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Morning Reading List

One more day until the Capitals meet the Flyers again with hopes of erasing memories of the 7-1 loss in Philadelphia. Tarik will have updates from this morning's practice and don't forget that Coach Bruce Boudreau will be on Washington Post Live this afternoon.

But in the meantime here is the Caps 365 crew bringing you the second part of their interview with former Washington netminder Bob Mason.

*Pierre LeBrun doesn't think it's worth getting bent out of shape over the All Star game voting, but agrees with Boudreau -- and most people talking about the selections -- in saying Alex Ovechkin was overlooked.

*The Calgary Herald's George Johnson names mid-season awards and says its a safe bet to guess that Ovechkin wins the Hart Trophy again.

*Catch up on the rest of the Southeast Division in's notebook, which includes an item on Sean Collins.

*The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson thinks the next Winter Classic will be at Yankee Stadium, and says if the NHL's smart they'll get Ovechkin and the Caps in the game.

*Greg Wyshynski has the best collection of links summing up the fighting debate, which was reignited over the weekend with the death of Don Sanderson of the Ontario Hockey Association's Whitby Dunlops.

In the system:
*Hershey coaches Bob Woods and Mark French will coach the Canadian AHL All Star team.

*Alexandre Giroux made an impact upon his return to Hershey, first with a goal and three assists in the Bears' 6-2 win over Hartford on Saturday and then with four goals and an assist in a 7-2 victory against Worcester Sunday.

*Former Worcester Shark, Graham Mink had two assists against his former team.

*Michal Neuvirth missed South Carolina's game last night with a groin injury.

*After Don Sanderson's death the hockey community is taking a closer look at fighting and it's place in the game. The Globe and Mail examines the game's discipline partially through the eyes of Stefan Della Rovere, whose New Year's resolution was to "stop taking bad penalties."

By Katie Carrera  |  January 5, 2009; 7:47 AM ET
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Next: Quick Injury Update


What is it about Giroux? The guy is MVP calibre in the AHL and can't buy a goal in the NHL! Is it mental? Are the NHL goalies just that much better? The guy has 3 NHL goals and over 200 AHL goals; same for assists. What gives? Is he the ultimate tweener or what?

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS | January 5, 2009 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Sure, AO should have been in that lineup, but the fact that two teams are represented on the starting lineup for both conferences should tell the NHL that fan balloting alone doesn't work. It's nothing more than a "fans with the least life" contest, and I think the reason AO's not there is that the Caps fans recognized this and decided not to partake.

I like the NFL's system better - 1/3 coaches, 1/3 players, and 1/3 fans.

As for getting the Caps into the Winter Classic - that would be awesome, but asking the NHL to be smart is like asking Rosie O'Donnell to lay off the doughnuts.

Posted by: kittypawz | January 5, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Has anyone noticied that if the season were to end today, the Pens wouuld not qualify for the playoffs? Oh, what a sweet season!

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS | January 5, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse

With 3 assists on his return, maybe Giroux should stick with passing rather than shooting on goal, lol. He looks like a great prospect but would love to see him spend some extra time with shooting drills.

@JIM- keeping fingers crossed that the pens keep up the great work and leave us with just philly and boston to worry about in the post season

Posted by: justbrewit | January 5, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Well, last season pretty much everyone thought that Flash was a tweener too and wondered why GMGM gave him a one-way extension. So there's still hope for Giroux (and Fehr to a lesser extent).

Posted by: koalatek | January 5, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

The ridiculous use of the voting bots by the Montreal fans and the lack of the NHL to do something about it was enough for me. The system in place was horribly flawed with the vote as often as you want and their lack of enforcement of their own rules makes it an even bigger joke. Kind of pointless, but so is the whole all-star game anyway.

Posted by: _Mark | January 5, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

So what are people thoughts about tweaking the lineup when people are healthy?

I can see Poti getting back in for Collins...but why would we want to change anything else? Even Erskine for Alzner is a tough call.

If it aint broke, dont fix it. What would your lines be with a healthy squad? Do you sit Gordon for Federov? Maybe Fehr? Fehr has looked good IMO.

Posted by: SA-Town | January 5, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

As a guy that isn't a huge Fehr fan, I must say Fehr looked good against the Rangers. He had more opportunities than anybody, but just couldn't bury them.

In fantasy hockey news, Niittymaki, who I JUST picked up, pulled his groin immediately. It's friggin uncanny how goalies just explode as soon as they become affiliated with me.

Posted by: _jordan | January 5, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Just a question for all, has anyone else recieved notice on Frozen four tickets?

Posted by: RichC3 | January 5, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

@_jordan - Don't take on Theodore or Johnson (or Varlamov!) for your fantasy team, with your goalie explosion problem! We don't need exploding netminders on this squad, LOL!

Does this mean we're facing Biron tomorrow night, then?

Posted by: irockthered | January 5, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

RichC3, the Caps have no say in distribution of frozen four tickets. Spoke to my rep about this and he said other than the random prize for season ticket holders they have no involvement. It is purely an Verizon Center event.

Posted by: ds_kelly | January 5, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I think Biron is healthy. I should trade for him so his groin explodes in the morning skate and the Caps get to play against JS Aubin..

Posted by: _jordan | January 5, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

With Flash getting healthy, who is going to sit or get traded? When Feds is ready we will have 2 forward scratches every night. Fehr deserves to be here. He has worked harder every game and his skills are bound to show through. He plays Caps style hockey physical with finesse. I hope he isn't the odd man out. Nylander would be my choice to sit especially against the Flyers. Its tough when your 3rd and 4th lines might be playing the best of anyone on the team.

Posted by: psugolf | January 5, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

I was at kettler yesterday, and caught Federov skating gingerly.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | January 5, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

I wouldn't go as far as to call Giroux a tweener. As Koalatek said before me, he's like Flash. He needs that adjustment period to figure out the speed, the moves, and the strenghts/weaknesses of the goalies he's up against. Flash was bashed so badly last year and has pretty much come into his own this year (not scoring a ton of goals, but looking like he belongs and contributing enough). I believe if Grioux were given the same chances, he'd do the same.

Posted by: OverTheBoards | January 5, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

@_jordan - That sounds like a great idea! Go for it! :-)

@lylewimbledon - So it looks like it's going to be a while before Fedorov is ready to come back, then?

Posted by: irockthered | January 5, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

i got my frozen four letter over the weekend from my caps rep (i won, yeah). tickets wont be distributed until march, i think.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | January 5, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

@SA-Town: Good question. The Laich-Steckel-Fehr line is AWESOME and I'd be really loath to break that up. What I'm about to suggest is sacrilege, but here goes:

Ovi-Backs-Kozlov (if it ain't broke, don't fix it)
Laich-Fedorov-Semin (see below)
Flash-Steckel-Fehr (see below)
Brash-Gordon-Clark (energy/checking plus a little bit of sandpaper)

Fedorov/Semin is a known combo, and Laich blends with almost anybody, it seems. Plus I think Semin'll benefit from someone on his line who can protect him if it comes to that.

Steckel-Fehr is great stuff and those two and Flash know each other from Hershey, there should be something there in the way of chemistry.



Goal: Theodore, Johnson

Scratches: Nylander, Bradley, Erskine

Posted by: kittypawz | January 5, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

I was willing to buy a lot of George Johnson's picks... until THIS:

LADY BYNG MEMORIAL AWARD (Most gentlemanly, high standard of play): Zach Parise, LW, New Jersey Devils.

Also considered: Sidney Crosby, C, Pittsburgh Penguins; Pavel Datsyuk, C, Detroit Red Wings.

SIDNEY CROSBY considered for the Lady Bing?! Oh. My. God, is the guy blind?

Zach Parise, I will buy. But CROSBY??! GENTLEMANLY??!


Posted by: irockthered | January 5, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Of course, if Fedorov is out, I go with established lines:


Scratch: 10

Posted by: kittypawz | January 5, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse


I like those lines, but when we are healthy to that point, I think we will have to make a move to be able to keep Alzner up. The cap reality will force a deal or a send down. I am sure that GMGM is working on options and while it has been tough having guys injured, it has certainly given us a look at what will be in the future as well as buying GMGM time to work his magic.

Posted by: _Mark | January 5, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

All I can say is that a healthy team gives GM alot of tough options, not only with the Cap, but who to play.

The tough questions come down to high paid vets like Clark, Nylander....Erskine is going to be a tough look as well, but we need more toughness on the blue line.

Posted by: SA-Town | January 5, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

A good sign he was skating, but I hope he doesn't come back too early like last time and re-injure the ankle.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | January 5, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Big game tomorrow night!

Posted by: lylewimbledon | January 5, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

_Mark: True, but I'm expecting a move. I really am. I don't think they're going to send Alzner down at this point if they possibly can avoid it. He belongs here, and so does Fehr.

GMGM and Ted will figure it out. That I have faith in.

Posted by: kittypawz | January 5, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

The Caps are playing so well that it's just a privaledge to watch these guys play. Sure they make some mistakes, and yeah, they try to get too cute sometimes, but man these guys are finding ways to win. Theodore picking up his game has now made the Caps flat out lethal.

If I have one complaint this season it's the lack of role guys taking up for our superstars. I don't like the fact that OV has to go and throw his body around after Semin's fight(?). That job is set aside for Brash and Brads and I'm not sure why they don't step up to the plate. Now the game with the Rangers was still close so I will give them a bye this time. However, when we play the Rangers again Brash needs to be put out against Staal and Brash needs to beat his brains in. These other teams need to know that the Caps will not tolerate having our superstars messed with. Gretzky had his MCSorly(sp), the Caps need to police each other more. Again, even though OV is totally capable of handing out bone crushing hits, other's are paid salaries to do just that. Semin, keep those soft hands in your gloves and leave the fighting to others. Man, he did fine in the wrestling part, if he would have left it at that he wouldn't be ragged on right now. I cannot imagine the ribbing he's taking.

Posted by: fanohock1 | January 5, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse


Sweet indeed!

And our first round series would be versus Carolina.

Posted by: AMHV2772 | January 5, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Agreed. Alzner has definitely shown that he should stay. Sending him down would be a move that is most undesireable. I agree about Fehr as well.

I think Brash has given the team a lot more than just an enforcer, but I think he will be one of the guys that sees time as a scratch. When we are playing a team that is very physical, rough, and/or dirty, then he will be on the ice to keep them honest. Otherwise I think he sees time as a scratch.

A good dilemma for now.

Posted by: _Mark | January 5, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Oh yeah, is anyone else ticked off that Crosby wasn't awarded an instigator and automatic game misconduct for his fight(?). That rule was put in place to keep players from jumping each other. He grabbed an unsuspecting player while he was staring at the ice for a face-off. Although I don't care for Crosby because he is a Pen, I did respect him as a player. I'm starting to lose that respect, not that he would care, but I am guessing there are more out there like me.

Posted by: fanohock1 | January 5, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Yay for Woods and French! Congratulations to both of them for the much-deserved honor of coaching the Canadian AHL all-star team!

Posted by: irockthered | January 5, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

@fanohock1 - Crosby was given an Instigator, an Unsportsmanlike Conduct, a 10-minute misconduct and the fighting major for a total of a 19-minute penalty. I'd say that was reasonable.

The unsportsmanlike conduct was for his face shield. The misconduct was because he got the instigator penalty.

Posted by: irockthered | January 5, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Reasonable, but not the rule. A fighting instigator is supposed to carry an automatic game misconduct, just like not wearing the equipment to strap your jersey down is an automatic game misconduct, which is why Semin got the boot. Oh well, it was probably more humiliating for him to sit in the box and watch his team lose than it would have been from the locker room.

Posted by: fanohock1 | January 5, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

does semin receive an automatic one game suspension for not wearing the fight strap?

i thought that was the rule

Posted by: _stevo | January 5, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

@fanohock1 - No, that's not the case. Here's the rule in question.

47.11: A player or goalkeeper who is deemed to be the instigator of an altercation shall be assessed an instigating minor penalty, a major penalty for fighting and a ten-minute misconduct.

If the same player or goalkeeper is deemed to be the instigator of a second altercation in the same game, he shall be assessed an instigating minor penalty, a major penalty for fighting and a game

When a player or goalkeeper receives his third instigator penalty in one Regular season, he is automatically given a game misconduct following that third violation.
A player or goalkeeper who is deemed to be both the instigator and aggressor of an altercation shall be assessed an instigating minor penalty, a major penalty for fighting, a ten-minute misconduct
(instigator) and a game misconduct penalty (aggressor).

Posted by: irockthered | January 5, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse


If you're talking about notice from the NCAA about Frozen Four tickets, that happened back in August. The charges to credit cards were reversed for those who didn't get them. If you never got charged back, you might have gotten them and didn't know it, especially if you moved in the interim.

I had heard that the Caps might be able to provide a few season ticket holders with Frozen Four tickets. You might consider contacting your ticket rep.

FWIW, I got tickets from the NCAA and am just waiting for them to be mailed around March 1.

Posted by: SuperG5 | January 5, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

@irockthered: I'd say Crosby is the aggressor, wouldn't you? Text of the rule may be slightly different, but I agree with fanohock1 that Crosby deserved the game misconduct.

Remember, though - Kozlov had it right. The stars get the calls, and that's how it is.

Posted by: kittypawz | January 5, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

@irockthered: Thanks for plucking the rule. So you don't think Crosby met the criteria of the last portion of the rule?

"A player or goalkeeper who is deemed to be both the instigator and aggressor of an altercation shall be assessed an instigating minor penalty, a major penalty for fighting, a ten-minute misconduct
(instigator) and a game misconduct penalty (aggressor)."

I'm sure you saw it because you always seem well informed. IMO I he was the instigator, and IMO the agressor as well. He drug the Panther around on his belly even though he was totally defenseless. I guess it is subjective by that point. I wasn't being sarcastic though, thanks for pulling the rule.

Posted by: fanohock1 | January 5, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Re: "Fighting Debate"

I'm really sorry to hear about the guy's death. Especially a senior league player, who was just playing for the love of the game. But, seriously, the only fighting debate is whether Semin voluntarily asks Brash to teach him how to throw a punch, or whether the club imposes that on him in an intervention.

I agree in part. But I also think that Flash is much better than you give him credit for. His illness is keeping him from having the real breakout year he was due for, but, just before going down with flu/pnuemonia, he was really shining. He is second on the team (and 26th in the NHL) in shooting %. His secondary scoring and particularly when he got those goals played a big part in getting wins early in the season when Ovie was slumping and the injury plague came to town.

We can only hope that Giroux can evolve like Flash has (and hopefully will continue to).

I have to say it: I was breathed a sigh of relief when Giroux got sent back down. His ability to make transition scoring opportunities is amazing: he rivals Ovie is his ability to do that. But when he keeps shooting into the goalie on those chances, it deflates us and gives the bad guys confidence. He's a real momentum killer.

Posted by: large23220 | January 5, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

@_stevo - No suspension that I'm aware of. Here's the rule:

47.13 - Jerseys

A player or goalkeeper who engages in a fight and whose jersey is not properly “tied-down” (jersey properly fastened to pants), and who loses his jersey (completely off his torso) in that altercation, shall receive a game misconduct penalty. If the player or goalkeeper loses his jersey despite the tie down remaining in tact and attached to the pants, the game misconduct is not applicable, however this must be reported to the League office so that the jersey and the tie down can be examined.

Posted by: irockthered | January 5, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

I hope Brash spends the morning hitting the speed bag with Semin.

Posted by: SA-Town | January 5, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

@kittypawz and fanohock1 - I would agree that Crosby was the aggressor, yes; the referees didn't see it that way, though, and only stuck him with instigator. Aggressor penalties seem fairly rare. I'm still researching what gets handed out to which team and which player, though.

As a side note, I have several questions posted on the NHL Officials Association BBS. ( They will not answer questions related to specific games (such as whether Crobsy should have been issued a penalty as the aggressor or not in that incident), but they will answer generic questions.

Posted by: irockthered | January 5, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

@irockthered: based on the rule, I do stand corrected though. Being deemed the instigator during the first fight doesn't carry the automatic game misconduct, only if deemed the aggressor too. Again, thanks.

Posted by: fanohock1 | January 5, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

@fanohock1 - You're welcome! I'm working on learning the rules and how they're enforced; the enforcement part is very interesting to me. I do have a question in on the NHLOA website about what recourse (if any) a team has if they can prove that an official penalizes them consistently more harshly than their opponent. I'll be interested to see if they're willing to answer that one...

Here's a question for folks...

I've been wondering if the NHL might consider a new rule, allowing the coach to dispute a penalty if one is questionable. Here's how it would work (like the NFL's replay rule).

1) The coach questions the penalty.
2) The penalty is reviewed by off-ice officials (like goals are reviewed).
3) If the penalty is bad, it is thrown out.
4) If the penalty is GOOD, the coach receives a two-minute bench minor for delay of game, servable either concurrently with or immediately subsequent to the penalty that was questioned, at the coach's discretion.

What do y'all think?

Posted by: irockthered | January 5, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Re: Aggressor - I suspect under the circumstances that Crosby was not ruled the aggressor because it was the first fight he engaged in during the game. If he'd been picking on people a-la-Riley Cote, he might have gotten the aggressor penalty and the game misconduct, but he wasn't, so he didn't. That's just my .02, and your mileage may vary, but it's a theory at any rate. ;-)

Posted by: irockthered | January 5, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse


we can clearly see over the last few games where BB would have used his "challenge." Bradley's delay of game and Green's "trip" on the disputed penalty shot.

The 2-min delay of game penalty is one that would probably deter just about any coach from making the challenge. Give a coach a choice between 2 min of a man down, or the possibility (and how many officials will go on record and deem the call "bad") of a full 2 min of 2 men down? He'll take the 2 min of a man down.

However much I like the idea of making the officials accountable, I am not sure I would like stopping the game to examine or review. One of the best parts about the game is the fluidity of the game. I would prefer that a coach be given recourse to challenge a crew after a game and have that crew be penalized/diciplined/sent for more training. What would make this have more teeth is if these challenges and response by the league/NHLOA were made public. Keeping them private makes it seem as if they never happen.

Posted by: FFSEnough | January 5, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

irtr re: fighting

I would go more with the officials were so shocked that 87 dropped his gloves that they ignored the completely cowardly fight he engaged in and forgot to assess the situation properly.

Still bothers me that so many people are willing to give Crosby a pass on his fight, but claim semin "doesn't know how to fight." At least one "asked" for his dance partner to drop the gloves.

Posted by: FFSEnough | January 5, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

irock: I'm sure your idea works logistically. Remember now they often call for replay of a goal/no goal minutes after the shot in question. On a penalty, the guy goes into the box and they drop the puck. The coach would have maybe 20-30 seconds to throw the red flag or whatever. Once the power play started, I can't imagine several minutes later (like after they showed the replays, it was obvious Ovechkin shouldn't have gotten the four-minute high sticking vs Toronto) Boudreau gets notified by his upstairs asst that the call was wrong, and then what? Play has already commenced. Are you suggesting to take time off the clock if they reverse the call? You could have a goal scored, subsequent penalties, whatever. Obviously you are suggesting before the drop of the puck? I don't think there's time. If so, you'd think Ovechkin's penalty and Green's trip from the other night would be reversed, but the vast majority of calls lack "irrefutable evidence" to overturn. Plus they don't want upstairs officials second-guessing the on-ice guys with judgment calls, I'd imagine. Remember, NFL replay isn't for penalties.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 5, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Meant to say: "Not sure your idea works..."

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 5, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

I was at the Sharks/Bears game yesterday. I think what Giroux lacks is skating agility. The defensive zone coverage by the Sharks was AWFUL yesterday, and Giroux got a lot of tap-ins when he was wide open. He does know where to stand, and it seemed from yesterday's game that he knew what to do when he got the puck. I think the difference is that in the NHL, the defenseman are better on coverage and you need to be either quick or tough to establish position in the "prime real estate". I didn't see Giroux as either, during his time with the Caps.

Posted by: perspective6 | January 5, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

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