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Lineup Shakeup for Caps

In the wake of last night's 2-1 loss to Carolina, Coach Bruce Boudreau has shuffled the lineup and realigned the power play units.

Here are the new forward combos:
Ovechkin-Backstrom-Kozlov (back together again)
Fleischmann-Laich-Semin (Laich promoted again)
Brashear/Laing-Steckel-Bradley (Laing odd man out?)
Pettinger-Gordon-Fehr (Fehr dropped)

Defenseman John Erskine, who left last night's game in the first period with an undisclosed injury, is not practicing. The official word is that he's not "feeling good." Though it's more likely that he was injured in the fight with Wade Brookbank. He is doubtful for tomorrow's game against the Rangers.

The 'D' pairings look like this:
Green-Morrisonn
Jurcina-Poti
Schultz-Eminger (Eminger back in)

Boudreau spent the majority of today's session working on the power play, which was 0-for-7 vs. the 'Canes and is 1 for 24 over the past eight games. The Caps are 1 for 15 in 5 on 3 situations, including one that lasted 1:10 last night.

Update: Here are the two power play units: Fehr, Fleischmann and Backstrom with Ovechkin and Poti on the points. And Kozlov, Semin and Laich with Green high and Ovechkin at the point. Boudreau also said he plans to begin relying on two units, rather than leaning on just one.

"For the most part, we've been going with one unit," Boudreau said. "Whether we succeed or whether we fail, they go over the boards first. I don't know if (a) that's fair or (b) that's the way to do it. Most good teams -- look at the Canadiens or Detroit -- they have two good units. They come at you with either one, and they force the other team to be defend both types. We've got that ability."

Update:If you're planning to attend tomorrow's game, the Caps are asking that you leave early to avoid traffic caused by the Chinese New Year Parade. Here are the details.



By Tarik El-Bashir  |  February 9, 2008; 11:22 AM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Pre-Game Notes and Tonight's Lineup vs. Carolina
Next: Today's Lineup and Other Items of Interest

Comments

@Opita,

Agreed, Brash took a bad penalty. Semin did too. It's OK to say it.

Posted by: Steve R | February 9, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I think Pettinger stays out, brash stays on line 4 and you keep Laing on line 3

Posted by: Mitch | February 9, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad to see the Ovechkin - Backstrom - Kozlov line back together again. It was a little confusing when coach BB broke that line up for "secondary scoring" when it was doing all the primary scoring :P (I understand that they would want Kozlov on the second line to try to boost it... but why mess with a good thing?)

A win over the Rangers (who are playing back-to-back afternoon games this weekend), and we're back on top of the division.

Let's Go Caps!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 9, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Scratch Semin. Better yet, tade him.

Posted by: jak | February 9, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Omg, Steckel shold try the second line center. Happy about Kozy though. Fehr can't just go to the first line after being away from the NHL for so long.

Posted by: MKI | February 9, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Tarik - Thanks for the Saturday morning update! Glad to hear BB has them working on the PP. I was hoping that would be the case.

I'd definitely be disappointed if Laing were not in the lineup tomorrow. I think he's stronger in his role than Petty is in his.

It should be interesting to see how the ice is looking after the Barry Manilow concert tonight. All those hot flashes in one place...it could get ugly...

Posted by: Jill | February 9, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

WHAT!!!? A concert tonight at VC when there's hockey at 1 tomorrow? That's just plain dumb planning by WSE...just plain dumb.

Posted by: RIT | February 9, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

@Jill

That was very clever and very funny! The hot flash comment. That is why I love you more than the I Love Jill guy.

Posted by: I Love Jill More | February 9, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

yea jak lets tade him

Posted by: Anonymous | February 9, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

RIT, what do you expect

Posted by: Anonymous | February 9, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Capitals Player Meet & Greet
What: Meet and greet Capitals players.

When: February 10th following the 1:00 pm game versus the New York Rangers at the Verizon Center

Where: Cleveland Park Bar & Grill

Who: Shaone Morrisonn, Mike Green, Brooks Laich and Eric Fehr.

Why: Any excuse to drink beer and you're asking me why?

$7 for adults, $5 for kids - Proceeds go to Washington Animal Rescue League
More Info

Posted by: Anonymous | February 9, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

My wife just asked a question that has me stumped: do the normal rfa and ufa timeframes and rules apply to a player that was undrafted? Re: the guy in the Swedish premier league. Is he's signed now, is it as a ufa?

Posted by: Steve R | February 9, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

"yea jak lets tade him"

I think Puckguru was up all night playing World of Warcraft and forgot to take his meds this morning.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 9, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

bb should scratch brash. Nothing against brash, but he should be the healthy scratch...i dont know, against the rangers that might be a bad idea(colton orr). Gordo and bradley should be on the same line. but im far from a hockey guru, i just love the caps.

Posted by: capsfan08 | February 9, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Steve R,
my understanding is that Fabian Brunnstrom is now a UFA (can sign with any team) but must still be signed to a standardized, entry-level contract.

Tarik,
any word of what the coaching staff said to Semin after yet another penalty to take the team off the PP?
By my count Semin has now taken the Caps off the PP 5 times this year and has 2 PP goals. Why bother throwing him out there?

Posted by: dmg | February 9, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

@Steve R.

When a team drafts a player, they only own his rights. Until he signs a contract, the timeframe does not start.

I NEVER want to hear you say your "Wife" asked you a question that has you stumped. She shouldn't be looking at free agents in the Swedish Elite league. She should be looking at soccer coaching manuals.

Posted by: Lee | February 9, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I was right about fehr hes just a prospect good for hershey not for the Caps.Somebody need's to talk to semin pleaseeeeeeee

Posted by: erick | February 9, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

OK, so does that mean that the undrafted player can negotitiate with any team (like a UFA), but once signed the clock ticks for the normal RFA timeframe?

Lee, I was asking on undrafted players. Kay said something that will get me banned from posting here if I repeat it in re: your comments on only looking at soccer coaching books.

Posted by: Steve R | February 9, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

@Steve R.

Kid has a mouth on her, doesn't she. Just once, POW!, to the moon!

Posted by: lbenswanger | February 9, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Lee, you know she'll kick your butt when next she sees you if I repeat that (or at least kick you in the shins).

Could be entertaining.

Posted by: Steve R | February 9, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

what were her comments? "The picture don't make sense?"

Posted by: lbenswanger | February 9, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

gotta say - still amused that johnny got away unscathed last night ... we'd still be listening to olie rants if he let in 2 on the first 4 shots ...

Posted by: Boo! | February 9, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Oh yeah, tell her if she calls to complain, i don't have my phone

Posted by: lbenswanger | February 9, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

@Boo,

Would you be happy if I bashed Johnny? My heart wouldn't be in it, but I'll do it.

Johnny sucked. Olie would've made those saves.

Posted by: Steve R | February 9, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

@Boo

Johnny doesn't consistently give up soft goals on a nightly basis. The first was a great move, the second was an uncontrolled rebound (yes, bad, but he doesn't always do that.)

Lee

Posted by: lbenswanger | February 9, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

steve/lee (lbenswanger?):
you missed my point - not saying that johnny had a terrible game (although it was not his best), but that olie would have been beat up for the same performance.

Posted by: Boo! | February 9, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

@Boo (Lbenswanger is the signin name washpost has for me)

Nobody will bash johnnie because he hasn't earned it this season. Yet. Ollie has consistently let us down this season.

Posted by: lbenswanger | February 9, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Lee:
Olie's crime is not that he has been "consistently" bad, it is that he has been "inconsistent". I would say his most recent performance was very good, for example. So cut him a little slack ...

Posted by: Boo! | February 9, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Re Olie vs Johnson,

I don't think anyone would be blasting Olie if he let in the two goals Johnson did last night and then stopped everything else than came his way.

Posted by: dmg | February 9, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Oh, i haven't bashed him recently. Against Atlanta and philly, i let him slide. I'm not passing judgement on 2 games, although he did play much better.

I'm just answering your question as to why no one is getting on Johnnie for letting in 2 early goals.

Lee

Posted by: lbenswanger | February 9, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

First. Let me apologize for using the word "moron", it was used in a moment of frustration but I had to realize that the moronic posters I was referring to were also, I assume, done in a similar moment.

@puckgayru
Playing hide-and-seek does not count as a team sport. I on the other hand retired from a pro-sport. My apology does not extend to you, you are obviously a moron.

Posted by: Opita | February 9, 2008 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I understand your logic, lbenswanger, but really, how is 7-7-1 a let down over 19-18-4?

Both are mediocre, soft goals or great ones.
Just gotta find someone to blame, and someone to praise, right? Well, I'd be fine with pulling Olie for someone if they were capable of starting int he NHL. And as much as I like BJ, he's not right now. And as much as I like Olie, he's really not right now either. So do what? Call up Machesney? Wait for Varlamov? Stand pat at the deadline, and see what we can do?
We're in a crap situation with goalies right now, but there's just not anything that whining to crap about it is gonna help.
GMGM is not going to trade for a Huet this season, and we're likely not going to sign any top premiere goalies in the offseason. Sorry. Have fun speculating and throwing goalies under the bus, but anyone who throws a goalie under a bus after some of the goals you've blamed losses on Olie for just doesn't know hockey.

Besides, with our offense, we should be scoring 3+ a night. Especially with 7 power plays.
As far as Semin is concerned, let him get acclimated before you bash the hell out of him. He is a nervous wreck, maybe suffering from anxiety and maybe he's anti-social, and his only confidant seems to be Ovechkin. And if Ovechkin is cool with him, I am too.

Posted by: Whiter Mage | February 9, 2008 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I meant to say how is 7-7-1 less of a let down compared to 19-18-4. Oh well, rest of points I intended.

Posted by: Whiter Mage | February 9, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

@Whiter Mage

Oh, I by no means think Johnnie is the solution to our goaltending situation. It seems the team has been giving Ollie more goal support, so although his save percentage is the worste in the league, he does have a lot of wins. Unfortunately we do have to stand pat with what we have, because what is coming is better than what anyone has now (my sources have said). I was just pointing out what I think the reason is that no one is busting johninies chops for letting in 2 goals on the first 4 shots.

Lee

Posted by: lbenswanger | February 9, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

I think Ovie needs to sit Semin down and give him a stern talking too. Ovie seems to be the only one that can communicate with Semin.

Resolution if Semin doesn't listen: Let Ovie drill slapshots at his head.....then we can trade him (Semin).

Posted by: Mitch | February 9, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

To the poster who stated a win over the Rangers tomorrow and we are back at the top of the SE is incorrect.
Better keep an eye on the games today.
Canes play as does Atlanta and Fla.
Canes win today and they have 60 pts. So a win by us tomorrow and we would still be in 2nd.

Posted by: washcaps37 | February 9, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

No way can Laing be the odd man out he was the ONLY player besides Ovie giving it his all last night. if he's out we WILL loose.

Posted by: DC FURY | February 9, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

@DMG,

"Re Olie vs Johnson,

I don't think anyone would be blasting Olie if he let in the two goals Johnson did last night and then stopped everything else than came his way."

Actually, two people jump right to mind: Finn and Oneal. Others are critical of Olie, but those two are reeaaaallllll critical. 1-0 loss is Olie's fault, should have been a shutout....

Posted by: Steve R | February 9, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Boo,

You're right, see my above to DMG. With some people Olie can do no right.

Posted by: Steve R | February 9, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

@Opita,

If that penalty with 20 seconds left had happened to a player other than Semin, what would your reaction be?

Posted by: Steve R | February 9, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I resigned to having to see Kolzig until April. So why bother bashing him? I just hope he won't be re-signed. That's $5.5 mil we can spend on a true #1.

Posted by: Finn | February 9, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Semin looks lost to me. Unbelievable individual skill but more often than not he hurts the team - by being lazy and taking bad penalties - than he helps. I'd trade him in a heartbeat for a top defenseman.

Posted by: 8 is enuf | February 9, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Ovechkin at the point on the PP seems a little strange to me, but I've seen it a lot in practice so somebody's definitely into the idea...

A little Peter Bondra, no?

Posted by: NicoleW | February 9, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I think they put OV on the point primarily so he can do the sneak-down back door "Mike Green" play.

Posted by: Jordan | February 9, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

they need to put fehr at RW on the second line and move semin back t left but I'm sure that'll happen soon

Posted by: jleftwing97 | February 9, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

@ Steve R. and Boo

Also, there are those that think that Olie can do no wrong. Like politics, the truth is somewhere in between the two. His inconsistent play has been frustrating. Some games, he's on, others off. Can't tell which Olie we'll see on any given game-day.

Brett has been fairly consistent. Made a few very good saves last night. I don't think that any particular goal was weak. I'd ride him a bit more than we have been.

Still, this could be part of gmgm's negotiating strategy - showing Olie that he's losing it and not worth the 5.6 M he's being paid. Hard way to do it, but I wouldn't put it past gmgm to do this.

I don't have the stats in front of me, but I don't think that we've scored once all season on a 5-3 PP.

The goal scoring has been streakie, too. Going 0-7 on PP doesn't help. We should have scored 2 or 3 times. We almost got scored on in a 5-3 PP like happened against Philly the other night. That's plain poor no matter how you cut it.

I hope they come out on fire tomorrow afternoon. The Rangers are winning 2-0 against Philly...

Posted by: Greg S. | February 9, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

"yea jak lets tade him"

If you're going to point out my typos, I might point out that you left out the H at the end of "yeah" and the apostrophe in "let's". You're also missing a comma and a period there.

Posted by: jak | February 9, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

@Greg S,

Very true, some fans can justify away every soft goal Olie gives up. I'm in the "resigned" catagory that just hopes we score 4+ a game as that should be enough to win with either Olie or Johnny in net.

I thought we had 1 5-3 goal, but could be wrong. PP needs some major work. Going 5-3 and having to dump the puck into the corner to get past the blue line just plain stinks.

Posted by: Steve R | February 9, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

a good recommendation from jleftwing97 on putting semin on the left and fehr on the right...

my proposed lines:

Ovie - Backstrom - Kozlov
Semin - Gordon - Fehr
Flash - Laich - Bradley
Laing - Steckel - Pettinger/Brash (depending on opponent)

D pairings as is.

Posted by: MTB | February 9, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I think it's about time to bring Petter back in for the power play. In the last two seasons he pulled off some sick goals on the PP kill, and for a while was near the top of the league in shorties! He may be a journeyman checking-line forward, but that's exactly the kind of special teams turnaround we need.

Granted, he's had a rough season; still I think it's safe to say that riding the pine over the past week has put the fear of Hershey in him. Time to smash 'em up, no. 18!

Posted by: Eli | February 9, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

They scored once 5-on-3. Joe B. said it last night on commentary.

Posted by: Jordan | February 9, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Steve:
Thank you for speaking the truth!! It is not easy to do here when so many people jump on the bashing bandwagon. How refreshing!! ;-)

Greg:
"Can't tell which Olie we'll see on any given game-day." Exactly - he is not hot and he is not horrible - he is inconsistent. And yes, that is frustrating.

RE: 5 on 3, have we suffered more 5 on 3 shorties than we have our own PP goals?!?

Posted by: Boo! | February 9, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

does petty have a two way contract???

Posted by: capsfan08 | February 9, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Semin is the most selfish player in the NHL today. Disgusting behavior over the past several games.
I'd take Mike Eagles over this Gong Show of a talent anyday.

Posted by: Chief | February 9, 2008 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Traffic Advisory
New York Rangers vs. Washington Capitals
Sunday, February 10 at 1:00 P.M.
Verizon Center

Parking Restrictions and Street Closings
for the Chinese New Year Parade

This is to advise all fans to arrive early to Verizon Center for the Sunday, February 10, 2008, 1:00 P.M. game featuring the New York Rangers vs. Washington Capitals.

Approximately 1:30 P.M. until 3:30 P.M. on Sunday, February 10, 2008, the following streets will be closed to accommodate the Chinese New Year Parade and celebration.

·I Street, N.W. between 5th and 7th Streets, N.W.
·7th Street, N.W. between I and G Streets, N.W.
·G Street, N.W. between 7th and 9th Streets, N.W.
·8th Street, N.W. between G and H Streets, N.W.
·H Street, N.W. between 8th and 6th Streets, N.W.
·6th Street, N.W. between Massachusetts Avenue and G Streets, N.W.

Streets to be closed for Festival (9:00 A.M. Until 5:00 P.M)
·H Street, N.W. between 6th and 7th Streets, N.W.

The parade will begin at approximately 2:00 P.M.

Posted by: Boo! | February 9, 2008 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Get those dancing dragons to come inside and scare away the Power Play demons tommorrow.

Posted by: SA-Town | February 9, 2008 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Caps have only scored once on the 5-3 PP, and Green had the goal. No surprise they are the worst in the league as far as 5-3 PP stats go.

Posted by: cbs | February 9, 2008 5:09 PM | Report abuse

cbs:
but how many times have they been scored on in that situation (ala columbus)?

SA-Town:
good idea ... can't hurt! ;-)

Posted by: Boo! | February 9, 2008 5:11 PM | Report abuse

They've been scored on the 5-3 once that I know of (Columbus). Also, they got scored on just a second or two after one of their 5-3's expired. Regardless, it's a huge leak in their game. Here's hoping that BB can help turn things around.

Posted by: cbs | February 9, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Tarik-

what is up with brash's stash....
I dont want to be the one who tells him how cheesy it looks.

Posted by: livinit | February 9, 2008 5:35 PM | Report abuse

@Boo,

Thanks. I call it like I see it, but have been know to be a hammerhead once in a while. Goes with the territory when offering an opinion.

Posted by: Steve R | February 9, 2008 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Whats up with bashing Semin?

Posted by: elicea | February 9, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse

steve:
lol!! :-) guess it is part of being a hockey fan - we're all kinda hammerheads ... ;-)

Posted by: Boo! | February 9, 2008 6:23 PM | Report abuse

@elicea:

If you didn't watch last nights game and just looked at the stats, you'd think Semin did alright. As truth would have it, in the last minute when we were pushing to tie the game, Semin took a phenomenally dumb penalty to essentially end the game. It was a slash, it was retaliatory, and it wasn't anywhere near the puck.

Semin's made a habit of taking penalties like this one when we're on power plays or trying to make comebacks. He's a great player, but he needs to be disciplined.

If the coaching staff (or perhaps OV?) doesn't send Semin a message, he won't change.

Posted by: Raber | February 9, 2008 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Semin is getting bashed because despite undeniable individual talent the boy has become a much greater liability on the ice than he is a weapon.
Stupid, lazy penalties on the PP, a bizarre inability to stay on his skates, and an apparent total inability to work with his linemates tend to overshadow the occasional highlight reel goal.

Now, part of that is the simple fact that defenders feel entirely free to cheat away from Flash and whichever non-scoring, non-dishing pivot is out there with Semin in order to take away all of his options, resulting in the inevitable turnover.
Part of it also seems to be a "I'll do it all myself" frame of mind that takes a hold of him and won't let go.

Kozlov won't work there for one simple reason - he can't win a faceoff, which means half of each shift is spent trying to win back possession of the puck!

Boy, wouldn't Jeff Halpern look sweet in Red, White, & Blue right about now?

Posted by: smoke | February 9, 2008 7:13 PM | Report abuse

By the way - the above comment about our centers is not a dig at Gordon, Laich, or Steckel in any way.
It's patently unfair to them to just plug them into the second line and expect Nylander-like results.
I have no doubt that each of them is trying as hard as they can to get the job done.
They're being asked to play a role that they're just not suited for.

Posted by: smoke | February 9, 2008 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Allow me to disagree with many :D I can't post much and I'm addressing several posts at the same time.

I thought the Caps played well yesterday. We suffered in the first period, but I guarantee that ANY team would have suffered against Carolina first 20 minutes. They were playing Game 7 style. They have Stanley Cup champions that remember how to beat the best and yesterday they did bring it on.

Nevertheless, starting from the second and especially in the third period the Caps began dominating while 5 on 5 - up to minutes of perfect hockey when the Canes were suffering and in pain.

However:

I knew we were going to lose the game when we couldn't convert on that terrible 5 on 3 (almost got scored on AGAIN on it), and couldn't take advantage of all those penalties for us. I'm not happy with BB attitude regarding our PP (daily dialog after the practice today). He should be furious - cause it can cost us the whole season. Dear BB: if you don't fix the PP, stop talking about playoffs cause we're not going to get there. BB is my hero, but he's wrong when he says that we can top any team. We are NOT the better team in the NHL, and we definitely can't survive the season w/o PP.

Re: Olie: I agree with Boo!. Many posters here jump on Olie because of their "political agendas" not on actual performance.

Re: Semin: I also disagree with most here and want to defend him. He played with intensity yesterday, and yes, the penalty was "stupid" but at least he was aggressive and didn't turn the puck like in previous games. I'm not justifying him, I'm saying I'm least I'm happy so see him CARE and be angry and vindicative instead of "sleepy".

my 2+2+2 = 6 cents :p

Can't wait for the game tomorrow.

GO CAPS!

Posted by: mauree | February 9, 2008 7:31 PM | Report abuse

@ Steve, Boo!

those were my 6 hammerhead cents :p

Posted by: mauree | February 9, 2008 7:33 PM | Report abuse

mauree:
as usual, i agree with almost everything that you wrote (i love it when you post ... if only everyone i worked with thought like you do ;-)). the only thing that i disagree with is that they played well yesterday. from my vantage point, it was the atlanta game all over again ... they were not playing with killer instincts. other than that, yet another smashing assessment by mauree!! ;-)

Posted by: Boo! | February 9, 2008 8:17 PM | Report abuse

@ mauree

That's not what I saw last night out of Semin. He was, as usual, a defensive liability in the nuetral zone, he had several turnovers and after each won he displayed the "I give up" attitude by being lazy. He does not fit with this team.

Posted by: 8 is enuf | February 9, 2008 8:23 PM | Report abuse

mauree:
oops ... one more thing ... adding on to 8 is enuf, i do wish semin would shape up - no more selfish penalties, already!

Posted by: Boo! | February 9, 2008 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Somebody please tell me why Flash is still in the lineup?? He simply does not belong on any of the top 3 lines! I'd rather see Pettinger play over him.

Posted by: JEP | February 9, 2008 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Anyone up on the Carolina Dogs tonight? They are down five goals to the Devils and Ward didn't make it out of the second period. They were lucky they weren't creamed last night too.

Posted by: Old Bob | February 9, 2008 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Re. last night's game;

Carolina did play well last night and the Caps played into their game. The Caps still seem allergic to the other team's crease. Not until the late stages did they start to create some havoc in front of Cam Ward. If they want to win these close games, they can't keep passing the puck around the perimeter and trying unobstructed shots from outside the dots.

Johnny played well. Sure he let in a questionable goal, but he still only allowed two. The Caps should be able to score two. (or maybe we are just spoiled after those high scoring games in January) What is a amazing about him is that he is pretty consistent no matter how much he has been sitting. Olie, on the other hand seems to lose his concentration if he doesn't get allot of work throughout the game and the season. But all that work that he has had --30-50 shots a game, game in, game out-- covering for the "rebuilding" team is catching up to him.

And as long as this team is still rebuilding, might as well be patient with Sasha Semin. I still think that he is worth the effort.

Nice touch of the organ-eye-zation to give blood donors tickets to the Ranger's game tomorrow. Way to pack the house and raise the volume against the Blue Shirts.

All together now: "JA-GIRL! JA-GIRL! JA-GIRL!"

LET'S GO CAPITALS!

Posted by: Clarendon | February 9, 2008 8:52 PM | Report abuse

I think some here are tossing around the term "bashing" rather loosely. Being critical of a player's performance(s) and backing it up with solid observations/evidence can be construed as criticism. I would reserve the term "bashing" for harsh criticism for its own sake, with no backup.

When the same criticism is made by a number of people, it gains credibility. Bashing seldom has true support and therefore lacks credibility.

It is plain to see that some here consider any criticism "bashing," but if you are a serious hockey fan (or fan of any sport, for that matter) you can't just blindly support each and every player just because he plays on your favorite team. Criticism is a hallmark of true fandom. It shows you hold each player accountable for his role on the team.

Anyway, everyone is entitled to their own opinion (you know what they say about opinions...).

Posted by: Jill | February 9, 2008 8:55 PM | Report abuse

"The Caps still seem allergic to the other team's crease."

Talk about hitting the nail on the head!

Though I must say that a big part of the reason Semin was able to get one past Ward last night was because there actually were two Caps at the front of the net!

Still - I think the Mites who skated during the second intermission (the red team anyway) have more net presence than the Caps do right now!
Chris Clark has got to be giving himself an ulcer watching his team shy away from the crease on a nightly basis.

It's a shame really - they are doing so many things very, very well. If they could only find the guts to get to the net I think the results could be dramatic.

The whole complexion of the power play would change immediately. Teams would not be able to send two guys out to neutralize Ovechkin & Green, safe in the knowledge that nothing is going on behind them in the slot...

Posted by: smoke | February 9, 2008 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Jill:

I define bashing as picking a player apart (regardless of his performance), never giving him credit, claming up when he has a good game, etc.. I don't use the term lightly - I think some people do bash. They make up their minds about a player and then that's it - no slack.

Oh, and I am a serious hockey fan - I have been most of my life. I am a STH and I do not blindly support any player, but I have supported the Caps through thick and thin, and intend to continue doing so.

Just to set the record straight ... :-)

Posted by: Boo! | February 9, 2008 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Jill:

P.S. Please keep in mind that I, like Steve, can be a hammerhead ... ;-)

Posted by: Boo! | February 9, 2008 9:45 PM | Report abuse

I do believe the reason people knock Olie and not Johnie is very simple...5 Million a year VS 1 Million a year...with that kind of pay day, people expect more for their money.

Posted by: RichC | February 9, 2008 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Boo - my comments were not directed at you nor anyone specific, just general commentary...

Posted by: Jill | February 9, 2008 10:21 PM | Report abuse

RichC:
That makes sense, but it does not justify why so many people would rather see Johnny in goal - their play has been comparable. If Olie get's a contract extension, it will surely be for less money, but I doubt that his critics will lighten up.

Jill:
I figured it was general, but since I fell into that category, felt the need to respond, nonetheless. But that does not change the fact that I am a hammerhead (in fact, it kind of supports it!! ;-)).

Posted by: Boo! | February 9, 2008 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Tarik,
Does Semin fall a lot in practices, too?

Just wondering.

Posted by: slippery | February 9, 2008 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Semin developing ? Yes, if he makes it through the season without missing a team flight & not getting called for throwing the puck. What a "team player"

Posted by: Chief | February 9, 2008 10:52 PM | Report abuse

I love Alexander Semin. I get frustrated by his penalties, but are people serious when they say his bad outweighs his good? I really don't see the logic in that. Scratch him? Now that Mike Green has gone cold, we basically have the 3 russians as our goal-scoring threats. Semin is one of the most dynamic offensive players in the league.

Posted by: Stephen | February 10, 2008 2:40 AM | Report abuse

Also, I think Semin's problem is that he wants to show his teammates that he's really trying, and gets over-aggresive, taking hooking and slashing penalties as a result. He just hasn't learned where to draw the line. But whenever he's on the ice, I keep an eye on him, and I see a lot more effort than people give him credit for. Am I the only person who saw him try to make a sliding block in the 1st against the Canes?

About the penalties, does everyone remember last year, where sometimes it seemed like Shoane Morrissonn couldn't go a game without getting at least a stick foul? And I don't remember people complaining a lot about him, claiming we should trade or bench one of our best D-men. And we shouldn't get rid of one of our best offensive threats either. People just need to learn that Semin is a high risk, higher reward player.

Posted by: Stephen | February 10, 2008 2:47 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, the trade off is not worth risking the integrity & respect of the entire team. Maybe in the new NHL it will work, but the way I see it, he's in need of a good old fashion beating by his mates.

Posted by: Chief | February 10, 2008 2:53 AM | Report abuse

I'll admit that my initial reaction to Semin's penalty at the end of last game was harsh (I wanted BB to bench him). I recognize that this really isn't a solution.

My problem with Semin is that the kid doesn't seem to learn his lesson. He's an amazing talent and I'm glad he's playing for the Caps, but he needs to shape up his act and not take dumb (retaliatory) penalties. There is no excuse for the kind of penalty he took at the end of the game. It wasn't a questionable call, he wasn't pressuring someone with the puck, and we were already behind the 8-ball with one minute to go in the game.

If you're not going to bench him, what are you going to do so that this doesn't happen again? I say BB should cut his PP & critical game situation time and explain why he's doing it.

Posted by: Raber | February 10, 2008 6:01 AM | Report abuse

I don't think that Semin should be benched or traded, but something's got to happen. I don't know what ... hopefully Gabby will figure it out ...

Posted by: Boo! | February 10, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Semin = Hammerhead

Posted by: Steve R | February 10, 2008 9:46 AM | Report abuse

@Raber
I agree 100% with your assessment of Semin. He is a great talent, but we all know from numerous sports that talent alone doesn't do it. He needs to have more desire like Ovie. I'm not saying he needs to play like Ovie because that just isn't Semin's style, but he needs to start being more aggressive to the net and moving his feet more. I also don't buy another poster saying that the penalty was dumb but at least he "cares"; that is not acceptable. Chris Clark cares, but if that were him he would NEVER have slashed the defensman; he would have recognized the situation and realized that best form of retaliation would be to score and tie things up. Then take that guys number and cream him cleanly later when you get the chance. That's what team players and leaders do. This kid is great, but he still needs a wake up call, even after 38 goals last year. See you all today, Go Caps!

Posted by: Roose | February 10, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

I agree that Semin's penalty was bad and avoidable and blah blah. However, and maybe I'm wrong, I saw improvement in the way he's playing. I saw differences between that penalty and the previous ones, between a couple of turnovers and the previous ones.
The way I see it, he's improving - it's not going to happen overtime that all of a sudden he become "perfect". I DO NOT want it to force him too much to change his style - he need to grow with it. Otherwise I'm afraid we'll lose his monster talent - which is what we want to preserve right?

Honestly, I think you're projecting Friday's loss onto Semin, and that's wrong (although it's a somewhat natural mental process). We didn't lose because of his penalty. We lost because of our PP.

Having said all that, I totally agree that, generally speaking, and in the contest of such an important game, those penalty should be avoided :D

Posted by: mauree | February 10, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

I hit "post" by mistake :D.
Just wanted to add that I'm probably wrong, seeing that everybody agreed that we sucked on Friday, while I claim we played very well lol. Maybe the sentence: "did you see a different game?" applies to me in this case :D

Posted by: mauree | February 10, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

"JA-GIRL JA-GIRL JA-GIRL"

LET'S GO CAPITALS!

Posted by: Clarendon | February 10, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

@Chief,

"but the way I see it, he's in need of a good old fashion beating by his mates."

Remember how well that worked in "Full Metal Jacket"?

Posted by: Steve R | February 10, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

@Mauree,

What sucked was the PP. Aside from a couple of brain farts, it didn't look to me like we got outplayed that badly.

Posted by: Steve R | February 10, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Steve:
Semin = Hammerhead ... I can't argue with that!! ;-)

I think our challenge on Friday was more than our PP - we didn't have a lot of quality shots in general. A lot of shots on goal does not a good offensive effort make ...

Posted by: Boo! | February 10, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Off to the game ... LET'S GO CAPS!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Boo! | February 10, 2008 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Getting the power play to produce is a definite priority. Along with that the Caps had better be ready to play with alot more grit than usual to beat the Rangers. OV and Brashear will need to step up that part of their games in this match up for sure. Avery will be up to his usual antics along with Orr possibly wanting to make a run at #87 however Orr might want to think twice . Donald handles Orr easily.
I believe the Caps can go toe to toe with the Rangers but to the man they will need to show more physicality in this one.
The Rangers are 6-4 in their last ten just like the Caps and after shutting out the BSB yesterday in front of Valiquette they will be pumped to get King Henrick one for himself.
I'm just hoping for a quick jump from the Caps with a couple of early goals or this one could get ugly.
Kozlov and Semin need to bring whatever they can muster today, ther're going to need it.
One more thing the Caps will need today will be a 60 miute game.
I'm pumped for this one and hope for a very entertaining match-up.......are'nt we all!

score

Posted by: score | February 10, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

We need Laing on PK.

Posted by: Hook | February 10, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

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