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Morning Reading List: Golden Rivalry Boosts NHL


(Jonathan Newton -- The Washington Post)


The Capitals' season may have ended with a thud in Game 7 against the Penguins, but the matchup did more for the NHL than any playoff series in recent memory: It brought hockey back into the fold.

Yes, to most longtime hockey fans, the series was an epic one for far more reasons than the Ovie-Crosby rivalry. But star power -- like Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson -- grows the game, and the NHL's no doubt got it.

Now, do they know what to do with it? From Forbes:

"If they want to build the league, they have to build off their stars," says sports marketing consultant Bob Dorfman of Baker Street Advertising in San Francisco. "You want to see them in ads, see them as ambassadors for the league." One thought: Get them into a humorous McDonald's ( MCD - news - people ) spot facing off for a Big Mac, a la Bird and Jordan shooting it out for the double-patty burger in a game of H.O.R.S.E. With Ovechkin and Crosby, both 23, the league has a potential foundation for a rivalry of appealing stars for the next decade.

Crosby's actually 21, not 23, but it's an interesting read anyway -- really all you can ask for when your team's out of the playoffs. Check it out.


More Caps-Related Distractions

The Caps' Mike Vogel takes a look at Ted Leonsis's 10 eventful years as team owner. (WashingtonCaps.com)

Here's an interesting letter to the editor from The Hockey News:

Alex Ovechkin is one of the most exciting players to watch in the NHL. His offense abilities are far beyond humanly possible. Living in New Jersey, I don't get to see his games much, but during the playoffs I get exposed to his true, but strictly offensive talent.
As I watched the Penguins-Capitals series I noticed whenever Ovechkin does not have the puck he just glides around the ice as though he is not trying. I was very upset to see this because if he played defense the way he plays offense he would be a much better all-around player.
-- Ethan Weg, East Brunswick, N.J.

Hmm. Do you agree with Ethan Weg of East Brunswick, N.J.'s assessment?

Here's what Evgeni Malkin had to say when asked about the main difference between Washington and Carolina: "This is an entirely different team. [Carolina] also have a good goalie, but I think that the defense is better. They play very tight. The Capitals cannot say that. But [the Capitals] have better forwards. It turns out that Carolina is Washington in reverse." (Puck Daddy)

And for even more on the Caps-Pens series, if you can handle it, here's an excerpt from Dave Molinari's Q&A over at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Q: My hope, and I'm sure it's a naive one, is that some of the nonsense between Penguins and Capitals fans over their respective star players is toned down going forward. I think if people can't walk away from that series with good things to say about both Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby (despite some obvious characteristics that are justifiably bemoaned), they just aren't true hockey fans.
Pat, Shakopee, Minn.
MOLINARI: Yes, it would be wonderful if people would act the way you suggest. And yes, you are naive if you believe there's any chance of that happening. (Unless, if course, it's part of some divine trifecta that includes peace in the Middle East and an end to hunger throughout the world.) The unfortunate reality is that some members of every team's fan base seem to believe the best way to demonstrate loyalty to their club is to be as uncivil, if not downright juvenile, as possible when discussing players on rival teams. So some people who don't like the Penguins won't criticize some aspect of Sidney Crosby's on-ice performance, but instead will call him "Cindy." And Penguins fans who don't care for the Capitals don't focus on a flaw in Ovechkin's game -- say, his less-than-total commitment to defense -- and instead talk about how he looks like a caveman.
The loss, ultimately, is theirs. There's nothing wrong with having fierce ties to a particular team -- in fact, a serious commitment by fans adds a valuable dimension to any game -- but people who can't appreciate the brilliance of a particular player simply because of the sweater he wears are denying themselves a chance to enjoy some of the greatness that makes this game so special.
That doesn't mean Penguins and Capitals partisans should swap their Ovechkin and Crosby sweaters before the first game between the teams next season, join hands and offer up a rousing chorus of "Kumbaya," but there's no reason to think that respecting the talents of players on the other team would detract from the rivalry. There's even less reason to believe that will happen.

Priceless answer. Nobody wants a group hug -- the passionate mutual "dislike" will do just fine, thanks.

Chris Pronger's departure from the Ducks could be tied to the future of fellow defenseman Scott Niedermayer. Basically, if you're one of the many Caps fans who'd like to see Pronger in Washington, you should hope that Niedermayer returns to Anaheim. (OC Register)


Mike Wise on Covering Hockey

Here's an excerpt from a great interview with our own Mike Wise on Storming the Crease:

What are some of your favorite hockey-related moments?
My favorite hockey memory is the moment that the New York Times sports editor called me up and said 'we need somebody to do a Pavel Bure story because the Rangers are about to play the Vancouver Canucks maybe in the Stanley Cup finals. Nobody knows about this guy out here, so could you go do a story about him? And, by the way, I know your paper went out of business and this would be a freelance job. Have you ever covered hockey before?'
And, of course, having grown up in Northern California and Hawaii, I said 'I love hockey. I know hockey.' That was 15 years ago, and 15 years later, I still don't know hockey, unfortunately. But that story ended up catapulting me to the Times and I got Pavel Bure to drive me around in his Mercedes and he talked about living in Vancouver and being a star.

That 1994 Pavel Bure story is a fantastic read, by the way. Check it out if you've got the time.


In the System

The Hershey Bears are hoping their depth advantage is enough to wear out the Providence Bruins. (Patriot-News)

Plus, winger Kip Brennan goes overboard on a hit during practice and gets a "verbal blistering" from Coach Bob Woods. (Patriot-News)


Pens vs. 'Canes

Michael Farber says this series is going to be a lengthy one -- the Hurricanes just need a game or two to size up the Penguins. (Sports Illustrated)

Remember Pittsburgh's outrage when Alex Ovechkin didn't get fined or suspended for his hit on Sergei Gonchar? "Following the knee-on-knee collision that injured Carolina Hurricanes left wing Erik Cole in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final, there were no charges of a superstar left wing getting preferential treatment by the NHL. But, there's the question of whether it could serve as a rallying point for the Hurricanes the way it did the Penguins in their previous series." (Tribune-Review)


Wings- vs. 'Hawks

Mikael Samuelsson scored a beauty of a goal 5:14 into overtime to lift the Red Wings to a 3-2 victory over the Blackhawks. Detroit will take a two-game lead to Chicago. (AP)

The Wings have done a pretty good job of shutting down the 'Hawks' Patrick Kane, who's minus-4 through two games. (Kalamazoo Gazette)

Chris Osgood's 100th playoff game was a gem. (Detroit Free Press)


Some Extras

Chris Sprow says the NHL should just let the Coyotes head north to Hamilton -- "For a league that supports 417 players earning a million bucks a year -- compared to 432 in MLB and 372 in the NBA, leagues where the TV contracts go well into the billions -- you'd think the NHL would want to at least give a bad franchise a chance to succeed." (ESPN the Magazine)

Could Patrick Roy be holding off on taking a job in Colorado because he's hoping for an offer to coach the Habs in Montreal? (National Post)

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  May 20, 2009; 9:31 AM ET
 
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Comments

that Ethan guy from NJ really doesn't know too much about hockey.

Ovie is a WINGER not a center. Does Ovie glide around a shift or two a game? Sure, but morons who think that he just glides all the time and never plays defense are just trying to find any reason downgrade him as a player. It is the center's job to backcheck and work the corners in the defensive zone not the wingers (especially is BB's system)

Posted by: _stevo | May 20, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Ethan Weg made an observation. what is the big deal?? OV is a superstar, but like many superstars in the NHL he has some facets of his game that could be improved. Hits aside, why not a more complete D-game (including backchecking)?

Posted by: doughless | May 20, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Yea right - OV never back checks...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYm-Hrk_-vU


Posted by: capsfansince74 | May 20, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

REPOSTED:

Malkin and Fedotenko compare Washington and Carolina


O. Mezheritski, SovSport.ru, May 20, 2009:

Ruslan, did Carolina create any problems?

Fedotenko: The Hurricanes have the third forward playing very strong. You can say that he is looking to help defense all the time. That's why Carolina doesn't allow breakaways and counter-attacks, 3 on 2, at least not too often. Our counter- attacks were practically non-existent. It turned out that we were constantly playing against the same number of opposite players. Another thing I'd like to point out is Hurricanes' character. They don't give up. For example, at the end of the first period we pinned them decently. They withstood our offense and then began to create their own scoring chances.

What can you say about the goalies?

Fedotenko: Both Ward and Fleury have played great. Our goalie helped us a lot, especially in the last minutes of the game. We were aware of the fact that Ward would play well. We need to shoot more and to put more pressure on him.

Compared to Washington Carolina's defensemen look better.

Fedotenko: Their defensemen are not very big, but they skate fast and are very quick at passing the puck. That's why it's hard to catch them in their zone. You skate to the defenseman as fast as you can, but he had already given the pass to someone.

What is the difference between Carolina and Washington?

Malkin: A completely different team. Their goalie is as good, but I think Carolina's defense is better, they play very tenacious style. Capitals can't boast about their defense, but their offense is better. So, Carolina is the Washington in reverse.


So... what we've got here?

The third forward helping defense?
Sounds like a left-wing lock.

Why Capitals were unable to leave their zone?
Because Caps D is too slow, they spend too much time deciding who to pass, doesn't matter if they're big or tall. Practice, practice, practice...

Why Pens were outshooting Capitals and creating more scoring chances?
Because they were constantly outnumbering Caps when they were attacking, 3 on 2 all the time since Caps offense (the third forward) was not helping their defense.

As I mentioned in The Lamentations of the Fallen, it's not just a free agent market or the trades that could magically improve Capitals, it's also the things to ponder for Boudreau. Something needs to be altered, not just 'run and gun' all the time, the new defensive system needs to be installed, whether it's a left-wing lock or a modified trap, something. It doesn't mean that the team has to play it all the time, it means the team has to know and practice it to flip the switch when needed. A good way to practice flipping the switch would be playing "the system" on the road and "run and gun" at home.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 20, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Ovie does glide around the ice, but he is trying. He's trying to set up for a break away, and saving his energy for the next rush. When he sees a need, he's there like a shot. This is how he plays, and it works for me.

Posted by: farmgirl19C | May 20, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Yea right - OV never back checks...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYm-Hrk_-vU


Posted by: capsfansince74 | May 20, 2009 10:11 AM |

Well, lets be a little fair here. It was his own giveaway.

Ovie does not backcheck as much as one would like, but that doesn't mean he doesn't do it. He WILL do it if he is the closest forward back, but usually he is not. If it is a left wing-lock indeed, it is up to the right winger to pick up the responsibility and try to be the 3rd man back.

Ovie is far from being considered one of the better two-way forwards. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but he isn't exactly the most defensively aware superstar out there.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 20, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

It's weird too...you got smaller, quick d men and then you have the bigger d men. It seems you would get the smaller ones to pass the puck around and break out of the zone. The bigger ones to help in your own zone and clearing the crease. Caps like the bigger guys. I guess they are supposed to clear the crease, but I never see it happening.

So why does our defensive zone breakout AND our crease clearance both suck?

Posted by: richmondphil | May 20, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Ovie does coast during his shifts from time to time. He doesnt backcheck all the time and I think that is a facet of his game that could use some improvement. I think that when he does this he is more likely conserving energy.

I have been saying to friends of mine for 2-3 years now that we need better blue liners and I just hope they do something about that. We were never going to get to the cup with Poti\Mo\Schultz et all... We are in need of some bruisers. I hope we go after a Komisarek or a Pronger type. I just hope we dont give up the farm to get them.

Anyone know if Finley will go to Hershey for a couple years to develop? Or is he NHL ready?

Posted by: Dizzy1205 | May 20, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I realize that play was a rarity for OV, but he does play some D. Do we want him playing more D and scoring less goals, or cherry picking on the blue line and scoring more goals? Personally, I like him exactly the way he is. Get some better guys on our own blue line and his D becomes less of a problem.

Posted by: capsfansince74 | May 20, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

@ Dizzy1205


from what i hear finley will need a couple more years to develope, but there are other people that may know his situation better

Posted by: _stevo | May 20, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

@bctg

Yeah, I'm still cheering for the Hawks. I don't really want to see Detroit win the Cup, again.

"Jagr averaged a point a game for us too. So what's your point?" I'm gonna take that as a joke. We can't compare Jagr's stint in DC with Semin's. My point is that some fans always want to give up on a player before he even matures. The Caps org has been doing it for 20 years. It doesn't mean that every player traded away was a Semin in skill, but we've let a lot go that came together elsewhere, with little return. Caps gave up on Oduya, Devils sign him, he has one adjustment year and then explodes. I've seen it over and over. Now people want to trade away a stick handling, 30+ goal scoring dynamo, instead of unproven AHL talent or draft picks. That was my point. Sure, Semin might bring you a lot in return, but I didn't notice Detroit trading Zetterberg or Datsyuk away. Build a winner, and players will take less to stick together. Thats the model.

I remember having one 30 goal scorer for years, and getting bounced in the first round every time.

Posted by: oo7 | May 20, 2009 10:43 AM

Posted by: oo7 | May 20, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Look, the Caps, just a season-and-a-half ago, were awful. Then they put it together and became really good. But they are not great - just really good. Really good teams do one facet of the game excellently, or they do all facets fairly well, some combination. richmondphil is right. The Caps always seem to have trouble closing out wins because they can't do the shutdown. One or two new players, a little more experience and maybe bring in a defensive-minded coach. The defense is still an obvious weakness, but forwards backchecking has been clearly called out by Malkin. We should thank him for that. These Russian players are brutally honest sometimes. I love reading their interviews.

Posted by: tominfl1 | May 20, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

sometimes Ovi glides, but you have to remember in the Pitt series he had a groin injury. One thing you can't say about him, either, is that he's lazy. I mean, maybe he's gliding, but he's been on for 1:30 - you know?

Posted by: ralph4100 | May 20, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

The best teams are usually not the offensive juggernauts. The best teams are usually the defensive juggernauts that use the defense to create odd man chances. The best team of all is the one that can do like richmondphil says and flips the switch from one to the other (Detroit).

Posted by: tominfl1 | May 20, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

"The Caps always seem to have trouble closing out wins because they can't do the shutdown." -tominfl1

Thats one of the things we saw in the regular season that was the most frustrating. I have no problem with them keeping their foot on the gas, but when four guys are in the O, with the lead, and a break away ensues, they aren't going to get back to stop the rush, leaving one slow, mediocre blueliner to get the job done. No small task.

As for Bruce's system, it needs tweaking. High risk, high reward, but too many odd-man rushes. I know they want the forwards to back check, but when they're pressing, and expending a lot of energy, they can't be expected to have enough gas to always catch up to streaking forwards.

As for the Ovie on defense comment, he had a pulled groin and is often the deepest forward, usually hitting someone too. TO judge his defense by this playoffs is a tad unfair. People are going to judge by what they watch, though, and the casual observer isn't going to know about the day in day out effort like we do. Also, he can't do it all by himself. There are 4 other guys on the ice.

Posted by: oo7 | May 20, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

The best teams are usually not the offensive juggernauts. The best teams are usually the defensive juggernauts that use the defense to create odd man chances. The best team of all is the one that can do like richmondphil says and flips the switch from one to the other (Detroit).

Posted by: tominfl1 | May 20, 2009 11:05 AM

I agree. There forwards are sublime, though, not mediocre. That helps. Datsyuk and Zetterberg are amazing and their secondary scoring is pretty formidable. If Zetterberg or Datsyuk are out, Detroit still wins. If Ovechkin is out, its up in the air. Is Semin having a good night? Take out Semin and Ovechkin, this team dries up FAST.

Posted by: oo7 | May 20, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

From that article about Bure:

"He only did it because he felt that player tried to hurt him," said the Canucks' director of hockey operations, George McPhee. "He was in a defenseless position on his knees, and this kid came and hit him from behind.

"From a management perspective and hockey perspective, you like to see that in a kid."

--Looks like McPhee has been around some other great Russian wingers

Posted by: superpaqman | May 20, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Is it free agency yet?

Posted by: lylewimbledon | May 20, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

@007

Bruce's system may need a little tweak but I still think our two biggest problems lie in the fact that all year we weren't able to clear out our crease, and for whatever reason we weren't ever able to play against the neutral ice trap.

Posted by: Dizzy1205 | May 20, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

tominfl1 - excellent points

Posted by: superpaqman | May 20, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

I loved Bure when he played but that shot on Churla was one of the biggest cheap shots I've ever seen, right up there with McSorley on Brash.

He got fined $500. $500!

Posted by: Moose33 | May 20, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Bruce's system may need a little tweak but I still think our two biggest problems lie in the fact that all year we weren't able to clear out our crease, and for whatever reason we weren't ever able to play against the neutral ice trap.

Posted by: Dizzy1205 | May 20, 2009 11:16 AM

I totally agree. Clearing the crease was a huge problem. It seemed like Joe. B.'s mantra became "...but Poti doesn't clear it." It wasn't just Poti, but the dump around the boards made it 3/4 of the way, consistently.

As for playing against the trap, a lot of cute and pretty passes time and again. No one wanted to dump the puck, and when they did there were only one or two forwards capable of winning the battle for it.

Posted by: oo7 | May 20, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Re the Forbes article, I am so tired of writers describing Ovi's English as broken and his name as hard to pronounce. Three syllables, not that hard. (Now Khabibulin, there you have a point.) And I know PLENTY of mush-mouthed native English speakers who compare badly to Ovi. I agree that the NHL should capitalize on the presence of Ovi and Crosby. Many years ago there was a funny Caps commercial in which two players sat at a table in a restaurant. Every time a course was served they had a faceoff with their hands and food went flying. It was very funny and effective. Just recast it with O&C and there you go.

Posted by: pirate1 | May 20, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

@007 and tominfl1
Detroit benefits greatly from having D men who can break out really quickly. They also transition really well. Lidstrom, Rafalski, Stuart, Kronwall...all noted for their play in their own zone as well as their ability to move the puck up ice.
I mean, we heard it from the horses'(or Shrek's) mouth himself, Penguins just took advantage of our d men and their lack of ability to break out quicker.

@Dizzy and 007
Cannot agree more on the lack of clearing the crease. It kills us. There are two achetypes when it comes to D men; smaller guys who can break out and bigger guys who can hit and clear the crease. Looks like we sided more with the big guys...so why isn't our crease cleared?
About the neutral trap, I don't necessarily think it's a problem against the neutral trap (we did overcome it a few times in the regular season for some dramatic comebacks, or almost comebacks...The Wild and one Rags game comes to mind), as much as it is just a general problem with our D men not able to move the puck up ice efficiently. Our forecheck is also too spotty. Since a lot of our guys, minus guys like Backstrom, Ovie, Feds, etc, cannot carry the puck through the blue line effectively, I would like to see them work on their dump and chase forecheck.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 20, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Some other news -http://onfrozenblog.com/2009/05/20/kozlov-on-capitals-a-great-spirit-of-friendship.html

Pretty interesting interview w/ Kozlov. He always gives pretty good ones.

LoL I liked this part - "no problems" - maybe the guys get a little rowdy going out every now and then?

What did you do after the meeting?

"We, everyone from the team, went to a restaurant. We had a nice get-together. Thank god there were no problems. Everyone is alive and well." [laughs]

Posted by: capsfantess | May 20, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

One of the Caps problems is that we play beautiful hockey with our forwards and can't play beautiful hockey with Poti/Erskine/Schultz/Jurcina on our blueline. The only blueliner we have with any type of skill is Green and he already plays 25atoi.

What direction do we go? Alzner is already a much better passer of the puck that 3/23/4/55/26.

Posted by: JSchon | May 20, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Oh, also I do not want to take credit for something I did not say. The "flip and switch" reference refers to the article I posted.

Copied/pasted from:

http://alexovetjkin.blogspot.com/

Posted by: richmondphil | May 20, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

to further the point everyone is making about backchecking and defensive systems...

I wonder if we will be seeing something like this during practice this year.

http://www.icehockeysystems.com/icehockeydrills_details.php?drill_id=63

Posted by: caps28fan | May 20, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Pothier moves the puck well.

I think it's somewhat fixable with some of the guys. They make great passes sometimes, they just take way to much time. They need to be quicker and smarter. The quickness can be taught, but getting smarter and more "cerebral" about plays lies with them.

But like I said, I want to see us dip into FA this off-season as well. Get some fresh legs and ideas in our system.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 20, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I think people who comment here would have a valid beef in questioning why "Ethan Weg's" observations/questions are more cite-worthy/insightful than ones posed here every day.

Posted by: austinsteve | May 20, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

One note: It sure is better discussing how to go from really good to great or the best than being the bottom team in the league and wondering "How do we begin to turn it around?"

One thing I remember from this season is the Caps had an awful time with Western teams. I never broke the code on that, and I'm wondering if whatever the problem was with Western teams is the same kind of problem that would hamper them, like it did, in the Playoffs.

What I DO recall is some really good offensive teams from the past, like the St. Louis Blues for years and years, never got anywhere in the playoffs.

Posted by: tominfl1 | May 20, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Folks,

How about Matthias (sp). Ohlund from Vancouver? He's got decent skills, is fairly young, and (I think) goes UFA this summer for not too much $$.

Your thoughts, please?

Posted by: Rhino40 | May 20, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to sound like a broken record, but I'd sure like to get Phaneuf and/or Regehr from CGY if that were possible.

Posted by: Rhino40 | May 20, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

GMGM was on NHL Live today. As usual did not disclose areas he would like to improve. Disclosed that Alzner and Carlson look close to making the big club next year. No new news here. Thinks JT in his final year of contract will play strong.

Posted by: samb99 | May 20, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

The Caps actually beat good teams from the West and then lost to bottom dwellers. That was consistent throughout the season whether playing the East or the West. I can throw an excuse out there for a couple of bad losses on a western road trip. The boys beat the Ducks but in that win lost Mike Green and Sergei Fedorov and fell flat in LA and SJ.

Teams in the West they beat:
Blackhawks 4-2, Canucks 5-1 (allowed like 10 shots unbelivably dominated them), Ducks 6-4, Blues 4-2, Red Wings 4-2, and also beat the Preds and Stars.

Playoff teams in the West they lost to:
Columbus 3-0 twice, Mason robbed us, he was unbelievable both times.
Sharks 7-2 (no green, no feds)
Flames 2-1.

Those were the only playoff teams we lost to, the lowly teams we lost to were:
Kings-twice, Coyotes, Preds, Wild, Oilers, and Avalanche.

I would support wrapping up some guys in a couple of deals to get what we need. I would even be OK with Alzner going if we get a high 20's/low 30's (age) defensman that can bring experience and grit to the line-up and would be with us potentially for 6-8 years or so. I do not support getting rid of Semin or Varly though.

Posted by: fanohock1 | May 20, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Ok the OV vs Crosby matchup was a success for the NHL. Maybe, next time they will remove the handicap (ie Ref bias calls) and let the Caps play the Pens on equal ground.

Posted by: madflava | May 20, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

richmondphil

I completely agree: "...it's not just a free agent market or the trades that could magically improve Capitals, it's also the things to ponder for Boudreau....the time, the new defensive system needs to be installed..."

It is a systems problem, and not an individual problem. The series against the Pens (and now watching Carolina against them) really exposed fundamental problems. For a team as talented as the Caps to allow as many odd man rushes and turnovers as they do is a very serious problem. It's like competing in a race of abled-bodied athletes with one leg. Whatever gain is made offensively is completely countered by huge defensive and offensive breakdowns.

I love BB's aggressive, offensive-minded style and I do not for a minute believe that it is incompatible with good defense. It's not either or. It is obvious that there has to be adjustments in the fundamental system. What do you know of Boudreau's ability to adapt from his Hershey years? Obviously he knows how to raise a team's level and take them all the way. Hopefully he will know what to adjust when.

Posted by: caraveli | May 20, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

With the current salary cap system no team can keep everyone. The Capitals must keep Backstrom and Varlamov - Green is already signed so that leaves Semin on the outside. I really believe that this year the Caps will not toil in free agency and will trade some excess talent from our system to make this team a cup champion. The team can only carry 50 pro contracts between DC, Hershey, and South Carolina. It will be addition through subtraction = trades! Alex Semin will fetch the best piece to the Caps playoff horse next winter. Why not? We really cant keep him here...cant afford to under the cap...and he is really the "bonus" player in the big scheme. We have gotten more out of him than we ever expected - but really do we need that type of player or is it better he be traded for some defense. Save 3 goals against for every 1 he gives us over a season and it will be well worth it.

Posted by: yesisaiditfirst | May 20, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Do you agree with Ethan Weg of East Brunswick, N.J.'s assessment? Yes

Until Ovie plays D and stops hanging out near the blue he will not develop into a total player.

It will happen though.

Posted by: Shiba-fussa | May 20, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

If Ovechkin being the first man back and standing in the D slot was what BB wanted, it's what you'd have seen all year. If you want to see him RACE from goal line to goal line, kindly 1) go watch practice, or 2) get ready to see his point production and TOI drop ~20%.
I don't expect his coaches or teammates want Ovechkin to set his sights on a Selke. Do you?

Posted by: redlineblue | May 20, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

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