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Morning Roundup: Penalties Prove Costly


(Bruce Bennett - Getty Images)


Morning Roundup

The Caps, as center Brendan Morrison put it, were their own "worst enemy" last night in a 6-5 overtime loss to the Flyers at Wachovia Center.

The Capitals got two goals apiece from Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin and another off Brendan Morrison's skate. But it wasn't enough to silence a sellout crowd at Wachovia Center, where the Philadelphia Flyers claimed a thrilling 6-5 victory on an goal by Daniel Briere with 1 minute 8 seconds remaining in overtime.
Although the Capitals managed to snag a point against a good team in a hostile building, the overwhelming sentiment in the locker room afterward was that they blew it.
"You take eight minors in a game, you're not going to win that game, we took six in one period," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "That's how four goals get scored against you. It's something that's unacceptable."

Some post-loss chatter:

* "If every game is like this, the race for the NHL Eastern Conference title is going to be a wild, combustible ride. The Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers combined for a head-spinning seven goals in the second period alone during a contest neither team seemed intent on winning." (D.C. Examiner)

* "'We don't want to get involved in a track meet with the Pittsburghs and the Washingtons of the world,' Flyers coach John Stevens said. 'I think we're built just a little bit differently, but we do have an exciting offensive team and I think you saw that tonight. But we're going to be a little bit different in hopefully shutting the game down a little bit more. Ovechkin, Semin - that's one of the best offensive lines in the league. But having said that, you look at our top two lines and you throw a guy like [Claude] Giroux in there, James [van Riemsdyk] is a young kid but he's got a lot of offensive ability, and the ability of our back end to move the puck, and we have pretty good depth in our offense throughout our lineup.'" (Broad Street Bull)

* "Anyone check out Philadelphia's 6-5 overtime win over Washington? I needed a towel after that one ... and I was sitting on the couch." (ESPN's Pierre Lebrun)

* On Varlamov: "The kid looks great for long stretches, but when they start going in ... let's just say it will probably be Jose Theodore on Thursday night." (In the Room)

* "Semyon Varlamov can't be blamed for all of the goals he allowed, but it's pretty clear that the book on him is exactly what we began to see in the Pittsburgh series last spring (if not earlier) - get him moving laterally and shoot high glove." (Japers' Rink)

* "I'm not sure who was worse tonight, referees Dave Jackson and Stephane Auger (is this officially Bad Refereeing Week given what we saw in Philly tonight and New England on Sunday??!!) or some of the Caps defenders." (Ed Frankovic's Blog)

* Philly.com recap

* NHL.com recap | Game highlights | Postgame interviews

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  October 7, 2009; 5:34 AM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Flyers 6, Caps 5 (OT)
Next: Sloan Practices at Forward

Comments

I hope Aturs Irbe has a degree in psychology. Four goals in each of Varlamov's last three starts is troubling.

Posted by: crooks_c | October 7, 2009 6:14 AM | Report abuse

All those penalties were lousy, also. Am I the only one that found Laich's penalty to be ridiculous? Interference? Really? Seemed obvious that the defender pushed him that way. I hope that this is not the beginning (continuation?) of a trend where the refs get us for every ticky-tac minor they suspect. Let's put together a collection and send the refs a fruit basket and build up some good will.

Posted by: crooks_c | October 7, 2009 6:18 AM | Report abuse

Tuesday Oct 27th...

Lets play the tight game we know we can, and beat this Philly team 5-2 like we know we can.

We gave that away in every sense....

3 out of 4 points at Boston and Philly..I'll take it, but wont like it..

Posted by: SA-Town | October 7, 2009 6:46 AM | Report abuse

For those defending Erskine last night, there is no defense. He was on the ice for 5 of the 6 goals against the Caps. I understand Poti was out there too, but Erskine's best attribute is his physical play and he let little F'in Briere stand in the slot. He should have been on his @$$. I also realize 4 of the 5 were while trying to kill a penalty, well...he needs to be taken off the PK. Poti had 1 1/2 more minutes of PK time than Erskine, but Erskine was out there every time Poti got scored on. What I mean is, when Poti was killing with another defenseman, the Flyers didn't score, only when he had common PK time with Erskine they scored.

Green was out there too long? Maybe he should have played more. He was only out for 1 Flyer goal against and he finished a +2. Fans need to find another target, Green is playing fine on both ends right now.

Schultz, the Caps are 0-1 with Schultz someone said. They are actually 0-0-1 with Schultz. He was on the on for 2:36 of PK time, and over 15 minutes total. He WAS NOT on the ice for any goals against. Not sure why fans feel compelled to rag on him.

Watch, Erskine will be out next game. He WAS the weak link last night.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 7, 2009 7:18 AM | Report abuse

Erskine brings toughness we need...It wasnt his best shot last night, but we need him in there...

Dont be so quick to dump on him..

Posted by: SA-Town | October 7, 2009 7:44 AM | Report abuse

fanohock1:

You are 100% correct, I said some of the same things last night. But, be careful, some will dub you a "fairweather" fan.

It's funny though if you just defend your team w/o question others call you a "homer."

I'd like to think we're being objective. The Caps are in the NHL's Elite Eight with Van, Det, SJ, Chi, Pitt, Boston and Filthy. I want Final Four status and then Cup Winner status. At this point you have to seriously question if you can win the Cup without a 1st pair, defensive defenseman.

And, to be sure, I was the first to post last night that Pronger stunk in general. When I say, "We need a Pronger," I mean a classic Pronger from the day. I'd settle though for a classic Mark Tinordi at the deadline. Even a classic Joe Reekie or Bob Rouse. Even a Neil Sheehy.

Posted by: tominfl1 | October 7, 2009 7:48 AM | Report abuse

I do think the D was weak last night. And some of the penalty calls did go in the category of "lets pick on any Cap we see", so I think it was a combination of too many penalties (some of which I completely blame on the refs) AND some glaringly weak D. One time I saw Jurcina get the puck, and just shovel it towards the blue line weakly... right to a waiting Flyers player. Moves like that won't take us far.

Posted by: joeshred | October 7, 2009 7:55 AM | Report abuse

It was funny to hear how loud Philly fans boo when a Flyer gets kicked out of the faceoff circle....

Boy, those Flyers fans love to boo..angry bunch of goons...

Posted by: SA-Town | October 7, 2009 8:02 AM | Report abuse

For us Directv-ers, did the forwards backcheck?

Fanohock, you stomp on Erskine (maybe rightfully so) but in every sentence you mention Poti as well...I think Erskine stays in for his aggression and Poti sits...my opinion.

Also, as we can't get Versus, we do get NHL Network and the On The Fly show started at 8:00 pm so I was able to see score updates (alot of them as it turns out) and some "live look-ins" so at least thats something...

Posted by: NJNJ | October 7, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Man I hate the Penguins. Like I said to my buddy last year, "I hope they didn't break Varlamov like they broke Jim Carey". Now it really looks like they may have. I am not down on Varly, but we may need to give Neuvy a shot to steal that job this year and let Varly regain form and earn his way back into the nets from Hershey. Still too early to say, but I'd rather Varly play 50 games in Hershey than stink up the joint in DC. We also have to find a way to ship out the highly paid under performers like Poti and Nylander to make room for the Alzners and Carlssons of the world. Maybe Montreal will take Poti now that Markov is done for the next 4 months. Lots of Erskine bashing, but he isn't the problem. We need that toughness on the blue line. Tough loss but if we can figure out a way to get the organizations best players on the ice this will be a Presidents Teophy type of year. Varly needs the Major League Dorn ground ball training routine. No more of this ole BS! I kid because I love.

Posted by: DisgustedinArlington | October 7, 2009 8:09 AM | Report abuse

There's no discussing that game. The refs directing the whole fiasco. It wasn't even hockey. Worst 60 minutes I've ever seen in all the years I've watched hockey. I really need to get a copy of the new rule book because I'm confused at half the calls going both ways.

Posted by: cappies | October 7, 2009 8:18 AM | Report abuse

Believe me I am not defending Erskine, but here's how I saw the GWG. Theo in making the initial stop jammed his blocker into Erskine. Realizing he was interfering with his own goalie Erskine backed off and lost sight of the puck. And that gave Briere the space he needed to pop in the rebound.

I have issues with the Laich call and one other call (Clark?). But, a lot of the penalties (Boyd Gordon's hold in the corner) were legit and were the responsibility of the Caps.

And for those saying we need a Pronger. Would that be the same Pronger that turned the puck over twice when Ovechkin was on the ice?

Having said all of that I thought it was a great and entertaining game. I watched the game with my buddy who is a Flyers fan and in the 3rd when the Caps went up 5-4 I said "this game isn't over". In keeping with that sentiment this season series with the Flyers isn't over.

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | October 7, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Japer's assesment of Varly is right, but let's be honest... Isn't the plan against every goalie to get him moving laterally and shoot it high?

Posted by: griz0615 | October 7, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Protect the house when Philly comes back...We take 3 of 4 points from them, and get the upper hand.

Stay humble Caps...dont want our heads to get big too early..

Posted by: SA-Town | October 7, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Juice and Erskine made some costly plays, Briere should not have had a shot at the puck with Erskine next to him. Varley let in 2 bad one's and the refs got carried away. The goalie interference calls on Clarke and Laich were horrible. However, it sure is nice to see a top line produce the way they are. Best in the NHL since the Gretsky line. It would be nice to see some help from another line.

Posted by: tomdchancar | October 7, 2009 8:31 AM | Report abuse

@fanohock1

You're exactly right about Erskine. Still think Green is overrated. He needs to stop skating the puck up! He loses it EVERY time! Anyway, get rid of Erskine. He had two penalties and was responsible for two different goals while he was on the ice (screened Varly on one goal and Briere was his man for the game winning goal). He's a waste of space with no talent, besides deflecting in goals for the opposing team

Posted by: JD09 | October 7, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

@whsqb10
Hey thanks for the link it worked had a few instances of buffering that periodically froze the game but all in all it worked and got to watch the game. In case the VS and DirecTV thing are not resolved soon here is the site that he gave yesterday.

atdhe.net

I will take a point against a good team in thier home opener on the road...

Posted by: DBnMD | October 7, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

The Varly experiment is over. Last three games (going back to last season), he's got something like a 4 GAA(maybe higher?). Should have resigned Johnson, or signed someone else. I hope Theo has monster year.

Posted by: kkd76 | October 7, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

*Scoring Update:

Backstrom just rolled out of bed and picked up another assist.

Posted by: NFeKPo | October 7, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

LOL...Apoologies for my grammar.

Posted by: DBnMD | October 7, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Apologies for my poor grammar!

Posted by: DBnMD | October 7, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Erskine was pretty much the same Erskine we've always seen. He can't play 2nd pair minutes.

Posted by: koalatek | October 7, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Varly will be fine. That game was a circus match. I'm just still waiting to see us crash the net and park a man in front the way they do.

Posted by: cappies | October 7, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe I'm saying this but Schultz and Morrisson played fairly well last night. I thought Poti played like crap. I hope he realizes you can clear guys out of the crease. Briere is a half a foot shorter. Danny should have been on his a$$.

Posted by: jake81 | October 7, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Poti and Erskine were mentioned in the same sentence because they were partners last night. Again, Poti was out there with others during PK because he was on the ice for 1 1/2 mins more of PK time. However, when the PP goals were scored, it was when Erskine was out there at the same time.

Forwards backchecking didn't seem to be an issue. Only the goal where Varly mishandled a pop fly was a Flyer in uncontested. The players assumed, rightly so, that it would be an easy catch and a defensive zone face-off since Richards was flying in towards Varly.

Again, Erskine had made the most bonehead mistakes before last night's game, and last night, well, it didn't go well.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 7, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Varly has two problems.
1 - Fix that glove hand. Someone needs throw a baseball at him repeatedly.

2 - He comes out too far. I thought smaller goalies go out to cut off the angle but Varly is big. Look at Lundquist, man doesn't venture a foot away from goal.

If he can fix these problems, which am i sure he can, he will be a beast.

Posted by: NFeKPo | October 7, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Varly has two problems.
1 - Fix that glove hand. Someone needs to throw a baseball at him repeatedly.

2 - He comes out too far. I thought smaller goalies go out to cut off the angle but Varly is big. Look at Lundquist, man doesn't venture a foot away from goal.

If he can fix these problems, which am i sure he can, he will be a beast.

Posted by: NFeKPo | October 7, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

I'm partial to whoever called our top line the "megapowers" line. Good times.

Posted by: superpaqman | October 7, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

It wasn't just Green who was trying to skate the puck into the O zone and turning it over, it was a lot a guys. We saw this last year if you stack the blue line the Caps still try to skate the puck in, they don't like dump and chase hockey.
All in all it was certainly an exciting game and Caps could have (should have?) won it, but it was their 3rd home opener this season and those are tough games to win especially in cities like Boston and Philly.
It looks like the biggest weakness is the same as last year, the team plays its worst in the big hype games. Maybe they need an assistant coach for psychology.

Posted by: ds_kelly | October 7, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

It all started on that TERRIBLE call on Laich...he was PUSHED! But, either way I guess it's better we got 1 point instead of 0.

Posted by: NatyBG | October 7, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Glad we took a point on the road against a good team. Philly was flying in the first and we were fortunate to come out even from that period. Varly did fine then.

We played a sloppy game. So sorry to see our giveaway total back to 08-09 territory. Semin was absolutely horrid giving away the puck in the 3rd. Too bad after such a beautiful offensive show.

Sorry to see us get outhit so -- we were credited with 11 to the flyers' 21.

Bad calls, but we were an undisciplined club last night.

Our first D pair were great; our last did fine. Erskine/Poti are candidates to sit against the Rags or Wings.

Posted by: Sonyask | October 7, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Also...is Neuvy all healed up? I think BB should give him a shot, he looked so good in Hershey during the playoffs. I no the A can't be compared to the show, but he deserves a chance! This will give Varly a chance to get his game together. Anyway we could do the same with Green?

Posted by: NatyBG | October 7, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, a lot of guys did try to skate the puck in, but they play offense, Green doesn't. He loses it every time and forces an offensive player to stay back. I've never seen Green successfully skate the puck up, dangle around players, and score a goal. I do think he dreams about it every night, though. I'm grateful that we aren't a dump and chase team. That makes us more fun too watch. But Green needs to stay on defense.

Posted by: JD09 | October 7, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Also...is Neuvy all healed up? I think BB should give him a shot, he looked so good in Hershey during the playoffs. I no the A can't be compared to the show, but he deserves a chance! This will give Varly a chance to get his game together. Any way we could do the same with Green? He needs to get his game together as well and we should give Alzner a chance!

Posted by: NatyBG | October 7, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Know, not no...it is still early!

Posted by: NatyBG | October 7, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

@NatyBG - you want to send Green to Hershey and bring Alzner up? Sorry, but that is simply not happening.

In fact, I don't think we'll see anyone go down so Alzner can come up for some time, barring > 1 injuries.

Posted by: Sonyask | October 7, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Issues:

My biggest irritation on the game last night was not the refs but with the Caps.

There was no speed across the blue line on the PP. We're a speed team. No speed, no PP. That was also a factor on 5-5 situations as well.

Turnovers were ridiculous! Semin had 3 in ONE SHIFT! Passed right to the Flyers guys. He made up for it, but dayum! There wasn't a player out there that didn't do something similar though not to that extent.

I'm sorry IRTR, but Schultz won't hit anyone. Best I saw him do is press a guy into the corner. If he wants to stay in the Bigs, he'd better start using that size of his.

Posted by: Greg S. | October 7, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Good point, and teams like Philly will be able to stack the blue line to keep us out, as well as anyone who runs the trap well, however the team I think will start to adapt more to this in the future (why, probably wishful thinking). Also I was pretty pleased with some of the cycling that went on during the first 2 periods

Posted by: superpaqman | October 7, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

A game with problems and I hated seeing the Flyers win with Briere scoring - hated it. Some guys played great last night, others not so much. It's 82 games and I'm not worried about much right now.

That said, regardless of the outcome, that was some awesome hockey. Unbelieveable game to watch.

I think Nicky just racked another assist.

See you guys home on Thursday.

Posted by: saintex | October 7, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry IRTR, but Schultz won't hit anyone. Best I saw him do is press a guy into the corner. If he wants to stay in the Bigs, he'd better start using that size of his.

Posted by: Greg S. | October 7, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse


Or he can hit people and be on the ice for 5 goals a night.

Posted by: Section117 | October 7, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

It was an exciting game...could have gone either way. No one person is responsible.

The NHL HAS to address the interference calls. We got two of them when our players were clearly checked/pushed into Emery. Those were both rediculous calls. On the one on Laich you could
hear him scream on the ice (as they had a close up of him), "you got to be f #%£ing kidding me!!!"

Posted by: SkinsFanInNYC | October 7, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

A great game and only the third of the season but all that some of you can look for is who to blame for the lose?

Hang Varly, hang Schultz, hang Erskine, blah, blah. Give it a rest. The Caps played a very good team, one that is on the same level with them, in a very exciting game and they lost, no shame on that, the game could have gone either way.

I am beginning to think these people don't enjoy hockey as much as they enjoy grumbling.

Posted by: hock1 | October 7, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

OK, I know this forum is for opinions but you Green bashers are just being stupid. You've never seem him dangle and go around people and score. Are you high? Where were you last year. Where were you when he made the curl and drag, and pass off the boards to himself in the neutral zone, and then made one move at the Philly blueline and created a 2 on 1? They didn't score but he passed it and Emery made his best glove save of the night.

The Caps lost last night but to claim that Green had a bad game, and imply it is somewhat his fault is simply idiotic.

He was on the ice for 3:54 of PK time which resulted in ZERO PP goals for the Flyers. He totaled over 28 mins in which he was on the ice for a grand total of 1 goal against. He had an assist, and was a +2. So quick to blame the guy with the best defensive stats. Erskine is the weak link. Physical presence? Yeah, the one of the smallest guys in the league scored a goal, without being touched, and it was Erskine's man.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 7, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

jake81: I went back and replayed the final minute. There were two Flyers down low, one at each post. On Theo's right post, Poti can clearly be seen forcing his man behind the goal line. Not interference - just playing the man properly out of the play. Erskine though had his back turned on the play and was looking down at the ice (for the puck) as Briere slipped in and went top shelf with the Cindyesque tap in for the winner.

I've seen Jurcina do this too - fumble the puck and then look down for it rather than keep the opposing player away from a tap in goal. I'm not a pro hockey player but I'd think defenseman are taught (and I've read BB's quotes when Jurcina did this in the past) not to let the man go free right in front of the goal for any purpose.

Erskine simply failed to make a proper, fundamental play. It's just like a tackle missing his block and allowing a sack or the pitcher not covering the bag on a tapper to first base. There's no excuse at the pro level for failure to execute a fundamental play.

I'm not ranting at you - I just wanted a win.

Posted by: tominfl1 | October 7, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Once Thomas returns, all systems will be go..all will be right in the world...

Get ready for a Czech invasion...

Posted by: SA-Town | October 7, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Section117: Agree with you on Schultz. The man played over 15 minutes and a few minutes of the PK and was on the ice for ZERO goals against. The loss was in no way, shape, or form, his fault. Find another target Schultz and Green haters.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 7, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Love Em, hate Em, I don't care. God, I loved this Game!

Scoring! Turnovers! Hits! Excitement!

Give it up people. They are what they are.

GO Cardiac Caps!

Posted by: jdhoover | October 7, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

hock1: I love hockey, I love the Caps and I loved the game. I'm not even complaining about the refs. I'm just pointing out a significant obstacle that might well keep the Caps from hoisting the Cup.

Last year before the deadline everyone was almost unanimous here that the Caps needed a crease clearer for the Playoffs. Didn't get one, nor did we get Billy Guerin who went for a #3 pick. Add Guerin to the Caps or that crease clearer and maybe last year we get by the Pens. But, due to no cap room, no deal.

By pointing out this weakness and expressing the hope that it doesn't happen again this yera - does that make me a "bad" fan of the team?

I hope not.

But....I've beaten this to death now.

Posted by: tominfl1 | October 7, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

@hock1 - That pretty much sums up how I feel. It's way too early to be running around like Chicken Little here, people. To pick up a point on the road in a place like Philly, and in their home opener no less, is still positive. Yes, a win would have been better, and yes, we need to work on shoring up our defense and not taking dumb penalties, but it's early in the season and I'm sure the coaches and players know what they need to work on.

Posted by: hillg | October 7, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

I keep on hearing how great of a game it was last night. I'll have to disagree. I think the Caps played pretty poorly all around, but it's relieving to see them score 5 goals on an off night. Backstrom was hot, though. What was that??? oh, just Backstrom with another assist.

If Backstrom played for any other team, he would be their number one player. The guy could play the game with his eyes closed and still rack up three assist. Did anyone see him put Hartnell on his a$$! that was the best part of the game.

Posted by: JD09 | October 7, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

@fanohock1

Thanks for proving my point and clarifying that he didnt score. I'm greatful for the assists and +2, but that doesn't make up for all the times he skates it up and loses it. Still waiting for an example of him skating up from the defensive zone, into the offensive zone and scoring.

Posted by: JD09 | October 7, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Luv Varly - but like I said before: goalies are like kickers or relief pitcher - fragile shelf life.

So glad we didn't cast JT aside.

Posted by: Rocc00 | October 7, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

@fanohock1

Thanks for proving my point and clarifying that he didnt score. I'm grateful for the assists and +2, but that doesn't make up for all the times he skates it up and loses it. Still waiting for an example of him skating up from the defensive zone, into the offensive zone and scoring.

Posted by: JD09 | October 7, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Backie had a giveaway or two also, but yes, he is a beast.

We played a very undisciplined game. We were outplayed entirely in the first. We were stood up at the blue line time and again and didn't seem to solve it consistently. We gave away the puck all night and garnered far too many penalties, poorly called or no. Our PP was not as strong and our PK all of a sudden gave up goals.

Yes I am very pleased we got a point in a hostile arena, but I think the fans here are reflective of what the club is telling the fans and the players; you are better than this. You are an elite team and elite teams don't play this way. This is just one game and you got a point on the road against an excellent team, but don't play like this again anytime soon.

Posted by: Sonyask | October 7, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

JD09: Everyone tries to say that Green need not worry about scoring and play defense. Well, last night he did that. He was only on the ice for 1 goal against in a goal fest. What the heck do you people want from him. Proved your point, how the heck did I prove your point? He scored 31 goals last season. When he was doing that you guys complained he wasn't taking care of the "D" zone. Last night he did, and to top it off him carrying the puck out of the zone even if it didn't result in a goal is a successful move. I'm done defending Green. All you Green haters can argue with the experts that say he is one of the most talented defenseman in the league. If you don't like him, that's your problem.

I only pointed out Erskine's shortcomings because the Green and Schultz bashers started coming out of the woodwork. Erskine is slow. He may hit hard, but it is usually a target that isn't moving.

I'm done. The Caps got a good point even though they have some things to work on. They didn't get outclassed yesterday shots were 36-31 I believe. Even at the end of regulation even though they had 5 more penalties.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 7, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

WOW... we are 3 games into the season and have 5 of 6 possible points with 2 games being on the road against 2 of the top 4 teams in the East in their HOME OPENERS. A lot of you guys are very quick to play the blame game. I think maybe you should sit back, relax and let our TEAM do the fixing. We have a lot of GM's in here. Most of you seem to forget where we have come from in the past 3-4 years. Quit whining, and start enjoying a team that is actually winning for you guys. We are being spoiled by a great team and if you didn't realize, the season is 82 games long. An overtime loss in Philly's home opener isn't the end of the world. Get it together and get your panties out of a bunch. Rediculous, to you fans who are already bashing...

Posted by: GOAT21 | October 7, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Same issues as last year...bad and too many penalties...inconsistant goaltending...aweful defense...nobody clearing the crease. A fun game to watch, but some concern if these issues do not get addressed...these are the problems that will keep us from a Cup. Boy, wouldn't Pronger look good in Rd, Wt and Blue clearing out Briere so he couldn't whack the puck 3 x in OT? Erskine did not play well and Poti has a knack for scoring goals off his legs- skates-sticks for the opposing teams.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | October 7, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Also keep hearing we were outplayed in the first. Shots were 14-11 and the Flyers never had an initial 5 minute surge like you'd expect in a home opener. I must be going F'in crazy here and watched a different game. In the 1st I recall the Flyers coming down, usually 2 on 2, or 3 on 3, getting a shot off, and an easy out for the Caps. The only sustained pressure for them was on the PP. The Caps on the other hand had sustained pressure while at even strength.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 7, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Section117: Agree with you on Schultz. The man played over 15 minutes and a few minutes of the PK and was on the ice for ZERO goals against. The loss was in no way, shape, or form, his fault. Find another target Schultz and Green haters.

Posted by: fanohock1

I didn't say it was his fault that we lost. Not in the least. Juice and ShaMo were physical and ended up in the +. Don't begin to tell me that being a physical presence means you'll be a - skater.

It was way too easy to get into our zone and stay there.

Posted by: Greg S. | October 7, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

@fanohock1

Good point about the 1st period. I thought it was the best of the game. Very little mistakes by both teams. It was solid hockey, that's why there weren't any goals scored. It was back and forth hockey and fast. That's what I like to see.

I let the Green argument go, because we'll continue to disagree. But, for the record, I'm not a Green hater. Just think he's still young and has a lot to learn about defense. He only has time to get better.

Posted by: JD09 | October 7, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

The referees are under specific instruction to call goaltender interference when they see it. As I have stated, the rule says:

Goals should be disallowed only if: (1) an attacking player, either by his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal; or (2) an attacking player initiates intentional or deliberate contact with a goalkeeper, inside or outside of his goal crease. Incidental contact with a goalkeeper will be permitted, and resulting goals allowed, when such contact is initiated outside of the goal crease, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact. The rule will be enforced exclusively in accordance with the on-ice judgment of the Referee(s), and not by means of video replay or review.

It's the "reasonable effort" part that the referees are missing. If Player A (we'll say Ovechkin) is skating at the goalie, and gets hit, and ends up hitting the goalie, even if he could have stopped if he hadn't been hit, and even if the hit caused him to hit the goalie, the problem becomes, "did he try to stop?" and the answer is, "what did the referee see?"

If the referee sees a guy skating at the crease and running into the goalie, he will probably, under the new direction, call goaltender interference nine times out of ten.

As for the holding call on Boyd Gordon that allowed the tying goal to be scored: I consider that weak.

What I saw was that Gordon was checked. Gordon was falling, and grabbed his opponent's jersey briefly on his way to the ice.

54.2 Minor Penalty - A minor penalty shall be imposed on a player or goalkeeper who holds an opponent by using his hands, arms or legs.

Did he hold under this rule? Technically, yes, but he let go. I think it was a weak call. I don't think he restrained his opponent. And he clearly didn't think so either, if you read his lips and the bad words that came out of his mouth when he got called.

Posted by: irockthered | October 7, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

am i the only one still calling for Semin on the 2nd line and Knuble on the 1st with OV and Backstrom? I realize semin, ov and backstrom is a ridiculous line and has been working, but if you put semin on the 2nd line you know have two great lines instead of 1. Knuble will dominate on that line with OV shooting 500 times and he knocking in 30 to 40 rebounds.

Anyone else agree?

Posted by: capsfansince74 | October 7, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

1) don't blame all D issues on D-men. Forwards have a role too and they weren't towing their weight (ex. Richards skating through the slot untouched = goal).

2) i think the "track meet" as Coach Stevens called it gassed everyone on the ice leading to sloppy play / penalities on the part of the Caps (i.e., leading to goals). Bouds is going to have to come up with something besides constant run and gun.

3) HAVE to clear the puck. it became less and less frequent as the game progressed.

4) Pronger sucked.

5) Green looked confused for a good part of the night.

6) the goalies interference calls were suspect, but by and large the Caps deserved the penalties they served.

7) it is the third game of the season peeps.

Posted by: doughless | October 7, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

@GOAT21 - Amen! Yes, we've got some things to work on, but there's no cause for panic or dismay just yet.

Posted by: hillg | October 7, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

i would like to see Knuble alternate on top line.

Posted by: doughless | October 7, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

One last thing fellow Caps fans. This morning has been kind of an ironic turn of events. I have been accused on many occasions of being a homer, now I'm being accused of not being happy that I have a great team to watch. Probably does seem that way considering some of my posts this morning. I am happy with a point out of Philly during their home opener. Much better outcome than the early visit last year, 7-2 I think. Anyhow, the sky isn't falling.

Tough little road ahead. NYR, Detroit, NJ, and then San Jose. Let's Go Caps!!!

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 7, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

81-0-1....anything less is a failure.

Posted by: SA-Town | October 7, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

SA-Town

Damned straight! :)

I know we'll lose games, but I hate losing winable ones against the Pens, Flyers, Boston and Rags. First 2 above the others.

Posted by: Greg S. | October 7, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Not blaming the refs here, but twice we got called for interference when our players were clearly pushed/checked into the goalie. It was clear as day. NHL has to prep these refs better for that call...

Posted by: SkinsFanInNYC | October 7, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I am sure we will see Knuble on the top line this season. BB always changes around his lines. Probably just holding him back until he gets his feet underneath him. Personally i would rather see Laich on the first line and move Semin to the 2nd with Knuble.

Posted by: NFeKPo | October 7, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

How about that donk-face in an Orange Rubber suit last night?...People like need to be in Guantanamo...

Posted by: SA-Town | October 7, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

@Goat21: Despite my overall assessment as a sloppy game, I agree with you that it was great to steal a point from a great team esp. their home opener; we can expect some OTL's and might even lose a game this season(!)

@fanohock1: I thought the Caps were uninspired and the flyers far more inspired in the first, tho I will admit to not have paid undivided attention to that period. Obviously we did not get outscored.

Posted by: Sonyask | October 7, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

81-0-1....anything less is a failure.

Absolutely agree...season already ruined with the OT loss. Shut it down.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | October 7, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

doughless - not necessarily disagreeing with you, but the wording of your first point is pretty suspect.

Posted by: superpaqman | October 7, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Sorry counterintuitive would probably be a better word for what I was trying to get across.

Posted by: superpaqman | October 7, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

@ IRTR- Are you saying that if an offensive player is pushed into the goalie by a defender, but the referee failed to see the push, it's OK for the ref to call goalie interference? I thought that the ref's job was to be in position to see the play. Incompetence shouldn't be an excuse. It's not OK for the ref to fail to see what is happening on the ice.

Posted by: zmega | October 7, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Penalties, goaltending and D lost the game. I would like to know if we are back to the same problems that did us in last year. I really thought we had overcome them. The offense looks better and grittier but the rest look the same. Is there hope?

I am especially disappointed in the goaltending--which all news analysts say it will be our greatest obstacle to the cup. I really thought we had solved this problem. I see that Varly's biggest problem is that he gets rattled and, as Boudreau said, when he gets rattled he gives up and allows multiple goals. Case in point: game 7 vs. Pitts. I was surprised that Boudreau said very bluntly: "he cannot play on this level if he cannot get mental toughness." Soon goal scorers will know how to get under his skin. Can he get tougher and get there? I really don't know if it is a personality rather than skill-related problem. And Theo, no matter how much he improves, will never get my confidence as the consistent goalie who will get us to the Cup.

It is way to early, but I wonder if they will start looking gor another #1 goaltender for next year, at least until the Hershey goalies mature and prove themsleves.

As for the penalties!..... I don't get it. How do you make a team take fewer penalties?

Posted by: caraveli | October 7, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

I like the idea of the 8-19-28 line when there is clearly a lockdown defensive line on the other team - BB knew Pronger would on the ice with AO every shift, particularly on the road, and if he rolls the 8-19-28 line then Pronger and his mate can't just ride roughshod on AO. He did the same thing in Boston with Chara - Chara can be out there every shift with AO but if Semin is there it's a pick your poison proposition. I suspect that when there's not a top-flight "AO" D-man on the other team then we'll see more of Knuble on the 1st line and Semin on the second stretching the rest of the defensive pairings.

Posted by: saintex | October 7, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

did anyone notice that Laich was taking the faceoffs on the powerplay, and in the offensive zone? I didn't understand this. Why wouldn't we have Backstrom, who's great at the faceoff, taking it? Were we trying to set up a particular play?

Posted by: JD09 | October 7, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

@Sonyask:

Obviously the statement was a joke, I was just jokingly pointing out that Green's play has been a bit lack-luster so far and I would like to see more out of him. I am well aware they aren't going to send Green to Hershey.

Posted by: NatyBG | October 7, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

thats a good point saintex, but so far we have seen the ov semin backstrom line for all three games. Lets get Knuble up there and watch him put up insane numbers. Knuble and Laich on line 2 seems ridiculous since they play a similar style of game. More balance means its harder to shut this team down.

Not upset at the first 3 games, but really excited to see that damn line!

Posted by: capsfansince74 | October 7, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I'm a Rangers fan so I'll give you the neutral evaluation after watching the game last night. First, one of the Refs (Auger) worked the Rangers-Devil game the night before and also called a lot of penalties that were marginal at best. That being said, I think he called too many on both sides. I was struck by the discipline of the Flyers in not taking too penalties just for the heck of it, like they have in the past. They used their size and strength very well against the Caps and that forced the Caps to take some penalties in attempts to maintain control in their own end.

Varlamov needs to work on his one glaring deficiency big time. The book is out on him and skill teams are going to work to beat him every time until he clears up his issues. I believe he can improve but until then, Theodore has to be the #1 or the kid's confidence is going to be hit hard.

The Caps D needs to work to be more physical without taking penalties because the more they allow the opposing team into the slot, the more they are going to be able put the puck in the net, particularly on Varly.

I think the decision to not have a big fighter on the team is a mistake. I know all the talk about the new NHL, etc but I think you need a guy on the 4th line that is going to put fear into the other team. The Leperrierre signing by the Flyers was a great pickup but if he was signed by the Caps, it would have been genius. The new NHL isn't about not fighting, its about having a guy who can fight and isn't a liability either. Leperrierre is a guy you can work up and down the line up as the situation calls for it, so that in a chippy game, you can have him available immediately to protect skill players. The caps don't really have that guy anymore (you can have Brashear back if you want him)

The key to your cup hopes isn't Ovie as much as it is Semin and Backstrom. The more they develop, the more they will force teams to not focus on Ovie. Neither is at the Malkin level yet of taking pressure off of Crosby, but they have that ability. The D is also a bit weak and should be addressed. If I were McPhee, I'd move some talent at Hershey to get a bona fide 2 way defenseman. Using my own team as an example, if you had a Mark Staal type, that could be matched up on a team's #1 line every night, it would be big. Green is a great power play quarterback but I wouldn't necessarily trust him with that kind of important defensive assignment.

Posted by: JK111 | October 7, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

oh yeah, let's go 'yotes. They play the Pens tonight and it is being aired on the NHL network.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 7, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

@jk111

thanks for your post...

Maybe we'll insert Nylander to rough up Brashear a little bit on Thursday...

Michael "Dirty Nylz" Nylander's got the foil ready.

Posted by: SA-Town | October 7, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

So what's going on Kettler? It would be interesting to see BB's D pairings.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 7, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

SA-Town, I fondly remember Nylander's hat trick for my Rangers in the 2006 playoffs. Its an unfortunate situation he's in down here but the truth is he was already in a decline when he was signed and coming off an injury....but considering my GM's track record, I can't be too critical

Posted by: JK111 | October 7, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

As someone mentioned above, one of the best moments of the game was Backs hitting Hartnell and Pronger hard on the same shift! I think Hartnell ended up on his ass.

Posted by: Andoy | October 7, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

only the third game - I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt - but still seeing the same trends.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | October 7, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

I'm wondering how much of the SOB line is because Ovechkin and Semin want to play on the same line. As long as they're scoring, BB isn't going to split them up. I think more than half of our goals so far have come with both Ovechkin and Semin on the ice.

I agree that we might be more dangerous with them on separate lines, but you can't get much more dangerous than 5 goals a night.

Posted by: Raber | October 7, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the Caps goalies should adopt the mindset of Kelly Hrudey circa 1992. Which is: let in 4 but still win and still have a save percentage around .90 since the opponents get 60 shots a game. The Kings made it to finals (where they lost...)

The Caps are not a defensive team. That's ok. The goalies need to be ok with a GAA over 3 and not have it shake thier confidence, because that's where its going to be.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | October 7, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

JK111:

Very lucid, balanced and well argued post. Thanks. I think you put your finger on the D problems and our penalty-prone play when you said: "The Caps D needs to work to be more physical without taking penalties." The contrast you drew between Caps and Flyers on that regard was very helpful.

I am curious what you see as the glaring deficiency in Varly. To me it is a certain emotional fragility and lack of mental toughness that can cause unexpected "melt-downs" -- sometimes at critical junctures. I also have not seen him bounce back and regain his composure after soft goals. I just don't know if he will be able to remedy this.

I don't mean to offend Rachel, but I wasn't that impressed with Neuvy when he played for the Caps. He may have made huge changes since then and I would really like to see him play a few games. As of right now, my sense is that we have not solved the goal tending problem yet.

Posted by: caraveli | October 7, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

@zmega - No, I'm not saying incompetence is OK. What I am saying is that the referees are human, and sometimes, what WE see is not what THEY see.

We have the benefit of cameras, angles, replays - even in the Verizon Center at a home game, our PoV is not the same as theirs.

Have you ever seen something one way and had someone else see it another?

I'm not saying it's OK. Far from it. I think that the referees need additional training in how to call goaltender interference and what-have-you, and according to whassizname the VP of Hockey Operations, they are supposedly getting it, but I don't see it happening.

It is, however, only three games into the season. The referees are still learning too, and our players are still learning how this "new" (not new, just more enforced) penalty is being called.

Personally, since the last two seasons, we have had players in the playoffs get away with interfering with our goalkeeper, and lost the game in question, I'm good with them calling it harder, as long as it's even.

@JK111 - The problem the Capitals have with buying another player is just that: cap space. With Michael ("No Movement Clause") Nylander's contract eating a HUGE chunk of our cap space, and him being an overglorified bench warmer while we try to move him somewhere - ANYwhere - we simply do not have the money, and GMGM is right not to trade away our future for a one-shot chance now.

The Capitals will be contenders for the Cup for years to come, with smart management. Trading away what the other teams want to give ourselves an aging blueliner with playoff experience is not smart management; GMGM (General Manager George McPhee) understands this, and won't trade Varlamov, Carlson, Alzner, etc. for a Chris Pronger type who is nearing the end of his career.

Posted by: irockthered | October 7, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

JK111: Thaniks for some objective insight. I pretty much agree with everything you said except I'm not sold on the "enforcer." Now, a guy who can fight and play, yes, but they aren't cheap or readily available. That said, a player such as that could be a deadline acquisition. Varly has looked shaky but it's hard to judge on two games. Some want to send him back down to Hershey, and that might be premature. Let's see what new goalie coach Arturs Irbe can do first.

What do you want for Staal?

Posted by: tominfl1 | October 7, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

@caraveli - Neuvirth impressed the hell out of me last season. Did you SEE his GAA for the playoffs up in Hershey?!

I know, I know, AHL != NHL, but still. Dayam. The boy is GOOD. And he will give Varlamov a run for his money.

He is as cool as a cucumber between the pipes. He shakes it off if someone scores on him, and he has skill, and a damnfast glove hand. He doesn't flail out of position as often as Varlamov does, and he doesn't tend to let in "soft" goals.

Posted by: irockthered | October 7, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

IRTR, nice Java usage (Sorry in a intro to java programming class that is kicking my A$$)

Posted by: superpaqman | October 7, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

does anyone else think that picture at the top sort of look like a slap fight?

Posted by: superpaqman | October 7, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Make no mistake about this: Bad call on Laich. Good call on Clark...he clearly laid one on Flyer goalie, which is why BB was so pissed.

Posted by: CupNow | October 7, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Quick question. If the referees were in fact focusing on enforcing the goaltender interference rule, why the heck was Hartnall not called for running into our keeper and then knocking the net off. If it was deemed he was pushed into our keeper (which I believe is true), it was not different than Laich's or Clark's interference calls. They both made contact with Emery because of a push. Consistency is all I ask for in today's NHL. We were up 3-2 and pressing for another goal when Brooks was called. It was a momentum changer.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 7, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

@Irockthered: maybe we can get Nylander to fight. Two birds, one stone.

Kidding, kidding.

So question about Varly: is this defect a new development? I find it hard to believe that he couldn play at an elite level in Russia and in the AHL without someone noticing this before.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | October 7, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Why aren't there any updates today WaPo crew? I don't know for sure, but aren't the boys on the ice.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 7, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

fanohock1: I agree. It seems like last year the morning updates were done first thing and we'd get instant updates about practice.

Posted by: capsfan5 | October 7, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Refs - look there are plenty of times during a season and playoffs where refs are not going to see things etc and have a bad game. Great teams win anyway. We had a chance last night and we were in the game. It'll be interesting to see if the next game is won by us. We could've easily won this one but didn't due to 1 final fatal error.

D - the reason people are getting so upset is because it's the same thing as last year. I understand why BB wanted to make some changes but the D in the first 2 games wasn't bad at all. I especially disagreed with Pothier being out of the lineup. I think Poti and Erskine had a pretty rough night.

Varly - don't really know how to assess his game. He makes some really nice saves and then it seems he loses focus or something and is rattled easily. This is confusing b/c BB is on record as saying he's so calm it's like ice runs through his veins. He was certainly screened on a couple of goals so maybe it's frustration. He's probably back there saying "get the hell outta the way"! So the jury is still out with me on him. He is incredibly athletic. Whoever said the book on varly is to get him moving doesn't have a very good book on him. He moves post to post better than most veteran goalies. It's the glove hand side that gives him fits (ie. Richards 3rd goal).

I'm loving the Knuble and BMo signing. BMo is gonna be worth every penny of the 1.5M he signed for.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | October 7, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Caravel, I think its the high glove side for Varly. I think the announcers even said something about it during the game. The thing that impresses me the most about him is his excellent positioning. If you notice, when the Flyers gain the zone, he's set up perfectly to cut the angle and he has excellent fundamentals. He doesn't let up many soft goals because he knows how to be in position well.

My longest exposure watching him came in the Rangers series last year, so I'll use that as my point of reference. My Rangers last year had no offensive catalyst and not enough skill. The majority of shots Varly saw weren't elevated and the Rangers rarely camped out in front for second chances. Varly was unflappable because the Rangers played to his strengths. His superior positioning and solid fundamentals meant that he would make the saves he "should" make and most of the Rangers' shots were of those variety. Pittsburgh had enough skill to spot the weak high glove hand side and put pucks there. Arguably, even if the Rangers knew that vulnerability, they wouldn't have been able to hit that target consistently enough to exploit it, hence Varly's success. The Rangers goals were of the fluke variety last year off of screens, tips etc.

What I see is a weak high glove side and what looks like a small flaw in his side to side motion that creates a temporary vulnerability up high. I can't exactly put my finger on that part of it though.

Posted by: JK111 | October 7, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Tominfl1, I don't advocate a goon at all. I meant a guy with some "snarl" who can protect the marquis players and not take dumb penalties. I think its important particularly since Ovie has a very physical side to his game.

Posted by: JK111 | October 7, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

BB just on Mike Wise's radio show--very entertaining and candid as always. No revelations about last night's game or the Nyls (NMC) situation or anything like that, but lots of fun to listen to.

Posted by: wocoliz | October 7, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

nor did we get Billy Guerin who went for a #3 pick. Add Guerin to the Caps or that crease clearer and maybe last year we get by the Pens. But, due to no cap room, no deal.

Posted by: tominfl1 | October 7, 2009 10:04 AM

Actually, the Caps were unable to get Guerin due to the fact that they already had 50 pro contracts. The signing of (since departed) Staffan Kronwall used the last available contract. He was claimed on re-entry waivers from the Leafs in Feb. '09 at a time when the organizational depth on the 'D' line had taken quite a hit do to injuries/call-ups. McPhee addressed an immediate need, but without being able to pull off any other moves to get rid of a contract, the Caps were unable to bring Guerin in.

Posted by: MetalCapsFan | October 7, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

The Caps didnt practice until noon today thats why lack of updates. Via twitter Boyd Kane has been sent to Hershey, Tyler Sloan to play LW on the 4th line tomorrow night.

Posted by: ThePat | October 7, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

@oldtimehockey - The other thing I noticed is that Varlamov, in his first game at the NHL level, got his bacon saved by the post a LOT.

I am not saying he's no good; I am not saying he won't make it at the NHL level. But his luck was positively UNHOLY.

And when the luck runs out... if you hit him high on the glove side, the puck gets past him. He gets rattled, and the puck gets past him again.

The guy I see with ice water in his veins is Neuvirth.

Varlamov is good, but (as he is doing today), he needs to practice catching pucks. That's all.

Also, on record, I am totally in favor of putting Varlamov in last night. Better to find out the weakness in the third game of the season than some time in March! He has plenty of time to fix the problem.

Posted by: irockthered | October 7, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

On Defense - Bob Woods has been the D coach for how long?

Please. Three regular season games, and we're calling for the crucifixion of defensemen left and right?

Give me a break. And give Woodsy a chance!

Posted by: irockthered | October 7, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Don't really have time to read all the comments.

I'm not really gonna complain or be negative because we lost simply because that was one of the most entertaining hockey games I've ever seen and more than lived up to all the hype.

I don't like to blame the refs, but it seemed that they were determined to make us play shorthanded for the entire 2nd period.

I'm sure everyone's all over Varly already, but I'm gonna defend him once again. The only goal that's on him is Richard's third. The other 3 he can't be blamed for. The 3rd looked bad to me at first also, but upon seeing the replay it clearly deflected off our D skate right in front on him, so was a fluke. Not much he can do there. It either hits it or it doesn't. It didn't.

Semin's first goal was absolutely sick (Coburn is still looking for his pants) and the 2nd one was not too shabby either. I also loved how the big, scary, tough Pronger crapped his pants when he saw Ovie coming and coughed up the puck for Ovie's 2nd.

Posted by: ranndino | October 7, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Re: referees and (bad) calls...

At the beginning of every season, the refs are given the directive to enforce things by the book. As the season progresses, things usually settle down and there are less calls for marginal stuff (the "let the boys play" style of officiating). That said, a lack of consistency from ref to ref may still make it hard for players to know what a penalty is from night to night (as well as making the fans go insane). However, I'm sure that all teams have a book on each ref so the coaches can at least enlighten the players about tendencies of certain refs to call things a particular way (no different than pitchers being aware of different strike zones for various umpires in baseball). Whether the players choose to heed that advice is a different matter altogether.

Also, consider that there's a new sheriff in town for the current season. Long time NHL referee Terry Gregson took over as the Director of Officiating replacing Stephen Walkom, who had held the post since July 2004. His vision of the way games should be called, and regarding specific rules such as goaltender interference, may take some time for the on ice officals to implement in a somewhat consistent manner. FYI, Gregson will be a guest on NHL Live on XM Home Ice/NHL Network sometime between 12-2pm tomorrow, so tune in!

Posted by: MetalCapsFan | October 7, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Couple Questions:

About the game...the call on Erskine, to my eyes there was a delayed penalty, they scored, and we *still* had to kill a penalty...Was the high-sticking a separate call after the whistle? I heard something about a double minor? ...so you're telling me the ref decided 4-min when he *first* put his hand up, or he just thought "penalty!" and then "oh, go flyers! how can I still give them a power play, even though they just scored?" ...I'm just trying to understsand what I saw.
(Yes, I know, we've stated that the refs weren't so great last night)

And about the fans, just because we don't believe our team can walk on water, and we want to talk about where we saw weaknesses last night (which, given we lost, there were weaknesses) does that mean we hate our team, or think the sky is falling? (No)
No one is saying, that I can tell, "we only got 5 out of the first 6 possible points...No Stanley Cup for us." If Bruce was upset after the game, why should we be happy? Just because it wasn't the best showing, and we can recognize that, it doesn't mean we're whining and ungrateful and hate our team. (Also, by the very nature of opinions, there will be differing ones on this blog -- but for the most part we express these opinions because we *CARE* about our team.)
...I've been following the Caps for maybe 17 years, and there's always been something that wasn't perfect, and I'm just grateful how those 'problems' have changed over the years! And yeah, when we win the Cup, we probably won't be perfect -- so, celebrate, live it up, and come back the next season ready to work harder and improve MORE to win it again. No team has to be perfect to win the Cup, just better than the opposing team 16 nights in the Spring, which means there is always going to be room for improvement. Now is no different, there is room for improvement.
So, I ask, why are we jumping all over each other for sharing opinions and disappointments from last night? Can anyone honestly say that they are proud of everything the Caps did last night and hope they play that way every game for the rest of the season without change? (If so, do you believe they'd win the Cup playing that way, too?)

Posted by: DCTexan90 | October 7, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Irockthered, I read your comments about the post. My team's goalie (Lundqvist) also is saved by a lot of posts....but at some point I realized that goalies that have good positioning tend to be saved by the post a lot. Its just a theory, but if you're cutting off the angles properly, you force a lot of shots to the outside. A lot of times, shots that hit the post are a product of guys being too fine in their shot selection. I'd rather my goalie cover the net area then the posts, so if its getting behind him and clanking the post, it means they beat him in an area that he didn't need to be protecting. I'm not sure I explained it well, but do you understand what I'm trying to say?

Posted by: JK111 | October 7, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

JK111

Another excellent analysis, especially explaining Varly's success with the Rangers. Hope you keep posting.

Re: Varly: "What I see is a weak high glove side and what looks like a small flaw in his side to side motion..." I can see how these can be corrected with time and practice, but what do you think of his getting rattled--maybe giving up mentally--when he feels overwhelmed in some fashion? This is what is of concern to me. And Theo is not exactly a rock of stability and consistency.

Posted by: caraveli | October 7, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Quickly scanned the comments. Wow, I was right. Everyone is all over Varlamov. After 2 wide open games in which he allowed maybe 2 bad goals at the most. Unbelievable. Talk about jumping to ridiculous conclusions and completely losing perspective.

"Semyon Varlamov can't be blamed for all of the goals he allowed, but it's pretty clear that the book on him is exactly what we began to see in the Pittsburgh series last spring (if not earlier) - get him moving laterally and shoot high glove."

Yeah, that's a book on every goalie in the world. If you can get a goalie moving laterally and manage to hit the top corner at the same time that shot has a very good chance to go in on any goalie. It's just almost impossible to stop. The good news is that it's almost as hard to make that play, especially in the NHL.

Posted by: ranndino | October 7, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

did anyone notice that Laich was taking the faceoffs on the powerplay, and in the offensive zone? I didn't understand this. Why wouldn't we have Backstrom, who's great at the faceoff, taking it? Were we trying to set up a particular play?

Posted by: JD09 | October 7, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

only the third game - I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt - but still seeing the same trends.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | October 7, 2009 12:28 PM

i agree with lylewimbledon.
i didn't get to see the tor game but against bos and phi it seemed like they played the entire 60 minutes. losing because of a lack of effort is worse than losing because of mistakes. i'm willing to wait and see what woods and irbe can teach these guys. three games is not enough of a sample to see how the guys will respond to the new coaches.

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | October 7, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Backstrom's FO% has been less than stellar these first few games. Maybe just trying to get a fresh face in the circle? ...and if Brooks can win it, and get it to Backs -- he'll make a great pass to set up a goal.

Posted by: DCTexan90 | October 7, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

MetalCapsfan: Yes, Caps were maxed out at 50 contracts at last year's deadline. I guess I'm thinking McPhee could've swapped one of those guys for Guerin instead of the #3 pick Pitt gave up.

Posted by: tominfl1 | October 7, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Enough already with all this "we shouldn've gotten Pronger" bologna. He's overrated, getting long in the tooth and isn't that great in the new, fast paced NHL. On top of that he cost way too much, both in terms of what Anaheim wanted and the money (his contract takes him to when he'll be what, 72?). He stunk last night.

Like I said, I especially love it when he threw the puck away not wanting to get nailed by Ovie and it resulted in Ovie's 2nd goal. If that was one of our D who did that everyone would be screaming to trade him today.

Varlamov is fine. Should have left him in there and we would have probably won. I guarantee he got pulled because Boudreau thought that the 4th goal was his fault also which is what it looked like to the naked eye. As I explained above it wasn't. Deflection off a D skate totally changed the trajectory of the shot right in front of him and even he had no time to react. This is probably one of the first times I've disagreed with Boudreau. There's nothing worse for a young goalie's confidence than to get a quick hook, especially after a goal that he was helpless to stop. Theo didn't exactly do miracles when he came in and was the one who allowed goals 5 & 6 which cost us the win. Somehow no one is talking about that.

Posted by: ranndino | October 7, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Caravell, you guys have a good board here. I love hockey so even being a Rangers fan, I enjoy reading it. Our problem in NY is too many newspapers so that each one has a blog but there's no central blog like here. I have to chuckle at some people's sky is falling mentality about the Caps because its so early in the season and the Caps are one of the most talented teams in the league. I also understand some people being resistant to trading anyone but sometimes it is required for the team to be a stanley cup winner. My example, of course is the Rangers (sorry, its always my point of reference) in 1994. They had some incredible young talent in Doug Weight and Tony Amonte and were traded for Esa Tikkanen, Stephan Matteau and Brian Noonan. The Rangers wouldn't have won the cup without those 3 guys.

Now, I don't see Varly being rattled. This is a guy who went into some pretty intimidating buildings on the road last season and played well. You can't teach the the proverbial "ice water in the veins" thing but there is a reason why some players are able to elevate their games when its needed and others tank. Varly reminded me very much of Patrick Roy in the 1986 playoffs last year. Being a goalie is also about making adjustments though, and his necessary adjustment is the glove work. Lundqvist's work revolves around dropping down into the butterfly too early and getting beaten up high. Every goalie has their vulnerabilities. That being said, I think you prefer to discover your goalie's deficiencies in game #3 and work on it from there. Theodore is a very capable goaltender with a lot of experience. The Caps know that if they are going deep into the playoffs, its going to be on Varly's back, but they also are playing it well by bringing Varly along slowly. No need to wreck his confidence. As for last night, I put that more on the Caps D than Varly.

Posted by: JK111 | October 7, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

The best thing we could do with any money we get from Nylander contract is use it towards signing extensions for Backs and Semin.

Posted by: JD09 | October 7, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

On a separate note, the Bruins gave a $12 million over 3 years extension to Milan Lucic. Scratching my head. They ship out a 21-year old, highly skilled, very fast Kessel because they don't wanna give him $4 mil a year, yet give it to a glorified checker / goon? Everyone in Boston just loves sucking Lucic's you know what. Yeah, he can fight and hit, but so can a boatload of other guys in the league and they don't get paid $4 mil a season. He played on the first line with one of the best passers in the world, Savard and a guy who opened up a ton of space with his skating and what did he manage? 17 goals?

Posted by: ranndino | October 7, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

@tominfl1, I didn't mean to imply you, or anyone for that matter, was a bad fan, after all a fan is a fanatic who at times do no think clear because of their bias. I was just venting my frustration on the need for some people to destroy a player because of one or two bad plays, and, also, the fact that credit is never given for particular good plays by the opposition. Sometimes even the best player gets outplayed, give credit where it is due and don't make excuses for it (I am not referring to anyone in particular, but in general).
Yesterday I saw a very good game by two very good teams, I am sad we lost, but it could have gone either way. Our players have no reason to hang their heads low.

Posted by: hock1 | October 7, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Ranndino, Lucic is a beast and well worth the money. He's the future captain of that team and they would love to mold that team in his image. Numbers don't tell the story, he's a great 2 way player and is only 21.

Posted by: JK111 | October 7, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Kessel was apparently a locker room issue to boot.

Posted by: Section117 | October 7, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Varlamov may have gained valuable experience by playing so well in last year's playoff run just on raw talent alone, but Michal Neuvirth is probably more technically talented and mentally mature at this moment in time. I believe the Caps will allow Varlamov more time in the minors to correct his "kinks" and move Neuvirth up in the immediate future. The Caps got to see what stage of growth the 2 young goalies really are at now before they make a determination on Theodore for next year. I do see a difference in Theodore this year and expect him to carry the Capitals as far as he can take them. He looks hungry and determined, as if he understand that this might be his best chance to win a Stanley Cup.

Posted by: JohnWWW | October 8, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

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