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Morning roundup: Injuries taking a toll


Tom Poti, left, is the latest Cap to suffer an injury. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Morning roundup


As the injuries continue to pile up, the Capitals will have to see how much depth they have. The team could again be without seven players who were on the opening-night roster when they play the Senators at Scotiabank Place tonight:

The recent rash of injuries has forced Coach Bruce Boudreau to put players in positions in which they're not completely comfortable (left wing Tomas Fleischmann struggled when he lined up as a right wing against Montreal), give significant ice time to rookies before they're ready for it, and lean more on others than he would like. (Mike Green, for example, skated a season-high 31 minutes 38 seconds against the Maple Leafs.)
"You can't use it as an excuse because that makes it look like you're looking for a crutch," Boudreau said. "But there's a reality to it. Look at Pittsburgh, losing after a great start. There's a reality where you're missing Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar.


Click here to read the full story.


Tonight's matchup:

 

Washington Capitals (13-5-5)
Ottawa Senators (11-6-3)
Scotiabank Place, 7:30 p.m.
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: 820 AM, 1500 AM
Preview from Caps' site

Morning links:

* Ottawa Citizen staff predictions

* NHL.com quarter-season review:

Ovechkin Dominant
Two-time reigning NHL MVP Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals has been dominant over the first quarter, tallying 15 goals in 15 games. He shares the League lead in goals, has posted the top points-per-game average (24 points in 15 GP, 1.6) and ranks second in shots (87).
Capitals' Supporting Cast Shines
The Capitals continued to win games and score goals during Alex Ovechkin's absence due to injury. The Capitals went 4-2-0 without Ovechkin and scored an average of 3.67 goals per game. That's slightly above the club's 3.64 average over the 14 games with Ovechkin in the lineup. Nine players have tallied game-winning goals for the club this season, tied with the Buffalo Sabres for the most in the League.

* Brian Pothier is comfortable moving up on offense. (Washington Times)

* On the Fly's quarter-season flashback:

* Ted is happy that Bruce is happy (Ted's Take)

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  November 23, 2009; 9:44 AM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Maple Leafs 2, Caps 1 (SO)
Next: Semin on injury recovery: 'So far, so good'

Comments

If Nylander isn't moving, then they should consider playing him. His languishing on the team is killing them.

Posted by: zyvo23 | November 23, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

They can no longer play Nylander. If they put him on re-entry waiver, someone will pick him up and we will be hit for 1/2 of salary, including his $4M or so next year. GMGM has played his last card with him until next year.

Posted by: atybat | November 23, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

They're two games into a rough stretch (six games in eleven days). It's not going to get any easier.

Posted by: JohninMpls | November 23, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

atybat: sleepy3 last night explained that Nylander doesn't need re-entry waivers because he was never assigned anywhere. He was put on waivers; he went unclaimed; apparently Caps could play him just like Buffalo did with Adam Mair I think.

They only need re-entry waivers is the explanation if they go through waivers and get assigned elsewhere.

Posted by: tominfl1 | November 23, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Oh - but Nylander has left himself wide open if he doesn't make a decision about where he'd like to play soon.

The minute his no movement clause expires, if he has stuck around the entire season, playing "ride the pine" and collecting his paycheck, he will end his career playing in the ECHL for the last-place Victoria Salmon Kings, because the Stingrays won't have him, and neither will anyone else.

If his refusal to make a decision costs the Capitals the Cup, he will never play in the NHL again.

Posted by: irockthered | November 23, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

@ Irockthered

I doubt that he will never play in the NHL, he just won't make what he is making now. There will always be a team that can use him for a much lower cost.

Posted by: hbcapsfan | November 23, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

I say, play him and let's see. Unless there is a much bigger situation(must be) we don't know about.

Posted by: ciwolff | November 23, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

@hbcapsfan - Reputation counts, though. If he screws one team, who's to say he wouldn't do the same to another?

Posted by: irockthered | November 23, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

R we really talking about playing Nylander again? It's not going to happen. Ever.

Posted by: JD09 | November 23, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

If his refusal to make a decision costs the Capitals the Cup, he will never play in the NHL again.

Posted by: irockthered

And Nyls being the root cause of the Caps not winning a Cup would be determined how?

Posted by: Steve_R | November 23, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to know why Nylander opted to be placed on waivers, and why he accepted the Grand Rapids assignment. All signs pointed to the possibility of signing with a KHL team. I hope he didn't really think an NHL team would take him at that price.

Posted by: Hatfield223 | November 23, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

@tom

Sounds right. It's why the Caps waived Bourque earlier than usual but didn't actually intend to move him to HER yet.

Posted by: richmondphil | November 23, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Reputation counts, though. If he screws one team, who's to say he wouldn't do the same to another?

Posted by: irockthered | November 23, 2009 10:56 AM |

Are you so sure Nyls is the one doing the screwing?

Posted by: richmondphil | November 23, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse


Irockthered
I thought that Nyls had voided the NMC after he returned from the minor league.

In any case, as much as I love the Caps and I am a big supporter of GMGM for the way he has built this team, I think the Caps (GMGM, BB all involved) blew this one. The handling of Nyls was atrocious from all aspects of the business and the game. I do not blame Nyls, he has handled this whole affair in a very professional way.

Posted by: hock1 | November 23, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

@Steve_R - I was not saying that I thought he'd be the root cause.

However, his salary has already made an impact. Note that we are playing 19-year-old John Carlson (who, admittedly, is playing well) rather than Karl Alzner, because we don't have the cap space to bring up Alzner.

@hock1 - No, that does not void it; he still gets a say in where he goes.

@richmondphil - The Caps waived him; he cleared waivers, and is now "making a decision on where he wants to play." It does not matter who actually did the screwing; what matters is perception, and the perception is shifting towards the thought that Nyls is sitting on his NMC and not moving, or making a decision. It's clear that no team in the NHL wants him badly enough to pick him up off waivers; his salary is too high. There are only a handful of KHL teams that can take him on, but the longer he waits, the less likely for any of those offers to still be there.

Posted by: irockthered | November 23, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

I don't see how Nyles is screwing the Caps. They gave him the NMC to lure him here during the lean years. I don't understand why people think he should absolve them of their contract obligations now just because they don't want him around. If he were a top flight player who demanded a trade (Heatley), we'd all scream that he should honor his contract. The Caps management gave him a contract and they should be expected to do the same.

Posted by: ablake70 | November 23, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Nylander is a grown-ass man who has no obligations to the Capitals organization, especially after deciding to screw him after his shoulder surgery and on. If he wants to collect a paycheck riding the pine because the Caps decided to not play him, then that is his decision. Will it tarnish his reputation and lower his value? Yes, but not to the point of not being offered a contract. I bet if ties could be cut, there would be tons of NHL teams offering Nyls 1-2 mil contracts. McCabe has a job after TOR fallout.

I think everyone needs to stop concerning themselves with the Nylander situation. Nothing is going to happen until Feb/March if it even happens then.

Posted by: richmondphil | November 23, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

@hock1 - The move to sign Nylander with the NMC was a good one at the time it was made. The problem?

Who pays GMGM to use his psychic powers to look into the future?

Who knew Nylander would be injured and lose a season, and have trouble coming back from that injury? It wasn't something that historically happened to him; it's not like we were picking up an injury magnet.

Who knew that Hanlon would be sacked, and Boudreau would turn the team's style from east-to-west to north-to-south, and do so while Nyls was out injured?

Who knew that Nylander either wouldn't, or couldn't, adapt his playing style to play on Boudreau's team in an effective manner?

Who knew that Backstrom would step up to the plate so very well and take over top line centering duties?

Who knew that Nylander couldn't play effectively as a 3rd or 4th line winger?

The situation is not the Caps' organization's fault, nor is it Nylander's. As is, the situation is affecting the team's ability to make injury callups, though, and that can affect the team long-term.

I am not blaming Nylander, but I do wish he'd make up his mind and take a KHL stint so that A) he could get ice time and come back to play in the NHL next season somewhere else, and B) so that he doesn't get assigned to the Victoria Salmon Kings to play out his career there, because that would be an awful fate, and C) so that we get the albatross of his salary off the team's neck, so that they CAN make callups based on merit and playing style/position/etc. rather than on "who makes the least money?"

Posted by: irockthered | November 23, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Remember this?

Oilers cry foul over Nylander signing
http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/story/2007/07/03/nylander-oilers.html
Edmonton never received signed contracts from Nylander and Gillis and on Monday Washington general manager George McPhee announced that Nylander had agreed to a four-year deal with the Capitals, believed to be worth $19.5 million US.
=============
Think GMGM lies awake wishing he had "lost" that contract signing race in 2007? :D

Posted by: blackjack65 | November 23, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

@richmondphil - How did a coaching change screw Nylander? What, you want Boudreau to adapt the whole team back to the Hanlon style of play, when they are clearly FAR more effective this way than they were under Hanlon?

Posted by: irockthered | November 23, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

How did a coaching change screw Nylander? What, you want Boudreau to adapt the whole team back to the Hanlon style of play, when they are clearly FAR more effective this way than they were under Hanlon?

Posted by: irockthered | November 23, 2009 11:31 AM |

I don't see how you would think I implied this.

If I'm remembering correctly, Nylander was asked to opt out of surgery until the off-season. Nylander, instead, decided to receive surgery during the season. GMGM was not too happy about this decision by Nylander. It seems the germ was planted then, and has since snowballed into the mess it is now. I only meant to imply that the dissent between the two camps started there. "Screw" was probably not the best choice of word there.

Posted by: richmondphil | November 23, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

@ ablake70

Absolutely correct. Nylander is not screwing anyone. Some people just put their emotions ahead of reason when judging the situation. I have no idea what happened between Nylander and BB or GMGM, but it was obviously significant enough for them not to want him on the team even in circumstances when his salary is eating up a large chunk of the cap and us being very short handed due to injuries. Nevertheless, the team has to honor a signed contract because this is the NHL and not the KHL or the NFL where contracts aren't guaranteed. For example, I'm sure the Isles aren't particularly ecstatic about the lucrative 15-year deal they gave to Rick DiPietro because he's been injured far more than he's played, but they can't just tear it up.

I would love an update on Nylander's situation, if there is any. Tarik's post article says that he's not even practicing with the team anymore. I don't understand what the hell is going on. If he hasn't signed with any KHL team and isn't even practicing what is he doing? Did he just decide to not play hockey this year and collect his fat paycheck? Obviously no team will take on a player that's not even been practicing.

---

On another note, I have not commented on the last 2 games. I don't have too much to say other than I thought both Neuvy and Varly played great and weren't responsible for any of the goals against. We were just tired and too short handed. It may be an excuse to some, but like Boudreau said there's also this thing called reality. Teams aren't good because they have 20 random players in uniform. The players in that uniform make a difference.

I haven't even had the time to read the comments of others on the past couple of games so I'm not really sure what people though of Carlson, but I thought he struggled in both games. He had a lot of trouble clearing the puck out of our zone and almost every fire drill in our zone was when him and Sloan were out there. Normally I agree with Bruce's decisions, but I'm not sure that pairing a 19-year old rookie D with our other least experienced D Sloan was a great idea.

This whole calling up guys not on merit, but based on salary cap hit is driving me crazy. We need Alzner and Aucoin up here now.

Posted by: ranndino | November 23, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

@irockthered

Hypothetical situation. Ovechkin signed at 13 year extension with the Caps. He has a limited movement clause but the Caps still hold the cards. Say after year 5, the Caps haven't won the Cup and Ovi goes to Caps management demanding a trade. He feels the Caps are no closer to winning the Cup and that his great talent is being wasted. He isn't psychic either. Should the fans support Ovi?

Posted by: ablake70 | November 23, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Remember this?

Oilers cry foul over Nylander signing
http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/story/2007/07/03/nylander-oilers.html
Edmonton never received signed contracts from Nylander and Gillis and on Monday Washington general manager George McPhee announced that Nylander had agreed to a four-year deal with the Capitals, believed to be worth $19.5 million US.
=============
Think GMGM lies awake wishing he had "lost" that contract signing race in 2007? :D

Posted by: blackjack65 | November 23, 2009 11:29 AM |

Granted, Nylander himself never agreed to go to Edmonton, but I think we all wish he did at this point.

Posted by: richmondphil | November 23, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I have this philosophy about any problem. There are at least two sides. One side's explanation/reasoning is usually slanted very far to their benefit. Obviously, the opposing side is equally slanted in the opposite direction.

Reality is usually much nearer to the middle. Is Nyls to blame? Yup. Is the organization to blame? Yup. Does it matter who is MORE to blame? Nope. Its still a problem and each side has to live with it. As far as Nyls having problems playing elsewhere based on bad rep - Nope. See Avery. Will the Caps have issues attracting players because of this? Nope. Money talks.

Must be the rainy day. Gloomy talk.

C_A_P_S! CAPS CAPS CAPS!

Posted by: jdhoover | November 23, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Irockthered
I agree with the signing at the time, I am not saying it was bad. I don't blame the Caps for not having psychic powers, as you call it, and for not seeing the future problems the signing would cause.
I do think that they faltered in the way it was handled once the problems arose. They had a problem, they knew what it was, they knew what they had to do, and they blew it and made it worse. Instead of working with Nyls to find a mutual and satisfactory agreement, they decided to sit him and make his life miserable and by doing that, indirectly making him more difficult to trade. Maybe the Caps did sit with Nyls and tried to work something out, but it appears that the offer was inferior, and why should Nyls take such an offer? It is a business and the Caps had more to lose than him. It doesn't appear as if the Caps were using much common sense, but then again, maybe they don't think the problem is that big of a deal or as much as the bloggers make it sound. Who knows? I surely don't care as long as we keep on winning.

Posted by: hock1 | November 23, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

@ablake70 - I can't speak for "the fans" as a whole. I can only speak for myself. I support the team first, and individual players second.

Posted by: irockthered | November 23, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

@ablake70 - I can't speak for "the fans" as a whole. I can only speak for myself. I support the team first, and individual players second.

Posted by: irockthered | November 23, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

@jdhoover

Everyone is a bit on edge because Carlson and A. Gordon didn't have hat tricks in their 2nd NHL game. I'll give them a break for their second game, but if they both don't have hat tricks tonight....

Posted by: ablake70 | November 23, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

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