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Morning Reading List

The first reading list of 2009 starts with a look at Nicklas Backstrom, who has come into his own during his sophomore season. The important thing here isn't only his stats, which are steadily increasing, but his on-ice vision that continues to improve with each hidden pass he slips through bewildered opponents.

*Tis the season to reminisce and Mike Vogel does the job only he could do in remembering the four seasons that brought the Caps to this one with high expectations and nine wins in their past 10 games.

Lightning Cliff notes:
*Tampa Bay might be finding some solace and hope of saving their season in what the Capitals were able to accomplish in the second half of last year.

*Although the Lightning lost their last game 2-1 in a shootout with Montreal they won the three contests that preceded it. Here are what Tampa Bay's lines looked like in yesterday's practice and an injury update.

*Keep an eye on right wing Evgeny Artyukhin, who has made his presence known both physically and with two goals and two assists in the four games since he was reinserted in the lineup.

*Steven Stamkos is having a far from perfect rookie season, but the young center has recently said much of the criticism he's faced is true.

In the system:
*The Bears started their road trip with a 2-0 shutout of Springfield yesterday afternoon. You can find the full box score here.

*Team Canada comes back from a three-goal deficit to defeat Team USA 7-4 yesterday in the World Junior Championships. Check out video highlights here (which has the clip of the stick to Chris DiDomenico's face followed by Stefan Della Rovere's hit on James vanRiemsdyk at about the 1:15 mark) and the extended highlights here.

*In case you're just picking up the WJC now, here's the hot list of players through the preliminary round.

By Katie Carrera  |  January 1, 2009; 8:08 AM ET
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Next: Semin Skating


Happy New Year, Katie! Thanks for posting this so early on New Year's Day! :-)

Here's to a great second half+ of the season. We're off to a great start!

Posted by: irockthered | January 1, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

O what a day -- plenty of college football and hockey! BTW -- ESPN: Caps = 4; TSN: Caps = 14 (behind Pens, Flyers, Canadians, Wild, Rangers). TSN sure doesn't like the Caps. I wonder what the Caps have to do to garner some love up north? Trade OV for Crysbaby and have a worse record???

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS | January 1, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

I wonder what the Caps have to do to garner some love up north? Trade OV for Crysbaby and have a worse record???


maybe get Ovechkin Canadian citizenship?

Posted by: The_Spear | January 1, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Great read about Backstrom by Tarik! :) Can't wait to watch the Winter Classic, and Cristobal is starting for the Blackhawks!

Posted by: rachel216 | January 1, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

JIMALLCAPS: I looked at TSN's rankings and just realized they use individual player stats and even take into account who's in and out of the line-up. So if you're on a 10-game winning streak, but did it with a dozen minor league call-ups, tough luck in the rankings. Definitely a bizarre system.

Posted by: Kellyinbalto | January 1, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if the NFL or NBA did something like the Winter Classic, the post would send a columnist to cover it? Hockey, forget about it.

Posted by: metatext | January 1, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

@KellyinBalto: If they want to knock or underestimate the Caps going into this season, MORE POWER TO 'EM. GO FOR IT sez I. The bewildered looks when we kick butt and take names are worth all the headache and razzing.

Posted by: kittypawz | January 1, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Artyukhin is the scariest hockey player I've ever seen. Skating faster than most players despite his 255lb., 6'5" frame, I remember watching him before he took a detour to Russia--he used to get penalties from refs for legal hits against the boards were people were worried that he might very seriously injure players with a "normal" hit. I remember that the Lightning (Tortorella I believe) had complained to the league on what to do with a player that was getting penalties for legal plays.

He's probably the only player in the league who could lay Chara out cold with a clean hit.

His archile's heel has been the ability to but stick coordination together with his speed/hulk-size. That's seems to be happening now.

I just hope he doesn't get a good line on Ovi. Brash may have his hands full tonight if he does.


Posted by: TonyX | January 1, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

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