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Morning roundup: Caps can't win in Shark Tank


(Dan Margot/AP Photo)
Morning roundup


The Sharks scored on two penalty shots en route to a 5-2 victory Wednesday night, keeping the Capitals winless in San Jose for the 17th straight year:

"We weren't very good in the first period," said Coach Bruce Boudreau, whose team lost two games in a row in regulation for only the second time this season. "We were holding our own, but we weren't creating anything. Consequently we ended up with three shots on goal. If you end up with three shots on goal in a period, you're not going to win many hockey games."
The defeat also was the Capitals' second straight since Monday's trade with Columbus that sent captain Chris Clark and Milan Jurcina to the Blue Jackets in exchange for Jason Chimera, who notched a primary assist in his Capitals debut. | Full story »

*Postgame roundup and video are here.

*Postgame Bruce:

*The Sharks are flying high after Olympic news and a big win against Ovie and the Caps. (Merc)

*Mike Green misses the cut for Team Canada, but says he'll try to stay positive and not let it affect his game. (Tarik)

*Ooh, but look! He made the fake 'Team B!' Ouch. (ESPN)

*Team Green is rooting against Team Canada. (Ed Frankovic)

*The case for Mike Green. (Hockey or Die!)

*"Love at first hockey sight." Awesome. (On Frozen Blog)

*On hockey in 2009. (Come on, have a sense of humor, people.) (The Onion)

*Happy New Year, and happy Winter Classic tomorrow (more on that to come from us soon):

*Finally, a sincere thank you to Corey and the Washington Times sports staff for consistently churning out one of the best sections around, one I (and many others in this area) grew up reading. I'm going to miss the competition that has always pushed us to be better. There's a lot of newly available talent that shouldn't go to waste (ahem, Comcast). When the best thing going for a paper (IMHO) is the first to go, things are looking bleak for journalism.

Some reactions from us and around the Web: Steinz, Tarik, DCist, Off Wing Opinion, Rick Snider, Russian Machine Never Breaks...

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  December 31, 2009; 10:46 AM ET
 | Tags: Morning roundup, San Jose Sharks  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Sharks 5, Caps 2
Next: Caps trade off day for hard practice

Comments

i scratch my head when i see a team full of young guys plays like old men. this team has a character issue.

Posted by: doughless | December 31, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

If anyone had any doubts about who the new captain should be Ovie performance in the 3rd period last night should have put those to rest. What more can you possibly ask of a captain than to battle like that until the final whistle in a game that your team has no longer any chance of winning? That spoke volumes to me. If he's not ready to wear the C I don't know who is.

Posted by: ranndino | December 31, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

@ brainless

Figures that you'd show up on here and post something unbelievably stupid as soon as the Caps lose a couple in a row. Yeah, this team has a character issue... That's why they're still in top 3 in the whole league even after 2 straight losses. You have a brain issue as in missing one.

Posted by: ranndino | December 31, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

To everyone else happy new year.

Posted by: ranndino | December 31, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

As for Green missing out on the Canadian Olympic team it really sucks for him, but it makes it easy for me to hate them. Him not being on it doesn't present me with any ambiguity. It would be a little hard to hate them 100% if Greenie was on it.

Posted by: ranndino | December 31, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

i luv how some people who know everything about hockey show up here and the first thing they do is make a disparaging comment. sorry I don't agree with all of your hockey wisdom, Rantdino.

Posted by: doughless | December 31, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

@ Sgm3
and
@Who would you suggest that we go and get at this time of the season. It sounds like a great plan, but we need to have a willing trade partner.

I do believe that they have a short list of players that they would like and they will be trying to figure who is the best fit for the team, but I believe it will take place closer to the trade deadline when the line between "buyers" and "sellers" is drawn. JMHO

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | December 31, 2009 10:23 AM

I'd like to propose this trade (if I were GMGM, which of course I am not):

Poti and Morrisonn - Volchenkov (OTT) or Dan Hamuis (NSH)

Assuming of course Pothier comes back from injury. Free up more cap space and upgrade.

If you could do a one for one that works too. Trade the other Cap for -> Kim Johnson (Min) or Jason Demers (SJ). Also bring up Carlson after WJC and let him fight it out with Sloan and co. for the 6th/7th spot. He has been playing well.

I believe GMGM will get something done.

Posted by: Hokies4Caps20 | December 31, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

by the way Rantdino, how did the hat with ketchup taste. some much for your wisdom.

Posted by: doughless | December 31, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

yep, character issues. plain as day. easy to diagnose from your tv. especially considering they were playing a minor league team out there in CA. i wonder what doughless had to say after the caps beat the sharks here at home by the same margin (without the benefit of two penalty shots).

i think if ovie wants the C its his. if not, i think you give it to knuble for a couple of years until he moves along and then it goes to ovie. as much as i like brooks as captain, chances are he'll be here for a while and then you really dont have the chance to move it to ovie where it should be. long term i see ovie C with brooks, backstrom and green as rotating A's.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | December 31, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

@tarik,

(ahem, The Washington Post) too. I mean, you're doing a great job but wouldn't having Corey on the Caps beat with you mean even better enterprise reporting in The Post? And an occasional night off during the season for each of you?

With Chico Harlan leaving sportswriting entirely to go to The Post's Tokyo bureau that means you guys need a replacement (or two would be nice there, too) on the Nationals' beat. Baseball spring training starts in about six weeks; someone who'd been covering the Nats for the Times wouldn't have to be brought up to speed on the beat.

Posted by: greggwiggins | December 31, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

doughless was at the game, dipwad. the Caps played like they wanted win the game in October. they look like they are ready for olympic break of late. i expect a little more drive from a bunch of 20 year olds.

Posted by: doughless | December 31, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

I think this team has issues. They have to play 82 games a season, what the heck?

Dog days of the NHL season and they lose two games. No big deal. I think the Sharks are pretty good, at least from what I hear.

You know what? They'll lose at least three more games to lower-end teams, just like every other squad, do very well against top teams, and fight for the #1 seed.

One more in LA and then home. Get it done.

Posted by: saintex | December 31, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

so somehow the caps developed character issues between oct and last night. even though they thumped the two hottest goalies the week before? hmm. ok.

i'd chalk it up to a team that was playing another good team, particularly at home, who was looking for revenge for the earlier season loss. i also saw a caps team that came out poorly offensively most likely due to line juggling. i question whether it was the right time to shake up the top two lines with the addition of chimera. but BB knows more than me so we'll see how it goes sat night.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | December 31, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

It is reall annoying how quickly some people bash this team when they have a couple of rough games. Pitt lost to Carolina! You can't always win...and sometimes ulose a couple in a row. And when we win, these same bshers are singing the caps praises.

On another note...not to excuse that horrible first period, but BB changed up all the lines, and that can throw any team off a bit. Don't worry caps! we'll get em next time!

Posted by: capscoach | December 31, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Man I am sitting her having lunch watching the B's practice on NHL.com and Wow do I wish I was out there playing right now! The closest I have come to playing outside in LONG time was College Park & Wheaton.

Posted by: Iceman10 | December 31, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

To everyone else happy new year.

Posted by: ranndino | December 31, 2009 11:15 AM


@randndino: Does that include cstanton1, with whom you often seem to be locked in Mortal Kombat?

Düüde! I kid you, man. I actually like your posts--even if I don't always agree with them.

Posted by: Rhino40 | December 31, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

"But we tried to be so cute and it's just killing us."
---------------------

if i had a dime for everytime i've heard that over the past 2 seasons...

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 31, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Man, those Sharks looked really good last night. I wouldn't have wanted Neuvy's job.

Thank God, we won't have to face them in the Stanley finals and they will surely fold in the first round again. It's a Shark thing, you wouldn't understand. Neither do I.

Posted by: rjma1 | December 31, 2009 8:39 AM


Folks, just in case rjam1 is wrong this year, we need to step it up and win the President's Trophy so that we have home ice advantage allthe the way through to the Final :)

Posted by: Rhino40 | December 31, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

the loss last night should've shown the Caps that even when they play a decent game with a better effort along the boards and some good intensity, our D cannot handle a big mobile crop of forwards. Ryane Clowe, Torrey Mitchell, Mclaren etc all had their way all night long. We couldn't push anyone off the puck.

its about matchups, and the Sharks are a very strong team. Poti was putrid. Alzner not much better. The only defenseman strong enough to handle big forwards was Jurcina and he's gone. We're just going to have problems when we face teams like that. Its not about having a "rough" game. Its about when we play the Sharks at the top of their game, we'll probably lose more than we'll win.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 31, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Wow staying up for that game last night, was about as exciting as Dick Clark's New Years Rockin' Eve! That was tough to watch, for a minute I drifted off and thought I saw Glen Hanlon behind the bench. Hopefully the real Caps will show up in L.A.!

Posted by: kcbrichmond | December 31, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

some of you people really need to get a GRIP... after a win, the Caps are the greatest team on earth and after a loss they're the biggest joke in all of sports?

and the people who were booing at the Canes' game on monday shouldn't be allowed back at the arena... talk about being SPOILED.

Posted by: joek443 | December 31, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

after last night there is no doubt in my mind that ovie should be the new captain. the captain should be on and off the ice. with his play at the end of a horrible game, ovie showed me that he is ready on the ice as well. brooks is a nice guy and maybe a good alternate, but seriously do u want the rest of the nhl looking at the caps and thinking they are continually led by third and fourth liners? i know there is no steadfast rule, but stanley cup winners are captained by their top players.

Posted by: Pakkattack | December 31, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton - According to press reports, Columbus initiated the trade, asking for Clark and the Caps immediate response was to request Chimera. Jurcina appears to have been a throw-in. I think that the loss of Jurcina may be the more significant one for the Caps, however. As you say, we miss his physical presence, and I think he still has some upside.
----------
In two of the recent west coast games (including last night), the west coast teams were able to totally disrupt the Caps passing game, most notably on the power play (even the 2-man advantage). I suspect the problem is not entirely due to a lack of effort on the Caps part, but may involve some good scouting by those teams as to the Caps system and having their players keep a stick in the passing lanes. The Caps staff may want to check the film and see if some adjustment is needed in the system.

Posted by: zmega | December 31, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

if the Caps had a Dale Hunter type leader then I could see him wearing the C instead of Ovie but they don't

anyone watching can tell that Ovie is the leader of this team, there's NOBODY even close... anyone other than him wearing the C would be an insult.

Posted by: joek443 | December 31, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

Sorry but I have to disagree with you about how we will lose more often than win if the Sharks are playing at the top of their game.

We outplayed them at the Phone Booth and they outplayed us at the Shark Tank. We fans simply haven't seen both teams playing their best in the same game this season.

Had the Caps played as crisply and effectively, especially at the blue line, as they did against the Devils then last night's game could have been epic. The Sharks played an outstanding game last night and the Caps were terrible.

BTW I personally don't think the Caps loss was about character--an individual or team doesn't change its character overnight. Or then I guess the Sharks also have a character issue!

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | December 31, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

@joe443

I absolutely agree with you. Ovi should wear the C. He was a beast in that third period. I was shocked when he dropped his gloves. In the last five minutes or so of the game he displayed how this game is played in inches to the bitter-very bitter--end.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | December 31, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Two losses in a row!?!?!? Time to call a player a cancer, make a trade, doubt the teams character and of course throw in the fact that Schultz is useless. So far I don't believe we have ever blamed BB? Maybe we need to throw him into the mix as well. Did I miss anything? ;)

Unfortunately I feel asleep before the game, I knew I would so I recorded it. I woke up to the sound of my 9 yr old's voice saying "The Caps freakin lost last night dad!". I planned to stay away from the PC and watch the game as if it were live.

My question is this. Should I waste my time watching the game knowing the outcome already?

Posted by: FLDave | December 31, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

If I had to start somewhere as far as breaking down our problems last night, I'd start with our defense without a doubt.

Just look at how 4 of the goals came about.

1st goal - Morrison, for some unknown reason, skates right across the ice leaving Pavelski WIDE OPEN on the right wing. Green had just had a scoring opportunity at the other end off a beautiful pass from Knuble but he had gotten back on D in more than enough time. He was covering the right side. That goal was all on Morrison.

2nd goal - I believe this was the one where Alzner just couldn't handle the puck. He simply has to be sharper on that play. That one was all on Alzner. A forward could have backchecked to interfere with the eventual shooter but Alzner's misplay of the puck was the problem here.

The 2 penalty shots - Whether or not you feel either of the penalty shots was warranted, the fact is our defense let opposing forwards get behind them.

On the first one, our PP was nearing its end and Green completely lost awareness of Clowe or whoever it was coming out of the box. Hence, the breakaway and the ensuing goal.

On the second one, in retro it did look like Erskine lost his stick as opposed to throwing it, but regardless, Thornton initially just skated right by him to get in alone on Neuvirth. That was the real problem either way. If he doesn't get completely beaten like that, the ref doesn't have a chance to blow his whistle. And it wasn't like he couldn't see Thornton. He just watched him skate right by him.

I can't recall their other goal but I wouldn't be surprised if their was a defensive breakdown there as well.

Posted by: tmac2yao | December 31, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

I agree Ovie should be the Captain. He is the leader of this team even without the "C" on his jersey. Unless he turns it down, he has to get it, otherwise, it will send the wrong message to him and the team about his ability to be Captain.

Sending the wrong message may also be evident in regards to the trade, as a trade is made to improve a team. I know it was stated that $$ was also freed up for future use, but this may have sent the wrong message to the players, wondering if they were/are good enough to win it all.

Posted by: bigschu8 | December 31, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

@FLDave

Depends on your willpower. I also recorded the game but managed to stay up to the bitter end. I think I'll delete the game.

The first period was dreadful. That's were we lost the game. Can't dig out of a hole against a team like the Sharks. The play was better in the second and third but I wouldn't say great--just that they fought back and tried to change the momentum. Frankly the Sharks were flying and the Caps just couldn't get it together. It was as if we had no speed to the puck, the passes weren't connecting, and we couldn't clear the puck out of our own zone.

Ovi played with a lot of grit and at the end with a high degree of frustration, but it wasn't enough. On balance I liked how Chimera went to the crease and I'm glad that Knuble got a dirty goal and I'm glad that Ovi at least got a goal.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | December 31, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

My question is this. Should I waste my time watching the game knowing the outcome already?
Posted by: FLDave | December 31, 2009 1:36 PM

If you want to see a great team playing at their top of their games...sure!

Unfortunately, the team I speak of is the Sharks. Last night anyway.

Don't worry, even after the two losses I still believe the Caps are a great team. Sure, tinkering needs to be done, Caps still have room for improvement (any team, on top or on bottom of divisions can always find ways to improve). This is just a little lull...sure, would have been great for the Caps to have been on top of their game last night, especially against an elite team, but it doesn't always happen. They had a pretty good (or better) third period, some of the players seemed to wake up a little...hopefully that can carry over into the next game...not to mention, Ov was definitely mad in the third...and we all know how well a mad Ov plays!

I hope Nuevy's confidence isn't shot after last night's loss...he did make some spectacular saves...I do not think any of the even strength goals were particularly weak (which is the difference between last night's game and the Carolina game). I also think that a more seasoned goalie would have held up a little better in the shoot out!

I also though Knuble seemed to be making good strides last night, really working hard for his goal! And Chimera did not look too shabby, though I would not be surprised to see him go to the bottom two lines eventually.

Overall, I would not waste your time if you are only watching it for the Caps...watch the 'highlights' online somewhere and look forward to a hopefully more fired up effort Saturday afternoon!

Happy New Years to all!
Go Caps!

Posted by: The_Stanley_Caps | December 31, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Additionally, beyond the breakdowns that directly led to goals, we couldn't clear the puck out of our own end to save our lives.

Whether it was on the PK or at even strength we looked like ECHLers out there trying to get to pucks in our own end and make decisions when we did.

The Sharks were aggressive but we have to have more urgency and skill in our own end. Maybe it's a personnel issue. Maybe our defense just can't handle that kind of pressure.

Beyond the miserable defense last night, our forwards couldn't string two passes together. Part of that was the Sharks' team defense (their forwards were stifling us as well) but it was also us just not moving our feet and getting to open spaces to receive passes. We were either trying to go one on one to no avail or repeatedly making passes that ended up Shark sticks. The guys off the puck need to work hard and read the play to find space to receive passes.

Beyond the crappy passing and lack of skating, our forecheck was horrible. Even in the cases where we dumped the puck in because we couldn't string passes together, we couldn't sustain anything. The Sharks defensemen were doing what we couldn't do to save our lives. They were quick to pucks and able to make quick and accurate passes to get out of their own end. Then, they would string several passes together and before we knew it, we were getting forechecked to death at the other end, unable to get the puck out again as described above.

They just killed us in most facets of the game. We may have outhit them but they were first on pucks and were skating hard in every zone, getting open to receive passes and taking advantage of our breakdowns.

Posted by: tmac2yao | December 31, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Eack... DELETE DELETE DELETE!!!

Thanks for the input!

Posted by: FLDave | December 31, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

FLDave,
I personally can never bring myself to watch a recorded game after I find out they lost but I'm probably emotionally unstable in that way; I take losses hard. I saw the game and I don't think it offered a lot of entertainment value for a Caps fan. If you're the type who likes to analyze all that is right/wrong with the Caps, have at it. Perhaps it would be better to end '09 watching a replay of their win over the Devils.

BTW, I liked what I saw from Chimera last night. He came to play.

Posted by: AleksanderOMunchkin | December 31, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

"I also think that a more seasoned goalie would have held up a little better in the shoot out! "

And by shoot out, of course I meant penalty shots.

Posted by: The_Stanley_Caps | December 31, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

@tmac2yao

Agree with your analysis on defense but have to add that our PP was terrible too--especially the 5 on 3. Glad that BB said he was going to watch some video and rework it.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | December 31, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

@tmac2yao

And agree with your posting on the other aspects of the game. Blech! Thought to add that I thought Neuvy held it together for the most part. He made some big saves. Problem was he had to make too many.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | December 31, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

@AleksanderOMunchkin

I typically will watch a recorded game even knowing the outcome. Based on opinions offered I deleted last nights game. I try not to over analyze NHL games since they play so many in a season, leave that to the NFL where teams play 12 games a season. 1 loss out of 82, blah...

Posted by: FLDave | December 31, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

NOTICE - Cancel all New Years Eve plans! US vs. Canada in World Juniors tonight at 8 pm ET. Go USA! Go Carlson! Della Rovere, have a good game in a losing cause and don't mess with Carlson.

Posted by: zmega | December 31, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

@zmega

Thanks for the heads up!

I have been so busy with work I have not followed the WJC.

Posted by: FLDave | December 31, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I don't think any of can really comment on who should be the captain of this team. While we have a good deal of access to the team, none of us are in the locker room and know what goes on behind the scenes. The leader on the ice isn't always the leader off the ice.

Posted by: WVPhil | December 31, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Regardless of last night's game, 2009 has been a good year for caps fans, especially this season :)

Happy New Year everyone!

Posted by: mrszilla | December 31, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Now I know why we decided to stay in tonight--the World Juniors. Thanks!

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | December 31, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

to switch the subject,
for those of you non-schultz lovers, the Caps have another Schultz in the making in prospect Eric Mestery. Virtually identical frame (6ft5 210 lbs) at the same point in their careers and neither player was loved by the fans of their respective junior teams mostly because they were wimpy for their size. Mestery takes a lot of abuse out there too. He's been run at a lot this year and to his credit has tried to respond but has taken some beatings along the way. He's out for the 2nd or 3rd time this season with another injury.

Here's a Tri-City blurb on him. You'll see that his description mirrors that of Schultz.

Eric Mestery -- Love him or hate him, he's here to stay. Eric always has been a true stay-at-home kinda guy. He skates well, and his long reach on the PK is valuable. In 13 games since his return, he has three assists and is a plus-3. For his size (6-5, 210), he's never been a physical player -- which fans seem to frown upon -- but he has many other qualities. Grade: B

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 31, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

@WVPhil

True, but when you watch a player carry a team on his back for several years you can kinda point to him no?

OV may not be the most outspoken guy in the locker room or with the media, but he leads by example. To give the C to an also ran like Laich would be an insult to what OV has brought to DC. Don't get me wrong, Laich is a good player, well spoken, etc but the true leader of this team is OV.

Posted by: FLDave | December 31, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

@mrszilla

Right back atcha!

Everyone have a Happy and SAFE New Year!!!

Posted by: FLDave | December 31, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

@Capsyoungguns

I somehow forgot about the PP misery. Definitely another area where we came up short.

We've been having trouble even setting up in the offensive zone for several games now.

When we do get set up, something isn't clicking.

Posted by: tmac2yao | December 31, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

2nd goal - I believe this was the one where Alzner just couldn't handle the puck. He simply has to be sharper on that play. That one was all on Alzner. A forward could have backchecked to interfere with the eventual shooter but Alzner's misplay of the puck was the problem here.
----------------

my point exactly TMAC. Alzner makes too many errors, that wasn't the only one he made. He also got caught taking a bad angle to the puck on the very next shift after giving up that 2nd goal and a forward went right around him. Its pretty sad when Schultz is really your 3rd best defenseman on the team. Poti, Alzner and Sloan aren't capable. Alzner may be ready next yr hopefully but he's outclassed right now. He has virtually no idea how to get the puck away from another player unless he gets lucky with a poke check.

For anyone looking to scapegoat the goalie or the refs (in spite of the questionable Erskine call), this loss was really more about the Sharks forwards having their way all night with our defense. And its why McPhee needs to pull a move for not just one, but TWO capable defensive defensemen.

I'll take Volchenkov (someone else's favorite on this board) and anyone resembling Commodore, Aaron Ward, Cory Sarich types. We have to get in more players who can play from the neutral zone back to our net.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 31, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, but what if he doesn't want it? What if it's a distraction to him?

Posted by: WVPhil | December 31, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

@WVPhil

Then you find a worthy player to give the C to. I just can't think of anyone other than OV that has earned the right to wear the C.

I think OV would love to have the C and it would boost his game even more. I could be worng though.

Posted by: FLDave | December 31, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone notice all those "cute" passes the sharks made which led to score opportunities? - Yes the same "cute" passes that some coaches and some fans want the OV/Backs/Semin line to quit making. First time I saw the Sharks play, and they were awesome. I think we have the personnel to match them, I am not sure we have the style.

Posted by: hock1 | December 31, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

the best player on a team doesn't have to be the team captain. Dave Lowry was a team captain and he was probably the 2nd or 3rd worst forward on the teams he played on. If you can find a good leader who isn't your top player, then it takes a lot of burden off the top guy. I'd rather have Ovechkin focus on his game then on the additional responsibilities (and frustrations) that come with being a team captain.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 31, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I think we have the personnel to match them, I am not sure we have the style.

Posted by: hock1 | December 31, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

well when a Clowe or Torrey Mitchell has the puck along the boards in our zone and our defensemen can't push them off the puck to get the puck back, I'd say we have a personnel issue also.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 31, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

OV typically carries the team. I don't see where a simply C on his chest would distract him.

Posted by: FLDave | December 31, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

I hear you about Alzner.

What I've seen though is a mixed bag though.

I've noticed some isolated defensive plays that were outstanding - in fact, superior to much of we we get out of our other defensemen. He is a fundamentally sound player and has very good hockey sense.

On the other hand, I've seen the misplays along the boards, the shying away from contact leading to some of those poor clearing passes, the bad angles you mentioned and even some poor positioning (something that is supposed to be a strength of his). I'm chalking the latter up to his adjustment to new partners and the speed of play at this level.

I think it can take an entire season or two for a young defensemen to feel comfortable with the NHL pace of play. So, despite all the games Alzner has played between this season and last, I think he's still adjusting.

Basically, I'm more optimistic than you about Alzner at this point but there have been plenty of plays where he looks bad out there so I can understand your stance. Time will tell.

Either way, we need help on the back end without a doubt. Whether that help comes in the form of coaching adjustments or personnel changes, we still aren't where we ideally need to be, defensively. I do think part of our defensive shortcoming stem from Boudreau's system but I don't think that's the major factor. I think the bigger issue is with the players on the ice doing their jobs, and that includes forwards.

Posted by: tmac2yao | December 31, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

the things you mentioned - shying away from contact along the boards etc, those come into play with a lot more prominence in the playoffs. Lets face it, the playoffs is more about grinding your way in your own defensive zone than it is about playing in open space. And Alzner's biggest weakness is being able to grind effectively along the boards. One of the things that really wears out a team is when another team has the puck for extended periods in your own end. And usually the simplest way to end that opportunity is to knock a player off the puck and clear it. Last yr I noticed Poti making error after error with muffed clearing passes that kept the play alive in our end. Last night our forwards worked to get him the puck on a PK, and Poti cleared it right to the Sharks player at the blueline which led to an almost-goal.

Alzner's the same way, he doesn't necessarily make bad clearing passes when he has the puck but he, like Poti, is unable to end an offensive zone opportunity by the other team when given the chance.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 31, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

@tmac2yao

Traditionally D men develop later. Alzner will be an NHL player for many years to come, but he has just begun his NHL career. Call ups don't count as that is limited exposure in my book.

IMHO the Caps desperately need a physical, stay at home D man. It's been several years but I still have heartburn over Scott Stevens being signed by the Blues. When Stevens was on the ice players were hesitant to even approach our blueline. That is the type of player that can turn our team into a serious contender. Problem is players like Stevens are not available...

Posted by: FLDave | December 31, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

It must be time for mass hysteria!

Posted by: ebolean1 | December 31, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

How many Caps D men can effectively clear the zone? That has been a serious problem for years.

Posted by: FLDave | December 31, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

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