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Morning Reading List

The Caps were happier with their all around effort in last night's 2-1 overtime loss to the Senators, but Coach Bruce Boudreau also said they "...were half a step behind all the time there," in the extra session. And as you can read in Tarik's story for the hard-copy edition, Brooks Laich thinks the Caps just need to find an ugly win.

"Sometimes you just have to work hard, go to the net and get your nose dirty," Laich said. "And just get an ugly one. Whatever it is, we have to find it now. We can't keep letting games like this slip away."

The Capitals aren't practicing today, but will be back on the ice for a morning skate tomorrow before their game against the Carolina Hurricanes at Verizon Center.

*From the Ottawa Citizen: Wayne Scanlan talked to Alex Ovechkin about everything from his grandfather's health, his success against the Senators in the past, to Alexander Semin's comments on Sidney Crosby.

*Also from the Ottawa Citizen: Mike Fisher found a way to silence his critics and snap the Senators' four-game losing streak against the Capitals from last season all in one.

*If Alexander Semin's comments in that now infamous Puck Daddy interview bothered Sidney Crosby, he's not letting it show.

*The NHLPA filed an unfair labor practice charge yesterday regarding negotiations with teams about European player releases.

*ESPN's John Buccigross takes the temperature of all 30 NHL teams, with the following take on the Capitals. Read the full assessment here.

Washington Capitals: "Concern about the goaltending is the only issue. This seems like a team that could just explode with 10 wins in a row at any time. The Caps have so much to like up front. I think once they figure it all out and catch a groove, they could become a major force in the league. As a fan, I would just be concerned about whether my goalie is better than some of the other guys in the Eastern Conference. Again, you don't win with good goaltending come playoffs time; you win with great goaltending."

*ESPN takes a look at how the big free-agent signings from this summer are fairing in the young NHL season. Yes, Jose Theodore is on the list.

In the system:
*Andrew Gordon is off to a strong start in Hershey, on the Bears 'second-line' with Chris Bourque and Kyle Wilson or Andrew Joudrey. In 12 games this season, Gordon has six goals and 10 points.

*Bears right wing Graham Mink is expected to return to practice today after suffering a 'lower body injury' against Philadelphia on Sunday.

By Katie Carrera  |  November 5, 2008; 8:29 AM ET
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Next: Boudreau: Johnson Earns Start Against 'Canes


I would hardly say that goalie is the only issue. The defense is terrible and we take too many dumb penalties.

Posted by: koalatek | November 5, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

I think if we can rattle off some solid games at home with 4 of the next 5 being here, we will be in good shape.

We have had 4 home games and 7 away, so this is a chance to settle in. The crowd needs to be good and get behind Ovie and Backstom, and I think crowds should be energized on Thursday and Saturday.

Now is the time to gel.

Props to Johnson on a good game last night.

Posted by: SA-Town | November 5, 2008 9:08 AM | Report abuse

We have 12 points in 11 games, I hope we can keep our head above water. Fortunately no teams seem to be exploding in the SE division. After last night I think BJ should be given the top goalie spot, at least to light a fire under Jose's butt.

Tarik, can you speak to Olie's situation in Tampa? It seems like Mike Smith has been given the #1 spot.

It really seems like we're heavy on O and light on D. Which Capitals forward would make the best trade bait for which competent defenseman on another team?

Posted by: Tex21 | November 5, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse

I know a lot of guys on here dont like people posting other blogs, but I recently started one up. I will cover the Caps a lot and all sports so if you want to take a look go for it. I may post it another time on a game day just to try to get more attention but I wont be posting the link any other time. Thanks to anyone that takes a look.

Posted by: ThePat | November 5, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Trade Clark and let Fehr play on the third or fourth line.

I know he is the captain but with fedorov and poti nyls and ovie we should have enough leadership.

Posted by: kvarnson | November 5, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

both Ottawa breakaways were of a result of (who) getting beat on the play.......none other than jeff "sorry for attempting to hit you" schultz

Posted by: _stevo | November 5, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Did Clark play last night...don't remember seeing him do anything?

Posted by: lylewimbledon | November 5, 2008 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Our first line needs to start producing

Posted by: lylewimbledon | November 5, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

clark played pretty well in my opinion in the limited amount of time he was out there

Posted by: _stevo | November 5, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

I don't think there is a team out there right now that would give a loaf of bread for Chris points, coming off a serious injury, demoted to fourth line...just can't see it....

Posted by: PhilR | November 5, 2008 10:26 AM | Report abuse

BJ played a great game last night. He kept the Caps in play all night, which was fortunate because the defense sure didn't help matters any. Poor passing in the neutral and defensive zones, being beaten, not covering the slot.

They did play with more energy and as if they didn't want the Wrath of Gabby to rain down upon them again.

The PK really worked out well. They had 2 odd man rushes on PK? Very nice. Not to mention killing off an almost 2 full minute 5-3 with 2 forwards and 1 d-man. I guess since the d are so bad, it's better to get the forwards out there killing the penalties.

Backstrom had at least one good opportunity, and Semin's feed to Flash was brilliant. It's just a matter of time before the Offense gets jumpstarted.

I just hope the Defense gets off life support sooner rather than later.

Posted by: Greg S. | November 5, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

I think it's really unfair that the Caps were scheduled to play so many more road games in the first two months of the season.

Oh, and also, I don't know what the hype with the Rangers is all about -- the only reason the Rangers got more points than anyone else is because they played at least THREE more games than everyone else.

Posted by: DannyBoy1975 | November 5, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Tarik, your Reading List is much appreciiated.
I liked what Laich had to say in the article today.
I for one, would like to see Fehr in the linheup, for more crease pressure, or close in scoring attempts.

Posted by: Max23 | November 5, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

The Caps playing a bunch of road games this early in the season has happened for the past few years. It also happens in March. The reasons being Abe Pollin doesn't care about hockey anymore and brings a horse show to the arena in late Oct and then the circus in March. Nothing will change there until he walks away

Posted by: ThePat | November 5, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Katie and Tarik

Kudos to you two for tag teaming this blog. I really like the morning reads and the second perspective.

Keep it up! And THANKS!!!

Posted by: Greg S. | November 5, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

"It really seems like we're heavy on O and light on D."

Posted by: Tex21 | November 5, 2008 9:31 AM
Huh? 4th one-goal loss this year, 3rd one by a 2-1 score.

For what it's worth as far as D goes, some more numbers in terms of GP:

Poti: 671
Morrisonn: 289
Erskine: 230
Jurcina: 207
Green: 185
Schultz: 121

So how about giving a 22 year old who's barely played a year and a half of full experience a couple more games with his new d-men partner before completely throwing him under the bus, eh?

Posted by: Section117 | November 5, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

I have a spare ticket for the Canes game, anyone interested in joining me there?

Posted by: Steve_R | November 5, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

(posted this on the game thread initially accidently)

Ignoring the current play of the roster as a whole and individually as there is plenty of room for expected improvement, I feel there is one type of player that would be the most benificial as a roster upgrade from what I have seen so far this year. The team needs a veteran defensemen in the mold of a Kimmo Timonen or Calle Johansson. Someone who can be a big minute man, play in all situations and provide leadership. I have no illusions that we will trade for Timonen but I'd like to see GMGM bring in someone similiar. I think Pothier was supposed to be able to provide this sort of play. He's not lived up to expectations with his play prior to being injured. He's not been specifically replaced yet other then all the current defenseman below him on the depth get to move up notch. I know there are a lot of obstacles in replacing him like the salary cap and his uncertain recovery from the head injury he suffered.
This sort of trade would have a calming influence on the entire "D". It would put some of the lower level Dmen in roles they are more suited for while easing the load on Green and Poti which should make them more effective as well. I just think after Poti and Green there exists too big of a dropoff in talent and it's hurting the team bigtime. Make it happen, GMGM!

Posted by: Riddler1 | November 5, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse


it's katie's reading list.

i think johnie would have been getting the start but had/ has an injury. i think that's what's holding gabby back from playing him.

Posted by: am_jim | November 5, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Steve R,
I'll take that ticket......oh no....hang on.....DOH!

Posted by: DaveUKCapsFan | November 5, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Steve R,

Oh so tempting.....if I didn't live so darn far away I would be all over that...

Posted by: PhilR | November 5, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse


You're already here at least in spirit.

Posted by: Greg S. | November 5, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

@ Riddler - yeah, I recall Pothier logging tons of mins and being that all-round defenseman that we all thought he would be (gulp) when McPhail acquired him. LOL!

This team (right now) doesn't want to pay the price for a goal. No bangers, just a lot of pretty perimeter play and stick checking.

I don't see any system on the forecheck as well - it's just a bunch of broken individual plays - the odd cycle b/w Nylander/Semin/Backstrom etc.

Finally - I don't see much team toughness. Sure, OV lays some hits, Erskine can play tough, but when was the last time you saw Laich or Gordon or Fleishman or ?? really forecheck and put someone on their axx? Clark had a couple good hits last night, but they were in our zone.

Until the team starts really getting aggressive and forcing the other team into mistakes, we're going to keep getting the same results.

Oh yeah, and if Brent Johnson would have played his "usual" game last night - the score would have been 5-1.

Goaltending is a HUGE issue this year for the team.

Posted by: Jaymagz | November 5, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone else feel like Dmitry is getting thrown under the bus for all this Semin-Croby nonsense?

Posted by: superpaqman | November 5, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

My 7 year old kept saying "Why don't they ever have anyone in front of the net?" Good question.

Saw a few good things from Erskine; that was refreshing. But during the 4 min PK, when Backstrom was out there he seemed very half-hearted in his efforts. Kozlov disappeared again, like in the playoffs. And was it just me, or did it look like Green didn't do a thing to try & prevent that OT goal?

Too bad we couldn't keep Cooke and we can't call up Laing; the team could use their 150%.

Posted by: 1hockeymom | November 5, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I am worried about our goal tending. I ive thodore 10 more games and re-evaluate. Bet that is just what Bruce is going to do. He is right now an average net minder.

Posted by: phrdlick | November 5, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse


I can't disagree with anything other then the comment about Johnson. Outside of the meltdown in Atlanta for 3-4 minutes in the third period, he's done his part this year in both the pre-season and regular season IMO

The Caps top three lines as normally constructed have lacked the hard fore check and physical play via dogging the puck and puck carrier we learned to appreciate last year under BB. There are no real bangers like Lucci or anything of the sort besides Ovechkin when he's on his game. I can live with that IF the forcheck and puck pursuit is solid and the fourth line is playing real physical which I don't think they have been thus far. I was hoping that someone besides Erskine would step up this year and become more physical on "D" So far, that's not happening either. Lots of warts to fix but I just feel right now a Dman in the mold that I mentioned would be the biggest help at this point. Even if the team was playing better, I still feel it's a void.

Posted by: Riddler1 | November 5, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

1hockeymom: I agree, it looked like green wasn't really trying on that overtime goal, his D has been really bad of late or maybe i'm just noticing it more because we're not winning.

Posted by: finnmeg | November 5, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

I'd love to get me a copy of the original transcript of Semin's interview since I'm fluent in Russian. I'd tell you if anything was really "lost in translation".

Posted by: ranndino | November 5, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

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