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The Capitals are looking to extend their winning streak to four games and take sole possession of first place in the Southeast Division tonight against Carolina, and they'll have to do both without veterans Shaone Morrisonn and Sergei Fedorov, who did not travel to Raleigh, N.C.

On to your Carolina cliff notes:

*Michael Leighton will start in goal tonight for Carolina. The 27-year-old goaltender is 4-1 with a .921 save percentage and 2.37 goals against average this season and has never faced the Capitals in his career.

*Hurricanes captain Eric Staal only has one goal in the past eight games. Through 15 games this season he has just nine points (5 G, 4A) and watch how Carolina handles its offensive chances tonight as Staal's not the only Hurricane going through a slump. Neither Sergei Samsonov nor Patrick Eaves have recorded a goal this season and Rod Brind'Amour recently snapped a seven-game scoring drought.

*Carolina is also looking for increased production on its power play and the Hurricanes might get some of their injured players (namely Matt Cullen, Brandon Sutter and Joni Pitkanen) back.

*In other Southeast Division news....After meeting with his players about their slow start against the Capitals, Lightning Coach Barry Melrose took yesterday off (blog and hard-copy versions from the Tampa Tribune) and had his assistant coaches run practice.

"Maybe he felt it was just time," Olie Kolzig said. "Maybe he just wants to get away from his bratty kids right now, and let us figure it out on our own. We got a pretty good scolding and tomorrow is another day. Just a day to get away, I guess."

In the system:
*After the Bears lost four of their past five games, Hershey Coach Bob Woods is experimenting with new line combinations. Woods however wouldn't say how much of the experiment would remain intact this weekend as the Bears face Philadelphia on Friday and Saturday.

*Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau was beyond impressed to hear when his good friend, Hershey President and General Manager Doug Yingst made a business call Washington General Manager George McPhee from his hospital bed this weekend. Yingst broke both wrists and three ribs, suffered two skull fractures and a collapsed lung in addition to significant bruising when he fell from a roof.

*Missed this earlier, but can't forget about defensive prospect John Carlson, who after impressing in the Capitals rookie camp and regular training camp has continued to excel with the London Knights. Check out the second half of this story. Carlson has 12 points (2G, 10A) in 12 games this season and is a plus-11.

By Katie Carrera  |  November 12, 2008; 9:16 AM ET
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Next: Johnson To Start; Kozlov Returns



Posted by: Section117 | November 12, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Morning, 117. :)

without veterans Shaone Morrisonn and Sergei Fedorov, who did not travel to Raleigh, N.C.

Am I the only person here who's okay with that?

Posted by: kittypawz | November 12, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Morning, all


Posted by: Greg S. | November 12, 2008 9:34 AM | Report abuse

It's a "big" road game for a early November game. The four pointers are big whatever the time of the year. Great to hear about John Carlson doing so well, you know some " arm chair GM's" we have in here are gonna want to shoot him right up to the CAPS to Save the defence.....I can hear it already.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | November 12, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Why are you OK with that?

Posted by: Boo- | November 12, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

ShaMo has been less than exciting so far this year. Maybe all those arbitration hearings really do get to your psyche after awhile. He's been through 2 in 2 years. They can be brutal to the ego.

I'm not sure why Kitty's OK without Feds, though. He's been playing like a kid again.

Posted by: Greg S. | November 12, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Boo - Please don't take this as me wishing injury on anyone. Far from it.

I miss Fedorov - the man is a beast - but right now, we seem to be okay. Bluntly, Sloan's been less of a liability than Mo over the last few games. I admit that it's not an ideal situation, but it's got its upsides and downsides.

Posted by: kittypawz | November 12, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Michael Leighton in goal...He's a guy who has bounced around the minors for awhile. I remember him in Norfolk and Albany. He always played strong against the Bears. But I think he's one of those guys who gets rattled if you get one or two past him early in the game.

Posted by: tess2201 | November 12, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

If you're taking those links from Japers' Rink, you should give credit. Leighton's career splits, the links to the two Canes blogs, the Carlson link, the Bears' lines... it's link-plagiarism.

(All of which is kind of ironic given that you categorically refuse to link to blogs, eh?)

Posted by: baddabing1 | November 12, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

"Yingst broke both wrists and three ribs, suffered two skull fractures and a collapsed lung in addition to significant bruising when he fell from a roof."

They call him Mr. Glass...

Posted by: Section117 | November 12, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Also, missing Fedorov means that Gabby has no choice but to give Fehr a chance, something that he seems unwilling to do.

Don't get me wrong - I love Feds - but now Gabby has no choice but to give Fehr a chance.

Posted by: kittypawz | November 12, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse


I want to see Feds out there. Morrison is a guy we need to gel with Green at some point. There was way too much success last year to call that pairing "not a fit."

Posted by: SA-Town | November 12, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Ahhh, Carolina looking for increased production on their power play - sounds familiar. The Caps really need to get going in this department! Our PP has never really been great. I liked when they moved OV off the point but there has got to be a few other things we can try to get things going.

Posted by: Grape8 | November 12, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

@SA-Town: Maybe it worked last year, but a couple of things have changed this year. Mo wants to make the money Green makes, and with his arbitration hearings, he's discovered that in order to make that kind of money, you've got to have offensive skills and goals and points too. That's what he's after -- but he ends up out of position in the process, much like Green does. He doesn't want to be the shut-down D that he was last year -- he's not making the money that an offense-minded D does. Because he wants to make the money, he's trying to be something he isn't, and ends up looking like an idiot in the process. The dumb penalties come from him being behind the eight-ball and scrambling to prevent something that he could have prevented much more safely and easily by being where he was supposed to be in the first place.

As long as Mo is trying to get some offense to his game, the Mo-Green pairing is a liability. A join-the-rush D like Green needs a S@H behind him to be effective, and if Mo can't or won't do that, then pair him with someone who can and will.

I wonder if maybe the real problem is not that our D's suck so much as we've got too many offense-minded D's. It seems to me like you need a good blend to make your D work.

Posted by: kittypawz | November 12, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

You can still make plenty of money as a shut down defenseman. Mo was signed as a stay-at-home kind of guy. Granted, scoring goals on the PP as a defenseman is more exciting than what Rod Langway used to do. God I miss Langway...or could we please have a Calle Jo back or something. We don't have anybody who can play defense, except for maybe Poti. Hopefully Johnson can make 35 saves a night like he's been doing and we'll win the southeast. Bottom line----the caps still give up way too many shots.

Posted by: reesem37 | November 12, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I think the biggest problem with the blueline is a few of the defenders aren't great getting the puck up ice for a breakout or simply clearing the zone. Erksine is case #1 and Juice is case #2 -- paired together, not good. Poti and Green can get the puck up ice themselves or with a pass, as can Feds when he's playing defense. Schultz and Morrison can also pass well. I haven't see enough of Sloan to make a grade on him yet, but I think he is ok

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS | November 12, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

The best all around pairing right now is Poti-Schultz. They clear well, use their sticks well, and can join the rush (Poti) while keeping one guy back (Schultz). Poti has good stick handling and skating skills; Schultz is using his positioning and reach well -- he's keeping the rush to the outside for the most part.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS | November 12, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

reesem37: Exactly. And he's not doing that because he's trying to be someone he isn't, with the result that he becomes a liability out there. This team's got a blue ton of star-level talent, but we need more role-players. When Mo stays in his role, he does very well. When he doesn't, he's a disaster. I've yet to see him stay in his role this year, and that's why I'm okay with Sloan going instead. I've liked what I've seen of Sloan so far - he's been where he's supposed to be, just about every time, keeping it simple.

As for Fedorov - love the man and there's no denying he's a beast, but him being out is Fehr's chance to show Gabby that he needs to bench someone else. I want Feds back, but I want Fehr to make his mark and make his case first.

Posted by: kittypawz | November 12, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

You are giving up on Morrison and his game plan quickly. Let the kid get healthy, and we'll see what we have.

I doubt he wants to be a more offensive D-man with the amount of scoring we have out there. Morrison understands that the only stat that matters for him is (+,-) and hits.

Posted by: SA-Town | November 12, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Assists would be nice, too. :)

Posted by: Greg S. | November 12, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I think a congragts are in order for Jeff Schultz...first hit of the season last game!!!

Posted by: _stevo | November 12, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

His last showing notwithstanding, I like Feds in his puck-control defenseman role. He's still better at it than Sloan. A healthy Feds does not necessarily compromise Fehr's icetime. And I know what you're talking about: Fehr can contribute a lot.

Speaking of defensemen: MY MAN Carlson is KILLING in London! I'm telling you he's Scott Stevens all over again. That kid is hard, and mean, and fast, and has predator instincts for making goals happen. You never know, but I really think that in 4 years, Alzner and Carlson will be the NHL's best pairing, hands down. Maybe put Green on the block to save some dough (and save some turnovers too: maybe his nickname should be "The Schwag Man" since he's the giveaway king).

Posted by: large23220 | November 12, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

"Yingst broke both wrists and three ribs, suffered two skull fractures and a collapsed lung in addition to significant bruising when he fell from a roof."

Must have been Christmas Lights!!! Get well soon!

Posted by: ashburnpaul | November 12, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

@ large -- Carlson is killing in Juniors and Alzner is doing the same in the Minors, so their line combo is a few years away. I can see Alzner coming up this season, but not Carlson in the next couple years. I'd rather see Theodore long gone before Green. Green is very young and will improve his defensive game -- he is far from horrible in his own end. Gonchar was terrible on defense and improved over the years. Green will too and even more quickly because he is not shy about hitting, like Gonch was and is.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS | November 12, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Bruce and the team havent given up on JT. I still don't think he has been a bust. Here is a quote from Bruce

"I want to get José back in there, but it's tough to take [Johnson] out when he's playing that well," Boudreau said. "It's not that Theo has been bad, he's been inconsistent. We have all the faith in the world that he's going to turn out."

In Bruce I trust!

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | November 12, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Carlson may be behind Alzner in pure experience, but he's ahead of him in every other way. Alzner's shaping up to be another Jeff Schultz who has been near awful this season. If the Caps promote their young players based on actual results on the ice, Alzner shouldn't even be within sniffing distance of the NHL just yet. Until he's established himself as a stalwart at Hershey, thats where he should stay. Dovgan and Godfrey really need to be at Hershey this year. They're better players than some of the defensive veterans on that team. For my money I'm heckuva lot more excited about seeing Dovgan, Carlson and Godfrey in a Caps uni than I am Schultz and Alzner. Also hoping Finley sees some ice time with the Bears late in the season

Posted by: cstanton1 | November 12, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

What are you talking about with Alzner -- he has 9 points (2g,7a) +8 with only 2 pims??? Dovgan in in the ECHL, last I checked. Schultz has 6 assists, is playing sound positional defense, clearing the puck out of the zone, teaming well with Poti, and using his stick to nicely break up plays. Carlson is playing in the Juniors, not even the Minors yet. He might be great in a few years, but he is not up to Schultz or Alzner.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS | November 12, 2008 1:00 PM | Report abuse

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