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Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 11/20/2010

Boudreau: Mike Knuble 'will be out for a couple days'

By Greg Schimmel

Coach Bruce Boudreau said during the Caps' optional morning skate Saturday that Mike Knuble will "be out for a couple days," but the team won't recall anybody from Hershey to replace him.

The veteran winger took a puck to his face during the second period of the Caps' 5-0 loss in Atlanta on Friday night and did not return to the game, but it looks like he avoided a significant injury.

"It's not anywhere near as serious as we thought," Boudreau said.

Boyd Gordon was among the first Caps off the ice at the end of Saturday's skate, and he will likely be the player to replace Knuble in the lineup tonight when the Caps host Philadelphia at 7 p.m. at Verizon Center.

Gordon has no goals and three assists in 11 games so far this season.

D.J. King and Tom Poti were the only skaters to participate in the scratches' skate with Braden Holtby and the assistant coaches.

Here are a few more notes from Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington:

-- In one of the more obvious developments of the day, Michal Neuvirth was the first goaltender off the ice Saturday morning and he will likely start in net against the Flyers. Boudreau tried to give the 22-year-old netminder a night off Friday, but had to pull Holtby after the rookie allowed three goals in the first 9:07 of the first period. Holtby was the second player on the ice Saturday morning after only Poti, and he signed a few autographs for fans before getting some work in with goaltender coach Arturs Irbe.

-- Tomas Fleischmann played on the wing Friday night after he started the season at center and was a healthy scratch in the Caps' previous game Wednesday night in Buffalo. It sounds like Boudreau aims to keep him there. "He's a natural winger," Boudreau said. "I think that's where he belongs."

-- In addition to Knuble, the Caps who opted not to participate in the optional skate Saturday morning were Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green, Matt Bradley and David Steckel. Ovechkin and Semin were lingering in the Caps' locker room in street clothes after the skate.

By Greg Schimmel  | November 20, 2010; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  Mike Knuble, Philadelphia Flyers  
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Next: Caps get a chance for 'a better effort' against Flyers

Comments

The "supposed" top 4 players not skating AGAIN in Bruce's vaunted optional skate. They need a coach that will come down hard on these players, not a coach that will baby them

Posted by: themightyzep2000 | November 20, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I was looking for BB to state that Knuble is out with an upper body injury - lol.

Quote of the day - "He's a natural winger," Boudreau said. "I think that's where he belongs."

What are the odds that Flash is traded before the trade deadline this season???

Posted by: puckman | November 20, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

This team never has two bad games in a row. Should be fun tonight.

Posted by: Wiley_One1 | November 20, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Not this again - the morning skate has traditionally been optional, guys like Mario, Gretzky, Messier, Forsberg, Leetch - [who, if memory serves - would seem to have collected a fair amount of cups between them] - rarely if ever participated in the gameday quad- and groin-killers. And they certainly never did the morning after the first-game of a back-to-back, that's like lifting hard barely 12 hours after maxing out the very same muscles, when you have a competition that night.

While I do agree that BB is perhaps too much of a players-coach in some areas - i.e., Ovie and Green eating up 98% of the total PP time, even in blowout games [stat-padding might be the way in the minor leagues, but not usually the NHL (Gretzky-excepted] - this is certainly not one of them.

I question whether anyone who advocates otherwise has ever played high-level puck.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | November 20, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

This isn't because of last night but in general...

I would make Schultz, Fehr, Fleischmann and 1 of the goalies available in trade to bring in upgraded top line d-man or a 2C.

I have no clue what is available (or what will become available closer to the deadline) and I'm not saying we should make the move right now but if there is something out there at any point in the near future, I would be willing to get rid of any combination of the above players to fill a greater need.

Despite being Mr. Plus-Minus, Schultz is just too slow to get away with being such a soft player. He'll improve in future years but I just don't think he's cut out for the speed of the current NHL and to be honest, he's too soft for the old version. I don't know how he manages to come off on the right side of certain statistics but I think it's a combination of who he plays with and luck. I would've been happy if they could've traded high on him last summer as part of a package deal to bring in some kind of upgrade.

Fehr will also get better but I wouldn't make him untouchable and you have to give up something to get something.

Fleischmann is actually working hard this season but I doubt he ever puts it all together and/or improves upon his weaknesses. I would hope for him to get on a hot stretch and see if there is any interest where he could be traded or packaged as part of a bigger deal.

McPhee said all 3 goalies are "untouchable" and he could be posturing or he could be serious but like with Fehr, you have to give to get. Put 1 of the 3 together with Fehr and/or Fleischmann and/or Schultz and maybe you can bring in a veteran 2C or top line D-man.

Our Top 4 D are just too young/inexperienced overall and I just am not sold on Schultz ever being a legit Top 4 guy no matter what the obscure stats may say.

Even though he has experience, Poti's return won't get us where we need to be. In fact, if any team is interested in him as unlikely as that may be, throw him into the trade mix.

I know the defense has been okay so far this season but it doesn't mean it's not an issue longer term given where this team is and what their expectations are.

We also need that elusive 2C as has been the case for a while. 90 shows some promise but he ain't ready and probably won't be no matter how much playing time he gets this season. If we were rebuilding, let him learn and gain experience and not worry about it but that's not the case.

So if packaging any of the players above (plus picks or whatever else as sweetener) can address a bigger need, I say gitterdone.

Posted by: tmac2yao | November 20, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

The "supposed" top 4 players not skating AGAIN in Bruce's vaunted optional skate. They need a coach that will come down hard on these players, not a coach that will baby them

Posted by: themightyzep2000 | November 20, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

C'mon, back to back games. I for one am glad these guys did not skate; it would have been idiotic to work them hard. Can't wait to hit the seats tonight. Rest up.

Posted by: Justafan | November 20, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

@tmac2yao, I'm sure this doesn't change your mind. Interestingly, Schultz led all players on the ice (by at least 2) with 5 credited hits last night.

Posted by: Justafan | November 20, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

One addition...

If possible, it would be even better to bring in 2 defensemen upgrades - 1 top liner and maybe a decent lower line vet.

Ideally, McPhee packages players/picks at some point to bring in a 2C, top line D and another more minor D upgrade.

Don't know if it's possible and don't know what's out there but I think we will need those changes if we want a real chance to get where we want this season.

This is a good team but still missing some vital pieces unless McPhee wants to stay overly conservative in his big picture vision of remaining competitive for years.

It's good to have a long-term view but after your core 4 or 5 players, you have to be willing to make sacrifices when your in win-now mode.

Posted by: tmac2yao | November 20, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

I think Guy Boucher, the coach of the Lightning, doesn't even have optional skates the morning of games because he thinks it takes away from a player's focus on the game. He wants the players to put all their focus and energy to skating during warmups and game time. Not in the morning.

So to complain about guys not being at the optional skate(but being in the building) is, well, ridiculous.

Posted by: sgm3 | November 20, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I would rather have had Philly pound us last night and face Atlanta tonight.

I like that people in the organization are talking like they get it. Flash ain't no C!

And every game this season is PLAYOFFS PRACTICE! Lets play "THE RIGHT WAY"!

GO CAPS!!!

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | November 20, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Glad the Flash C experiment is over. Sounds like a vote of confidence for Mackan.

Posted by: Justafan | November 20, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Again, it's not about last night.

I've never been a believer in Schultz no matter how much I tried.

If I couldn't believe in him after he led the league in plus/minus, I don't think I ever will.

My opinions are big picture and have next to nothing to do with the previous game. He could've not been on the ice for a single goal last night and I would've felt the same. He's just a bad combination of soft, oafy and slow. I understand what he does well and my opinions have nothing to do with him not being flashy. I'm just not sold on him and never was. I thought he was in optimal sell-high mode in the offseason.

Posted by: tmac2yao | November 20, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and Sloan is good for at least a couple of instances in every game of being totally out of position or making a completely ill-advised pass.

I remember some suggesting earlier in the season that it was just because of his lack of consistent ice time. I would've accepted that if I hadn't seen these consistent issues even when he's in the lineup somewhat regularly.

I think the issues are largely inherent and experience will only diminish them marginally. He simply doesn't have the innate ability to make good decisions with the puck and he lacks innate defensive awareness.

What he is is a pretty good skater and a hard worker. There are tons of those in the AHL.

I guess anything can happen but I don't know if he'll ever be an NHL player. I could live with him as an extra 4th line forward but I don't like him as a defenseman at this level, at least not from anything I've ever seen.

Posted by: tmac2yao | November 20, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

@tmac2yao, you get what you get with Sarge. I'm never thrilled to see him "press" a player to the boards instead of landing a hit, but I guess that at least means he doesn't have to pick himself up and recover. He makes few mistakes, plays well \positionally, has a terrific poke check that continually disrupts scoring changes, and passes accurately out of the zone. Could he hit more? Yes. Could he get the puck out quicker more from the boards? definitely yes. But by preventing goals and making few passing mistakes he is a huge asset for this team.

Also, his astounding pace of improvement between the '08-09 and 09-10 seasons leaves hope that there is yet even more upside.

Posted by: Justafan | November 20, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure we're gonna hear more Forsberg rumors close to the deadline but the one who could come outta his recent retirement and help them is Niedermayer.

Posted by: joek443 | November 20, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

@tmac...I agree with Sloan, i
he makes me nervous every time he has the puck, but he is serviceble as the 7th d-man, to fill in when one of the top six is out...as for Schultz I am ok if someone just doesn't like a player on the team, it's a free country, but Schultz is a good top four Dman, because of his reach , his steady play & breakout passes. Last week at home v ATL, he blocked two shots in the 1st period that went up & out of the rink, because he was in good position and with his reach timed it so he reached with his stick and deflected the shot out of the rink, that is not an easdy play to make, but it is the sign of a dman who is in the right position and times the use of his stick using his reach...this is a typical play for him...I would like him to continue to get stronger so he can be better one on one around the net...as great as a defensive dman as Rod Langway was, he palyed a style closer to Lidstrom than Scott Stevens, and I see Schultz playing that style, i am not saying he will ever be as good as Langway or Lidstrom, just that he plays a similar style of D

Posted by: boomer44 | November 20, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

And not like it's news but McPhee treated this past offseason as if we were a rebuilding team - getting younger and not addressing key needs.

That's what you do if your the Oilers and thinking 3 or 4 years down the road.

We did nothing of signficance and actually got extremely young and inexperienced at key positions.

I understand that there is still the deadline but I think we needed to take advantage of both trading periods to improve our chances of getting it right. I'm not sure that enough can be done before one deadline, esp. and obviously if McPhee swings and misses again Corvo-style.

Posted by: tmac2yao | November 20, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

don't worry guys, we just ran into a "Hot Goalie" last night.

Posted by: festus75 | November 20, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I see Schultz playing that style, i am not saying he will ever be as good as Langway or Lidstrom, just that he plays a similar style of D
----------------

LMAO what the heck does that mean??

He plays a similar style of D????

Both Langway and Lidstrom are HOFers. Schultz won't even make a single all-star team nor will he ever make the end of the year first or second all NHL teams.

Posted by: joek443 | November 20, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

anybody else think fehr targeted knuble with that shot? he is almost always stuck on the 3rd line and he's not taking semin spot. i say give fehr some 1st line minutes tonight and see what he can do with them.

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | November 20, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

@tmac2yao

Disagree with you on Schultz. Figure he's one of the D we should keep.

Of course, our depth in that department leaves something to be desired. We're shaky after our top 4 (Green, Schultz, Carlson, and Alzner). I'll admit I didn't count Poti as he's injured. But figure we need a defenseman who is 2nd pairing caliber who can be paired with either a healthy Poti or Erskine.

It was unfortunate that Corvo didn't work out for us and we gave up a little much (Pothier and a 2nd round pick)

I know we have to give up something good to get anything in a trade. I'd say, keep Fehr (since how long will Knuble last). Flash is the most expendable of our wingers.

On the goalies -- it's probably premature to make the decision at the moment but we'll probably be in a better position to make that decision after the season.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | November 20, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

@joek...read the whole post...I said that Schultz will never be that good, but he plays a positional style of D, he is not physical, neithe ris Lidstrom, it is all based on position, angling getting a stick on the puck in the right instance...Langway played the same style, but in his time the NHL allowed you to push hold, knock a player over in front of the net, the rules have changed you can't do that in today's NHL or it is a penalty...did I say Schultz was an all star or 1st or 2nd team all conference , division anything to that nature...no, I just said he is a legitimate top four dman on this team

Posted by: boomer44 | November 20, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I don't think the caps lost more than one game by 3 or more goals last year. I hope this one was the anomaly for the season. The Flyers are going to be mad. We need to be madder.....and if we can't be mad we need to at least beat them to the net.

Posted by: rjma1 | November 20, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Both Langway and Lidstrom are HOFers. Schultz won't even make a single all-star team nor will he ever make the end of the year first or second all NHL teams.

Posted by: joek443 | November 20, 2010 12:52 PM

this has no bearing on whether their styles are similar.

i'll repost the quote and highlight for you the key points.

"I see Schultz playing that style, i am not saying he will ever be as good as Langway or Lidstrom, just that he plays a similar style of D"

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | November 20, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

@ tmac...the GM is working within the Cap, if we went after a lot of veterans to return to the roster or as UFA's the team wouldn't have cap space to resign Laich, extend Green & Carlson, sign Varly etc, he is building a team around the Young Guns (OV, Backstrom Green & maybe Semin)...he will also have space to get some tradeline help each season for the playoffs (hopefully much better than last years trades), this plan also allows the team to give more ice time to the younger players so they can develop (Varly, Neuwirth, Alzner, Carlson, Johansson). I like the plan and still hope we can come thru in the playoffs this year or next.

Posted by: boomer44 | November 20, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

@CapsFan75

Then who do you trade to address needs if you don't want to trade anybody but Fleischmann? You may have to add a pick just to get somebody to take him.

Even if you guys are right about Schultz, the fact is that he, Green, Carlson and Alzner are extremely young defensemen. If we were rebuilding and looking at 3 or 4 years down the line until all those players fully develop, that would be one thing but we're not.

I think we need probably 2 defensive upgrades if we want to solidify the backend for this season - one big upgrade to pair with Green and another 2nd or 3rd pairing upgrade.

The same argument for 90 as a 2C or 3C. I like some things I've seen out of him and it would be fine and dandy if we were only thinking about 3 or 4 years from now and letting him develop but again, that's not the case.

You have to give up something at least somewhat attractive in addition to probably picks to address any of our key needs for THIS season. Fleischmann plus a pick probably won't be enough to address even one need. That would probably net you nothing of sigfnicance in return and would be more of a straight player dump.

Posted by: tmac2yao | November 20, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Despite being Mr. Plus-Minus, Schultz is just too slow to get away with being such a soft player. - tmac2yao
-----------
I would agree that Schultz is not going to win a speed competition anywhere, but the guy does play very good positional hockey. I think the +/- is good measurement of defense. I for one rather have a steady guy that can keep the other team from scoring than someone who hits and punish but gets himself out of the play.

Posted by: hock1 | November 20, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

..."to address any of our key needs for THIS season."

Posted by: tmac2yao | November 20, 2010 1:07 PM

this point of view is from a fan (as we here are all fans) - but it goes against the stance taken by Ted. from a business perspective he is trying to keep this team competitive for years to come.
i do not see Ted allowing GMGM to trade away, what they consider, long term assets for just this year.
for fans that believe there is a narrow 'window' for getting the cup - this philosophy will only drive you insane.

sports franchise front offices: it is a business
fans: the future is now

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | November 20, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Schultz won't even make a single all-star team nor will he ever make the end of the year first or second all NHL teams.

Posted by: joek443 | November 20, 2010 12:52 PM

Your prediction may come true, who knows? I personally don't care whether he does or not? I think the guy plays very good defense and his stats back it up. I remember a guy by the name of Larry Murphy which the fans couldn't wait to get rid of him - ha! He went to become an all-star, SC champion, and HOF. Different type of player, but the same complaints: "he is soft, he is not a good d-me, etc. etc."

Do I think he is a perfect d-man? Of course not, there is not such thing. Even Charra took a little while to develope into the type of player he is today.

Posted by: hock1 | November 20, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

good to Semin back to his old self. Do you think that was a 'sympathy' loss for the Redskins?

Posted by: festus75 | November 20, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

good point Capt_Kirk

Posted by: hock1 | November 20, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

good point Capt_Kirk

Posted by: hock1 | November 20, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Ah, its hockey season again. The leaves are dropping, the sound of skates on the ice fills the air, and the doofuses are back whining on the message boards.
The major ice time leaders are rested on every team, doofus. Coach Boudreau is on his way to being the most successful coach in the franchises history. Until last nights drubbing, the team had won 7 or 8.
Still the best team in hockey.

@mightzep

Just a question, but how many games did you go to in 2005-06, or 2006-07? I went to 10 games each season and then bought season tickets. you smell like a fair weather doofus.

Posted by: jmurray019 | November 20, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

I always ask myself, "Self..." No, seriously, I always ask if your team can win the Cup with "that" player on your team at his position and salary.

Can the Caps win the Cup with Schultz as second pair D at 2.75? Yes.

IF...you have Green and someone currently not on the team as first pair. Can we win with Poti as the other second pair and Carlson, Alzner and Erskine making the third pair? Maybe.

I disagree with tmac on Schultz but agree we need two D men. One needs to be, as we've said since before last year's deadline, a rock-em-sock-em robot kind of guy. The other needs to be the 8th defensemen when two are hurt because...you just can't win a Cup with Sloan on the ice. You can win maybe with the good Erskine out there, but no team could ever win (a SCF game) on a night when both Sloan and Erskine play.

Niedermeyer would be interesting because you could pay him like $6M for half a season and it works within the cap. He would make a world of difference.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 20, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

"I see Schultz playing that style, i am not saying he will ever be as good as Langway or Lidstrom, just that he plays a similar style of D"

--------------------

if you don't ever hit, your style is similar to Lidstrom is that it?

that's just an idiotic comparison. it's like saying some WRs in football are possesion receivers and some are burners.

just because you're a "possesion type" WR, doesn't mean you're in the same league as Art Monk or Steve Largent.

Posted by: joek443 | November 20, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

@tmac2yao

Our group on the Caps is a tough group to figure out the best assets to trade.

Defensivewise, I'd want to hang on to Green, Schultz, Alzner, and Carlson, given their relative youth. Essentially, we have a top pairing with a 25 year old and a 24 year old and our second pairing is two kids, ages 22 and 20 (nearly 21). Unlike a lot of people here, I'm for keeping Schultz.

I was figuring that a Flash for second pairing caliber defenseman would be doable and possibly throw in a prospect or pick to sweeeten the deal. A first pairing D-man is obviously hard to get.

I figure we could possibly trade a goalie after this season but feel the need for the rest of the season to assess who's our best one to keep.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | November 20, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

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