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Morning Reading List

Once an on-ice tough guy himself, Caps GM George McPhee was part of a subcommittee at this week's general managers meetings that examined fighting and talks about the suggested rule changes to punish players who participate in staged fights and those who instigate fights after clean hits.

While we're talking about fights, Newsday's hockey blog 'In the Crease' brings you part one of the top 10 fights of 2008-2009. (Part two to come today at noon. Thanks to Kukla's Korner.)

It was only a matter of time before someone talked to Don Cherry about all the recent criticism he's received. Don't expect Cherry to go anywhere, though. "The critics? They never say one good thing I do. I've come to the point in my life where it doesn't bother me. I say to hell with them."

GM Meetings
Bob McKenzie considers what tough economic times could mean for the NHL's franchises and how the league will have to react to a lower salary cap.

ESPN's Scott Burnside discusses the irony of the NHL's desire to change by actually calling rules that are already in the book. In this case, enforcing the instigator penalty.

The Hockey News's Ken Campbell thinks if the league takes the recommendation to actually call and penalize players for instigating fights that it would in fact limit fighting, while increasing hits.

The Globe and Mail's David Shoalts believes that any potential rule changes regarding the NHLPA's focus on hits to the head and the GMs's emphasis on staged fighting and instigating fights could be endangered by the two sides bickering over which is more important.

Remember how Georges Laraque called the proposed new fighting rules "a joke"? Well NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said he'd be happy to talk to the Canadiens tough guy about fighting.

Flyers Cliff Notes
Philadelphia has won three of its last five games including a 5-2 win over Buffalo on Tuesday.

It appears the oft-injured Daniel Briere will be back in the Philadelphia lineup to face the Caps. Also, Flyers Coach John Stevens aims for his 100th career win tonight.

Perhaps the Flyers have a goalie controversy brewing, or perhaps the more likely case is that Philadephia will rely on Martin Biron for another postseason.

Keep your eye on rookie forward Claude Giroux, whom the Flyers appear keen on keeping up with the NHL club throughout the rest of the regular season and into the playoffs.

Here's a fight story from the Flyers perspective, as Philadelphia has 62 fighting majors this year surpassing the total of 58 that the Broad Streat Bullies collected when at the top of their game.

In the System
Here are the stats from Hershey's 3-2 shootout loss to Springfield yesterday. The Bears have now watched their East Division lead slip away as the loss combined with Bridgeport's win on Tuesday dropped Hershey to second place and only three points in front of Wilkes Barre.

Much like their parent club, the Bears didn't make any trades prior to the AHL's clear day deadline yesterday at 3 p.m.

By Katie Carrera  |  March 12, 2009; 5:30 AM ET
 
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Next: Brashear 'Questionable at Best'

Comments

Posted by: hsk8er6 | March 12, 2009 5:56 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to Philly, so look for pictures of the game on the website above.

Posted by: hsk8er6 | March 12, 2009 5:57 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Katie! Appreciate the early morning reading materials. Huge help in getting my day started.

hsk8er6,
That is as annoying as "first". Actually, maybe more annoying.... Yep, more annoying.

Posted by: _Mark | March 12, 2009 6:00 AM | Report abuse

Kirk:
From the previous - you've been hanging out with WhyGo too much! :-P

Posted by: --Boo-- | March 12, 2009 7:06 AM | Report abuse

The Toronto Sun is more like a tabloid magazine than a newspaper.

Hopefully Briere doesn't own us tonight like he did in the playoffs last year.


Posted by: hockeynightincanada | March 12, 2009 7:21 AM | Report abuse

Reposting my comments from last night for those who weren't up that late:

Just got home from the Bears game. Lost 3-2 in a shootout. Bears goals from Giroux and Gordon.

Pothier look GREAT. Played a regular shift paired up with Kronwall. Had no problem keeping up with the pace...positioning was good...skating looked strong. Played a little bit on the PK and PP but mostly even strength. Didn't get real physical with anyone, but didn't shy away from anything, even dropped to one knee to block a shot in the OT. Can we pleeease keep him in Hershey a while longer? :)

As for Varly, he was kind of squirrelly at the beginning but got better as the game went on. He gives up some juicy rebounds, though. Not impressed with the shootout...he didn't seem to challenge the shooters too much.

Posted by: tess2201 | March 11, 2009 11:23 PM

Posted by: tess2201 | March 12, 2009 7:28 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Katie for the MRL
Thanks Tess for these updates on the Bears :)

I wonder how many games in Hershey will Pothier play before coming up. If they really want him in the playoffs, he should probably the last 4-5 games no?

Posted by: mauree | March 12, 2009 7:56 AM | Report abuse

These proposed rule changes are just flat out idiotic.. There is nothing wrong with the game now

Posted by: ButterSchultz | March 12, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Crash the net tonight guys, dig for rebounds... Run over them when ever possible :)

extract from the inquirer this AM:
"Marty looks confident in net," Stevens said. "He's square, he's challenging [shooters], he's keeping things in front of him. I think the overall level of his play is very good."

Posted by: caps28fan | March 12, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

i dont think the bradley-tootoo fight was the type of classic "staged" fight that the league is trying to get rid of. brads hit tootoo from behind (should have been a penalty) as payback for tootoo hitting brash. then they decide to get it on. however, there are many staged fights between guys who just hopped of the bench and real have no game-related reason to brawl. i agree those fights, while usually entertaining, are unnecessary and should be eliminated. problem is distinguishing one from the other.

the instigator rule on fights after clean hits is a good one. we saw that in calgary after sloan destroyed one of the flames. that was a perfect example of a good use of the instigator rule. but then again, if there is a penalized hit and a guy goes after the offender, is that NOT instigating? tough calls.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | March 12, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

even though glen hanlon's weird reaction stole the spotlight, the video of GMGM's Rick Tocchet beatdown is spectacular.

It looked like Tocchet was getting beat up by a 12 year old kid.

Posted by: large23220 | March 12, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, Tess. Send him home.

Posted by: uncatim | March 12, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

LOL, Tim. I'll make you a deal: we keep Pothier and you get Sami and Sloan. Heck I'll even throw in Pokuluk! Deal??

Posted by: tess2201 | March 12, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

From the Philly link:
"The Flyers have fortified their stable of fighters by adding Daniel Carcillo. There's also Arron Asham. Washington has John Erskine and Matt Bradley.

It could get interesting."

Sounds like a mismatch in the fighting department.

I have no problem with the Matt Bradley vs. Tootoo fight, except that Brads got opened up like a stuck pig. (That could not have heartened our boys.) Bradley gave a bad hit, Tootoo took exception, and they decided to settle things on the ice. That is one of the benefits of fighting: Brads was held accountable for his actions.

Semin has stepped his game up such that he is currently the best player on the Caps.

Really want a win tonight in Philly to start getting some momentum back. Another loss (even a dreaded *good* loss) will give back what little momentum we gained against the Preds.

Posted by: crooks_c | March 12, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

I'm back...no one missed me.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | March 12, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Somebody has to clear out Hartnell from the crease tonight... aka Caps killer.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | March 12, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Game Prediction: Flyers 6 Fading Caps 1, unfortunately.

Posted by: Ron16 | March 12, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

even though glen hanlon's weird reaction stole the spotlight, the video of GMGM's Rick Tocchet beatdown is spectacular.

It looked like Tocchet was getting beat up by a 12 year old kid.

Posted by: large23220 | March 12, 2009 9:05 AM

------

What are you talking about? Where's the link?

Posted by: CAP-lanta | March 12, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

@Ron16: I have never seen you here. You must be a Flyer fan looking for a place to bug people here in the DC area because we can spell.

Posted by: fanohock1 | March 12, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Semin has been very strong lately and his focus seems to be on playing well and not making the mistakes he made from Nov - mid Feb. I hope he keeps up his strong play because the more that line score, the better our chances every game.

Posted by: saintex | March 12, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

@Ron16

Yea Caps have faded all the way to third in the Eastern Conf. and faded to a shrinking......hummmmm 10 point division lead.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | March 12, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Yea..The Caps are fading, just like Atlanta is one of the top teams in east...

Nice prediction Ron16

Posted by: SA-Town | March 12, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

WhyGo love everybody.

Ballslappers are granted forgiveness.

Briere is in need of a good hug. He is a little frowny-bear.

I like him, though.

Posted by: WhyGo | March 12, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

I'm praying that the Caps dee plays the crease tough. Erskine will, but I hope he avoids taking stupid pims. Schultz -- come on, baby, make us believers. Juice should be able to use his strength to clear out Flowers. ShaMo plays like he did in Nashville, and he has just added fuel to his salary demands. Poti and Green have got to keep their heads on a swivel looking for the quick outlet to make the Flowers cherry-picking pay, keep the Flowers playing back to cover the Caps forwards.

The Caps forwards have to press the game, keep skating, draw penalties, use their size, speed, and skill to keep the Flowers from playing their camping out in the crease game. We also need some traffic in front of the net. Come on Kozlov, Laich and Fehr, set up shop in front of Biron.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS | March 12, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Here's an idea - let's force the refs to make more judgement calls and decide if a fight is staged or not.

but seriously, retaliation on clean hits has to be stopped. Some people seem to think fighting is a better part of the game than checking. IMO, the instigator isn't enough, give the aggressor the 5 and the 2 but for the guy getting attacked give him only 2 if he is simply defending himself. Then teams would have to feel really strongly about a hit if the choose to retaliate. I must emphasize this is only for clean hits. Hit someone dirty and anything goes.

Posted by: ds_kelly | March 12, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

@RON16...
Yeah Boston faded, SJ faded, all the top 5 have faded. Thanks captain obvious

Posted by: caps28fan | March 12, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Semin has been catching some breaks (drawing calls) and has limited/stopped getting all pissed when he gets picked off and then hooking instead of skating. I noticed that he now tries to regroup and catch the guy that picks him off, often resulting in a steal and breakaway (instead of 2 min in the box).

Posted by: WhyGo | March 12, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: SombreroGuy | March 12, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Interesting tidbit:

Posted by TIM LEONE, Of The Patriot-News March 11, 2009 16:04PM
Categories: Breaking News, Hockey - AHL, Hockey - AHL Hershey Bears
The Hershey Bears didn't make any trades before clear day rosters were set at 3 p.m. Wednesday. The rosters (20 skaters, two goalies) are scheduled to be released by the AHL Thursday.

"There was a lot of phone calls and a lot of offers made," Bears president-GM Doug Yingst said. "We found out that our players are popular. At the end of the day, there wasn't any offers made that made our team any better. So we chose not to make a move.

"There's really good character and chemistry in our room, so you don't want to upset that. We have great depth on the Bears. It would have had to be the right thing at the right position for us to do anything."


It turns out goalie Michal Neuvirth is on emergency recall to the Washington Capitals, which means he was eligible to be placed on the clear day roster without being reassigned to Hershey

Posted by: Redwolf1 | March 12, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

kittypawz:

Excellent analysis of Pothier's play, and very promising. Thank you.

On the Varly-Neuvy comparison. Varly to me seems a more experienced and, most importantly, bolder and more creative goalie. Neuvy may be technically better in some instances, but is a little too cautious and--though everyone says that he is calm--he is thrown off more easily in unexpected situations, like an unexpected penalty shot. I think this simply reflects the difference in experience between the two.

In Varly, though, I see flashes of brilliance and potential greatness; a willingness to take risks that, as someone said, could make him into someone like Hasek in time.

In my opinion, he should be Theo's back up for the playoffs and next year. If Johny's contract is renewed, we would probably have to commit to another two years. Then it would be the same as if we had signed Huet on his terms--which were for a 3-year contract. GM turned this down, supposedly, because he didn't want the two young goal tenders to wait that long. And anyway, BB does not seem that cautious to me. He is willing to give young players chances and throw them in the water to see if they can swim rather than wait around for 100% certainty.

Posted by: caraveli | March 12, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Is it just me or has OV not looked the same since he took that shot of his foot in practice...seemed a little disoriented on Tuesday?

Posted by: lylewimbledon | March 12, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I am going to Philly tonight to catch the game with another caps fan ... anyone else heading North for the game?

Posted by: fredhilljr | March 12, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Why does Philly feel the need to add fighters at the expense of their other needs? I doubt seriously if Bradley's going to fight anyone after last game's result. Erskine is recently back from a concussion so a pounding on the head is probably not in his best interests, either. That's not how to win games.

Posted by: Greg S. | March 12, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Thought about heading up there for the game, but I got into a fight at the game in December and it wasn't particularly fun. I think I'll stay away from Wachovia from here on out. haha

Posted by: FedorovCrunch | March 12, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

How old am I? I actually remember watching George play for the Rangers at the Garden and fighting. He was a scrapper to be sure, and was plenty tough for his size. He'd mix it up with the other teams' middleweights. Nick Fotiu handled the heavyweights for the Rangers.

Never got to meet George when I was growing up in Westchester, but Nick was a neighbor of mine. When our high school hockey team found out, they asked me to ask Nick to get maybe a pair of tickets for a raffle to support the team's equipment fund (we were a club team, not varsity). I did and Nick said he'd love to help and to come back tomorrow.

I showed up tomorrow expecting to see an envelope with some tickets, but instead he had a largish box and an envelope. In the box were some game used gloves, two replica jerseys, a pair of game used skates, and in the envelope were 4 tickets to a Rangers-Bruins game (which actually was the game where Mike Milbury hit someone with their shoe in the crowd). In other words, he gave us way more than just the tickets. He also donated equipment to the team occasionally as well.

A real class act, like GMGM. :)

Posted by: MikeL-Caps91 | March 12, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

@MikeL-Caps91 -

That's a really cool story.

Posted by: FedorovCrunch | March 12, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

@Tess201

Was also at the Bears game last night (as I have been at every game for the last 30 + years - LOL). I wasn't that impressed with Pothier's play - he seemed a bit laid-back...not very aggressive. As far as Varly - he looked good until the shoot-out - allowing 3 goals on 4 shots - and he looked absolutely terrible on most of them.
I can absolutely NOT understand Wood's philosophy on these shoot-outs. He decides to go first to "get an edge/jump" on the opponent - but then the first guy he puts out there is almost always a defenseman - last night it was Kromwall who hasn't scored a goal all year! If you want to get the jump and put the pressure on the opposition - then put someone out there who occassionally puts the puck in the net.

Posted by: hersheybearfan | March 12, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

@ Greg S -- I think's it will be smart for the Caps to avoid fights. Why play into the other teams strengths? Let the Flowers try to start stuff and let the refs toss them in the cooler for a couple mins. While some thug is cooling his heals, the Caps score on the PP. Play tough, but smart. Don't retaliate or mouth off to the refs. Let the coach and captain (or assistant captains in this case) talk to the refs. Keep the legs moving, so the Flowers have to keep hooking and grasping to keep in the play.

If the Caps play the Flowers game, they'll lose. If they play their game, they'll win. The Caps have to play with energy, grit, passion, and discipline. They can hose the Flowers if they play hard and smart. Let Bierre be a pest, don't swing back. It's almost always the retaliator who goes in the box.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS | March 12, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

hsk8er6, I'm glad that you're so excited about the Caps game tonight, but I'd appreciate it if you stop spamming that link. And I think you'll find that I'm not alone in wanting you to stop that. We had a previous poster that used to post the same thing over and over again, and you'll notice they're not around anymore.

Anyway have a good time at the game tonight, go Caps! Please stay safe, those Philly fans can get a little crazy. (And please stop spamming.)

Posted by: GregAnnapolis | March 12, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Semin's knee goal is #2 of the Best 10 goals of the week 3/10/09 on nhl.com.

Posted by: fnralch | March 12, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I agree. I'd turtle if they start that junk. Let them take the fighting penalties and we'll have our PP unit on ice all night long.

I have thick skin. I'll take the "pansey" rap to get a win.

Posted by: Greg S. | March 12, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

It's a slow day today, ain't it? Let's send out some positive energy into the atmosphere to help get things in place for the Caps to win tonight against the Flyers. Keep up the momentum and plow through the rest of our competition.

Let's GO Caps!

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | March 12, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

@hersheybearfan
You've got me beat on longevity. My Bears history only goes back about 24 years! :)

As for Pothier not being aggressive, I think that's his style. He's not a big guy and he's not a hitter, but he plays the position very methodically and intelligently. I WAS impressed last night. I felt very confident when he was on the ice.

As for the shootout, I have no clue what Woods was thinking. When he sent Kronwall out first we all just looked at each other like WTF! And Varly is a very physical, floppy goalie. Someone compared him to Hasek and that might be good likeness. So on a shootout when it just him facing a solitary guy, he doesn't seem to know what to do. Hope that's something Dave Prior can help him with.

Posted by: tess2201 | March 12, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

They mentioned on the Caps / Preds broadcast the other night that Ovi may have beeen using either a new stick or a new stick / blade set-up because he misfired on so many shots and passes. They said that somone (Carter?...I can't remember) was given a penalty for an illegal stick the night before and Ovi may have responded by changing sticks if his were close to the edge. I know at the All-Star game there was some good-natured ribbing about the curve on AO8's stick. Any thought on that effect if it's true?

He didn't seem off, speedwise or positioning the other night, but his shots were a bit helter-skelter.

Posted by: saintex | March 12, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Sad day in hockey. Colleen Howe, wife of Gordie, died after a long illness.
Gordie lived not too far from me in Southfield which borders Detroit to the north. I read that little boys would sheepishly approach his house in hopes of meeting Gordie. Gordie and Colleen would invite the kids in for milk and cookies. Class people. That's what pro athletes used to be like and Gordie and Colleen were special in that respect.

Posted by: chopin224 | March 12, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

I think the last game against the Preds was the most physical game our "D" has played all season. The open ice hits were awesume...more of the same tonight!!!!!!

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | March 12, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

The Caps have the biggest team in the NHL size wise and there is no reason this team should be out-hustled along the boards.

Posted by: leopard09 | March 12, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

@SombreroGuy: thanks for the link to the McPhee vs. Tocchet fight. Look at little GM go! Hanlon's reaction was indeed bizarre, though. Was he drunk?

@lylewimbledon: I agree, Ovie hasn't looked 100% since the injury, but even a less-than-100% Ovie can be dangerous, and the other teams are still putting their top guys out to cover him, which makes life easier for Semin, Feds et al.

Posted by: capsfan26 | March 12, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I agree. I'd turtle if they start that junk. Let them take the fighting penalties and we'll have our PP unit on ice all night long.

I have thick skin. I'll take the "pansey" rap to get a win.

Posted by: Greg S. | March 12, 2009 11:01 AM


terrible strategy, teams that start turtling en masse end up with questionable team chemistry and confidence. Also, refs tend to look for "even up" calls so if the Caps start with some PPs then be sure you'll see a few Caps hit the sin bin with lame hooking and holding calls. In the end, the Caps won't have a demonstrable advantage in PPs unless the Flyers completely lose their minds. To gain an extra PP or two over the course of a game isn't worth the humiliation of running away from every confrontation.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 12, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

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