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Morning Reading List: Pothier Returns


Fourteen months and 111 games after Brian Pothier absorbed a crushing hit from Boston's Milan Lucic, the defenseman is back on the road with the Caps and hoping to make his NHL return. Pothier completed a week-long conditioning stint with the Hershey Bears before making the trip to Atlanta and will be available to Coach Bruce Boudreau immediately.

Mike Vogel is on the road with the Caps and brings you his take on the defenseman's return. You can check out his video interview with Pothier after the jump.

Despite a healthy 13-point lead for first place in the Southeast Division, the Capitals know all too well what could happen down the stretch if they should slip up.

As promised, here is Mike Vogel's interview with Pothier from the team's hotel in Atlanta.

Thrashers Cliff Notes
Atlanta may own the fourth-worst record in the NHL, but the Thrashers have won five straight games leading up to tonight's showdown with the Capitals. Here are some statistics that might explain their late success.

Ilya Kovalchuk missed the Thrashers' most recent game, a 4-3 shootout win against Buffalo after trailing the Sabres 3-1, after aggravating an upper body injury. It's uncertain if he will be available against Washington. Atlanta's Jim Slater is doubtful.

The Hockey News' Sam McCaig examines how some teams at the bottom of the league standings -- like Atlanta -- struggle so mightily to win, then when they do it fouls up their chances of getting an elusive high draft pick.

In the System
The Bears got precisely what they needed this weekend -- two wins, including one against Bridgeport that put them back at the top of the East Division. Daren Machesney made 36 saves in the 3-2 win, with the only goals coming on two-man advantages for the Sound Tigers.

In his final game for Hershey before being called up, Simeon Varlamov propelled the Bears to a 3-2 win over arch-rival Wilkes-Barre with his 29-save performance on Saturday.

Varlamov brings a new mask, complete with a new paint job, to the Caps' road trip. It has a similar half-Bears, half-Caps design to Michal Neuvirth's mask. Check it out here.

By Katie Carrera  |  March 16, 2009; 5:30 AM ET
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Next: Live Game Chat Tonight


Thanks Katie for continuing to post the MRL so early, it means I have something important to read every morning as I start work!

I like Varly's mask and hoping he gets some work, maybe tonight to save JT for Florida tomorrow.

What do we all think the final points total will be for the Caps? Montreal topped the East last season with 105 but I think us, BOS and NJD will all be above that this year.

I'm going for us going 8-3-1 (17 points) in our final dozen games to finish on 108 and 3rd seed facing Montreal first round.

Posted by: DaveUKCapsFan | March 16, 2009 5:56 AM | Report abuse

Has anybody noticed that our next win ties last year's full year point total?

Posted by: TheCapitalist1 | March 16, 2009 6:25 AM | Report abuse

Boo, you're not the only one who didn't know about the astigmatism. I wonder why they kept quiet about it?

Posted by: theGelf | March 15, 2009 10:57 PM

Did they keep quiet about it as on lets keep it away from the press? or the reporter just did not ask? I think it speaks volumes ...

Posted by: opita1 | March 16, 2009 12:44 AM

You clearly have issues with the standard of reporting on here from Tarik and Katie, but did you really expect either of them to figure out Pothier's issue was down to an astigmatism before medical staff diagnosed it?

TEB: "So Brian, how's the concussion coming along"
BP: "Terrible, still dizzy all the time, just don't know what is it. No one does, all the doctors are puzzled as to what's happening"
TEB: "Sounds like an astigmatism with your eye to me - try getting some new specs"

Posted by: DaveUKCapsFan | March 16, 2009 6:31 AM | Report abuse

Hey is Joe B calling the game tonight for Versus? Just wonderin'.

Posted by: rachel216 | March 16, 2009 6:44 AM | Report abuse

I'm going for us going 8-3-1 (17 points) in our final dozen games to finish on 108 and 3rd seed facing Montreal first round.

Posted by: DaveUKCapsFan | March 16, 2009 5:56 AM

Ooops! 17 points plus what we already have gets us to 109 not 108!

Posted by: DaveUKCapsFan | March 16, 2009 6:52 AM | Report abuse

so Proud for Pots. I will be the first to admit I never was the biggest fan of Pots but I def couldnt deny his skill on the blue line and his importance of being a vet. Also I would never wish anyone in the NHL what he went through and you never want to see a guy possibly end his career in a situation like that. I'm glad he's back and he'll be awesome for the playoffs if he can stay healthy. GOOD LUCK. WELCOME BACK POTS!!!

Posted by: capsfan387 | March 16, 2009 7:40 AM | Report abuse

This is the trade deadline move Caps couldn't make. Must be great for Pots to know he hasn't had concussion symptoms for 14 mos.

So now who sits? Think they'll dress 7 D for a game or two 'til Pots is up to NHL speed?

Posted by: ds_kelly | March 16, 2009 8:05 AM | Report abuse

@ds_kelly: I don't think they'll dress 7 D, but I do think he'll skate third line. Give him 12-15 minutes and see how he does, and adjust everyone else's minutes accordingly. My guess for pairings is this:


Offhand, I think Jurcina sits, because Brian, like Milan, is a right-handed shot, and BB likes to have a rightie and a leftie on each line. It's possible that JE4 sits, too, though.

Posted by: kittypawz | March 16, 2009 8:19 AM | Report abuse

I think I remember that Tarik did mention that Pothier saw an eye specialist before. Maybe he didn't go into detail, but it was mentioned.

Posted by: koalatek | March 16, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

I also remember seeing or reading an interview a month or so ago, when Brian first started practicing again, that mentioned eye problems and his need for special glasses/contacts.

Posted by: tess2201 | March 16, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Just watch the Pitt/Bos highlights. Two thoughts ...
1. Thomas was way off his game.
2. I get the sense that Guerin is already the unofficial captain of the Pens.

Posted by: --Boo-- | March 16, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

I also recall Pothier's eye problems being mentioned. I think it was mentioned by Tarik and CSN.

It will be interesting to see who sits when Pothier plays and what the defensive pairings will be.

With the changes the Pens made (players and coach) they are a different and better team. Bummer!

Posted by: BetterOffWithFederov | March 16, 2009 8:42 AM | Report abuse

There has been plenty of concern and questions asked about Pothier the last few months. Tarik did indeed get and give information about the eye and vision issues that were holding Pothier back as well as his incredible progress. opita1 is just showing the old part of his moniker. Old and forgetful.

Posted by: _Mark | March 16, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

@ DaveUKCapsFan:

That would truly be some fine reporting.

Posted by: crooks_c | March 16, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

While Pitts has been winning and getting it done...notice they are very inconsistent.

In every game over the last few they have been blowing leads, or coming back from behind. They are not taking it to teams and feeling like they had a grasp on 60 minutes of hockey...mute point for them right now..but.

Posted by: SA-Town | March 16, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

I think that picking up Guerin helped out a lot for the Pens in terms of leadership. Bill is also only a rental, so Cysbaby doesn't have to worry about losing the official "C" even if BG is the new lockerroom leader. Also adding Kunitz to Cysbaby's line has helped placate Sydney's ego and allowed Malkin to center a second line, and Stahl a third without the Pens juggling lines with two centers on one line. They also dumped a coach they had come to loath. Of course, they are happy NOW, but the seeds for an implosion have been sown: CS vs. BG, Kunitz not scoring enough for CB, Malkin and CB not on the same line, and a coach who is not a disciplinarian with an undisciplined team. I expect that if the Pens drop a few in a row, they will plummet.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS | March 16, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

I am very gratful that Pots will be back...a great story!

My only concern is he said,"it really wasn't as big a deal as everyone made it out to be once they discovered it was the eye problem."

This is his 4th concussion and no one can truely know what kind of damage that has caused or what the next one will do.

If you get hit so hard that one of your eye balls gets misformed...that is a big deal!

I love the guy, but pray that he is not risking his life just to play a game again. His kids and family are much more important than hockey. I will be his biggest cheerleader, but still cringe everytime he goes in the corners.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | March 16, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

I think the Guerin and Kunitz pick-ups have been excellent for the Pens. I also think that Gonchar coming back about a month ago solidified the blue line - especially on the PP - and they are well-positioned for the post season. I think they could be the #4 seed before this is over. I'm not a Pens fan but I don't see the experience on that team allowing any type of collapse.

Posted by: saintex | March 16, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

@ DaveUK --

TEB: "So Brian, how's the concussion coming along"
BP: "Terrible. I went to three neurologists, and two sports physios, and none of them can figure it out."
TEB: "You should have gone to Specsavers."

Posted by: guiliano89 | March 16, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

@JIMALLCAPS - I agree with almost all of your Pens assessment, but I think BG will be helpful for the rest of this season because it takes the pressure of being a locker room leader off SC. I'm sure one day he will be a fine captain but the pressure (and attention) of being #1 overall, having the future of the NHL being thurst on his shoulders, and being expected to captain your team at such an early age is too much for him. It is possible that the stress from all that has caused him to adopt the public persona he has. Once he actually becomes and adult he will probably learn to relax and become the player and public figure people want him to be.

Posted by: ds_kelly | March 16, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Caps Fire Power when Healthy

If you take everyone that has played more than 60 games and then list everyone that has 1 or points per game played you get the following list...

Name Team Games Pts Pts Per Game
Evgeni Malkin PIT 71 97 1.366197183
 Sidney Crosby PIT 66 90 1.363636364
 Alexander Semin WAS 51 69 1.352941176
 Alexander Ovechkin WAS 67 89 1.328358209
 Pavel Datsyuk DET 69 85 1.231884058
 Zach Parise NJD 68 82 1.205882353
 Jarome Iginla CGY 69 81 1.173913043
 Ilya Kovalchuk ATL 68 78 1.147058824
 Mike Richards PHI 65 71 1.092307692
 Joe Thornton SAN 68 74 1.088235294
 Patrik Elias NJD 68 73 1.073529412
 Marc Savard BOS 71 76 1.070422535
 Ryan Getzlaf ANA 68 72 1.058823529
 Nicklas Backstrom WAS 70 74 1.057142857
 Mike Green WAS 57 60 1.052631579
 Michael Cammalleri CGY 68 71 1.044117647
 Jeff Carter PHI 68 69 1.014705882
 Martin St. Louis TAM 69 69 1
 Rick Nash COB 66 66 1

No team (other than Washington) has more than two players with more than 1 point per game played.

Washington has 4!!!!

Posted by: RongCapsFan | March 16, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Well Green has 57 games, so make it if you take everyone that has played more than 55 games.

Posted by: RongCapsFan | March 16, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

lylewimbledon: exactly. It is not safe yet--not nearly as safe as it would be to let him finish up playing short shifts with the Bears.

Anyway, I wish him the very best of luck, and somebody tell this guy to get Brash to do his fighting for him. NO FIGHTING! And if you didn't see it, here's the best Caps/OV video ever made! From yours truly...

Posted by: wutzthedeal | March 16, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Hey Katie/Tarik,
Is there some reason Pothier can't wear the shatter-resistant sports-glasses? If glasses provide him better sight, why isn't he wearing them, instead of contacts? Maybe that question wasn't asked, but if he doesn't know that's an option, he should know!

Can't wait to see him in action! ...Whenever that may be! Go Caps!

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | March 16, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

You missed that Semin has just 51 games, so now we are down to two.

Posted by: _Mark | March 16, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

I do vaguely recall making a joke that Guerin was secretly going to be the captain for the Pitts, to replace the team's whipping boy, Crosby. Glad to see it's coming true. I'm not going to place too much emphasis on how Pitts is doing. Our Caps can take them on, on any good day. Again, I'm all about them imploding on themselves, on the ice and in the eyes of their fans. I try not to take pleasure in the misfortunes of others but for the Pitts, I'll gladly do an extra "hail mary" and "our father" as penance for snickering at Crosby and another ice time temper tantrum.

To quote my favorite poster WhyGo - "Ball slapper."

Let's GOO Caps!

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | March 16, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

You definitely improved it, if I'd have thought anyone would get the Specsavers reference I'd have used it.

Posted by: DaveUKCapsFan | March 16, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Can anyone make out the letters on Varmalov's throat protector?

VAR i can see. Then a U ?


Posted by: dezlboy1 | March 16, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

I think it spells Varly, his nickname....

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | March 16, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

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