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Morning roundup: Goalies, Leafs and a Capstronaut

Morning roundup


In case you missed it yesterday, Gene Wang chatted with Bruce Boudreau about injured goaltender Semyon Varlamov, whom the coach said is "getting better" every day after suffering a sprained right knee (MCL) Jan. 3.

Asked about the recent shaky play of backup Michal Neuvirth, Boudreau said the 21-year-old was just experiencing "a bump in the road." | Read more here ยป

On to tonight's matchup:

 

Toronto Maple Leafs (16-23-9)
Washington Capitals (28-12-6)
Verizon Center, 7 p.m.
TV: Comcast SportsNet (HD)
Radio: 1500 AM


Vintage Ron Wilson, circa 2000. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)


A look at the Leafs:

*With a resounding 4-0 victory last night, Vesa Toskala (38 saves) and the Maple Leafs snapped a four-game skid and halted the red-hot Flyers' four-game win streak.

*Toronto GM Brian Burke says he's not going to fire Ron Wilson, but don't you dare say it's because they're good buddies. (Toronto Sun)

*Caps vs. Leafs this season: Oct. 3: W, 6-4; Nov. 21: L, 2-1; Dec. 12: L, 6-3.

Assorted morning links:

*Caps dominate their division, but could goaltending woes and other soft spots undo them in the playoffs? (CBSSports.com)

*Boudreau chatted with everyone's best friend Mike Wise yesterday on 106.7 The Fan. Check out the podcast here.

*GMGM, meanwhile, hopped onto ESPN 980's The Sports Fix. Here's the podcast.

*And the media blitz rages on. Here's Brooks Laich on his musical inspirations. (Puck Daddy)

*Charm City finally gets its hockey fix on the radio as the Caps expand their network to FOX Radio Baltimore 1370AM. (DC Examiner)

*Caps senior VP Tim McDermott becomes the senior VP and chief marketing officer for the Eagles. He'll be reunited with brother Sean, the team's defensive coordinator. (Philly.com)

*Caps talk travel habits:

*Sarge!!!!!!!!!! (Ted's Take)

*Caps just need some home cooking? (Ted's Take)

*Chris Bourque enjoys being back with the Bears, but he's not content. (NHL.com)

*Is pretending like that whole potential refereeing scandal never happened really the NHL's best way to build credibility? (National Post)

*NHL donates $100,000 to Haiti relief. (NHL.com) (Here's how you can help.)

*John Buccigross says the Caps should offer Alexander Semin to Atlanta in exchange for Ilya Kovalchuk. Thoughts? (ESPN)


And then there's this:

"You go out and buy an astronaut suit and you go to a hockey game, and you can't really be certain how it's gonna go." -- Capstronaut, Jan. 14, 2010

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  January 15, 2010; 5:33 AM ET
 | Tags: Morning roundup  
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Next: Semin's status for tonight's game is unclear

Comments

Here's hoping that Brooksie's shoot out goal against the Panthers is just the ticket to breaking him out of his slump! Then he can write his own music.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | January 15, 2010 5:58 AM | Report abuse

Alright Caps & Capsfans,
Lets do it for the Haitians tonight.
Sublime performance for the Stanley Cup champs.
Have fun boys - and bring home a win.
(sorry but it's actually late night over here in Australia)

Posted by: ozcapfan | January 15, 2010 6:08 AM | Report abuse

Is it me or am i having deja vu of from reading all yesterdays threads?Come on lindsay,ur morning R.U. is slippin! just messin with ya.haha.love your work!But can we get a bit more info on how varly is doin.I know BB says he's getting better everyday but is he skateing,not skateing,practicing,whats the real scoop?though I'm sure when you get the low down youll let us know.Well i say they put neuvy back in tonight.Be a real good test for him.What you all think? I know theo is doin better and may have some confidence but lest see where neuvy's at.can he rebound after a couple shakey starts?If he plays good it will be good for his confidence and maturity in the NHL.Thats just my opinion but all that really matters is the caps win!GO CAPS!!!

Posted by: gratefuldid | January 15, 2010 6:27 AM | Report abuse

gratefuldid: You and are I big Neuvy fans! :) Although I think you must go with Theo tonight, just because I think they have been overusing Neuvirth. Theodore played well in relief, it would be wrong to not give him the start. But then again, I'm really scared to see if Theo can keep the good play up or go back to being "Threeormore." Guess we'll have to see tonight. I think Neuvy needs a little break. I think he's going to be alright, he had 6 of 7 games where he allowed 2 or fewer, it's just a bump in the road, like BB said. But wow, Vesa Toskala was really good last night... for once. Hope he doesn't play like that vs. us.

Posted by: rachel216 | January 15, 2010 6:34 AM | Report abuse

@gratefuldid
"If he plays good it will be good for his confidence and maturity in the NHL."

... but what if he plays bad? Is his confidence shattered for evermore? There was once a goaly, who played for the Caps ...

imho, it would be better if Theo plays and Neuvy recovers ...

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | January 15, 2010 6:34 AM | Report abuse

I'd rather see Theo start off tonight in goal. He's worked hard, he is being paid to be a goalie, let's have this team work hard to defend their end and play a complete game.

If Theo starts to falter, let Neuvy experience the "save the day" phenomenom.

I really don't understand the voters who want to trade Semin. Not only is he a sublime player, but think what that trade would do to the morale on the team, especially wrt Ovi.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | January 15, 2010 6:36 AM | Report abuse

I hate the idea of trading Semin, especially when he's playing so sublimely. I think that the Flash Semin pairing may be just what he needs and hope that the Laich, Flash, Semin line keeps on showing such chemistry. I also hope that Laich's SO goal gets him out of his slump.

I also love Neuvi--with more experience I think he will give Varly a run for his money so to speak. I see our future as more of a goalie 1a and 1b.

But I am delighted that Theo was a rock in the last game. The OT especially with 50 plus second of 4 on 3 play and the SO needed a veteran's experience and he came up big. IMO I think he has earned a start tonight. I am also ready to see Varly return.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 15, 2010 7:03 AM | Report abuse

I'd trade Semin in a heartbeat for Kovy -- Semin stacks up goals against weak teams and disappears against defensively sound teams. Semin is uber tempermental, requires too much babying. Kovy would open up a true second line threat. I do think the Caps need a hard-core, stay-at-home veteran blueliner more than this proposed trade and the trade would be murder on the Caps' cap, but to dream of Kovy and Ovy in the playoffs, that is sublime.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | January 15, 2010 7:42 AM | Report abuse

Trading Semin for Kovalchuk could handicap the franchise long term. He wants a long term Ovie type deal worth about 10 million a season, which would have two players taking up 20 million in cap space. If he doesn't sign after the trade, we'd be giving up Semin for next season and end up with nothing coming out of the trade. Bad deal.

Along those same lines, LeBrun had an interesting article yesterday about the cap, parity, and how stockpiling stars handicaps future success:

http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/columns/story?columnist=lebrun_pierre&id=4822342

As for tonight, start Theo. He should be playing two out of the next three games.

Posted by: jsnyd1 | January 15, 2010 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Also, let's say GMGM does trade Semin for Kovie and then signs him to that long term deal, say good-bye to any hopes of signing a good S@H blueliner after the season as there'd be no cap room to be had at that point.

Posted by: jsnyd1 | January 15, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

The Caps need a hard-nosed Dman with at least 6 years in the league more than anything else. Somebody who has the technique down, somebody that can clean house in front of our net when its crowded, and somebody that has a few fights under his belt.

I'm not talking about an enforcer per se; but somebody you can count on to step up when required. If both Erskine and Brads are out, who jumps in on Ovi's behalf? Stecks? Laich? Chimera?

Our offense is looking pretty good right now, I don't think any additions up there will result in more playoff games. Upgrades at D will.

Posted by: CheckingLine | January 15, 2010 8:08 AM | Report abuse

I was at that game in Florida - Theodore was absolutely lights out when he came in in relief of Neuvirth; I was impressed, and very glad to see it.

Boudreau's "bump in the road" comments do not surprise me; I was saying the other day that I thought Neuvirth hit the wall and probably needed some more seasoning in Hershey before he'd be ready for full time NHL duty. He's going to be a great goalie; he's usually unflappable, and I don't want to see him lose that quality, so starting Theodore tonight will hopefully be Boudreau's move. Fingers crossed!

Posted by: irockthered | January 15, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

ugh. why am i listening to the mike wise clip? i guess at least BB is entertaining....

Posted by: mrszilla | January 15, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

@CheckingLine - Chimera was damned impressive with his Gordie Howe the other night in Florida...

Posted by: irockthered | January 15, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

No deal for Semin,only would trade for Kovy if he is willing to sign a deal like Hossa did in Detroit for one season, one million so he had a chance to win a cup....only way

Posted by: RichC3 | January 15, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Semin is too high maintenance. He's almost like a chick. He's uncoachable and is known to take STUPID penalties when he gets tired late in a game that we could easily win. What does he make 7 Mil? Don't let the door hit you on your way out.

Posted by: UnleashTheCaps | January 15, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Here's the correct link for the "Caps dominate their division" article on cbssports.com:

http://www.cbssports.com/nhl/story/12787803/capitals-running-away-with-division-but-weak-links-showing

Posted by: yosemite_sam | January 15, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Whoops, thanks for that, yosemite_sam. Fixing now.

Posted by: Lindsay_Applebaum | January 15, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Boys have a couple "off" games and here come the Semin/Green/Schultz/Fehr/(place name here) bashers again.....why do we not here from you people when the team is on a roll? It would be stupid to trade Semin for a half year rental that they could never afford to sign next year....period. And as far as Semin taking stupid penalties....haven't seen that much at all this year except maybe when he was nursing that sore wrist but was gritting out playing every night because Ovi was on the shelf.....yeah, not a team player at all there...playing through pain until the other sniper on the team could return. Geez people!

Posted by: PhilR | January 15, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Semin is too high maintenance. He's almost like a chick. He's uncoachable and is known to take STUPID penalties when he gets tired late in a game that we could easily win. What does he make 7 Mil? Don't let the door hit you on your way out.

Posted by: UnleashTheCaps | January 15, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

he's also the BEST two-way forward on the team... funny how that fact escaps some people

Ovie is NOT even on the ice when they're on the PK

Posted by: joek443 | January 15, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Semin is too high maintenance. He's almost like a chick. He's uncoachable and is known to take STUPID penalties when he gets tired late in a game that we could easily win. What does he make 7 Mil? Don't let the door hit you on your way out.

Posted by: UnleashTheCaps | January 15, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Welcome to 2008-2009. He has 26PIMS this season, woopdeedamndoo. Sure, he'll take a stick penalty here and there, half of them retaliation the other half trying to get the takeaway. Him and Nicky have easily been the two best forwards on the team the past month.

My only problem with him is durability, but if he can give 70 games with 30-40 goals and 80 points, I'm happy.

Posted by: jsnyd1 | January 15, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Lindsay for the links to the radio bits--our family particularly enjoyed Brook's musical bit over breakfast.

Loved that Gabby got on Wise's show--I don't normally listen to his show but even I heard about Wise's rant--Good for Gabby teasing him about it and making comparisons to other sports when discussing aspects of hockey.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 15, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Boys have a couple "off" games and here come the Semin/Green/Schultz/Fehr/(place name here) bashers again.....

Posted by: PhilR | January 15, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

^This along with all the "sky is falling" Chicken Little posts. It's an 82 game season and we're fighting for the #1 spot in the East.

Posted by: jsnyd1 | January 15, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

@UnleashTheCaps has made just a few comments on this board and it's pretty clear he's a troll. Probably a pens fan. Worth ignoring, though if you military types want to get drum him into the Brigade, that's fine too.

Posted by: Sonyask | January 15, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

@UnleashTheCaps has made just a few comments on this board and it's pretty clear he's a troll. Probably a pens fan. Worth ignoring, though if you military types want to get drum him into the Brigade, that's fine too.

Posted by: Sonyask | January 15, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Pretty sure his comments are a clear cut case for assignment to Company S. As our fearless leader I'll let Tom do the official assignments but I nominate him for deployment...

Posted by: mrszilla | January 15, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

@Capsyoungguns Glad you enjoyed that! I liked Gabby on the show, too. Maybe it's a new hockey era on The Mike Wise Show. (Nah.)

Posted by: Lindsay_Applebaum | January 15, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

I think sometimes people form an impression about a player and can't see past that when they improve. The criticism about Semin and stupid penalties was accurate....last season. But you must not be watching games if you think that's still true. Same with Schultz. If you can't see the huge improvement in his play over last year then you are just not paying attention.

Posted by: Gould23 | January 15, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

the "stupid" penalty problem gets way over-blown with this team because of their pathetic PK unit... if they had a top 5 unit, it wouldn't even be an issue.

Posted by: joek443 | January 15, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

No problem, UnleashTheCaps is hereby drafted into the Doofus Brigade, Company S for Semin bashers.

Unleash: You are about to be deployed. You'll need to go to Supply and get a rifle and some marching boots. Also, irockthered can show the latest and greatest Don Cherry formal wear for your parade dress. The Brigade marches on Sundays, btw.

For that "he's almost like a chick" comment, you've been assigned to clean the women's latrines. Now you can find out what "like a chick" is really about.

Enjoy.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 15, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Trading Semin is fine, but NOT for Kovalchuk. Dione Phaneuf, yes! He's having an off year and needs a new environment, and Calgary could use Semin's occasional scoring touch. Cap hit would be about the same.

Posted by: Exile_in_Philly | January 15, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Yes, I think we can formally expand Company S to include bashers of both Schultz and Semin. Bash one or the other and you are an enlisted person. Bash them both and you get a commission as a platoon lieutenant. Add in a comment such as "McPhee is an idiot" and you can be the company captain, reporting to Lt Col LarryDavid (battalion CO).

Also, all members get bumper stickers for their cars:

"THE DOOFUS BRIGADE NEEDS YOU!" and:

"AN ARMY OF DUMB"

Display your stickers proudly, doofuses.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 15, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

First gonna repost something I posted very late last night since not sure how many people actually saw it, then give my perspective on fighting in a separate post.

---

Have been absent recently, so quickly to tie up loose ends and a little story on how many hoops I had to jump through to watch the last game.

Tampa game was overall a stinker for us, but got interesting in the 3rd with the whole Ovie vs. Downie thing. I was actually all excited to see Ovie fight when he dropped then and slightly disappointed that Brads jumped in, but with my head I understand that it was the right thing to do. If Ovie's gonna fight he should start with someone who is a little closer to him when it comes to pugilistic experience, not go straight for one of the opposition's tough guys. Having said that no one can say now that Ovie is not willing to drop the gloves. He was all ready to go and even took his helmet off during both altercations. Class act.

The last game against Florida Neuvy obviously didn't do too well unlike the one vs Tampa when I thought he could not be faulted and Theodore finally earned his paycheck (see I'm giving credit to Theo). Great comeback too... which I almost didn't see.

I was away so had to watch the game a day later. When I was setting the recording I noticed that this game was on NHL CI HD channel, but since for some reason that channel is unbelievably flaky and only works about 50% of the time I figured I'd take out a little insurance policy and set a backup recording off a regular NHL CI SD channel. I get home and settle in to watch the game. HD recording total garbage as I feared. Just a black screen and doesn't even play. So I'm like this sucks, but whatever. Good thing I set a backup recording so I can still watch it in standard def. I watch the first period and bam, the recording gets cut off! Somehow it shows that 3 hours are recorded, yet ends after 1 hour! Unbelievable! So even though I recorded the game twice I'm screwed thanks to the crappy Comcast / Motorola DVR. Is that what they call Comcastic?

Fortunately, I'm Mr. Resourceful and there are our beautiful illegal torrent sites. Managed to find the game and watch the remaining 2 periods, OT and shootout. It was well worth the trouble, but seriously a major FAIL on Comcast's part. Here I was having to resort to illegal downloading of a torrent and watching the game off ESPN America channel with Russian commentary when I'm paying a fortune for cable and recorded it twice on their damn DVR!

Posted by: ranndino | January 15, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Without searching the internet, I think I can name 3 out of 4 of the Caps in the Ron Wilson photo at the top:

(L to R)
Bondra
????
Whitfield
Johansson

So, who's #27?

Posted by: AleksanderOMunchkin | January 15, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

As far as fighting I myself love the occasional dust up, as long as it's not staged. It has to be something that occurs naturally. One player does something to another. The guy doesn't like it and docy doe and away they go. This kind of stuff actually happens in any hockey, even Olympic one (we're bound to see some of that in Vancouver). It's a highly physical, emotional game so it's natural for the emotions to boil over.

What I despise is these staged fights between players who can barely play hockey. I don't think those are necessary. That stuff does come from the Canadian tradition and no, it doesn't have to be an integral part of the game. For example, while the Russian league now has a lot more fighting and is trying to emulate the NHL in the old Soviet leagues fighting was almost unheard of and the hockey was still very exciting.

Hockey is hockey and fighting is fighting. For example, you can have fighting in basketball too and for many people that would make it more exciting, but no one in their right mind would argue that it's an integral part of the game. Same with American football even though it's an extremely physical sport. There's always a lot of pushing and shoving after some big hits, but they rarely throw punches.

Now to our specific case, I don't believe we need someone like Brashear, basically a non-player taking up a roster spot and a chunk of the salary cap, but what I'd love to see is if we could somehow get someone like Evgeni Artyukhin. That guy is a mountain of a man (listed at 6"4, 254 lbs), yet can skate like the wind, has some offensive skills, is very physical and intimidating. He can actual play the game and be very effective out there in many roles. Can be used on a checking line and sometimes even as a top 6 forward. The point is that he's not a liability on the ice and doesn't just sit on the bench 99% of the time. Lastly, when necessary like in games that get a bit rough Arty can throw with the best of them. He doesn't fight that often, but when he does he's scary. He's also Russian so would fit in perfectly and be the best possible Dave Semenko to our Gretzky (Ovechkin). Anaheim got him for Drew Miller and a 3rd round pick from Tampa, so we it would be very realistic for us to put a package that would pry him loose from the Ducks, especially if they look like they might miss the playoffs.

Posted by: ranndino | January 15, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Semin for Kovalchuck is silly.

And I actualy saw Brooks at the AC/DC concert back in the fall. I'll give him credit (as I believe it was the night before a game), the man was drinking bottled water, not booze.

Posted by: Fro_ | January 15, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Checked some of Artyukhin's fights on hockeyfights.com just now and liked this description of his game by someone, "He skates like a jet and hits like a freight train".

Somehow I missed that we got Chris Bourque back. Pretty cool.

Finally someone talks to the Capstranaut! I've been wondering what that guy's deal was since the first time I saw him. Like who does that?! Funny stuff.

Posted by: ranndino | January 15, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

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