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Morning Reading List

Chris Clark's struggles this season have been hard to miss -- the 32-year-old has just two assists and was recently relegated to the team's fourth line. For today's hard-copy edition Tarik talked to Clark about his slow start, how it compares to his injury plagued season last year and to Coach Bruce Boudreau about how to best help the Capitals' captain turn a corner.

*For those who haven't seen it, last night the Caps 365 crew posted a new video of Jose Theodore showing off his highly anticipated new mask.

Wild cliff notes:
*Less than a week after holding Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to just one shot each the Wild and their notoriously stingy defense are looking forward to the challenge of shutting down the Capitals as well. Don't forget that Minnesota has the top-ranked penalty killing unit, which is effective at 91.4 percent.

*Minnesota isn't exactly known for its offensive prowess, but the Wild do possess the eighth-best power play in the league. The unit however has been held without a goal in its last 10 chances, including an 0 for 5 showing in a 2-1 loss to the Blues on Saturday. The Wild's loss to St. Louis marked the first time they've lost back-to-back regulation home games since Nov. 2007.

*The recent goal scoring drought even has one of the biggest proponents of strong defensive hockey Coach Jaques Lemaire asking for more shots, more players going to the net and a simpler approach to get the offense going.

*Alex Ovechkin faces the third and final team that he has never scored a goal against tonight in Minnesota, but after failing to convert against Los Angeles and San Jose Ovechkin's task won't get any easier. Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom has the fourth-best save percentage in the league at .932 to go along with a 2.00 GAA.

In the system:
*The Bears won their fourth and fifth straight this weekend with a 5-2 win over Philadelphia on Friday and then a 4-1 victory over Bridgeport Saturday to briefly reclaim first place in the AHL East Division. (The Tigers won on Sunday and took back the top spot with a one point edge over Hershey in the standings.)

*The Bears rattled off five goals on 24 shots in the first two periods against the Phantoms, and goaltender Simeon Varlamov recorded his first AHL point.

*Against the Tigers, Sami Lepisto and Oskar Osala scored goals 83 seconds apart in the third period to break a 1-1 tie in Hershey's favor.

*The Vancouver Sun has a good look at how Karl Alzner is faring through his first two months in the AHL and how he's getting along with roommate Chris Bourque.

*The Bears recalled center Steve Pinizzotto from South Carolina on Friday.

*Caps seventh-round draft pick from 2007, Nick Larson, has returned to the ice with the Golden Gophers after sitting out a year because of a bad back.

By Katie Carrera  |  November 24, 2008; 8:14 AM ET
 
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Next: Boudreau To The AHL Hall Of Fame

Comments

At least the schedule gets easier after tonight. 20 games in, 12 of which were on the road, and 7 of 9 at western teams in the books. The only non-eastern time zone the rest of the way is a trip to Nashville. A win tonight would be huge given the opponent, the travel and the injuries. Theordore has a lot of experience playing against the Wild and maybe that will help. Tonight would be the perfect time for Clark to come through.

Posted by: tominfl1 | November 24, 2008 8:22 AM | Report abuse

I thought Jose's mask had red bars?

Posted by: Boo- | November 24, 2008 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Under zero circumstances would Alzner be in the AHL if not for the cap situation under any organization. Good thing he's a bright kid with the right attitude.

I'm hoping he makes his debut sooner rather than later.

Back to Fehr...

My point again is that opita has already claimed Fehr no better than a 3rd liner. Why? Clark was 2nd liner, Nylander was a 2nd liner, Kozlov is our first line RW. Fehr certainly has outplayed all of those players given his minutes.

You can't prove yourself until you get a chance to prove yourself.

Posted by: JSchon | November 24, 2008 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Agree with JSchon -- getting Alzner up will be great when it happens and Fehr has played better than Clark, so he should get more ice time.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS | November 24, 2008 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Fehr is like a cowbell, and we need more cowbell.

Posted by: eddiepanic | November 24, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Just a quick note about the Bears...first place didn't last long. Bridgeport beat Philly on Sunday while the Bears were idle, so the Tigers are back in first again.

Posted by: tess2201 | November 24, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

@tess

Thanks for the catch on the AHL standings.

Posted by: katie_carrera | November 24, 2008 8:49 AM | Report abuse

I have not been overly impressed with Fehr ... (uh oh, is that another fine?).

Posted by: Boo- | November 24, 2008 8:54 AM | Report abuse

No fine Boo for typical responses.

Posted by: JSchon | November 24, 2008 9:00 AM | Report abuse

I have to agree with Boo-.....haven't been overly impressed with Fehr's play but I think a lot of that has to do with his sporadic playing time and constant change o0f linemates----something that plagues a lot of the CAPS!!

Posted by: PhilR | November 24, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

@PhilR

Thanks for proving my point. Even with the sporadic playing time and constant shifting of the lines, Fehr's numbers when compared to his peers are better than most on the team given his sporadic games and minutes he is getting.

Posted by: JSchon | November 24, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Wow Katie,

Digging up news on a 7th round draft pick - impressive!

As for Fehr, I'd say he's doing better this year than Flash was at the same point last year. That said, the kids in Hershey will certainly challenge him for a long term roster spot.

Posted by: stormblue | November 24, 2008 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Am I the only one underwhelmed by Theo's mask?

Posted by: Semvechkin | November 24, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Imagine if Fehr had 20 games under his belt and 16 minutes per game...

320 minutes instead of 90.

3.56 x 1 = 3.56 Goals - more than Kozzy, Clark, Nylander, Bradley, Gordon
3.56 x 2 = 7.11 Assists - more than Kozzy, Clark, Steckel, Laich, Fedorov, Gordon
3.56 x 1 = +3.56 - better than 2/3 of the team
3.56 x 16 = 57 SOG - 3rd most on team.

Posted by: JSchon | November 24, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Yes, a cap situation that the Post STILL hasn't written about. The only place for the deets on the Caps' cap woes is/was Japers' Rink, which Katie (obviously) reads every morning...

Posted by: baddabing1 | November 24, 2008 9:34 AM | Report abuse

@tess2201 -- the key there is "while the Bears were idle." There's one point separating the two teams, so when Bridgeport is idle and the Bears win, we will be right back on top, and it's going to go back and forth like that for a while, until one of us (hopefully the Bears!) distance themselves with victories. :-)

Posted by: irockthered | November 24, 2008 9:44 AM | Report abuse

BTW Katie, come clean on how many links you stole from Japers without credit this morning: The Alzner story? The Larson story? Just those or more?

Posted by: baddabing1 | November 24, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

JSchon:
Ouch! That hurt!! ;-) It's not that I think he is the worst player on the team (I get that he is playing better than some of the other guys), I just don't think he's 'all that' (and there is A LOT of Fehr love here!). Having said that, I was not a Flash fan last season but I am starting to warm up to him, so my opinion about Fehr could change ...

Phil:
Yup, I have been saying the same thing since BB started - the lines need to settle down so that they guys can optimize their how they play together. I understood the need to try different things when he started, but at some point surely you can figure out the formula. I think we got there at the end of last season, but then it started over again this season! I don't get it, if it was working so well before (and we basically had no major player changes), why change it up for the new season? Granted, lately things have had to change for injuries, but once everyone is healthy, I hope the lines (finally) fall into place.

Posted by: Boo- | November 24, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Wow - Eddie Jordan fired. Not much of a Wizards/basketball fan, so I don't really care much, just kinda surprised (although I should not be, given their start). Maybe that means his (*cough*annoying*cough*) Mercedes commercials will stop now?!? ;-)

Posted by: Boo- | November 24, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I just tried to post refuting another post & supporting this blog & they won't post it -- I'm confused.

Posted by: uncatim | November 24, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Tim:
Are you trying to stir up trouble again?!? ;-)

Posted by: Boo- | November 24, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Yeah.

Posted by: uncatim | November 24, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Wow, looks like the haters are out this morning.

Posted by: superpaqman | November 24, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

There's a basketball team in DC?

Posted by: Section117 | November 24, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Of course they're out this morning - we've dropped two straight. wendel and Chief never show up unless there's a loss, and I'm guessing there's a lot of frustration out there.

Sorry for absence over the weekend, folks, had a major non-hockey project come crashing down on me over the weekend and spent all weekend absorbed in that. Back today to a not-so-rosy outlook for the battle of the Backstroms tonight. But, all is not lost, and given the luck we've had on injuries, if we split these four games two-and-two, I'll take it and run ^^

One thing that did kind of float across my brain before I catch a plane to KC this morning...seems like an awful lot of minor injuries. This isn't a conditioning problem, is it?

Posted by: kittypawz | November 24, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Ya know Boo, you gave me a headache Sunday with all the beer you made me drink during the Sharks game.

Posted by: Steve_R | November 24, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

@ samvechkin

I sort of think that the flashiest mask competition has gone over the top. I think it'd be pretty classy for somebody to even out-minimalize Osgood and go back to the Liut-Urinal mask.

@ everybody else

I'm with JSchon on Alzner. He could be the second coming of Rod Langway... could be. But shaone morrison would be blowing the AHL up right now too. On the other hand, guys with sorry AHL records get promoted and perform (Erik Ersberg, that Kings goalie that put us away last week was 10-13-0 in 30 AHL games last year). The scouts and the coaches know what they are doing when the guys go up and down in the system.

I like Fehr a lot. His contribution is mostly in terms of tempo. At times when we've been getting smothered, he's turned games around with his counter-forechecking. He's smart and fiesty. He doesn't score goals often. In fact, I think Brash has a better nose for the net than Fehr does (at this stage of their careers). But Fehr has definitely contributed and has a lot more to give. Last year he seemed more prone to spreading the minutes around for the unproven guys (and look what that confidnece did for Flash). Maybe Gabby is trying to play it conservative after getting the Jack Adams.

Posted by: large23220 | November 24, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Jeez, I love extrapolations taken as facts. As of this week, Nylander is on track for 51 points. Fehr is on track for 23. There's an extrapolation.

A lot of teams are in the same situation that we're in on cap space. We're just cursed with injuries all at the same time to key people. It's time for the second tier to step up to the plate and prove themselves.

There's no way to trade anyone unless we take one of their rejects back. Why do you want to get rid of Nylander and Clark? Because they're not performing. Who would they give back to us? One of their star players?? Not going to happen. We'll get the non-performing player back. So what have we gained in the trade? We still have cap issues, injured players and an inability to bring up lads from the AHL.

Posted by: Greg S. | November 24, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

@ Greg

I'd take picks for chris clark at this point.

Posted by: large23220 | November 24, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Food for thought:

What if this current economic clime remains (or gets worse) for the next 2-3 years? What happens to the salary cap then?

What if the current crop of new young super talented players continue to come on the scene for the next 2-4 years? What happens to the salary cap then?

What happens if the Loonie continues it's decline back to 70% as it was a few years ago? What happens to the salary cap then?

League wide, not just the CAP'S cap.

Just suppose??????????????

Posted by: sidehillman | November 24, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

sidehillman

I'd prefer to keep my head in the sand on that one!

It's something that could be a big issue. Still, the league reports that the teams are strong and that they're seeing growth in revenues. I don't know how, but...

Posted by: Greg S. | November 24, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Is it possible to trade for future considerations? Example: Nylander to Chicago for conditional pick (Chicago just because -- not dealing with realistic Cap concerns). Result, we free up immediate Cap space and, if Nylander continues sucking, get a 5th or 6th round pick (another Perrault, anyone?) and if he explodes, a 1st or 2nd? I imagine Sombrero's the guy to ask, but I wonder if something akin to that could be worked out.

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | November 24, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Jose - nice mask - can it stop a puck?

Posted by: lylewimbledon | November 24, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I missed the San Jose game in lieu of Tropic Thunder on the couch with the GF - looks like I made the right choice - OUCH!

Posted by: lylewimbledon | November 24, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

lets face it; we've got what we got. i see some guys turning corners, and some not. Flash,Semin and Brooksie are there. Mo, Shultz, Jurcina not there. the jury is out on Steckel & Fehr. OV, Backie,Kozzy, Feds all seem to be in idle (although OV & Backie seem to be pushin on the gas lately). JT & BJ both look to be fine between the pipes. i don't know what to think about Clark. actually, i think the 4th liners have been the most consistant.

don't know what my point is here, but I guess I am feeling underwhelmed at this point in the season. call me an alarmist, but over the next month we are going to see what the Caps decide they want to be doing in April: getting ready for the playoffs or scheduling tee times.

Posted by: doughless | November 24, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

I missed the San Jose game in lieu of Tropic Thunder on the couch with the GF

Posted by: lylewimbledon | November 24, 2008 11:34 AM
-------------------------------------------
Greatest. Film. Ever.

Posted by: Section117 | November 24, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

re the economy.
The NHL players have to put aside a portion of their paycheck in an escrow fund to cover +/- changes in the salary cap.Last year they got it all back because the cap went up. this year they probably won't get any back. I look for some giving back, because the next couple of years are not going to be pretty

Posted by: billd2 | November 24, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

@Section117

Les Grossman would be a nice addition to the coaching staff. I would love to hear his pep talk during a 3rd period time out.

Posted by: SA-Town | November 24, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Anyone else notice in the Alzner article that he says, "I know they're trying to make trades right now[.]" Does anyone else think that he might have just relayed more information than he intended to?

Obviously, we all know the Nylander rumors, but it didn't sound like he was talking about any rumor -- it sounded like he 'knew' that they were shopping players around.

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | November 24, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Full disclosure: I love listening to Jacques Lemaire ... so entertaining and he exudes excitement about the game.

Posted by: Cerealman | November 24, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

A) Theo's advertisement for Reebok is lame.

b) When will GMGM address the fact that Schultz and Jurcina blow?

Posted by: Willy6 | November 24, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

@drinkingpartner
Considering how GMGM keeps everything close to the vest, I highly doubt that a kid like Alzner would be privy to any insider info on trades. I would guess he's reading all the rumor mills just like the rest of us.

Posted by: tess2201 | November 24, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

So Dainius Zubrus pots 4 goals last night. His team mates net 3 more. On the other side of the ice was Olie who got yanked after 5 goals on 28 shots in favor of Karri Ramo who let in 2 on 17 shots.

Ouch!

And we thought we had problems in net!

Posted by: Greg S. | November 24, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Theo's mask is okay, but I do have one question. Is blue his/ a goalie's lucky color or something? I just found it odd that we are Rocking the Red, but our new goalie wanted mostly blue in his mask. Not a big deal, just thought it was curious.

Really hoping Clark fares well tonight. I think the coach and team rallying around him says a lot about why he is our Captain.

Also really hoping that Mo brings his "A game" tonight. Nothing would make up for his San Jose bluner better than to score for the right team tonight. I'm rooting for you Shaone!

Posted by: Kim-3 | November 24, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

BTW, wonder if the Devils listened to Zubie's ipod or Langerbrunner's before the game yesterday? We may want to get a look at that playlist. 4 goals just for Zubie, Sheesh.

Also, on a side note, any news on how the team celebrated Nick's 21st birthday?

Posted by: Kim-3 | November 24, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Not sure if it was been mentioned BB to be enshrined into the AHL hall of fame during the AHL all-star weekend.

www.theahl.com

Posted by: cocorules | November 24, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

sorry, but Mo is highly overpaid due to arbitration. here is hoping he is skating for another team in the not too distant future.

Posted by: doughless | November 24, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

@JSchon

I say fruits are not totally ripe, and you start an argument about your favorite apple and how they are much better than oranges, and grapes.

Let me refresh some of your quotes:

"do not try to fool me on Fehr."

"My point opita, is that you say Fehr isnt the world beater... that he isnt the answer... that he is "at best" a 3rd liner..."

"My point again is that opita has already claimed Fehr no better than a 3rd liner. "

Of the above quotes, the closest thing to the truth is that I said: "at best a 3rd liner, RIGHT NOW". The key words are "Right now". I made point to say that I like Fehr, I was not attacking his potential or skills.

I said nothing about "world beater" or being the "answer", nor I tried to fool you - it appears you do that very well by yourself.

In any case, my original point was not based on Fehr, I just gave him as an example that one can not expect a good player at the AHL level to come into the NHL and make a big impact. I am sure there are some exceptions, but not many.

Let me be clear one more time, I LIKE FEHR, but the coaches know better than I when it comes to minutes and playing time. I suppose I could extrapolate a new team from a given set of statistics, but it will be quite a different team, won't it? Nah! it is what it is.

Let me close the argument from my side by quoting the Captain, Road Prison 36: " What we've got here is... failure to communicate. Some men you just can't reach. So you get what we had here last week, which is the way he wants it... . I don't like it any more than you"

Posted by: opita | November 24, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Anyone have any new info on Semin's injury? Wondering whether to play him this week in my fantasy hockey league. The conflicting reports of him playing/not playing burned me last week!

Posted by: 54fighting | November 24, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

@54fighting
its a day-to-day, but its looking down right now. It may hurt your fantasy hockey, but i'd rather have him out a couple more games than the rest of the season.

Posted by: sprkatya38 | November 24, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

if a player with three years left and 15 million on his contract goes on waivers and is picked-up on re-entry buy another team is it the case that the new team would show a cap hit of 2.5 mil a year for the next 3 years vs. 5 mil? If so would you ask chicago to put huet on waivers, pick him up on re-entry and trade Nyl. and Jose for a couple of hawks?

Posted by: jay18 | November 24, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

@Section 117

It was a great movie - certainly more entertaining than the hockey game apparently.

I'm not quite sure what all the trade rumors are about - still a little early and we are a badly hurt team. I agree a steady defenseman would be nice (Alzner), but obviously this teams philosophy is outscore the opponents - that usually spells a first round knock-out especially with average goaltending.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | November 24, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

@Cerealman
With considerable trepidation, and yet full of hope for a positive answer, may I ask you: "Are you saying we will not listen Joe B. tonight?"

Posted by: opita | November 24, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

"Les Grossman would be a nice addition to the coaching staff. I would love to hear his pep talk during a 3rd period time out."

Posted by: SA-Town | November 24, 2008 11:52 AM
-------------------------------------------
"You know how to mark Sidney Crosby? You pull down his pants, and you spank his a--."

"DIET COKE!!!"

Posted by: Section117 | November 24, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Hello board...I'm new here, but here is my two cents for those who cares. As a long time Caps fan, I find it funny that we've finally corrected our offensive woes only to find our defense leaves much to be desired. In terms of goal-tending, I wish BB would just pick one already and stick with him for a couple of consecutives games. I think establishing momentum and rhythm is key and these alternating starts do no one any good. My vote would be for Theodore, because I think he's got better reaction time than Johnson...and I do think he has a lot of potential.

The defense though...is it coaching or the actual players? Can BB work with what he's got or is it time to make some personnel changes?

The D does need some work, but I still think it's too early to write them off.

I'm cautiously optimistic about tonight's game.

Posted by: luvfades | November 24, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

SteveR:

I'll drink a couple for Boo! tonight. I owe her.

Boo!:

You might hear those clappers this weekend!

Posted by: uncatim | November 24, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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