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Morning Reading List

Tarik will have updates from this morning's practice, but in the meantime lets take a look at the Eastern Conference leading Bruins who hit Verizon Center on Wednesday. The Bruins have just one regulation loss in their past 16 games and snagged their 10th straight victory at home last night with a 5-3 win over the Lightning.

It seems most everything the Bruins do on offense works. Boston's at the top of the East with 3.35 goals per game. They have 12 players with double-digits in points, not to mention the superb play of goaltender Tim Thomas, who leads the league with a 1.90 GAA and boasts a .940 save percentage as well. As ESPN's Scott Burnside noted not too long ago, the big bad Bruins appear to be back.

And from the Boston Globe:

Something strange is happening in Boston. The Bruins matter. A proud, old hockey town has rediscovered its pulse. When was the last time anyone could say that?

*What do you guys think it means to have Original Six teams like Boston, Detroit, Chicago, New York and Montreal (sorry Leafs fans) back in the top half of the league? Or at least fielding teams that people are excited to watch? I think it's a good thing.

*Here's what the Bruins lines and pairings looked like against the Lightning. Both Marco Sturm (neck) and Aaron Ward (leg) were out for the Bruins yesterday, but are expected to travel with the team to Washington. It's unclear if they or Stephane Yelle, who left Boston's game against Tampa Bay after colliding with a linesman, will play against the Caps.

*Alex Ovechkin was omnipresent against the Leafts this weekend, so says the National Post.

*Day one of the NHL board of governors meeting meant a sobering discussion on the global economy, here are stories from TSN and the Globe and Mail.

Pierre LeBrun also keeps you updated on the goings on in Florida with two blog posts on everything from Sean Avery to rumors of new owners in Buffalo then back to the economy and discussion of the Champions Hockey League in Europe.

In the system:
*The Caps 365 crew headed up to Hershey this past weekend and here's the first of their video exploits: an interview with Bears Coach Bob Woods.

*The AP did a story on North Dakota defenseman and Caps prospect Joe Finley, who has been limited to just two games this season for the Fighting Sioux after suffering a concussion.

By Katie Carrera  |  December 9, 2008; 7:13 AM ET
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Sweet #1 comment, I guess sometimes it does pay off to stay up all night...

One comment. These injuries are really taking its toll on the team. Chemistry is being nullified each day Semin, Green, Poti and Federov are out. Did I mention that the team is less than .500 over the last 10 games?

Get a new head trainer or something, this is ridiculous.

Posted by: redskinsux | December 9, 2008 7:23 AM | Report abuse


Why does the Russian media get exclusives with Semin, and we get shrugs and walk by's? Does it have everything to do with translations?

Im starting to wonder how legit these interviews are. I dont see why Semin would say what he did in that interview.

Posted by: SA-Town | December 9, 2008 7:29 AM | Report abuse

To me, Theodore looks like a shrunken version of Olie, flopped out at the top of the crease. If I could do anything, starting with opening night roster, Nylander waiving NTC, I'd trade those not performing to money - Theo, Nylander and Morrisonn. I'd hope to get back Khabibulin and picks - plus $4.7M in cap space. I'd make Alzner and Sloan full time. At this time, you have $2.5M in cap space, 13 forwards and 7 D (original six - Morrisonn + Alzner + Sloan). I'd then keep a 23rd player - either Aucoin or Collins, so $2M in cap space left. Now trade either Gordon, Steckel or Bradley, plus the above picks, and get an upgraded RW who could challenge Kozlov for 1st line duties. Khabibulin and possibly the new RW have expiring contracts after this year, so add'l cap space for next year. I know this is all very unlikely, you need partners to trade, but it's what I'd try and do. I didn't address Clark, either, because, unlike the others, he's completely untradeable at this point.

Posted by: tominfl1 | December 9, 2008 7:45 AM | Report abuse


I don't know if CHI would part with Khabby since he's the reason that they are relevant in the West. Huet has been average, although much better than Theodore.

But, I agree in theory that we need to make some roster moves to A. free up cap space and B. to dump large veteran salaries to make room for cheaper and superior younger talent.

I am not a Theodore fan, but seriously, if you were to tell me that his stats at the end of the year would be .901sv% and a 2.94GAA, i'd take it. We play such an offensive style of hockey that we will at times leave our goalie high and dry. Do I put the blame on Theodore for as many losses as Kolzig in the same amount of games? No, not even close.

Theodore can still make the amazing save and give him the compliment of our entire roster, we should be more than fine moving forward. We shouldn't be moving Theodore until the trade deadline.

Posted by: JSchon | December 9, 2008 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Let me want to keep three of the guys who are contributing to a roughly 500 record and then potentially trade our top enforcer and an all around great locker room guy who wears the "A" regularly in order to get some more picks when our organizational depth is at an all time high? Glad you are not running for GM

Posted by: pebowers | December 9, 2008 8:41 AM | Report abuse


Trading for future picks ensures organizational depth. Trading for active players stifles the youth movement.

I am one, who believes that the kids can play if given the chance to do so. So, yes, I'd rather get picks and keep our farm system loaded with talent.

Where would we be without it now?

Draft picks and minor league players are all assets.

Posted by: JSchon | December 9, 2008 8:53 AM | Report abuse

No argument JSchon, I just happen to think that with our current depth the here and now is not the time to go and "load up on picks" again as we did a few years back. I am also not ready to rely on Hershey to take us to the playoffs and I think our recent record reflects that. I am more willing to stand pat, let guys get healthy and see what we can do with our opening night roster, we were 11-4-2 before the injuries began to pile up.

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


No, Hershey isnt ready to take us to the promise land...

But Fehr can play...
Alzner can play...
Sloan can play...
Aucoin can play...
Lepisto can play...

We have guys ready right now that are better than some of our current players. Let them play.

Posted by: JSchon | December 9, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

We saw where youth got us in last years playoffs. It took us three games to get settled in. Too little too late.

We need a good mix of vets and youth to make a move in the playoffs.

Posted by: SA-Town | December 9, 2008 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Okay, I'm going to be the gloom and doom brigade today. I don't think we stand a snowball's chance in a blast furnace against Boston if something doesn't change between now and game time. Yeah, maybe we get Green back. I don't think that's going to be enough. I really don't. Maybe if we get Poti and/or Feds, too.

Theodore: I'm really on the fence. I see both sides of the argument and I'm not experienced enough to predict which way that cookie will crumble with any semblance of accuracy, so I'm not going to try.

pebowers: I'm not entirely sure about Hershey not being able to take us to the playoffs, and here's why: Where are most of our Hershey guys? On the blueline. What has been for the most part solid for the last three or four games? The blueline. What has not been happening that has been getting us a bunch of low-scoring games? Secondary scoring.

No, I don't think it's Hershey that needs the hairy eyeball based on the last three games. I think it's our scoring. if JT is going to live up to the moniker "Three-or-more", then if we want the W's, we are going to need the secondary scoring. It's unfair and unrealistic to expect Ovi and Backstrom and maybe Flash to carry us on their own, but with Semin and Feds and Green out, that's exactly what this team is asking of them right now.

Bottom line: Gabby is right - if we want the W's, we have GOT to get the secondary scoring going, and maybe that is what Gabby is trying to do with all the line shuffling. Here's some of the people I'm looking to for scoring on Wednesday that aren't named Fleischmann, Ovechkin, or Backstrom: Laich, Steckel, Aucoin, Nylander, Gordon, Brash. Brash figured out about going to the net - time for people to follow him. Brash is a good choice for that - he's big and strong enough that he's hard to move once he parks himself in the crease.

At the risk of poking a sacred cow, Nylander and Clark aren't producing, but I don't see that much happening with Laich right now, either, and nobody's saying anything about him at all. He could use a spin-up too, IMO.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 9, 2008 9:23 AM | Report abuse


I agree Sloan is an upgrade over Erskine Alzner given a little more experince will be a #1 D. All the guys you noted are ready to play but letting them play and gain experince all at once could cost us.

Posted by: CalleJo | December 9, 2008 9:26 AM | Report abuse

@JSchon: I agree, the deadline works for goaltending if JT is still struggling. Plus, there's an outside shot Varlamov could be brought up at the very end of the season as goalie. I am just seeing near enough from Morrisonn and Nylander to justify the money.

SA-Town: Morrisonn essentially costs you Sloan and Alzner. Must Sloan go through waivers? No way do you risk losing him to waivers. No one on the blog would advocate that. I don't suggest stockpiling picks. I said to get picks for other moves if need be so I could move in the youth. If you move Mo for picks, you keep Alzner and Sloan. What good is Nylander's veteran status if it isn't translating to on-ice prooduction? If you move him and, say Bradley, and get an upgraded power forward, and then keep Fehr suited up, you are a better team I believe.

Posted by: tominfl1 | December 9, 2008 9:29 AM | Report abuse

If you think Varlamov is ready to come up this year you are fooling yourself. He will be ready but just not as soon as some people think.

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

Tom likes to trade the whole team away.

I think we'll be just fine when we get Semin and Green back. And Tim Thomas is about due for a blowout loss, so there's hope yet.

Posted by: _jordan | December 9, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Varlamov is NOT ready for the NHL. Will he be by playoffs? Maybe. In the meantime, we cannot risk Johnson on games like Carolina when we have to face Boston in a few days' time and he is hurting.

The defense has been carrying this team, since Ovechkin, Bäckström and Fleischmann cannot do it on their own. We need to get the secondary scoring going. If we score 5+ in a night, then even if Jose lets in three, we still have a win. But with only scoring one, no chance.

Tarik: with Alzner approaching the ten-game mark, do we dare send him back to Hershey? He's played 7 so far, so we have a couple more before he has to clear waivers to go back... but I'm not liking the risk of sending him down if someone else is waiting to snatch him up off waivers the minute we do. What do we do about this?

Posted by: irockthered | December 9, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse


Alzner is on an entry-level contract, so I'm pretty sure he can yo-yo up and down as much as we want over the next couple years..

Posted by: _jordan | December 9, 2008 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Alzner won't be at risk of waivers when we have to send him down. He is still on his entry level contract and I think that is what protects him. Something like that anyway.

Posted by: _Mark | December 9, 2008 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Jordan beat me.

Wow, I type really slow and with the trouble I have forming cogent thoughts, it took a really long time to respond.

Posted by: _Mark | December 9, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

No, I don't want to trade the whole team.

Here's an example: Say you could move Nylander and Morrisonn and get back, only, active roster, RJ Umberger. Didn't he do fine in the playoffs last year?

Off goes $6.85M. On comes $3.75 (Umberger) and $2.15M (Alzner and Sloan). You gained a 23rd player on the roster; you've promoted low-cost, deserving youth; and you've gained roughly $1M of cap that you get you a $4M player at the deadline.

Posted by: tominfl1 | December 9, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

I love the Capitals...I Do....however with all these injuries as of late and the soft goals, the Bruins are going to walk into the phonebooth and crush The Caps. :(

Posted by: j3rockstar | December 9, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Alzner is waiver-exempt until he plays 160 NHL games I think (it depends how old he is when he signed his NHL contract).

Posted by: koalatek | December 9, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

@ Tom,

I get what you're saying, and that would be fine if you can get Nylander to waive his no-trade clause (he said "I play here" remember), and find somebody to take Mo and his too-high contract.

I sure wish Fedorov would have signed for less..

Posted by: _jordan | December 9, 2008 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Re: The Bruins "mattering," that's lame IMO. For all the rep that Boston gets as this GREAT sports town above all reproach (oh my they had to put up with so much from the Red Sox and Pats and stuck by them the WHOLE way and are FINALLY getting rewarded, bless their hearts. Gag.), people flat-out disowned the Bruins ('sup Bill Simmons?).

What's the over/under on when The Sports Guy starts regaling us with epic tales of his childhood trips to Boston Garden to see his beloved B's and how he's stuck by them through thick and thin and it's about time that Boston FINALLY gets the good team it DESERVES.

I hope the Caps drop a 10 spot on them again.

Posted by: cstoneno37 | December 9, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse


as always we mostly agree. "Mostly" cause I think we stand more than a furnace snowball chance :D

I also think that we have mentality issues. Take Boston, and yesterday's game: even with their record, and with a weak opponent, they played with high intensity and killer instinct. We are a very strong team but don't play like one all the times.

Posted by: mauree | December 9, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I really, realyl do not think you're going to get Nylander to waive his NMC. He's a father of six, and most of his kids are in school. He'll stay with the Caps through the end of his contract, and the fact is that we're kind of stuck with him.

Failing that - crazy thought. Do we have anyone in the system at all that plays his style?

Posted by: kittypawz | December 9, 2008 10:16 AM | Report abuse

@mauree: I'm glad I'm not crazy. :)

I tend to agree on the mentality issues. We don't think like a winning team - we don't come out to win every single night, and that is why we lose the easy games and take away a lot of the hard ones. The West Coast road trip debacle was really about injuries more than anything - we got raped on injuries on that trip, we really did.

If we want to win, we've got to come out ready to win every single night, and that's what we don't have right now.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 9, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Since we are reading this morning, let me share one of Tim Leone's articles. It is about Grant McNeil. In the words of Don Cherry, "God love him".

His comment, "I like the taste of it", ought to been a part of the movie, "Slapshot", dialogue.
Enjoy the link:

Posted by: muddapucker | December 9, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: muddapucker | December 9, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse



Posted by: tominfl1 | December 9, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Re Mo: Don't forget he's Greenie's pair -- yeah, we may have overpaid, but part of the reason he hasn't been looking as good lately is the loss of his partner.

Posted by: hook99 | December 9, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Think the Pens and Habs fans are going to be bummed when they realize all of the work that went into voting Gonch, Whitney and Komo into the ASG was for naught? None are going to be eligible (Komo maybe, but it isn't looking like he'll hit 20 games) to play.

Posted by: Steve_R | December 9, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

@ kittypawz,

I would say Aucoin is a comparable player to Nylander.

Posted by: _jordan | December 9, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I can see a trade or two happening, but all this chatter of a all-out firesale is just nuts. seriously, before everyone jumps off the deep end about trading this person or that why don't we give the team time to get healed up and back on the ice. geez, are memories that short?? as someone posted earlier, the team had a sweet record until the injuries started. still pretty good considering what has been lost to injuries.

that said, i vote for a d-man if a trade is inked.

Posted by: doughless | December 9, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

_jordan: I was looking for more someone you could tack onto Nylander's wing. One thing that a lot have commented on is that he's a much more slow and patient player than most of our guys who are all about the bombs, so to speak. Can we give him a winger somewhere who plays that slow, patient style and maybe end up with a switch of gears that the D doesn't know what to do with from line to line?

*shrug* Maybe it's a stupid thought.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 9, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse

@hook 99,

Mo wasn't even playing with Green when they were both healthy. Green was playing with Schultz, if you'll recall.

Posted by: _jordan | December 9, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse


No, I think that makes sense. I don't know who could fit that description as a winger other than Kozlov, though. They'll probably end up on the same line again whenever Semin gets healthy.

Posted by: _jordan | December 9, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the clarification. :)

OT: What IS today, attack of the STUPID??! Certain %^#!@&%$! telecom providers are driving me to madness! </rant>

Posted by: irockthered | December 9, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

kittypawz, I think that was the idea when Bruce put Nyls on the 4th line with Brash and Brads.

Posted by: koalatek | December 9, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

@doughless - agreed, completely. Let's let the team get healthy before we start talking about trading people! Our record is not THAT bad yet, especially given the injury situation.

Posted by: irockthered | December 9, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse


That was because Morrison was out 6 games with a groin.

Posted by: hook99 | December 9, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I'd love to see a trade of JT and Nylander for Huet and well someone. I doubt it'll happen, but Jose has NOT established himself as a #1 goalie. Nylander is a liability in terms of his cost. Aucoin and Federov (when healthy) can replace him. I doubt any such trade can be worked out, but here's to believing in the nearly impossible.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS | December 9, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse


Jordan is right. Both were healthy when 55 was skating with 52.

Posted by: Steve_R | December 9, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

kittypawz, I'll bite on the Brooks comment. ;)
I think Brooks got the contract based a lot on his goal scoring last season and how that projects to the future, but if you really pay attention to high-intensity shifts, listen for who's clearing the puck out of the zone. His defensive game has picked up a lot already this season over last season. Its not circumstance he's the forward to drop back to the blueline when necessary. He's not going to win the Selke, mainly because he's not a high profile guy. Maybe he will be in the future, especially since he loves running his mouth to the media. (He's like our own little polite, unvulgar, funnier, more intelligent, better looking Sean Avery!) He's fair to good in the faceoff circle and he is willing to throw himself around in the crease, whether its blocking shots in our own end(see Kings, LA) or (and he needs to do this more) hanging out, screening goalies and going after the garbage goals.
Unfortunately, most of his contributions don't show up on the score sheet. (And I know he's on the wrong side of the +/- right now, but most of the team is spread between 2 and -2; Flash is at -8 with 16 pts, so *shrugs*) But he's 6th on the team in points and goals right now behind the usual suspects. I say he stays. So there. :PPPP

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | December 9, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

So, I'm not on crack. Let's assume for a second that everyone's healthy except Clark and Schultz. What about ....




Scratches: 15 or 39, 4
Sent Down: 62, 43, 20, 33

Sorry I'm doing this in numbers, folks, but I'm too lazy to type names out right now.

Posted by: kittypawz | December 9, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse


Aside from being curious to see how 27 and 52 look out there together, I think those lines look pretty good.

Posted by: Steve_R | December 9, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

All I was really saying is, when everyone comes back, Alzner must be sent down and Sloan must be (I think, since he's 27) exposed to waivers (at the least, he must be sent down). Is that what people want? I want to keep Sloan and Alzner, and from that you get the whole domino effect that leads to trades. As long as Clark is out, Alzner can stay; as long as Schutlz or Erskine is out, Sloan can stay. If you want to keep 27 and 89, absolutely, positively someone must be traded.

Posted by: tominfl1 | December 9, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

No updates yet?

Posted by: numero94 | December 9, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

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