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Morning Links: Letdown in the Big Apple

(Jim McIsaac -- Getty Images)


Well, the Caps lost to the Rangers, 3-2, last night, but some good came out of the letdown anyway:

* Quintin Laing continued to carve out his tough-guy spot on the team, finishing with three hits and a blocked shot.

* The energy and effort were at acceptable highs, said Coach Bruce Boudreau: "It was the closest to a regular-season game that we've had for the tempo and intensity."

* Who doesn't love fight night at the Garden?

(Jim McIsaac -- Getty Images)


Some hockey linkage for sustenance this morning:

* No. 8 has put on a few. More to love, but is it slowing him down? (Alex Ovetjkin)

"You're great the way you are, Alex. Don't lose a pound." (Jim McIsaac -- Getty Images)


* A reminder to the Caps of how mental and physical breakdowns can lose a game. (Ed Frankovic)

(Jim McIsaac -- Getty Images)


* Players to watch in 2009-10 include that Russian name-change kid (Canadian Press):

10. Semyon Varlamov, Washington Capitals: Note the spelling of the first name. It used to be Simeon, but Varlamov insists that North Americans pronounce it correctly in Russian and changed it to make sure they get it right. And they say today's goalies aren't as quirky as the old-timers. What's more to watch is whether the 21-year-old will steal veteran Jose Theodore's starting job, as he did last spring while stretching the Pittsburgh Penguins to seven games in the playoffs. Or was he a flash in the pan? Theodore's been confirmed as No. 1, at least to start the season.

* Southeast Division preview from The Hockey News:

Though the team lost significant pieces when Viktor Kozlov and Sergei Fedorov bolted for Russia, the additions of Mike Knuble and Brendan Morrison actually make the team better up front.
The question marks surrounding the Caps don't stem from the forward group, however, where they sport one of the league's best collection of offensive weapons, including reigning two-time NHL MVP Alex Ovechkin.
If Washington is to fail this season it will be due to a blueline that lacks depth and a true two-way stud and/or the goaltending duo of veteran Jose Theodore and rookie Semyon Varlamov ending up more mouse than monster.
Of course, if the defensive youngsters step up and the backend corps plays to its potential with either Theodore (circa 2001-02) or Varlamov (circa last playoff) taking the reins, the Capitals will be a handful for any team in the East and true Cup favorite.

* Why did Wayne Gretzky leave the Phoenix Coyotes now? ESPN's Pierre Lebrun gets down to it:

The sense from the Gretzky camp is he felt ignored by both the league and Jim Balsillie's people -- the two groups battling in court for control of the NHL club. But NHL commissioner Gary Bettman sounded genuinely surprised by Gretzky's decision.
"I respect what he did, but we were hoping that it wouldn't be necessary," Bettman told ESPN.com via phone from his New York office. "Because we had hoped that if we got control of the club, we'd be able to work something out."
One source close to Gretzky said the league barely communicated with The Great One regarding his future with the club. But a league source refuted that, saying there had in fact been a conversation as recently as two weeks ago. Semantics? The bottom line is there certainly was no deal worked out ahead of time between Gretzky and the league in the event the NHL took over the team, and perhaps that alone was enough to push Gretzky to his decision Thursday.

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  September 25, 2009; 5:37 AM ET
 
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Next: Caps Make Two More Cuts

Comments

Lindsay... any news on student rush nights, giveaways etc???

Posted by: wowkanut | September 25, 2009 7:22 AM | Report abuse

@wow, I find a lot of info about that stuff at the Capitals site.

So. Varlamov wants us to pronounce his name the same way he does, eh? That certainly is an old-school goaltending quirk, keeping your name even though you've changed employers.

Posted by: redlineblue | September 25, 2009 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Sugden isn't much of a hockey player, but he'll be a useful call-up around the time of most Flyers games.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | September 25, 2009 8:21 AM | Report abuse

It looks as if Laing and Aucoin are going to get to stay to start the season. My thought anyway and I'd be happy with that.

Looking forward to seeing Juice and Schultz play this season. We're seeing a lot of growth in those two.

Posted by: Sonyask | September 25, 2009 8:42 AM | Report abuse

i dont think ovie's weight is an issue, of course not to any one except the guy on the other side of one of his hits. I did notice he was packing some extra lbs in vegas during the awards show. people commented on my picture with him where he was shirtless and not as ripped as everyone thought he would be, he def was a little soft in the stomach. i chalked it up to being the offseason and him partying, alcohol def doesn;t help tone your body lol. but now the summer is over and all his traning in russia and his training now, im sure the excess weight is pure muscle rather then fat. as long as he keeps putting up 50 goals he could weigh 250 for all i care. i don't think the extra weight is an issue, but he definately has put on a signifcant amount since his rookie year.

Posted by: capsfan387 | September 25, 2009 8:45 AM | Report abuse

i dont think ovie's weight is an issue, of course not to any one except the guy on the other side of one of his hits. I did notice he was packing some extra lbs in vegas during the awards show. people commented on my picture with him where he was shirtless and not as ripped as everyone thought he would be, he def was a little soft in the stomach. i chalked it up to being the offseason and him partying, alcohol def doesn;t help tone your body lol. but now the summer is over and all his traning in russia and his training now, im sure the excess weight is pure muscle rather then fat. as long as he keeps putting up 50 goals he could weigh 250 for all i care. i don't think the extra weight is an issue, but he definately has put on a signifcant amount since his rookie year.

Posted by: capsfan387 | September 25, 2009 8:45 AM | Report abuse

@ sony,

i agree, i think laings a lock, and i think tis gonna be between coiner, and bourque, for the other spot...also not so sure shultz will make it up there.

Posted by: bearsfan26 | September 25, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

EFF student rush nights. having a group of low tolerance drinking kids at games makes the games horrific. I always sold my tickets on those nights, what a joke.

Posted by: MNMNT | September 25, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

@MNMNT good on you for selling your tickets. Frees up more for the rest of us to go. I thought those nights went swimmingly. 25$ or 10$ for an NHL ticket? Some of the best value for buck on a shoestring budget. I turned so many friends(who turned into STH) on to hockey because it was the "in thing to do".

Posted by: trunkenmath | September 25, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

The fans aren't the only ones picking on the quality of the Caps blueline corps, but The Hockey News analysts seem reluctant or unable to pin it on any particular players or for that matter declare a standout (like Green). To me, this suggests that each of our D-men has a weakness that makes them mediocre when compared to others around the league. I'm hoping that Woods helps any or all of them take it up a notch this year.

Also, the bit about Gretzky and the League: if the Chap. 11 bankruptcy took Bettman by surprise, and now Gretzky's resignation took them by surprise...Little Napoleon doesn't have much of a clue of what's going on.

Posted by: hockeyweasel | September 25, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

I see Aucoin continues to shine. He was my one "highly expected to make the club" pick.

Feels like hockey here in Flagstaff AZ - 36 degrees on wake up.

Off to Grand Canyon, back home for puck drop on the 1st.

Posted by: tominfl1 | September 25, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

TRUNKENMATH
i think it's a great idea but when they have 10 seats behind us for groups... 6 out of 8 games the kids are so drunk they can barely keep their feet off of the banister or seat backs.

I should have hyperextended that one kid's leg after he kept putting it out there near my head. I'm all for drinking and I cuss/curse (however you say it) but when there are kids and females around there should be some things that shouldn't be yelled. And guess what, most of it comes during Student Nights.

I joke that we have to bring rain coats because the d-bags keep spilling beers all over the place. Root for the team yes, be a drunken mess that you almost get into some fights and make an a55 of yourself, no.

Posted by: MNMNT | September 25, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

so yeah, you can have my tickets on those nights.

Posted by: MNMNT | September 25, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

I'll take your tickets, MNMNT. I'm a college kid, I've never had a drink in my life, and I can't afford to go to Caps games unless they do a discount a couple times a year.

Making the games accessible to everyone has its drawbacks, but maintaining a really diverse fan base is worth the cost.

Posted by: nicko | September 25, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

On Ovie's weight-- the body changes a great deal from teenager which he was when we drafted him to now at 24. I'm sure he also worked out this summer but the last four years of hard NHL play have also added to his bodymass.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | September 25, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Sure thing. You got it. I never used to be able to afford games either, I used to get free tickets or the discounted $10 tickets back in the day. The only reason why i got tix now is jumping on the payment plan they have a couple years back. pretty much it's less than a weekend's bar tab around here for a month's payment.

Season tix > bar tab for one weekend.

Posted by: MNMNT | September 25, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

On Gretzky: He hasn't been paid, he isn't actually coaching in the preseason, and the season is about to start and the team will be lucky to win 10 games. I wouldn't want any part of that if I were hockey diety.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | September 25, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Couple of comments on last nights game. OV, Backs and Green all played over 21 or 22 minutes. I hope BB keeps their minutes down somewhat. It is a long season and these guys do not need to be playing a ton of minutes in preseason, let the bubble guys that you need to make a decision on play big minutes. Remember the season is about June, not September. Also if Juice keeps hitting people like he did Dubinsky, even though they scored, that would be very nice to see him use his size and weight to kick some ass here and there.

Posted by: RichC3 | September 25, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

I remain surprised that Boudreau did not call out Alexander Semin for that deliberate trip when he got checked and fell down. He flicked his stick out in front of the guy who hit him in retalliation for the hit, and down the guy went. And he *looked* before he did it. This directly resulted in the Rangers pulling their goalie, having six attackers, and getting a goal (the second).

Now, don't get me wrong - I love Semin. He's a great hockey player. But DAMN, he should never do that, ever, again!

Posted by: irockthered | September 25, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

There's a big double standard. Boudreau had no issues calling out Juice for one play last season when he said Juice should have crosschecked a player instead of letting him have the time to tap in a rebound. Of all the many selfish stupid penalties Semin has taken, Bruce is very careful not to criticize him. Even when Semin took several minors in a 3 or 4 game stretch last year, Bruce addressed the penalty problem as a "team issue"

There's just a very different standard for guys like Green, Semin etc than there is for the lunchpail hardworkers.

Posted by: cstanton1 | September 25, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

cstanton1: thanks for the background on Sugden. When did we get him? BTW I liked him out there last night. Was kinda expecting a fight between Sugden and Brash. Thought the up-and-comers held their own. Happily BB has some tough roster decisions.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | September 25, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

picked him up in the offseason to replace Kip Brennan. He's Hershey property, not Caps. I'm sure he'll play tonight and then get shipped back to the Bears. The Bears will have Finley, Grant McNeill, Sugden and Amadio to do some heavy lifting and Bruess and Pinizotto as their hitters/agitators. Osala is another big body as well. Not bad.

Posted by: cstanton1 | September 25, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Looks like the Rangers wasted $2.8 million.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | September 25, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I'm pretty certain I recall Boudreau criticizing Semin a number of times last season. If I recall correctly, he even used words like "lazy" and "dumb" to describe some of his penalties.

Regardless, I agree that he treats our better players differently but I think that's the case with almost every coach in almost every sport.

Posted by: tmac2yao | September 25, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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