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Monday Practice Update

It was a very relaxed morning here at KCI, where most players took full advantage of the optional practice and did not skate. Viktor Kozlov, however, was among those on the ice and spent a lot of time testing out his ability to stop and start with the groin pull that's kept him out of the past seven games..

Afterward Kozlov said he's feeling better and that he's continuing to improve. He didn't have a timetable for his return though, and Bruce Boudreau said the team's taking the same approach they did with Tom Poti -- no need to rush him back and have a setback.

"I can't really guess when," Kozlov said. "But it is feeling better every time I go out there, which has to be a good thing."

*In addition to Kozlov, Eric Fehr, Donald Brashear, Matt Bradley, John Erskine, Jeff Schultz, Milan Jurcina, Shaone Morrisonn, Brian Pothier and Staffan Kronwall skated. Tom Poti and Sergei Fedorov both took quick turns on the ice but they weren't in full pads.

"Guys who need the rest are staying off the ice," Boudreau said.

*Boudreau was asked again about the jawing between the Penguins and Caps yesterday afternoon, and he didn't pull any punches when telling reporters what he thought of the attention being paid to the comments in this particular game.

"He was the one that was doing a lot of the talking first," Boudreau said. "You guys are asking questions and this is nothing different than what goes on every game between every team. When we were playing Tampa there was a lot of talking going on between our bench and David Koci. But because its Sidney people want to make a bigger deal out of it than it is. Every game in the National Hockey League people talk, but people want to magnify it because it was on coast to coast."

*After tomorrow's game against the Flyers the Caps will play three games in four days -- Thursday against Atlanta, Saturday at Boston and Sunday against Florida -- and Boudreau said he's considering giving Jose Theodore time off. He wouldn't say for sure if Michal Neuvirth could be in net later this week, but it's a strong possibility.

*But first come the Flyers, who seem to be terrorizing many teams power plays with their shorthanded goals. Philadelphia leads the NHL with 16 shorthanded goals and boasts the three of the top shorthanded goal scorers in the league -- Mike Richards leads with seven while Simon Gagne and Jeff Carter are tied for second with four each.

"They're one of the very few teams that you're going to show video on on how offensive they are (on the penalty kill) so you have to be aware of doing certain things when you're on the power play," Boudreau said. "Mike Richards is a master at anticipation so is Carter and Gagne."

"Well we try not to pass it across the ice so it's intercepted. It seems like every highlight I see it always happens but it's easier said than done."

*Also, there's been a scoring change on Brooks Laich's (the fifth) goal from yesterday's game. Alexander Semin has been credited with the second assist, rather than Shaone Morrisonn. So the goal reads Laich from Tom Poti and Semin.

By Katie Carrera  |  February 23, 2009; 12:43 PM ET
 
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Next: Renney out, Torts in?

Comments

The Flyers are the one team in the EC that I don't want to see in the playoffs. Don't get me wrong, we can beat them no doubt but they are our toughest matchup. We need to drop the hammer on them tomorrow.

Posted by: SombreroGuy | February 23, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

What were the forward line combos, and the D p-airings, Tarik?

Hope to see Flash back on the second line with Semin and Fedorov, personally.

Posted by: greener1 | February 23, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

someone needs to punch that clown hartnell in the face tomorrow

Posted by: _stevo | February 23, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

what a horrible night, only one game!

Posted by: majiksea | February 23, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I think it's a huge mental challenge as well as physical. All the intimidation and bad blood aside they can be just as beatable as any other team and the Caps need to go into it that way. Hopefully we see another game like we did yesterday.

Posted by: cappies | February 23, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

rangers fired tom renney

Posted by: _stevo | February 23, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

FYI Renny was fired from the rangers a few minutes ago, accrding to ESPN.

Posted by: RedBirdie | February 23, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Yup, TSN's got the story too: Renney's Out In New York

Posted by: kittypawz | February 23, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Why am I tempted to think Neuvirth gets the start against Atlanta on Thursday? (Would love to see that - rookie on home ice pls.) Maybe against Florida as well? I can't imagine Boudreau starting him against Boston, but he started Varlamov against Montreal, so it could happen.

Posted by: kittypawz | February 23, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

And Miller seems to be done in Buffalo, maybe for the season. Maybe the Pens do make the playoffs.
http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy/post/The-Ryan-Miller-injury-Intent-to-harm-failure-?urn=nhl,143353#remaining-content

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | February 23, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

The Rangers have had just horrible management all around, especially the inflated contracts for average players.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | February 23, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Last week I watched much of the Philly-Buffalo game and the Flyers were, uh, flying.

Posted by: Bartolo1 | February 23, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

The Caps have to watch their play against Philly. The Caps can't afford 9-3 pp disparity. They'll have to keep sticks down and not get behind players who can draw penalties (e.g. Carter, Richards, and Gagne). They'll also have to keep the crease clear. If the Caps and Flyers play run and gun, this will be sweet.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS | February 23, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

@JIMALLCAPS

You can repost that exact comment come playoff time! Substitute the Flyers with whomever we face!

Posted by: lylewimbledon | February 23, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I don't know what it is, but it seems like the Caps always have a tough time with the Flyers. I always feel we can beat any team, but I'm always a little apprehensive when it comes to the Flyers. They seem to play a lot rougher against the Caps than they do other teams. I hope we can beat them at their own game tomorrow.

Posted by: ejohnsto | February 23, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

@ lylewimbeldon

I agree, so the Caps need a big, tough, veteran blueliner to keep the crease clear. If a trade could include getting rid of Nylander, even better. He is a talented player, but his talents do not match BB's system. I have a fantasy straight-up trade Nylander for Doug Weight with the Isles. Or even less likely Gomez or Drury for Nylander.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS | February 23, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Hartnell took a puck to the face in the last game. I think he is playing, but he has a lot of stitches so I don't see him being to chippy to the point he may take a punch.

Posted by: tomdchancar | February 23, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

As a Caps fine exiled in Philly, who watches the Flyers a lot, the Caps are deficient in one area -- mucking it up along the boards and in the corners (Hartnell, Coburn), and love getting in the crease (Knuble). Keeping the offensive pressure on and matching them in the "mucking" area, especially in the defensive zone, and they'll win. The Flyers'defense is slow and very beatable, and their goaltending very inconsistent (let's hope that Biron plays, but don't count on that -- he'll be benched for costing his team the Saturday loss agains Pittsburgh. He's got million-dollar talent and a ten-cent head).

Posted by: bucknelldad | February 23, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Briere may be back for tomorrow's game. I know tomorrow was the date I had read they were shooting for

Posted by: rdy4all2000 | February 23, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

I am sick to death of those philthy chumps having our number EVERY YEAR.

Total slaughter tomorrow. Let's take some kneecaps.

It's over for the flyers.

Posted by: large23220 | February 23, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

OV-Backs-Kozlov (Nylander)
Semin-Fedorov-Flash
Laich-Steckel-Fehr
Brads-Gordo-Brash

IMO this is our best lineup. Nylander is the extra piece and will play the wing until Kozzie is back. After that, who knows. I REALLY like the third line.

On defense, I still think we need some help:

Green-new guy
Poti-Mo
Jurcina-Shultz
(Eskine-Kronwall)

I really think we need a high end stay at home bruiser on the back end (Pronger type)to clear the front of the net and play safety, basically. Good luck finding one of those. I would love to make the third pairing Pothier-Alzner and trade the 'potential' of Juice and Sarge. We have a strong core of dmen coming up. I think we can afford to do this.

What about Jurcina, Shultz, a forward prospect and a high pick for Pronger? Next year we would still have a very strong d core with Poti, Pronger, Green, Mo, Pothier(?), Alzner and Carlson and the others like Erskine for insurance.

What does everybody think?

Posted by: waitingsince75 | February 23, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Flyers can be a really difficult team. Their special teams play comes through when they need it to. Would be a tough matchup in the playoffs. Hard to say who to start Neuvirth against. Possibly Atlanta but then Jose's playing back to back against Boston and Florida. That's a tough assignment. I'd probably start him against Boston. They want to catch Boston but don't have a big enough lead on Florida to afford to lose that one. Florida's also been playing better than Boston for the past week or two so I'd be more weary of them.

Posted by: Stu_c | February 23, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Ottawa, Tampa, Pittburgh, Rangers: These are the four teams that opened the season in Europe in October. All have now fired their head coaches. Coincidence? Yeah, probably.

Posted by: basingstoke | February 23, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

The common factor is being overrated. It's easier to fire a coach than rebuild a team.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS | February 23, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Flyers have a back to back on Tuesday and Wednesday and Briere is targeting Wednesday for his return according to Yahoo Sports.

Posted by: tomdchancar | February 23, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Any coincidence that at least three of them will also miss the playoffs?
I personally don't want the Caps to play in Europe for another three years at least, unfortunately ony a matter of time till they play in Russia or Sweden.

Posted by: Kiltmon | February 23, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

God, I can't wait for the trade deadline to come and go so we can stop hearing about trading Nylander. He has a no trade clause! He certainly isn't going to waive it to go to the NYI!

Posted by: isaacc7 | February 23, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Dave:
He won't be with me but he'll be there. The usual suspect will be in my spare seat.

Posted by: Boo- | February 23, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

according to tsn, tortorella will be the rangers' new coach, but they still need the lightning's permission

Posted by: sirbobalew | February 23, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Not to mention that Weight is a center, not a D, and is out for ~6 weeks with a messed up knee.

Posted by: yosemite_sam | February 23, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

@JIMALLCAPS

Yes, we need someone who will clear the crease...the D have been better at that lately(I'm throwing away that Colorado game completely.) My bigger concern is the 50-60 power plays we give up a game...that will come back to haunt us bigtime in the playoffs.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | February 23, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

thats funny if torts is the new coach...

Posted by: richmondphil | February 23, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE LET NEUVY MAKE HIS FIRST NHL HOME START VS THRASHERS!

Posted by: rachel216 | February 23, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

@waitingsince75:
My one issue with your D lines is the salary cap. I don't think we can realistically afford Pronger, and mortgaging the farm for a Cup now is bad news. We'd have to give up too much to get him.

I think Schultz is underrated - he's smart and positionally sound. His getting beat is probably just inexperience; when he learns to read players (and he's starting to) he'll be a top-line D-man. I don't think we can afford to keep Mo, but Schultz is too valuable for his cap hit to let go IMO.

Agree that the Flyers are dangerous. We're goin to have to play rough and tough and physical, get dirty goals, and be hard-nosed and crash the net to deal with them, but if we do, we should come out with a W.

Posted by: kittypawz | February 23, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

As for Neuvirth: what if we start him against both Atlanta and Boston? Back-to-back starts? Just to see what he can do and how he stacks up in that situation? I'd like to know whether he's up for that, myself. That gives Theodore a break, too.

Posted by: kittypawz | February 23, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Reasons not to trade Nylander:

-Insurance against injury (eg:Kozlov/Fedorov)
-Veteran presence on a young team
-Swedish Influence on Backstrom (The kid could still learn how to win some faceoffs)
-Centre who can score(okay maybe not right now but look at some of the timely goals he chipped in earlier this year (eg vs Montreal)
-He can control the puck in the offensive zone, which late in a game or in the playoffs is a useful asset.
-So far he is able to play on any line and either at centre or winger which gives the coach some flexibility. (remember when we had Feds on D)

Reasons to trade Nylander.

-Doesn't fit into BB system
-Creates discord in the room (eg. Avery)
-The caps get something better in return

I don't see how we get anything better in return for Nylander, especially when he has a NTC and a high salary hit. Better to keep him IMO.

Posted by: Kiltmon | February 23, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

We all agree it would be great to bring in a bruising stay-at-home defenseman who can clear the crease. Funny, I think a good fit on this team would be Brenden Witt.

Pity he was in such a rush to get outta DC...so I wouldnt advocate bringing him back, but it does seem sort of ironic that he didn't want to wait for rebuilding but instead is with the NYI while the Caps are crushing it.

I thought of this when i saw AO's quote that he's glad he was here for the rebuild. He's taking ownership. Maybe Witter's career would be better off if had the same mentality.

Posted by: justbrewit | February 23, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

short of a no-brainer falling in their lap (ie. pronger for erskine straight up), i dont see the caps making a major move at the deadline. they sure do need a d man, but so does everyone else and i dont see them overpaying for a rent-a-player (bowmeister). they saw what happened w/ the pens last year trading for hossa. worked out in the short run, but look at them now. this team is built to win now, but i really think they are looking at next year to really solidify themselves as a cup contender. i dont think they want to give up on any prospects or young guys now (ie. schultz) at this point.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | February 23, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

@ Kitty -

I agree with you that Cap issues are a problem. But subtract Clark and Nyls and you have a Pronger. But if you add Pothier and Alzner like I would want and it is an issue again.

The rest of this year would not be an issue since we are only talking a small portion of the salary and they have done a good job of saving that daily cap space with moves like sending Alzner down then calling him back up. Every penny will be used in making this team better for the playoffs.

Frankly, I don't know if the numbers work and I don't see how anyone here does either. That is why they have a lawyer in charge of that stuff for the Caps. But if I could have anything I want, that lineup posted above is it.

Posted by: waitingsince75 | February 23, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

No reason to bring up Alzner anytime soon. He isn't outplaying anyone in our current lineup. Jurcina and Erskine seem to be Bruce's "bubble" defensemen along with Kronwall. And each of them play a better overall game CURRENTly than Mr Alz. He needs to man up in Hershey first and clearly show that he's above AHL competition. Most Bears fans wouldn't say that is currently the case.

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 23, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

@justbrewit

i liked Witt when he was with the Caps, but after the new rule changes came in, he could n't keep up with the speed of the game. I woul dtake him as depth, but wouldn't give up anything but a low draft pick to get him here.

Posted by: boomer44 | February 23, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Question:

when skating is "optional", means players can do w/e they want until next day?

Posted by: mauree | February 23, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

@kiltmon

Where do you get that Nyls creates discord in the locker room?
He absolutely, emphatically does not. He is well liked. Many young players actually enjoy hanging out at his house and play with his kids.

Posted by: atybat | February 23, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Let's be frank: we all want Bumlander out of town at the deadline.

Posted by: greener1 | February 23, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

@waitingsince75: I've found that NHLNumbers.com is a fantastic reference point for cap hits and player salaries. It is approximate and goes on a yearly basis, but if you're working in rough numbers like I am, it works pretty well.

Pothier all but cancels Clark out - 2.5 mil vs 2.6 mil/yr. Alzner is about 1.7 mil, and Pronger is 6.5 mil. He's also got another year left on his contract, which means big trouble for 2009-2010, at the end of which we have to resign both Semin and Backstrom and both of who are due hefty pay raises.

Fair enough on "ideal state" discussions, although I'd pair Poti/Schultz and trade Morrisonn. I tend to agree with dcsportsfan1 that we don't make any huge moves at the deadline. Might make a small trade for a veteran D man, but it won't be one of the blockbuster moves.

Come to think of it, that's another good argument for starting Neuvirth twice in this run - vs. Atlanta and @ Boston. We know that BB isn't shy about throwing his kids into the fire to see how they do, and throwing Neuvirth into the fire will give us a really good idea of where we stand in goal for the stretch run and the playoffs.

Posted by: kittypawz | February 23, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

new post

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | February 23, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Nylander is a great player and a great locker room guy, but his style of play: (1) does not fit with BB's program, and (2) requires close on-ice chemistry with a winger, which has not developed with any of the guys this year. If a trade could be arranged with a team he would want to go to, it might be in everyone's best interest. But to call him a bum is just not right.

Posted by: Baildog | February 23, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

@atybat

I don't think he creates any discord in the room in fact I think the opposite, I was only giving examples of some reasons as to why he might be traded. These are only examples of some of the comments made here, like not being able to play in BB's system, but so far nobody as far as I am aware has said anything negative about him other than the coach wanting more effort from him through benching him etc. The great thing about BB is that he has done this with everyone from Clark to Semin. Even Nyls himself when he said he was disappointed with his play and would prefer more icetime, never gave an indication that he wished to be traded.

I personally think Nyls is a good addition to the team and good insurance in the event of an injury.

Posted by: Kiltmon | February 23, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

I am not defending Nyls. It is obvious to everyone (even to him) that he is not justifying his income, for many reasons, some of it his own.
I was just making sure that no one invents reasons for dismissing Nyls that are not true. This being said, unless something change very soon, he is going nowhere this season and, unless something drastic changes, he is here for the length of his contract. There are way too many high quality UFA available this summer, coupled with the economy of the league, for any team to want to take on his salary.
If I was BB, I would put him with Fehr and Flash and leave him with them no matter what for the rest of the season. I bet you there would be some chemistry there.
I certainly would not put him with Laich, a surrevaluated streacky player with a very cocky attitude.
Laich will never be more than what he is now. Fehr has a far brighter future....Anyways, I digress....

Posted by: atybat | February 23, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

hey guys i no this does not envolve this issue but it invovles our caps so why nah :P. i jus wanted to say we are looking really good late inteh season. i live in montreal and ia m caps fan. jus wanted to say that Jose Theodore is haveing one of his best career years so far wining wise and ppl are puttin him down wather it be the montreal press or it be the anyone but they are puttin him down by saying he cant help teh caps go far in teh playofff. but guys we have to be there for him cues he needs us to belive in him that he can do it. i mean he has been rideing tehgun all year hiering he will do bad but look he put tht aside and he had a tremandous year starting bad but look at how he up the emy and he has doen so well for us. i mean this is wen he needs our suport cues we now we have great team and we can go really far in teh play offf and we no Jt can help us cues he has teh play off experience and he has hurdeled thru alot of come backs i am sure he can bring us far lets go CAPS and lets cheer on Theo cues he can do it for us!!!

Posted by: rahul_rayray60 | February 23, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

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