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Morning Reading List

My what some boisterous motivation (and perhaps a ugly loss) can do for a team. The Caps have needed secondary scoring, they got secondary scoring. They needed solid goaltending, they got solid goaltending. They were 3 of 5 with the man advantage to tie their season high of three power play goals, and had a strong overall performance in last night's 5-2 win over the Islanders.

*Here's the Islanders perspective on the game from Newsday.

*Islanders Coach Scott Gordon believes thanks is in order for Bruce Boudreau, whose success in Washington paved the way for other coaches to make the jump from the AHL to NHL. The pair actually go way back, as Gordon played against Boudreau in his 1,000th minor-league game as a rookie in 1991-92. (Although I'm not sure who the folks at Newsday were talking about in the headline.)

*Graham Mink, who was reassigned to Hershey today, reflected upon his two, game long call ups to the NHL in the past two weeks.

Looking ahead:
*Toronto is on a two-game losing streak but will return home after a three-game, West coast road trip to take on the Capitals Saturday night.

*Leafs Coach Ron Wilson benched Tomas Kaberle for the first period of Toronto's 6-3 loss to Phoenix last night, but that's just Wilson's latest message to the team. Matt Stajan and Jason Blake have both been healthy scratches at different points this season.

*A new coach didn't keep Carolina from losing it's fourth straight at home on Thursday. Both the Capitals and Hurricanes will be playing the second of back-to-back games this weekend, when Washington welcomes Paul Maurice back to Raleigh on Sunday.

*The Caps have been two completely different teams when playing back-to-back games this season. They've had four sets of them thus far and are 3-1 in the first game (with wins against New Jersey, at Anaheim and against Montreal) but they've turned around to be just 1-3 in the second, losing to New Jersey, Los Angeles and Columbus.

*Commissioner Gary Bettman is expected to announce how the NHL will punish Sean Avery today.

But the true action to watch in this scenario seems to be what will happen in Dallas. The Stars' players don't miss him and Coach Dave Tippett isn't exactly lobbying for his speedy return.

In the system:
*Here are the Bears' lines from yesterday's practice, and Coach Bob Woods said Simeon Varlamov will start Saturday against Hartford.

*Former South Carolina goaltender Josh Johnson exacted some revenge and out dueled Michal Neuvirth as Gwinnett defeated the Stingrays 3-2 earlier this week.

By Katie Carrera  |  December 5, 2008; 7:58 AM ET
 
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Next: Poll: Avery's Suspension

Comments

My what an early reading list.

Posted by: Section117 | December 5, 2008 8:10 AM | Report abuse

Tarik/Katie. Which side of the press boxes do you all get to sit on when at the game? Caps shoot once or twice?

I'm hoping against hope that there's a Tarik-Chat today (and before 1pm when I have to go to the dentist...)

We need answers RE: Johnny's end-of-PP alert for the guys. It's getting silly. It's never a warning to hurry and shoot. It's a warning to the boys to be careful with the puck cause someone's gonna be cherry-picking.

Enjoyable game to watch last night. Quite a few penalties, these guys have to try to keep their composure and quit with the lazy stick fouls.

Hope those of you who got to go had a good time, and aren't too sick from the dogs.

Posted by: FFSEnough | December 5, 2008 8:16 AM | Report abuse

I might also mention... Who's that with 2 A's last night. One on the PP? Keep the Juice on the PP!

Posted by: FFSEnough | December 5, 2008 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Honestly, I think it comes down to consistent aand strong effort out of the boys. Like I said before, we shouldn't have to horsewhip or harangue the guys into getting out there and working their tails off. I know that maybe I'm expecting a lot, but I think that for our sake and to prove that we can do it, we need to take both games, Saturday and Sunday, and do it cleanly in regulation (especially the second - we cannot afford to give Carolina any room to wiggle).

I'm not saying that we should expect to go undefeated the rest of the season, but two wins now will go a long way to getting us mentally back on track and back to where we need to be. Wouldn't hurt to get some of our injured back, either!

Last night was solid and far better than I was expecting - the boys done good - but I'm not mollified yet. I want to see that kind of effort consistently over several games.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 5, 2008 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Congratulations last night to Brooksie on his 100th NHL Point!

Posted by: FFSEnough | December 5, 2008 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Also agreed on the BJ signaling, FFSEnough. We got burned again by that, and Lepisto got hung out to dry by a bad line change on that second goal. He's got to start doing that. Other than that, he did damn good, though, so I'm not screaming for his head.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 5, 2008 8:24 AM | Report abuse

1) There's been lots of Lepisto bashing. I think he looks good on the PP, especially when he was switched over to the left side (with Ovie at r-side point). Does Lepisto play left defense or right defense in Hershey? He has been on right point here and he was playing like he was backwards (which he is, compared to Green).
2) I feel for Alzner. Here's a kid, 20. I know, I have three kids, youngest 23, and 20 is a kid. And here he is on the biggest stage, after being a hockey fan/player probably since he was six weeks old. And he has the guts to go to the coach and say, "Coach, I stunk." That to me says boatloads about the young man's character. Also, that riccochet off the endboards was nifty, to borrow a phrase from Laughlin.
3) My prediction: Bettman condemns Avery to a lifetime of nothing but sloppy seconds.

Posted by: tominfl1 | December 5, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

If Wilson doesn't want Kaberle, I'd be happy to have him here.

The Avery thing is getting silly. he's already been suspended longer than some guys have gotten for causing serious injury. Stupid, rude, yes. NHL discipline worthy-I think not.

Posted by: melissa2809 | December 5, 2008 8:38 AM | Report abuse

How can we be so sure he was talking about his ex girlfriends? Maybe there's some guys who've fallen in love with the LA Kings or NY Rangers? Or maybe some stupid metro-handbag he picked up a year ago and discarded?

Posted by: FFSEnough | December 5, 2008 8:45 AM | Report abuse

More needs to be said of Ovechkin's late-game unselfishness. Yeah, he's a very modest player, but think about what he did. He didn't just dump the puck off to a teammate. He passed the puck to the one guy the entire team wants to have shoot more.

He was ready to shoot the puck himself and saw Backstrom, then put it on Backstrom to fire the shot. In a split second, Backstrom realized that he can't dump it back, it's an empty net and he must shoot. This was OV's way of telling the youngster, "SHOOT THE PUCK!"

Posted by: dj1123 | December 5, 2008 8:45 AM | Report abuse

dj1123: Yeah, that was a classy, classy move on Ovi's part. To give it to Backstrom and force him to shoot was both unselfish and a leader's move.

I still say that the one single thing that this team needs most is leadership. When we have leadership like we had last night, we do well. I'm almost beginning to wonder if maybe we need to rethink where our C is? I know that sounds bad of me to say....

Posted by: kittypawz | December 5, 2008 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Tarik,

Last night they said it was Laich's 100th NHL pt???? But I have him at 92 as of last night... He's had 3 goals first credited to someone else (Semin, Backs, and Ovie) only to have the annoucers come back and say, scoring change to LAICH this season and now this... Someone needs to get his stats right.

Posted by: Tracy2117 | December 5, 2008 8:58 AM | Report abuse

If there is any Lepisto bashing, it is by dumb people. With the exception of getting caught behind the net on that last Isles goal (he had absolutely no help), he played a great game last night. He was the only D putting the puck on net with any regularity.

Posted by: _jordan | December 5, 2008 9:05 AM | Report abuse

@tominfl1
"Does Lepisto play left defense or right defense in Hershey? He has been on right point here and he was playing like he was backwards (which he is, compared to Green)."

In Hershey, on PP, Sami is usually on the left point and Chris Bourque on the right (love that Bourque slap shot!). And at even strength, I think early in the season, yes, Sami played left and quite often it was Alzner on the right.

Posted by: tess2201 | December 5, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Tracy

Playoff points. Brooksie had 6 in the playoffs last year that don't get credited on "career" stats on something like NHL.com.

He's got 92+ the 6 from playoffs, + 2 last night.

Posted by: FFSEnough | December 5, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse

The game notes yesterday listed Laich as 2 points short of 100 points and Bradley as 1 point short of 100 points. Bradley came close last night. Let him get that point and more tomorrow night.

Posted by: _Mark | December 5, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse

I have decided I am sick of hearing the daily injury updates. "Day to day" "I don't know" "Maybe next game" etc. How about we get an update when there is "new" news (and hopefully good!) Mostly just kidding, but I hope we get some good news soon.

Good game to watch last night - definitely more energy. More D taking shots and ripping the puck up to the corners was nice to see.


Posted by: vkova10 | December 5, 2008 9:11 AM | Report abuse

i think lepisto is struggling on d. not a surprise given his age, but he is struggling. the one goal was not entirely his fault cause nobody was there to backcheck, but he should have been able to control the puck in the first place (although easier said than done...sutton is abig rig). he struggled moving the puck out of his zone.

he's doing well on offense though...sounds like another dman on this team...

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | December 5, 2008 9:13 AM | Report abuse

"Unleash the Day-2-Days!"

Posted by: SA-Town | December 5, 2008 9:14 AM | Report abuse

If there is any Lepisto bashing, it is by dumb people.

Posted by: _jordan | December 5, 2008 9:05 AM
-------------------------------------------
I won't bash him, but he's still a work in progress in back when it comes to, you know, defense. I'll admit that seeing him as comfortable as he is on the PP with the big boys is both nice and a pleasant headache to deal with when everyone gets healthy.

Posted by: Section117 | December 5, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

I agree dc, Lepisto could have handled that play a bit better, but it seemed (from my TV)there was not one, but two unmarked players wide open at the net.

Posted by: vkova10 | December 5, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, it's generally hard to cover three guys all by yourself.

Posted by: _jordan | December 5, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

OV continues to amaze and do something freakish in every game. I was there last night, downstairs. OV took a snapper right in front of me and it hit the post. Honestly, I heard the clang of the post before my brain realized he had shot the puck -- his release and shot were that fast. In 40 years watching hockey, I've never seen anything like his snap shot. Unbelievable, incredible.

Posted by: bjoad | December 5, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

vkova,
i think there were actually 3! it was a bad line change for sure by the caps. but if you look at the start of the play, ov turned off in to the corner from sami when he and sutton were fighting for control. he probably should have been supporting in front of the net (look at me telling ov how to play!). i'm sure BB will show that on the film...

whats disturbing (mildly) is how many goals they seem to give up with guys coming out of the box. in previous games, you couldnt even hear the goalie giving the beaver tail slap to warn the d that the penalty was expiring. i can think of at least two goals scored that way...

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | December 5, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse

dc,

right...and made more annoying when the other team comes out of the box and scores. i hate that! i am just glad with all the new guys on the ice, we are not getting lame penalties like too many guys on the ice or having more difficulties with line changes.

Posted by: vkova10 | December 5, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse

@Tess: Thanks. Last night he looked better, but I felt he was more comfortable on the left side. He might work out fine as the offensive component to a third defensive pairing - not bad for $700K. I mean, he's at least as good offensively as some of the S@H types are defensively.

Several years rom now the defense might be: Green, Alzner, Carlsson, Godfrey, Lepisto and a veteran, S@H.

Posted by: tominfl1 | December 5, 2008 9:38 AM | Report abuse

The box score showed us close to a sell-out last night but it felt like about 75% full to me.

I assume we wont have any updates on injuries until tomorrow in Toronto since today is an off day?

@Tarik..you wont be at Kettler to see if anyone skates I assume?

Posted by: SA-Town | December 5, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Another thing on Alzner. I'm still really impressed by the heady play of the end boards. What he did was make an indirect pass to the front of the net. Anyone who plays pool knows that the direct route doesn't always work, so you improvise. And he practiced it beforehand. My thought: If the Caps did this more often from the point, opposing D might be forced to not pinch in so tight in front of the net, thereby opening to the front of the net for a direct shot on goal. And that was the smartest thing, because he took what the defense gave.

Posted by: tominfl1 | December 5, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Trouble for nearby college hockey club:

http://www.wmdt.com/topstory/topstory.asp?id=4012

Posted by: uncatim | December 5, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

@ FFSEnough

The 2 assists last night = 92 nhl (regular season) pts, then add the 6 from PO last season... That's only 98 if you combine regular season and PO together.

Posted by: Tracy2117 | December 5, 2008 10:17 AM | Report abuse

fyi:
If anyone is planning to make the trip to Hershey on Saturday night, bring along a stuffed animal for the annual Teddy Bear Toss.

Posted by: tess2201 | December 5, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Tracy
Now I'm trying to figure it out. I'll see what I can get.

dcsportsfan

It's more than 2. My yearly count is at 4, and they are ALL on BJ. Why? He's the only goalie I have watched in my last 10+ years of hockey fandom (which includes DIII and DI hockey at college) that does not "beaver-tail" the ice when a guy's coming out of the box.

This is a problem. I hope someone (Tarik) can get BB's ear and ask him what's up and see if we can get it fixed.

Posted by: FFSEnough | December 5, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Since today's a "quiet" Caps day, here's a piece on Kozlov, whom we almost never hear from.

http://english.sport-express.ru/summary/1_3407/

Posted by: vkova10 | December 5, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

random thoughts:

- Nothing against Clarkie, but perhaps it is time to rethink the "C" (given someones comment earlier about leadership)

- still looking for more solid, consistent D. Once that happens and injuries are gone; look out!

- PP looked good, but I am still scratching my head as to why the Caps find it SO hard to plant bodies in front of the opposting goalie early on in the PP and on a consistent basis.

- More "cheese" goals, as Brash would call them. This gets back to the previous point: more bodies in front of the net, more crashing the net = more "cheese" goals. Alzner's play off the dasher board was outstanding!!

as i have been saying when everyone is stressing about injuries and all of the day-to-day reports: EVERYTHING IS OING TO BE FINE!!!!

Posted by: doughless | December 5, 2008 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Tracy-

Does the team generously count Shootout goals as an NHL point? That's the only thing I can think of that might be able to fill the 2pt gap. (He's 2/10 lifetime in the shootout)

http://www.nhlshootouts.com/AllTimeShooterStats.htm

If you ask me, those shouldn't count, but if they do, that's 100 points.

Posted by: FFSEnough | December 5, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Maybe they meant 100 career (regular season) PIM's -- he achieved that last night! :-)

Posted by: Jeff_ | December 5, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

@melissa2809 and FFSEnough
I am in total agreement with your 8:3x a.m. posts about Avery.

@people talking about Johnson not signaling.
I have competed on sports but hockey was not one of them, so could you please explain why it is the goalie's responsibility to signal the Defense when a penalty is about to expire? As a coach, in such a fast moving game, I don't think I would ever want my goalie distracted by a clock; besides, isn't the bench almost as close to the D as the goalie? Won't it make more sense for the coach or a bench player to signal the D?

My opinion on some of the players being discussed:
Lepisto. I think he is a great addition, he works well in the pp too. Does he make mistakes? Yes. But who hasn't?
Alzner. Playing like a very good rookie, and you can tell he will be good. I like his attitude and his desire to improve.
Kozlov, Nylander. Great players completely unappreciated by some fans.
BJ. I think he can be one of the top goalies on this league if given a fair chance.
OV. I view his pass to Backstrum not as an un-selfish play but as a very smart play. I know some people here want to romantice the play otherwise. The fact is that the defender "could" have blocked OV's shot. In my opinion it was just a very smart play by a very smart player, nothing more.

Posted by: opita | December 5, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

"The box score showed us close to a sell-out last night but it felt like about 75% full to me."

I chalk this up to a majority of the fans being 125% full of dollar hot dogs! I know I was!

Posted by: cainoo7x | December 5, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Laich indeed has 92 points. I heard that announcement too. It was a mistake I guess.

--Tarik

Posted by: el_bashir | December 5, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

opita

On Ovie's pass, I agree. I liked how he said in the post-game that he thought Backs would give it back ;-)

As for the goalie signalling end of PP. We know why it's important. To keep guys from taking unnecessary risks with a "cherry-picking" player behind them. The shot last night should NOT have been taken at the end of a PP last night. That was a very HIGH RISK shot.

But why is it the Goalie's job?

Anecdote: As part of a rather rabid and vulgar cheering section for my D-III (now D-I) college hockey team, we had a guy who was somewhat of our "head cheer-leader..." He had a small "soap-box" style contraption with one end open that he would put between the stands and the boards. Yes, he would stand on this to help himself be heard by the crowd...but he would also use it to make an ungodly amount of noise...

With a used goalie paddle, he would wail away on this box non-stop until the stick was a pile of splinters. The noise is deafening and UNMISTAKABLE. A coach only has his voice. He can't use a whistle. The goalie has his paddle, and can make a noise easily recognizable that resonates throughout the rink.

If the Goalie is needed to pay attention to the play, then the puck and players are probably at a place in the ice where it doesn't matter that the guy is coming out of the box. But if the puck is controlled in the OZone, it's the Goalie's job to alert the FWDs to be careful.

Posted by: FFSEnough | December 5, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Thank Tarik!!!!

Posted by: Tracy2117 | December 5, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Tarik-

I'd argue he has 98. I don't know if I feel right about counting shoot-out goals for lifetime stats (though, they are goals scored in a non-game setting that still help the team win...so I can see it either way).

Can we please get BB's ear on Johnson signaling the PP group? It's troubling and baffling to me that he's the only goalie that doesn't do it.

Posted by: FFSEnough | December 5, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Hopefully the game notes get corrected too.

Posted by: Tracy2117 | December 5, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

I swear I've heard Johnny do the stick slap on TV. Does he do nothing or does he just do it real quiet like?

Posted by: koalatek | December 5, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

avery got a 6 game- nopay suspension.........garbage

Posted by: _stevo | December 5, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

6 games for Avery. Now it's up to Dallas to deal with him, and that won't be pretty.

Posted by: Greg S. | December 5, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

One thing I wanted to say about the Isles second goal in defense of Lepisto...if you go back and watch the play Sutton took out Lepisto's skate with his stick blade before he passed the puck to Hunter.

Yes, there should not have been two Isles loose in the slot but Lepisto shouldn't be blamed for that one.

Posted by: panic13 | December 5, 2008 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I hope Kozzy comes back next year.

Posted by: _jordan | December 5, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Why is it the goalie's job to warn the players that the penalty is expiring? I'm pretty new to hockey and never played, but the answer seems pretty self-evident to me - he's the only one who reliably can. Over a roaring crowd and shouting players, a coach may not be able to make himself heard directly. if the team is in the O-zone, the player coming out of the box comes in behind them, and the only one who can see him and has the means to communicate a warning (via stick-slap) is the goalie. (Question for those who have played - is it something you hear, something you feel in your skates, or both?)

When FFSEnough first mentioned the issue, I started watching for it, and it's true, every other goalie I've watched this season does it in both the NHL and the AHL.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 5, 2008 11:08 AM | Report abuse

@FFSEnough
Thanks. I got it now and it makes sense.

Posted by: opita | December 5, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

@Kittypawz

You hear it. The ice isn't a very good conductor of vibration at all. Acoustics are generally bad in ice rinks, so the slapping sound echoes really loudly.

Posted by: _jordan | December 5, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Is anyone else worried about Ovie? He didn't practice the day before and BB was not very forthcoming w/ why. Then he leaves the game with a "skate issue." It also seems to me he did not hit as hard last night. I just hope he is not "playing through" something.

Posted by: griffin13 | December 5, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

kittypawz

You hear the slap on the ice. It's really hard to miss even over the crowd noise.

Posted by: Greg S. | December 5, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

I don't think Ovie is hurt. I think it would be a great story for writers if he was hurt, but I don't think he's hurt.

Posted by: _jordan | December 5, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Jordan,
Poking at the Kozzy haters? I agree about Kozzy. I would like to see him back next year, at a reasonable cost. We have some good young talent and they will be fighting for some spots in the "bigs" next year. It is a long way away and no matter who goes, someone will be screaming that it was the wrong one (s). But that is a whole other season.

Posted by: _Mark | December 5, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

@griffin13

I know he is playing through something. Our team just crawled out of a plane crash.

Posted by: SA-Town | December 5, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Ovie pass to Backstrom at the end did a couple things:
1.) I believe it kept Backstrom's point streak alive - unselfish!
2.) Not that he needs any more respect- but did you see the reaction from the bench! Captain, my captain - those guys will run throw walls for Ovie.
3.) It's a nice little nudge at Malkin who selfishly kept the puck the other night and scored himself instead of passing it to a teammate who- if I remember correctly- would have had his hat-trick goal with the empty netter. Ovie proved he is light-years ahead of Mal-Shrek in terms of teamplay and maturity. If the MVP award comes down to those two - remember those 2 very different approaches to the same play in July.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | December 5, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Say what you will about Avery, but that whole episode got front page coverage on yahoo and other outlets.

That type of hockey exposure is usually reserved for Bertuzzi type incidents...

I prefer this over Palin puck drops.

Posted by: stormblue | December 5, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I noticed OV out in the 1st because he wasn't on the ice for the 2nd PP goal. There were 2 D out there which is why Helmer was the shooter. Hopefully his absence was equipment related. I did notice that he was the only one that wasn't slated to start the 2nd to shoot out on to the ice and work his edges. Usually an indicator of a recent sharpening job. Same reason Nylander disappeared for a short time in the 3rd. He wiped out early in the 3rd so it was probably a skate issue with him too. The most impressive D call-up in my opinion has been Helmer. He a solid stay at home guy. I realize he's 36 which means we can keep him up for pennies on the dollar and get rid of someone like Jurcina. Jurcina is probably still young enough to get something for in exchange. However, we have guys in the system that can step in for him now so I say we get rid of him if we can. Some other orgs aren't as deep and may be willing to give something up. Saw again today that someone said to have him on the PP because of his shot. My 18 year old son and I took note of every time Jurcina was on the ice last night. He did not try to put ANY shots on net. He doesn't move to improve his shooting angle when he gets the puck at the point. He simply sends the puck back along the boards. I agree he has a hard shot but he won't let it go. Not sure why. His defensive play is pathetic. He blends in with the rest of the crew we have right now which should not be the case since he's one of our regulars. By the way, it was nice to see Morrisson level someone. Not sure if you got to see it on TV but he took a player out on a 2 on 2 and the Islander hit the boards like a ton of bricks.

Posted by: fanohock1 | December 5, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

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