And you've got Chris Clark fully healthy for the first time in two years. Do you move him to left wing? These are all positive questions that we're asking. Believe me, I've gone through every feasible option multiple times. But I guess until you actually put it in and see it work.

"Morrison knows Knuble; they played together," Boudreau continued, barely pausing between thoughts. "Maybe they are a good fit. Alex is getting tighter and tighter with Semin every day. It wouldn't surprise me if they are playing on the same line in the Olympics. I know Alex visited Semin in [his hometown this summer]. I know when I played, my relationships with my wingers were so good that you had to play with that guy because he's your best friend and go to lunch after practice and talk about what you can accomplish together. That means a lot."

This much, though, Boudreau does know for sure: He wants to identify lines that work and stick with them, which would be a departure from last season's almost constant juggling.

"Obviously, I would like not to move lines around as much as we did last year," he said. "But that was out of necessity."

One player whose name Boudreau did not mention was Michael Nylander's. Perhaps that's because no one I've talked to in recent days knows what's going to happen with the veteran center, whose fate figures to be one of the more intriguing stories in the coming weeks. I'm told the team has booked him a plane ticket to Washington, like everyone else. But I'm also hearing that he's still exploring his options in Russia.

Anyway, back to the discussion about line combos. What does your opening night lineup look like?

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  September 2, 2009; 2:12 PM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Green's Crib to be Featured on MTV
Next: Ovechkin Set to Promote Video Game in New York

Comments

Now that is way more interesting than MTV.

Posted by: uncatim | September 2, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

IMO Seim and OV should be on two different lines. I think a Knuble and a Clark (if he can regain his form from two years ago) should be on a line with either or Semin or OV. And I would not break up the LBS line.

Posted by: fatboy08 | September 2, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

agreed

Posted by: doughless | September 2, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

All of the above players make the team, since the lines will move around during the course of the season,the question really is who is the guy that forces himself onto the team with his play in camp?

Posted by: RichC3 | September 2, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Is the LBS line a checking line? And if that is the case do you build another attacking line with what is left over. The leftovers are Gordon, Flash, Fehr, Beagle(?), Bourque(?) Aucoin(?) Laing(?), Nyls(?) and a few others. Actually the LBS line could do both, although they are not the most talented offensive players on the team.

Posted by: fatboy08 | September 2, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

@ Fatboy:

So where does Flash go then?

Ovie, Backs, Knuble
Semin, BMo, Clark
L,S,B
Laing,Gordon,Flash (??)

Should interesting, but Flash seems out of place on the 4th line.

Posted by: Fro_ | September 2, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

And everyone proposes there own magic line combos before they even hit the ice in 3, 2, 1...

The Nylander situation needs to be dealt with. And, I don't necessarily mean trade him. But, it doesn't help the team to have him hang on as a spare part at that salary. Just, wondering did the Caps book Nylander a first class ticket, or maybe cargo?

Posted by: oldtimehockey | September 2, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

We will probably see Laich on the second line a bit, depending on how well BMo plays and meshes with Semin.

We have such a surplus of "tweener" guys, we will see the lines in all sorts of weird combos. When I say tweener, I mean in between being a top 6 forward and a bottom 6 forward, not NHL/AHL.

Posted by: richmondphil | September 2, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Also, Luongo just received an extension which circumvents the cap hit, much like Pronger's and Hossa's contracts. Still a 5.3 mil/yr hit, but the contract has him "playing" until he is 43. He'll make 10 mil next year and 1 mil/yr over the last 6. Pretty funny.

It will be funnier when a whole new CBA will be ratified in a few years, and they void these contracts.

Posted by: richmondphil | September 2, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Nylander/Morrison for Kessel!!!

Posted by: Semin2828 | September 2, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

@oldtimehockey
It's actually in the CBA. Club must provide economy class air fare from player's summer residence to training camp, including reasonable expenses for family.

Posted by: koalatek | September 2, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Ovechkin-Backstrom-Knuble
Clark-Morrison-Semin
Fleischmann-Nylander-Fehr
Laich-Steckel-Bradley

Those are my 4. LBS is obviously a checking line, although the playoffs proved that they can provide scoring though. I doubt that part of my post is going to generate any controversy.

My third line is the remnants of the F-Street line from part of the second half of last season, with Nylander replacing Fedorov. Now, don't get me wrong, Michael Nylander is no Sergei Fedorov. Not even remotely close. Having said that, he's still a reasonably good, if completely out of place center. On most other teams in the league, he could compete for a top-6 spot. Putting him on a line with Fehr to crash the net and Flash to snipe from the wing creates a perfectly legitimate tertiary scoring threat, and almost certainly the best 3rd or 4th line in the SE. Being forced to play at a more methodical pace could even do quite a lot for Fehr's game which has been a bit undisciplined at times. You'll notice Gordon is absent, and he could take over this line if Nylander sucks.

Moving Clark to LW would be a transition, but let's face it, the guy hasn't played a heck of a lot in two years, so that transition could be easier than it is for most. It also gives both Sashas someone to get dirty in the crease.

In the event that Morrison doesn't come back from his many injuries, I would move Brooksie up to the second line, bring up someone from Hershey in his place. That might throw off the 4th line's chemistry, which shuffles everything and makes my post more irrelevant than it already is.

Is it hockey season yet?

Posted by: leacha | September 2, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

I know I am going to get ripped for this but matbe he is trade bait. I like the guy, and I don't think we have seen his best stuff yet, but... You gotta give up something to get something in return. Trade Flash, nyls and a dman for the big stay at home dman. Just and idea, please don't cricify me!

Posted by: fatboy08 | September 2, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

If one of our NHL forwards could be labeled "expendable", I'd pick Fehr over Flash any day of the week.

Posted by: richmondphil | September 2, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

My guess is that Semin will play with Ovie and Backstrom the majority of the time with Knuble playing with Morrisson. However, I find it hard to believe that BB will not switch the lines up if a line struggles. I would like to see him be more patient with his lines this season but I don't think it is in his makeup.

Posted by: 4capitals | September 2, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Phil, I agree with you that I would trade Fehr before Flash. But I don't think you will get anything worth trading for with Fehr, espcially with him coming off of multipule surgeries. I would dangle a package of Flash Nyls and a Dman for a SH Dman and cap relief

Posted by: fatboy08 | September 2, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

@koalatek,

thanks. I was kidding about cargo. But, I must say I'm kind of surprised that the players fly economy. I'm a big guy and the players are bigger still, so I can't even imagine how uncomfortable a 8 hour flight from Stockholm in coach would be...

Posted by: oldtimehockey | September 2, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

C.A.P.S CAPS CAPS CAPS! I don't think I've ever been so pumped for a hockey season... last year was close, but more uncertainty with Theo as a total unknown... This year, its electric. Theo either is better, or Varly will be, the D are one year more experienced, the Offense got even better! Bring it ON!

Posted by: vanza001 | September 2, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure those guys make enough money to upgrade their economy seats to first class. I seriously doubt Backie or Ovie ride in coach.

Posted by: PhilR | September 2, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

@oldtimehockey

There's nothing stopping a millionaire hockey player from upgrading his ticket. The CBA requirement is for EVERY player, even the 700,000 a year rookies.

Posted by: vanza001 | September 2, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Also, just to pass some more time, our good friends over at alex ovejtkin blog have had a bunch of new updates showing our three Russians, as well as our two recently departed.

http://alexovetjkin.blogspot.com/

Lots of pics, info on the Russian team, etc..

Posted by: richmondphil | September 2, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

@PhilR Malkin rode coach back to Russia while Lord Stanley's cup rode in first, just saying.

http://www.njdevs.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=47930

Posted by: leacha | September 2, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Phil, I agree with you that I would trade Fehr before Flash. But I don't think you will get anything worth trading for with Fehr, espcially with him coming off of multipule surgeries. I would dangle a package of Flash Nyls and a Dman for a SH Dman and cap relief

Posted by: fatboy08 | September 2, 2009 3:06 PM |

You have the same return for Fehr as you do for Flash really. Considering age, salary, etc and everything.

The only reason I would say to keep Fehr is for his size and the promise that he could very well turn into a power forward one day like we were promised. I just don't buy it. Fehr plays a finesse game, like Flash, despite his size and weight advantage. Flash also plays in three zones more than Fehr does, granted neither seem to do it consistently.

Posted by: richmondphil | September 2, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Fehr will be out on LTIR until January. Leave him off your line combos.

Posted by: puckman | September 2, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

No team is going to take Nylander AND Flash AND a d-man. Too much salary, not a good package.. I don't think this would even fly in video games.

Posted by: thiazzi | September 2, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully Fehr will take lessons from Knuble and become the PF that we thought we were getting!

Posted by: fatboy08 | September 2, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Also saying you are going to dangle a package, and finding teams who want your package, are two entirely different things. To what team does Nyls/Flash or Fehr/Juice or ShaMo sound viable to be traded too? I can't think of one. I can see a three-way happening maybe, and I have fleshed a few out. One was a 3-way with the Kings and Avs. We'd be lucky if a team wanted to take Nyls and his cap hit off our hands alone, yet alone help us fix our other problems. Vancouver was fleshed out in a trade in which we sent a d man over there, but since their trade with SJ and the signing of Schneider, I don't see that happening anymore.

Posted by: richmondphil | September 2, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

No team is going to take Nylander AND Flash AND a d-man. Too much salary, not a good package.. I don't think this would even fly in video games.

Posted by: thiazzi | September 2, 2009 3:15 PM |

Beat me to the punch. Trading a package like that, given the cap situations of other teams, seems implausible.

Posted by: richmondphil | September 2, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully Fehr will take lessons from Knuble and become the PF that we thought we were getting!

Posted by: fatboy08 | September 2, 2009 3:17 PM |

I hope so too, but unless he decides to change how he plays, I don't know...

All he has to do is take lessons from Ovie really. Use your body to score sometimes. Use your body period.

Fehr is like 6'3'' and 200+, lets see him use that size.

Flash uses his body more than Fehr does...which isn't a good thing.

Posted by: richmondphil | September 2, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Fehr will be out on LTIR until January. Leave him off your line combos.

Posted by: puckman | September 2, 2009 3:15 PM |

January?

Posted by: richmondphil | September 2, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Just throwing out some ideas to generate discussion. But we are now back to Flash potentially on the fourth line.

Posted by: fatboy08 | September 2, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

For what it's worth, I'd put Clark on the 3/4 lines and put Flash on the other wing with Semin. BMo or Nyls, whoever performs better pivots.

BB line combos are the funnest to guess game to game.

Posted by: richmondphil | September 2, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

i really hope that this year we ARE NOT going to have to guess game to game about line combos. i realize the constant changes last year were partially a result of injuries, but I think some more stable lines will help overall team success. that said, i expect that over the first few weeks of the regular season there will probably be some tinkering.

Posted by: doughless | September 2, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

He has until around the deadline to tinker with his lines. Seriously, if a pro player cannot get chemistry with someone in 10ish games, then just give it up., you guys arent going to click.

I have no problems with seeing lines shuffled, as long as they are familiar come March.

Posted by: richmondphil | September 2, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

TEB, i'll play your game;

Ovie-Backstrom-Knuble
Fehr/Flash-Morrisson-Semin
Laich-Steckel-Bradley/Clark
Bourque-Aucoin/Nylander-Clark/Fehr

We have the potential to have the most expensive 4th line in the league (if we pair Nylander and Clark there - but i guess BB doesnt think Nylander is good enough, hahahaha). I think 2nd line LW is up for the taking and whoever outplays eachother (does Fehr play to his potential or will Flash become a scorer as he teased us last year) will get it. The loser of the comp. drops to 4th line and will compete with Bourque.

Posted by: ThatGuy2 | September 2, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Who wants to bet that Nylander doesn't get on the plane to come back to the states?

Posted by: ThePat | September 2, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

All I know is Ovechkin-Backstrom-Semin only works if there are three pucks on the ice. Regardless, I forsee o'TON of Caps goals this year!!!

Posted by: dsphvywght | September 2, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

i think the OBS line is not balanced. put Knuble or clark on top line for some balance. OV and Semin on the same line = too much passing and too much cute play.

Posted by: doughless | September 2, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Ovechkin tends to try and force passes to Semin sometimes. We need them both shooting!

Posted by: thiazzi | September 2, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Thiazzi, with the first overall pick in the Blogs Troll mock draft, I pick Ray "DA RAYZOR" Emery.

Posted by: richmondphil | September 2, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Ovechkin - Backstrom - Knuble
Fleischmann - Morrison - Semin
Laich - Steckel - Bradley
(anyone) - Gordon - (anyone)

Fehr/Nylander/Clark/AHL callup can fit under "anyone"

Posted by: Semvechkin | September 2, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

I love Ovi. I love Semin. I don't love seeing both of them on the same line. Keep Semin on the second line and move him up occasionally like they did last year. I'm all for Clark being on the second line with Semin, given he was at one point on the first line with Ovi. Kinda' gives him cred for that position, though Laich being on that line too seems promising. Just an opinion. =)

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | September 2, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

FYI.....HockeyBuzz is still saying that the Caps are in the running for Afinogenov.

Posted by: doughless | September 2, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

@richmondphil

You're braver than I.

Or misguided.

Posted by: thiazzi | September 2, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Boudreau on XM radio right now. Free trial: https://www.xmradio.ca/xmro/trial.cfm

You get it instantly after clicking a link in your email.

Posted by: thiazzi | September 2, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

As I have said before, my top three lines would be:

Ovie...Backs...Clark/Knuble
Semin...Nyls/BMo...Knuble/Clark
Laich...Steckel...Bradley (LSB...the halucegenic line[groan])
4th line would be:
Flash...Nyles/BMo...Fehr

I am not thrilled with the 4th line but unless we can trade Nyls, along with a couple of others, we are stuck.

Posted by: realoldcapsfan | September 2, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

They're also doing a preview of the caps until 5.

Posted by: thiazzi | September 2, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

The thought of making him a #1 overall, whether a mock draft in a fantasy league or not, is too good to pass up.

I follow my Rayzor pick with Kessel and Hossa.

and Igor Ulanov.

Posted by: richmondphil | September 2, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

As long as you avoid DiPietro, you'll be in good shape.

Posted by: thiazzi | September 2, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

thiazzi,
Just signed up for the league, blog trolls is classic! One slot left.....

Posted by: PhilR | September 2, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Ovechkin-Backstrom-Laich
Semin-Morrison-Knuble
Fehr-Nylander-Fleischmann
Bradley-Steckel-Gordon
Green-Morrisson
Poti-Alzner/Pothier
Erskine-Jurcina/Pothier/Alzner

Posted by: gocaps01 | September 2, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

For all who are putting Semin in a RW. He is only a RW when he plays with Ovechkin. On any other line he is a LW. It's his natural position. So if you have Semin on the 2nd line with BMo then you're looking for a RW for that line not a LW.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | September 2, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Guessing line combo's in hockey is like asking a meteorologist what the weather's gonna be like. They have a clue but don't really know! The bottom line is I think we can all agree that Backstrom will be with OV MOST of the time. Semin will see time with OV on RW and he will see time on the 2nd line as a LW w/BMo centering that line. As far as I'm concerned all the parts to the 3rd and 4th line are interchangable. There will be periods were a certain 3 players will click with others as a 3rd or 4th line or a checking line whatever you want to label it as but for the most part I think they're pretty interchangable (if that's a word). LOL! I do know this, I don't see a better PP out there PERIOD. Name another team that can put out a better #1 PP than OV, Backstrom, Knuble, Semin and Green.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | September 2, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

@PhilR,

Awesome! That's actually one spot left in both divisions, so 2 total. If anybody else wants to get into the fantasy league, send an email to thiazzi@gmail.com and we'll invite you!

I'm getting excited for the season, both real and fantasy.

Posted by: thiazzi | September 2, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

For all who are putting Semin in a RW. He is only a RW when he plays with Ovechkin. On any other line he is a LW. It's his natural position. So if you have Semin on the 2nd line with BMo then you're looking for a RW for that line not a LW.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | September 2, 2009 4:43 PM |

Semin is also a righty, so playing off the LW would greatly benefit him.

Posted by: richmondphil | September 2, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

@pokerfaceI208,

Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Holmstrom/Franzen, Lidstrom and Rafalski is pretty strong.. But we're right there with them now!

Posted by: thiazzi | September 2, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

All I know is Ovechkin-Backstrom-Semin only works if there are three pucks on the ice.

Posted by: dsphvywght | September 2, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse


My thoughts exactly! It's a fantasy line which hasn't really worked in the past.

I think OV will end up playing mostly with Morisson/Knuble and Backstrom/Semin will stick together with maybe Laich or Fleishman.

Posted by: asdfasdfasdf123 | September 2, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Thiazzi - yes Detroit is there too. Last year they were #1 and we were #2. I think that changes this year. They lost Hossa and we gained Knuble. They still don't have an OV and that's the difference. On the PP I think all those players are comparable outside of OV.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | September 2, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

ASDFASD "I think OV will end up playing mostly with Morisson/Knuble and Backstrom/Semin will stick together with maybe Laich or Fleishman."

I don't see that happening a whole lot. Sure it'll happen at times but don't look for it to be a consistent thing. OV and Backstrom will play the majority of the time together. BMo will center the 2nd line and my guess is that it will be with Semin for the most part. Knuble will rotate between the 1st and 2nd lines unless he really clicks with 1 of them. I don't think BMo will unseat Backstrom as Ov's center if Fedorov couldn't. Sure Feds centered him at times but the more consistent pairing was OV with Backstrom.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | September 2, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

I know there has been on and off discussion about Backstrom and Semin becoming RFAs following this upcoming season. My take is that the Caps will do everything in their power to resign both players, regardless of financial constraints.

You absolutely can't let an elite young center like Backstrom go. End of discussion.

There are some people that say Semin is the one that could end up elsewhere. I just can't see that happening either unless it's his own decision at some point after his obligations to the Caps no longer exist.

As Boudreau said, Ovechkin and Semin are tight and getting tighter. Semin leaving would likely lead to a disgruntled Ovechkin, something I'm pretty sure management wants to avoid.

Posted by: tmac2yao | September 2, 2009 6:27 PM | Report abuse

I was hoping this Nylander situation would be solved by now. I hate to see the Caps continue to treat him like yesterday's leftovers, only to find him still on the team come Winter. If they can somehow deal him or he signs in Russia, I hope it happens soon. Otherwise include the guy in your plans and move forward. This could be a season long disruption.

Posted by: kcbrichmond | September 2, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Ovechkin Morrison Knuble
Flash Backstrom Semin
Liach Steckle Bradly
Clark Gordon Fehr

Posted by: Mike4169 | September 2, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse

i like that..i don't think Backstrom should automatically be playing with Ovechkin. I think there's room for improvement there as we saw in the playoffs when our top line had a hard time maintaining puck possession in the Pens defensive zone. Don't have a problem with Bruce juggling the top 2 centers back and forth depending on what the chemistry is at the time. And don't forget about Laing. He'll get into a lot of games this year. And if he does that frees up Laich to move off the Steckel line.

Posted by: cstanton1 | September 2, 2009 8:21 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

Like those lines. I think we started with Backstrom and Semin together in the Pens series -- at least before Semin got hurt.

@tmac2yao

Yes, signing Backstrom and Semin are definitely our top priorities for next year. In the money dept., they'll let Theodore walk as an UFA at the end of the year and probably let Pothier walk to clear space for the prospects. So, that should free up some dollars for a slight raise (up to $1 million)for Semin and a humongous raise for Backstrom.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | September 2, 2009 9:42 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

Laich actually has great chemistry on a line with Stecks and Bradley. (In any case, Laich is so adaptable when it comes to finding a line to put him on.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | September 2, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Regarding the Versus/DirecTV situation:

I am a DirecTV/Center Ice subscriber and transplanted Caps fan living in Houston, TX. I just called my local cable provider and found out that I can add cable to one room in my house for $29.95/mo for 6 months. I've never had both satellite and cable at the same time but according to the customer service rep, it can be done. I may have to pay a $25 setup fee because the house is already wired for satellite.

I would basically be paying about $200 for whatever number of regular season and playoff games. I am not making any moves though yet in the hope that DirecTV and Comcast/Versus are able to resolve the matter. If nothing changes in the next 2 weeks or so, I'm adding one room of cable.

Posted by: tmac2yao | September 2, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

@kcbrichmond

I hope they solve the Nylander situation one way or another. It would be unhealthy for all parties for him to be a healthy scratch for all 82 games. (Okay, I'm exaggerating.) In any case, the NMC clause expires after this season so he can then be traded without permission.)

Trade idea. Trade him to Nashville for the rights to Alex Radulov. I'm sure Nashville has cap space since the team's usually a cheap operation. Nylander can probably do them more good than Radulov (who's in the KHL). The Caps would probably have a better chance of getting Radulov to play for them than Nashville would.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | September 2, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Here's my idea for a fix on D (it's equal parts fantasy league, wishful thinking and Caps nostalgia): get Scott Stevens to make a comeback. Give him the "C" he deserved and a one year contract. Hey, if sad sacks like Claude Lemieux and Theo Fleury can (almost) do it, then a great like Scotty is a slam dunk. He can finish where he started. Oh, and let him wear #3 - he was never #4 in my book.

Posted by: CAP-lanta | September 3, 2009 1:11 AM | Report abuse

haha yeah it was weird seeing Stevens as #4. But then again Daneyko was the elder statesman with the Devils so he'd never give up his #3.


@cstanton1

Laich actually has great chemistry on a line with Stecks and Bradley. (In any case, Laich is so adaptable when it comes to finding a line to put him on.)


Yeah I know he did. But you would still have a solid line if you replaced Laich with Laing. Remember the great chemistry that line had 2 yrs ago and for the only game that Laing played with them this yr before his ruptured spleen

And that allows you to move Laich upto the 2nd line..just gives us more balance on our top lines with some quality grinders such as Laich and Knuble.

Posted by: cstanton1 | September 3, 2009 2:09 AM | Report abuse

I am not thrilled with the 4th line but unless we can trade Nyls, along with a couple of others, we are stuck.

Posted by: realoldcapsfan | September 2, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

they don't HAVE to play Nylander. They'll find a way to dump him. He's not in their plans at all so anyone wishing to see a new rejuvenated Nylander will have to suck it up. it ain't happenin

Posted by: cstanton1 | September 3, 2009 2:12 AM | Report abuse

Just listened to the NHL channel on the way in to work. It was probably a re-broadcast but this morning they were analyzing the Caps. I didn't get into the car until 0430 so I missed BBs interview. The experts on there had some interesting things to say. They have a portion of the analysis called the 5 buring questions. Going on memory but here it goes:

1. How many games with Jose Theodore play? The agreement by the guys on the air was about 25. They fully expect Varly to get the shot to take over.

2. Was the off-season activity an upgrade or downgrade? one said it was a move to the side, but they should be better because they have another year of maturity under their belts. The other said it the moves were an upgrade, and agreed they will be better.

3. Is the defense suspect? Suprisingly they both really like our defense. Pointed directly to Green's illness and injury as the main reason the defense floundered in the playoffs because he is the pulse of the defense. They both felt the D was good. I realize there will be a lot of responses about this, I'm just letting you all know what they said.

I can't remember #4 right now.

5. Will the Caps represent the East in the SCF. They both said know. Basically challenged their ability to get up for big games. Basically they said that the Caps need to show them more in the post season before they can become believers. They think the team is good enough but not the mindset. I didn't like what I heard, but it was fair.

Let's Go Caps!!!

Posted by: fanohock1 | September 3, 2009 6:51 AM | Report abuse

Come to think of it maybe those weren't all part of the 5 burning questions, it was early. However, all the topics were discussed on the NHL channel (Sirius/XM) and the responses are what the hosts thought, not me.

Posted by: fanohock1 | September 3, 2009 6:56 AM | Report abuse

My gosh, I should proof read before I submit. For those that grade posts I realize this is wrong: "Will the Caps represent the East in the SCF. They both said know." I realize it should be "no" instead of "know" it has already been a long day.

On another note, it's kind of cool that BB has the problems putting pieces of the puzzles in the right place. At least we have solid pieces to work with!!

Posted by: fanohock1 | September 3, 2009 7:18 AM | Report abuse

On paper the following line combos would seem most effective:
Ovechkin-Backstrom-Knuble
Semin-Morrison-Clark
Laich-Steckel-Bradley
Flash-Gordon-Fehr

However, you never know how people are going to play together. Which ever way it shakes out it looks like it could be a pretty good and exciting year for the Caps.

Nylander, I don't know about that guy or what to do with him. I do know that for someone who makes the kind of money he does he has to contribute, something which he rarely did last year. It was the first year back after a major injury and you know what they say about that. Can he turn it around?

p.s. I guess I'm going to have to change my screen name. :(

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | September 3, 2009 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: tess2201 | September 3, 2009 8:15 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Cstanton, with my lines I feel like you spread scoring around well. Ovechkin's center is going to put up points anyway. If Morrison can get even close to his old speed that will be tough to shut down with a guy like Knuble on the RW following the play and stuffing rebounds. Morrison has also proven he can be a center of the best line in the NHL in the past at the time. Naslund Morrison Bertuzzi.

Backstrom I think will have a break out year in points even without Ovechkin. Semin on his line will balance the scoring as well.

With those lines I think the Caps have two solid scoring lines. With Backstrom on the first line I think you put all your egg's in one basket type thing.

Now if only McPhee could add a true #1 D-man somehow for the first time as GM we could have a shot at the cup.

Posted by: Mike4169 | September 3, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Backstrom was drafted to play with Ovechkin. He will play with Ovechkin.

Posted by: thiazzi | September 3, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

I think that what is going on with Nylander is a dance that occurs in a lot of businesses that have an employee they want to get rid of but can't fire. They make the employee so uncomfortable in the job that he is encouraged to quit. The idea of sitting him out essentially permanently is not so far fetched. Nylander will eventually get tired of the humiliation and seeing his career slip away and he will agree to a trade or go to Russia. It's not pretty, but it's how the business world sometimes operates.

Posted by: zmega | September 3, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

One thing I have to say in Nyls favor. The Caps may have to play him and hope to increase his trade value. If they decide to sit him just to sit him, it does not help anyone. If the Caps want to get rid of him, play him a lot early in the season and get his trade value up. Sitting in the press box only lowers his value.

Posted by: RichC3 | September 3, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Maybe Vancouver will take him. They like old Swedes.

Posted by: thiazzi | September 3, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure those guys make enough money to upgrade their economy seats to first class. I seriously doubt Backie or Ovie ride in coach.

Posted by: PhilR | September 2, 2009 3:10 PM


@ PhilR: OV can probably already afford his own plane (MiG-29 or Su-27? LOL)
B├Ąckis will be able to do the same very soon (Saab JS-39 Gripen?)

Posted by: Rhino40 | September 3, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Vancouver can't afford him anymore, with all the money they threw at their blue line recently.

Backstrom is by far his most effective when pivoting Ovechkin. He was struggling his rookie season until he got time with Ovechkin. He only put up 22 goals last year. I fail to see how the scoring is not spread out. Backstrom is primarily an assist guy. I mean, he only had 3 goals in the playoffs last year and like 11 or 12 assists. Spreading out our scoring would be putting Semin on the second line, not splitting up Backstrom/Ovechkin.

Morrison only had that break out year because of Naslund. Sure, he's fast, but that line began and ended with Naslund. It was Bertuzzi's break out year as well.

Posted by: richmondphil | September 3, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

@RichC3-Does playing Nylander in this system increase his trade value, or make it more apparent that he has lost a step? If he is not good enough to play on this team, as BB says, it hurts the team to play him. By all accounts, he could go to Russia today if he wanted to. The no-trade clause may be a bigger obstacle to moving him than his current market value. The sitting-out strategy worked in the Bob Carpenter situation - maybe it would work here.

Posted by: zmega | September 3, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Yeah...that worked for the guy who went on to help NJ win a Cup!

We have TWO more years of him if we don't trade him. Not just like a half a year, like Bobby C.

Posted by: richmondphil | September 3, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

My daughter now sports my old school Bobby Carpenter jersey I had as a kid. I know he was a dissapointment in a lot of people's eyes but as a 12-13 year old kid I loved the guy and still do to this day.

My daughter wore that jersey to a couple games last year and there were quite a few people calling her "little Bobby Carpenter", I thought it was great but as an 8 year old girl she was embarassed and turned the color of the red in the jersey!

Posted by: PhilR | September 3, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

He was good with his first stint with us. Put up a 50 goal season, if I remember.

Posted by: richmondphil | September 3, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Yep, that guy was my hero back then. I followed the Caps before he came along but never had a real favorite player (other than maybe Maruk) until he arrived.

Posted by: PhilR | September 3, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Ovechkin - Backstrom - Knuble
Fleischmann - Morrison - Semin
Laich - Steckel - Bradley
(anyone) - Gordon - (anyone)

Someone above posted that, and it's probably close to what I'd put. I just want to add that just as important is how they align the power play, and that unit will have two lines w/different combos.

Ovie-Backie-Semin-Knuble-Green
Ovie-Laich-Morrison-Flash-Pothier

Is my guess, as Ovie never gets off the ice for the entire two mins.

And, a reminder, Ovechkin, Semin and Green should be withheld from PK duty so their mins can be maximized for PP and ES offensive zone faceoffs. If there's one bone to pick with BB, it's that he gave Green too many PK minutes. Killing penalties should be the job of the other five non-offensive defensemen.

Posted by: tominfl1 | September 3, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Remember Semin plays LW unless he is on the OV line.

Backstrom is a better center for OV. BMo's game is speed, OV doesn't need a center with speed as he already possesses that himself. He needs the kind of center that is more methodical with the puck. Somebody who can possess the puck and hit him when he comes open. That's not BMo. I'm not saying BMo can't center him I'm just saying that the 2 styles probably won't mix as well as OV/Backs. BMo is a guy that makes plays off of his speed and is more of a leader in the rush than a follower. He would work great with Semin on the left IMO. You put a speedy guy centering Semin to where the D has to focus on him and then he hits Semin would be a nice combo.

I think we're headed for a very nice year. I can smell the clean shaven ice! Flood the rink baby!

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | September 3, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

I think you'd see Poti on that PP unit before Mo..

Posted by: thiazzi | September 3, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Four days till rookie camp.....this month is moving entirely too slow!

Posted by: PhilR | September 3, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

thiazzi:

That's BMo, not ShaMo. I don't expect to see ShaMo in a Caps uniform, much less on the PP.

I was assuming both PP units would have 4 forwards and 1 D. Ovie probably mans the left point on both. Then he can sneak in and score just like Green sneaks in and scores. Or sneak in and whip it to Semin. Look! A rebound! And Knuble bangs it home!

Posted by: tominfl1 | September 3, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Thanks tominfl1, now I know I'm not the only one daydreaming about goals being scored in my head. Thought I was crazy but I guess just rabid to get the season started.

Posted by: PhilR | September 3, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

@zmega......the thought is he can still play, just maybe not in the system the caps use today. Between the system and injuries,and maybe age, Nyls does not work here. Have some respect for him, let him play his way out of here. The Carpenter anology does not work here. There was no question he could still play, it was about attitude.

Posted by: RichC3 | September 3, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Burning Questions:

1) What WILL happen with Nylander?
2) Which defensemen (or two) do they trade?
3) Is Alzner sent back to Hershey due to a cap-related issue?
4) Do they keep Aucoin and Sloan with the club or risk them to waivers?
5) Will Chris Clark return to some semblance of the form that made him a decent player as recent as two years ago?

If only Johnny Carson were still alive, he could:

a) Answer these questions before they were even asked.
b) Make a wish that would have the fleas of 1000 camels infesting Cindy Crysby's armpits and the sewers of Rangoon backing up in Malkin's breakfast.

Posted by: tominfl1 | September 3, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

PhilR: I daydream about goals a lot, and it gets worse as the Playoffs come along.

"Ovechkin streaks across the blue line...he turns Lidstrom inside out...and scores!!!!!!!! Osgood never saw it coming! And the Caps now lead by two with under two minutes to play in Game Seven as the crowd at the Joe sits in stunned silence!"

Or this:

"Ovechkin passes to Backstrom behind the goal...back to Ovechkin...back to Backstrom...and here comes Green streaking in! He scores! What a beautiful one-timer on a great pass from Backstrom!"

"And Erskine staples Crosby into the end boards! Crosby rolls over and now he's whining to the referree from the ice! Crosby's not a happy camper on that hit!"

Posted by: tominfl1 | September 3, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

"top shelf, glove side!"

All I got.

Posted by: richmondphil | September 3, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

the Nylander situation puts the Caps in a tight spot. Are they really going to sit him given his salary?? is that really the best move?? either convince him to relinquish on the NMC and package him up for a trade (who to?) or he has to play (to make him marketable for a trade).

Posted by: doughless | September 3, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone here subscribe to the NHL centerice package?

I am just wondering if it is worth the money...

Posted by: CheyenneWY | September 3, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Center Ice is only good if you really want to follow a certain team besides the Caps. There are enough extra games on between Vs, and the NHL network and then NBC.

I would pass on the Package unless you like to gamble on hockey...hahaha

Posted by: SA-Town | September 3, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I might be tempted to go with 7 D, roll 3 regular forward lines, use Gordon and Bradley as primarily PK specialists and use Pothier as primarily a PP specialist.

Ovechkin / Backstrom / Knuble
Fleischmann / Morrison / Semin
Laich / Steckel / Clark
Gordon / Bradley
*
Morrisonn / Green
Poti / Jurcina
Alzer / Erskine
Pothier
*
Theodore / Varlamov

spares: Fehr, Schultz, Laing (Nylander to KHL)

Posted by: regehr | September 3, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Cheyenne - I love CenterIce. I live in Colorado and I can't miss any Caps games so for $1xx it's well worth it to me. I'm usually very mad on the couple of nights per year where VS has exclusive rights but they show a different game out here. You also are gonna want to get the "sports pack". It's only $5-$8 a month and you get the NHL network and all of the Fox's, NESN's etc of the world so you can watch pre and post game shows. Not to mention the few games that are on NHL network as well. Also in the mornings you can watch NHL Live which typically has EJ Hradek and Don Lagreca who I think are great and very insightful people into the hockey world. When 1 or both of these guys are there they have some phenominal people fill in like Bill Clement, Gary Thorne, Eddie O, Dave Reid, Larry Murphy (yes I said it) etc. So if your passion is hockey it's a must get IMO.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | September 3, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Same time last year, a nice For Sale sign was on Nyls lawn but no signs are there this year as I drove in front of his house yesterday.
My guess is, he will be here this coming week-end so the kids can start school. He will start camp with the Caps and GM will try to trade him to the 12-15 teams that Nyls has agreed to be traded to. If that doesn't work, he will be a healthy scratch as long as he can not play on the first two lines. Remember that our depth at center, without him is not very good.
BTW, I expect very little out of Morrison. Too many serious injuries; he is fragile and has already outperform his own abilities only once.

Posted by: atybat | September 3, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

@RichC3-You may be right and BB may be wrong about Nylander still being able to play, but I am skeptical. I bear Nylander no ill will-he seems like a good guy. With regard to Carpenter, my recollection is that the Caps were dissatisfied with his play, essentially manufactured the "personality conflict" issue, and Phil Esposito of the Rangers took the bait. Carpenter lasted 28 games with the Rangers, and Esposito not much longer. Except for a couple 20 goal years, Carpenter became essentially a checking line guy for the remainder of his career. SI Hockey online has an article that lists the Carpenter trade (we got Ridley and Kelly Miller) as one of the all time worst (from a NYC perspective).

Posted by: zmega | September 3, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

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