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Morning Reading List

Perhaps all you need to want to read a story about the Capitals in USA Today is the following excerpt. Don't forget to view the slideshow that goes along with it.

Alex Ovechkin, last season's league MVP, is Washington's only player in Sunday's game in Montreal. But the Caps have seven players with 10 or more goals, tied for best in the league. Dead-last when he took over Nov. 22, 2007, now they are true Stanley Cup contenders.
"People think that's farfetched," Boudreau says. "It isn't. Now, me coaching in the NHL, that's farfetched. If I can get this job, why can't we win the Stanley Cup?"

*USA Today also has another story on how Coach Bruce Boudreau's time in the American Hockey League influenced his coaching style.

*The Globe and Mail's Roy MacGregor looks at "young exuberant stars" with Alex Ovechkin as the prime case study.

*Colleague Dan Steinberg puts the Caps TV numbers that were in the Sports Business Journal's story from yesterday's list. in a Washington perspective over at the D.C. Sports Bog.

*Twitter continues to take over our universe. Alex Ovechkin will be tweeting from the All Star game this weekend. His Twitter page is here.

*Steve Kolbe Takes Five with Sergei Fedorov.

*ESPN's Scott Burnside hands out his team-by-team mid-season report cards.

In the system:
*Alexandre Giroux's goal-scoring streak may have ended at 15 games, but the Bears routed Norfolk 6-2 last night as Kyle Wilson scored two goals to lead Hershey.

By Katie Carrera  |  January 22, 2009; 7:42 AM ET
 
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Next: Crosby Out, St. Louis In

Comments

wow you guys are late to post today. i'm actually first?

Posted by: MNMNT | January 22, 2009 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Morning, mnmnt. I had to catch up with my email after being out of the office all week. I've had no Internet since Monday evening, so I may not bother with catching up on all of the comments. I went to the Ottawa game, I know what happened, and I've got enough of the gist from my Blackberry to not be completely out of the loop. :(

Bruce is right. A lot of these guys don't think like winners, because they've been losers for so long. Winning is a mindset, a way of life, and you've got to think like one or you'll defeat yourself. But, if anyone can teach these guys how to win and how to think like a winner, it's Gabby. So, deep breath, fingers crossed, and let's see what happens. We're still bear-hunting, so let's reload the gun and keep going.

Good on Nicky for not going to the YoungStars game, THN's whining notwithstanding. It is meaningless, and there's a very real risk of injury that could compromise a team's season. Not to mention that the All-Star game is a joke this year anyway.

Dave, you asked me what my attendance estimate was for the Isles game. I'm not good at such things, but I'd say 14-15K offhand. It wasn't full, and it was a pretty small arena, but it was a pretty good-sized crowd. The Ottawa game was sold out.

Posted by: kittypawz | January 22, 2009 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Kitty,
Thanks for picking out my question when you haven't really had to time to catch up on all the comments.

However, I was actually wondering about the size of the Caps contingent within the Isles crowd. So if there were approx 14,000 there, how many would you say made the trip from DC? 1,000? 500? Just curious I suppose.

Also, as you were in attendance in Ottawa, were there many other Cap fans besides your group?

Thanks.

Posted by: DaveUKCapsFan | January 22, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Oh! I had seen the question but lost Internet access after leaving Scranton early Tuesday morning. Um, I'd say there were at least several hundred total. I don't think we quite made 1000, but we came close.

There were maybe a dozen or so Caps fans in Ottawa. Not too many that I saw, but the crowds were very respectful and good-natured. I have tales to tell for which this blog is not an appropriate medium.

Posted by: kittypawz | January 22, 2009 8:15 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Kitty, several hundred is a pretty solid away following. Maybe time to start thinking about a few "Caps on Tour" banners!

And you can't say you have tales and then not tell!

Posted by: DaveUKCapsFan | January 22, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

I will, Dave, just not here. Not entirely sure where I can put such a thing, though - maybe JP won't kill me if I make it a FanPost on Japers' Rink.

Posted by: kittypawz | January 22, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

shoot made it at #7. No worries.

Don't worry about Alzner he will be back for the stretch run:

Is anyone more excited than me about the beginning of the stretch run?

Looking Ahead: Really really Good News UPDATE!!!

The last 21 games of the season the Caps schedule includes:

13 games against division foe
4 against Atlanta
3 against Tampa
3 against Florida
3 against carolina (2 at home)

2 games against the Maple Leafs

1 against the Bruins (A)
1 against the Penguins (H)
1 against the Flyers (A)
1 against the Predators (A)
1 against the Sabers (H)
1 against the Islanders (A)

Looking good for the stretch run...no rush to rush back Poti. Most surely do not rush Nylander back. Nylander and Jagr = really bad karma.

Posted by: windjammersouth | January 22, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Ok Kitty, will keep my eyes open for it.

Posted by: DaveUKCapsFan | January 22, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

I don't know about that being such good news, really. We keep playing down to our opponents and slacking off. Let's hope and pray Gabby can fix that and get these guys into a winning mindset. If so, then it will be good news, if not, not so much.

Posted by: kittypawz | January 22, 2009 9:00 AM | Report abuse

On recent threads Bruce was (unbelievably in my eyes) taking some flak. Seems some here aren’t happy with Gabby calling players out after games and they noted how such behaviour would have an adverse affect on the team. However from reading the USA Today article I struggle to accept that the players have anything but the utmost respect for him, and conversely, him for them. Quotes like the ones below seem to back this up:

"Bruce is unfiltered and authentic," Caps owner Ted Leonsis says. "There is no chess playing. What he says is what he means. Players trust him because they know he's not pressing buttons."

"When I was in the NHL, if you weren't playing you might never talk to the coach," Boudreau says. "And just because you're not playing doesn't mean you're not a good person. I don't want anyone to feel ostracized."

So from the worst start in franchise history last year to a record breaking start this year and 2nd in the Conference at the All Star break. How is there anything other than unmitigated love for this man around here?

Posted by: DaveUKCapsFan | January 22, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

I understand the Post not wanting to link to its competitors, but I found the story about Joe B in today's Washington Times to be interesting (if overly short) and worthy of inclusion in the "Morning Reading List."

Posted by: 1995hoo | January 22, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Just adding to the morning reading, there's a nice article on Joe B. over on the WashTimes site. I can understand Katie not wanting to promote a competitor, but in the name of sharing information ;), I won't hold back.

Posted by: geauxcaps | January 22, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Reposted from previous thread:

Talking about the whole playing up/playing down thing. We played Pittsburgh when the had won something like 2 of their previous 9. Hardly high flyers. How come, if we play down to teams with bad records, we won?

Also, when the playoffs start there are no bad teams left (well not as bad as the Isles anyway). Why worry if we play up to good opposition, this can mean only good things come April/May/June.

Posted by: DaveUKCapsFan | January 21, 2009 5:50 PM

Posted by: DaveUKCapsFan | January 22, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

BB = great coach

Posted by: ejohnsto | January 22, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Maybe I'm asking a lot, but I want the top seed in the Eastern Conference. I want to catch the Bruins. And I don't think it's out of the question if we come out playing to win every single night. This team has proven that if they really put their minds to it and get it together, nothing is out of their reach. So I want the best :) So sue me.

Besides, last I checked it's my job to want more and look for better and Eeyore a little bit. Seems to work out okay - look at what happened when I couldn't post before the Ottawa game!

Posted by: kittypawz | January 22, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Kitty,
Nothing wrong with wanting more, but compared to the last few seasons you are getting more, much more.

Posted by: DaveUKCapsFan | January 22, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Ah...the break.

I've cooled off after what seemed like a roller coaster ride the last ten games: wins over the Bs, Rangers, and Flyers; losses to Columbus, Edmonton, and Ottawa. We're in great shape to hopefully make a run a the Bruins in the second. Just to reassure myself that the sky isn't falling, here are the point totals for the last ten games for the eight Eastern Conference teams that would be in the playoffs as of today:

Bruins 13
Capitals 12
Devils 14
Habs 12
Rangers 13
Flyers 14
Sabres 14
Canes 10

I guess if the Caps run every ten games where they are only down 2 points to the hottest teams in the conference, they'll be okay.

Posted by: saintex | January 22, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

But saintex, if we drop two points to these teams every ten games, that's what, six points? That puts us out of second, easy. We've got to do better than we are now if we want to keep that second seed. We aren't as comfortable as we think we are, and shouldn't think of ourselves as comfortable at all.

Dave: Of course I'm getting more compared to the last season. I tend to look up, not down, when I think of achievement. The people who work the hardest are generally the best - Bruce is right about that.

And if I practiced what I preach, I'd be a dual CCIE and semi-professional singer by now. I'm none of the above. :) I am sadly a lazy bum.

Posted by: kittypawz | January 22, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

That article on BB in USA Today is stunning, truly stunning. To hear someone say they didn't work hard enough to be more successful as a player is refreshing. I hope every Capital reads that and takes it to heart. He need say nothing more to the players.

Posted by: saintex | January 22, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

@kitty

The assumption there being that we lose two points to the same teams every 10 games and that's unlikely. The Caps have had some of the great runs in the first half and we'll have a few more in the second (or 36 games). Some weeks we may be up 2 or 3 points, some weeks we may be down. I'd love the #1 seed and I think we have an outside shot, but as much as anything, I want the division.

Posted by: saintex | January 22, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Hey kittypawz, were you by any chance one of the people at Mister Days last week for the Pens game? I ended up meeting a bunch of people who post here... problem is I don't know who anyone is on here except irockthered. So I'm trying to learn. haha

Posted by: FedorovCrunch | January 22, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

". I can understand Katie not wanting to promote a competitor, but in the name of sharing information "

They won't even link to blogs. I guess they're still mad that the blogs have pushed them to use this site more than they did two years ago. More work for the same pay. Oh well, suck it up.

Posted by: no_private_info | January 22, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

@saintex: Screw the division. That's rearview mirror stuff. If we keep our sights set on the #1 seed and play to win accordingly, the division is ours, period, by leaps and bounds. If we don't or are content to win the division, let's just say that objects in the rearview mirror are closer than they appear, yes? :)

If we can get our crap together and play to win every night, and expect to work for it, we've got an outside shot at #1 in the conference and maybe even a really outside shot at the President's Trophy. (Yeah, I've got lofty goals. It's not a bad thing.)

Posted by: kittypawz | January 22, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

@FedorovCrunch: Yes, I was the tall brunette in the Backstrom jersey. :)

Posted by: kittypawz | January 22, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

@kitty

You can't really subscribe to the "playing horribly" and losing games we should win and then say the division has been delivered. As noted, I too would like to be the #1 see but that assures you of nothing but a regular season trophy...and even you would agree that isn't the trophy we want. As every team wore down heading into the break, everyone stuggled and that sometimes slips by in the horror of a defeat at Ottawa. We could certainly have four or five more points but we don't. I think BB is trying to get the tean in order after all the injuries and ready for post season play down the road - line combinations, trades (if neeeded), etc. and I'm cool with changes and adjustments. There's no real need to remind everyone what home ice means in the first round, right?

Posted by: saintex | January 22, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

@kitty - OK, awesome! I was the girl with the old Feds Russia jersey who didn't know anyone. :)

irockthered mentioned that a group was heading up to NY and Ottawa to watch the games. I was a few hours away from Ottawa and was going to head up to see if I could find you guys, but like an idiot I forgot my passport. They sometimes let it slide at the border near Montreal if you don't have proof of citizenship, but I wasn't sure about the Ontario border crossings. Oh well.

Posted by: FedorovCrunch | January 22, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

@ FedorovCrunch

I was the one in the Erskine Jersey. It's great to get to meet people out. As far as I am concerned irockthered and kittypaws are all stars for coming out and watching the games considering how far they have to drive.

*SUPER*

Posted by: SZALACH7 | January 22, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

I'm not usually a fan of McPaper, but the BB story is pretty good. Interesting how he decided in the car during the drive from Chocolate town to yell at OV during practice to establish the pecking order. Savvy dude, that one.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | January 22, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

"People think that's farfetched," Boudreau says. "It isn't. Now, me coaching in the NHL, that's farfetched. If I can get this job, why can't we win the Stanley Cup?"

Because realistically you need a better defense, a better PK unit and mentality and you need to be motivated to show up every night. Not just when you feel like it. I don't know many teams who can coast like the Caps do on too many nights and then suddenly turn a magical faucet on and be prepared to treat every playoff game like its do or die. They didn't do it last year and unless there's an attitude overhaul between now and April they'll be hardpressed to find that magic faucet this year.

Posted by: cstanton1 | January 22, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

@saintex: I think you and I are saying the same thing in different ways. What I'm saying is that if we focus on the #1 slot, the division gets delivered. If we content ourselves with the division, then there's no guarantees. Aim higher than your goal - that is how you get better.

@cstanton1: I think he knows that, actually. :) That's what he's after and what he's doing. Mentality is a lot of it, especially with this team. You get the mentality and the rest will follow.

As for playoff games - they were newbies last year. They figured it out at the end, but it was too late. Don't think they've forgotten. They know how, when they put their minds to it. Now they just have to do it every time.

Posted by: kittypawz | January 22, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

@FedorovCrunch: Ack! Wish I'd known, we'd've found a way to hook up with you. Maybe next time. She and I did go up to Ottawa to watch the game and had a good time.

Posted by: kittypawz | January 22, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

kittypawz: The only thing I'd say about #1 in the conference is I wouldn't pull out all the stops to get that. For instance, last year the caps made three trades and people played injured to make the playoffs. This year, I'd only make trades that would specifically help in the Playoffs. And I'd rather rest the walking wounded in the last week of the season than go full speed to try and beat Boston by one point. Other than that, I agree to try and be #1 and the way you do that is give an honest effort to win every game. The main thing is to avoid bad habits, and you always notice the bad habits (lack of forecheck, lazy penalties) more in the losses.

The only thing the #1 seed in the East is truly worth is home ice for the 7th game of the Conference Finals.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 22, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

from the previous post:

i don't get how people don't want to play the flyers in the first round of the playoffs. I want to crush the flyers fans spirits as early as possible

PLAYOFFS, YOU TALKING ABOUT PLAYOFFS?

Posted by: _stevo | January 22, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Sombrero,

Keep us posted on the tally for Tarik's camera fund.

I sent my $10 check today.

Maybe you could combine the camera fund report with a report on the, oh say, final 21 games of the Capitals' schedule. :)

Posted by: Cerealman | January 22, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

@tominfl1: Very true (bragging rights aside), but home ice for that all-important game could mean a lot to us.

Posted by: kittypawz | January 22, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

@Cerealman - 28 people pledged $10 a piece, so far I have recieved 2 paypal payments, 1 check and 1 ING direct deposit.

If anybody else wants to chip in, email me at blwiseass at yahoo dot com

Posted by: SombreroGuy | January 22, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Here are my suggestions to fix the Caps penalty kill: Remove OV and Semin; Put atleast 1 defenseman up top. (defense are used to moving laterally and will block more shots); Pressure the puck don't watch. (The teams that are successful at killing penalties attack the puck; Bring up Quentin Laing - Shot Blocker Extroidinaire.; Let Nick kill penaltly; And finally when you try to clear it and doesn't get out don't hang your head, follow the puck and stay with it. Too often players are hanging their head when they should be getting in position to make the next play. These are just my opinion, take them for what they are worth.

Posted by: psugolf | January 22, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

we dont play up or down to people. if you guys seriously think they are in the locker room thinking, "oh weve got the blues today, better only work around 60%."
we dont play up or down. the pens are not an elite team this year, we didnt play up to a good team. they play the game, and do whatever they can to win. every game. period. if they lose, it is not based on some superficial understanding of players playing up or down to their competitors.

Posted by: richmondphil | January 22, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

>

right on
The PK units don't work hard enough. In an effort to put pressure on the other team by employing top line skill players on our PK, Bruce has sacrificed some basic principles on what you look for in a good PK unit. Having Gordon out doesn't help us either. But replacing the Semins with guys like Laing reintroduces a defense-first mentality. (Ovechkin is ok on the PK because he plays decently on the halfwall.)

Its silly for Bruce to blame his players when he's responsible for the makeup of his PK units. If he wants to get all risky and play a run and gun approach while killing penalties then he needs to shoulder the blame when mistakes occur. He blamed Semin for the play at the end but really Semin has been playing that kind of hockey from the get-go. It just so happened that his penalty occurred at a critical time. He had one last season too at the end of a game. It should come as no surprise to Bruce that #28 is a high risk high reward type of player.

Posted by: cstanton1 | January 22, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

agree with psugolf regarding the PK. i would take OV and Semin off. I think BB wants people to be warry of our ability to score short handed goals, but we just seem to be giving up too many goals instead.

Posted by: capsfansince74 | January 22, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Do you people even remember what the PK looked like last year? They were even more passive with the Alexs on the bench. They would often spend close to the full 2 minutes without getting the puck out once. That's just the way they are.

Posted by: koalatek | January 22, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Going crazy

Posted by: lylewimbledon | January 22, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

From the transcript of "'Ask the Post" online chat.

An excellent question was asked to the WP Sports Editor for WashingtonPost.com

State of Dyspepsia: Jon, despite the great job done by beat reporters Steve Goff and Tarik El-Bashir, it seems to me that the current columnist lineup is woefully inadequate in their ability to analyze either hockey or the beautiful game.

The columns that attempt to do so are shallow and full of generalizations that indicate the writer's lack of knowledge.

Your thoughts?

Jon DeNunzio: My thoughts ... most of Post sports columns you read are not about breaking down the Xs and Os of a game, and I think that makes better reading. Columnists often paint with a broad brush and talk about the people behind the games, the bigger forces and issues at play, etc. And our columnists do this well.

So yeah, maybe some don't quite understand the offsides trap -- or at least bother to write about it -- but I'd say you still get a pretty good read from any and all of them.

------------
I am curious what Jon's role is, as an editor. Is it just to proofread for style, grammar and spelling? Or does he has control over the reporters assignments and content?

Lets analyze his answer:

"... most of Post sports columns you read are not about breaking down the Xs and Os of a game, and I think that makes better reading"
I assume the word "columns" in context to the question refers to reports written or submitted for print by a reporter, and not the opinion of a columnist. Well, then, I agree that the breaking down the Xs and Os of a game is not what the reporter is there to do; however, the question was regarding the reporter understanding of the game he is covering; if he does not have a good understanding of the game, how can he be expected to ask intelligent questions regarding the match? The end result is light reporting and sound-bytes - I don't think that makes better reading.

"Columnists often paint with a broad brush and talk about the people behind the games, the bigger forces and issues at play, etc. And our columnists do this well"

I suppose that is one way of putting it. To me they are nothing more than overpaid, opinionated mouths. We have quite a collection on this blog. For the life of me, I can't understand why people think the columnists' opinion matters more than their own. As to them doing it well, I suppose they do, but what is it that they do well? Hot-air?

In summary, thanks Tarik for at least posting the links of people who report. (Just kidding. please forgive me, I think you are wonderful)

Posted by: superX | January 22, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone else see the washington times today? THREE stories about the caps! Sorry Katie, but I had to mention this one here. You and Tarik need to write more stories to keep up!

Posted by: ahorne1982 | January 22, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

@FedorovCrunch - Drop me an e-mail at irockthered {at} gmail {dot} com and I'll toss you contact info. Would have been fun to tag up in Ottawa!!! Tickets, though, were NOT easy to come by for that game... and were very expensive, compared to the Islanders game.

The run to the Islanders and Senators games was a TON of fun, and if we'd been playing in Toronto on the way back, I think I'd've liked to make a longer stop there, too. :-)

@SZALACH7 - See above re: contact info, and looking forward to the next game down there. Should be a blast!

@SombreroGuy - Ditto re: contact info, and where do I toss the $10 for Tarik's camera? Having been out of town (see above), I've no idea where to toss it...

Posted by: irockthered | January 22, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Hey if anybody is looking for some good Rockem sockem hockey, then you should check out the US Secret Service v. FBI annual charity game Saturday, January 22nd at the Kettler with a 2:00pm face-off. These guys really go at it and they can all play, i think a lot of college players. Elliot is usually there with players and cool raffle items. It's like a $5 donation. last year right at the end, had two really good fights. The secret service has won every year according to Elliot this morning. Trust me it's a good time i'm bringing the girlfriend.

Posted by: Squigsfan83 | January 22, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

"If there is one thing as certain as death and taxes it's this: There is always something new and intriguing going on with the Flyers and it most often has to do with injuries and possible comebacks from aging free-agent superstars.

In a conference call that started as anon today's surgery that will keep Danny Briere off the ice for a minimum of 4 weeks, general manager Paul Holmgren said he has inquired about the health of Peter Forsberg.

That relevation came at the end of an interview and didn't actually sound a news item. But being Forsberg, and now that the Flyers are without Briere for at least the next 11 games, it is news that will make headlines across the hockey world."

Posted by: lylewimbledon | January 22, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Sidney Crosby is out of the All-Star Game. St. Louis is his repleacement.

Posted by: RedBirdie | January 22, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

He meant what he said. There are two tiers of writers at the Washington Post: reporters and columnists. Reporters follow the team, report the news, do a little analysis, but otherwise are in the day-to-day followings of the team. Tarik El-Bashir is our resident beat reporter. Columnists are basically paid to give their opinion and usually give a bigger picture view of the sports landscape; they swoop in and write whatever they really want, without focusing specifically on a sport or a team. So, Tom Boswell, Michael Wilbon, et al are columnists.

I can't really expect someone without much knowledge to write about what's wrong with the Capital's PK unit, but Tom Boswell has written about how Capitals Fever seems to have spread. The newspaper serves the general public; if you want more technical, x's and o's, type discussion, you'll have to go elsewhere, I think.

Posted by: Joran | January 22, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

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