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Boudreau: 'Ovi's got to create space for Ovi'

Morning Roundup

The Boston Bruins, and particularly towering 6-foot-9 defenseman and captain Zdeno Chara, have often made life a little more difficult for Alex Ovechkin. He's tallied 23 points in 21 career games against the Bruins and 19 points in 17 games during Chara's time in Boston.

"It's a challenge. Not just for me, but for everybody," Ovechkin said when asked about playing against Chara. "He's a top-five defenseman in the NHL. To make some hits and moves against him gives you some belief, some confidence. It's pretty hard to make a move against him, because if you make a move he's still going to catch you because his stick is long and he's tough."

On Tuesday night, when the Capitals met the Bruins for the first installment of this home-and-home series, it wasn't just Chara tasked with bottling up the two-time Hart Trophy winner.

When Chara wasn't on the ice against Ovechkin, the Bruins put out their top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton to bottle up the Capitals' top trio. Regardless of what strategies Coach Bruce Boudreau used to try to give Ovechkin more opportunities -- playing him on defense in the third, putting Alexander Semin alongside him and Nicklas Backstrom -- the Bruins had an answer. It was the first time this season Ovechkin failed to record a point, but he did have five shots on goal.

Thursday at TD Garden, Ovechkin and the Capitals have a chance to redeem themselves from the 3-1 loss earlier this week. But when it comes to finding ways to free up Ovechkin, Boudreau said that the only person who can really do that is Ovechkin himself.

"Ovi's got to create the space for Ovi. The team's not going to create it; that's his job," Boudreau said. "Ovi has had people on him for five years, and when he's playing at the top of his game he makes his own space. It's not a surprise that when we play that every team says, 'Let's cover him, let's not let him beat us.' He finds ways. He had a couple of chances yesterday, but Boston, give them credit, they did a good job."

FROM THE POST
The Capitals are still searching for their offensive groove early this season.

Dan Steinberg talked to Karl Alzner about what it's like to suffer a concussion and gets the inside scoop on DJ Stretch.

IN THE MINORS
Stanislav Galiev is happy to be representing Russia in the upcoming Super Series.

AROUND THE WEB
Everyone likes outtakes, and RMNB has Bruce Boudreau's from the Hadeed commercial.

Will it be Tim Thomas or Tuukka Rask in net for the Bruins tonight?

By Katie Carrera  | October 21, 2010; 8:52 AM ET
Categories:  Alex Ovechkin, Boston Bruins, Morning Roundup  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Caps not quite clicking on offense yet
Next: Semyon Varlamov off first, likely to start against Bruins

Comments

When Backie starts playing better life will get a bit easier for Ovie. When both players are on their game, teams learn pretty quick that can't put all their focus on #8.

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

@capscoach

Agree with you 100% but its not just Backie that needs to play better.

The whole second line center issue is becoming more and more of an issue.

Shout out to Section 115 !!!!!!!

DROP THE PUCK !!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: bqts | October 21, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Isn't the onus on BB as well? This is why people say OV's development will be hampered with BB in charge. Its not just up to OV, it's also up to his line mates, but more importantly, it's BB who has to help him, whether it's practice or through video. Its up to OV to execute when he's on the ice, but it seems like BB is absolving himself of any responsibility here. Look at Crosby, he's become a much more complete player, and he seems to be able to make space for himself, but not without help from his line mates, and more importantly, a great support system in his coaches and Mario.

Posted by: Fletch22 | October 21, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

SAOTI predicts: 5-2 Caps win tonight...Ovi with 2, Semin with 2, Fehr(perhaps Chim chim...5th goal is hazy) with 1.

@capscoach
You make a good point. Once Backs starts playing his A game, that line will be tearing it up in no time. One guy cant carry a line, the line has to be in sync. The rust will come off and the offense will come. Patience my young padewons.

For all the talk about Rypien, apparently the fans states that all he said was "Hey, way to be a professional there buddy." Which I think is pretty funny. A slight overreaction by Rypien, but I am sure the guy was a rage of emotion. People snap sometimes and if you are going to push buttons, be ready for someone to snap on you one day. I also heard he is hiring a lawyer and plans on suing for assault. Thats too far imo. Get some free tix/upgrades, some other fan perk and call it a day. It's not like the guy actually got beat down.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | October 21, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

@bqts

Many people don't believe me, but I really believe we will have a new defensman in the next 4-5 weeks, and a new 2nd line center by the trade deadline...although I think Johansen may actually do better on the 2nd line if given a chance. so MAYBE we will only need a new 3rd line center...again that is a big maybe.

you don't know the offenbackers by chance...they had/have season tickets in I believe 113...and they know a lot of the other season ticket holders.

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Backstrom seems to be entering that "notoriously slow starter" realm. He's been slow out of the gate in just about every season so far.

Posted by: chombie13 | October 21, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

@semin

the only reason to hire a lawyer for a little push like that is attention. I am not condoning what Rypien did by any means...he should get 10 games, but lets not pretend that he hurt the guy or even tried to hurt him. What a moronic fan.

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if BB will actually go through with his Semin-MaJo-Laich and ChimChim-Flash-Fehr experiment...or if he will stick with the status quo.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | October 21, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

@chombie

that actually makes me feel better! I didn't remember him having slow starts the past few seasons, so I was getting worried.

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

@capscoach

It's called easy money. I doubt its about attention. He knows he can make a quick bit of cash relatively effortlessly. He will get a small settlement to keep it low profile and handled quickly. My guess is like $10k ish.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | October 21, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

The caps have two very good centers at winning draws. I dont see why they are not given a shot at second line. All offense is started by winning those faceoffs and gaining possession of the puck. Look how many goals are scored off faceoff wins through out all of hockey.

Posted by: sporttraveler | October 21, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

The caps have two very good centers at winning draws. I dont see why they are not given a shot at second line. All offense is started by winning those faceoffs and gaining possession of the puck. Look how many goals are scored off faceoff wins through out all of hockey.

Posted by: sporttraveler | October 21, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

@sporttraveler

you are not seriously recommending giving steckel a shot at 2nd line center are you?

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Ovi-Backs-Knuble
Fehr-MaJo-Semin
Hendricks-Laich-Bradley
Steckel-Gordon-Chimera

Posted by: Walle | October 21, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

@walle

I like it (except for the fact that we have never seen Laich play center so we have no clue if he would be better than flash, MaJo and Fehr might bring down Semins #s, and I feel bad putting Laich on the 3rd line) Also Bradley is stictly 4th line material...Chimera is good on the 3rd.

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

@walle

scratching flash?

Posted by: _stevo | October 21, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Rypein assaulted the fan. No question. If you were walking down the street and someone did that to you, would you find that illegal? Of course. It is clearly assault.

Now the fan didn't really suffer any damages so I don't see how he could get more than a few dollars out of it. Was the game in Vancouver? If so, U.S. law doesn't apply.

Posted by: sgm3 | October 21, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

@sgm3
If I were antagonizing someone and they pushed me...no I would not file assault charges. Again what he did was inexcusable and deserves a big suspension, but any legal action by the fan is ridiculous. He didn't punch him or hit him...in the heat of the moment he pushed a fan...that can not be tolerated in the league, but in the real world, it is nothing.

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

@capscoach

when has Brooks Laich played his best all around hockey over the last couple of years?

In my opinion it was two years ago in the playoffs when he was on the 3rd line with Steckel and Bradley. Brooks is the type of player you can put on any line and he will get his job done.

Im sure others have different opinions when hes been at his best. But him on the 3rd line is a perfect fit to me.

Posted by: ThePat | October 21, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

@Walle

Ovi-Backs-Knuble
Fehr-MaJo-Semin
Hendricks-Laich-Bradley
Steckel-Gordon-Chimera

Nice line combos. I've been hoping they would find a way to move Brads up to 3rd line to make better use of his skills. I like Fehr/ Semin too as that might mirror the success of OV/ Knuble.

Paging Bruce Boudreau.

I assume your thinking Flash for a solid D?

Paging GMGM

Posted by: congero | October 21, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

SAOTI,

That is a very bold prediction, 5 goals huh?? I think I will withhold my prediction until they announce who is starting in net for Boston. Thomas has been extremely good so far this year.

Posted by: PhilR | October 21, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

@capscoach

Im pretty sure they played Laich at center a few times last year (2C I believe, but he's not really a 2C). He could play 3C, but I bet they'd play Hendricks there over Laich.

Scratching Flash would be hilarious, but doubt it will happen. Our lines will look like this tonight...
Ovi-Backs-Knubs
Semin-MaJo-Laich
ChimChim-Flash-Fehr
King-Stecks-Hendricks

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | October 21, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

@sgm3

just watched the incident again and it was a little worse than I remembered...the fan was just clapping that he got kicked out. I still thin legal action on the fans part is overkill.

@semin

putting Laich on the 2rd line isn't really a big deal...I just like him. My real concern is diminished production for Semin, and Bradley while I love him...is NOT 3rd line material.

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

So this is a bit off subject, but perhaps some of the experts here can add in. Chances are its a moot point bc BB will never change his system. It seems that most teams are taking their cues from the Canadien's when playing the caps this season. Leaving 3 to 4 men back, clogging up the middle of the ice/net preventing rebounds etc. This is an effort to keep the caps from scoring, but it also keeps their offense down as well. IF the caps were to go to this type of system as well...primarily keeping one or 2 men high all the time/playing a trap of some sort, would other teams have to adapt to develop more offense against the caps. It's not like we've been letting in a ton of goals this season and I'd like to think at some point we'd get the rare odd man rush or two when their system breaks down. You have to assume our snipers are better than the other team's and will capitalize more. The results will be boring, but hypothetically speaking, would this be a way for the caps to play these teams that insist on playing this trap/clog the middle style hockey on the caps. Lots of 1-0, 2-1 games, but it might the other teams consider changing their strategy as well. As mentioned though, as long as BB is around, this will never happen.

Posted by: chatton | October 21, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

@PhilR

Yeah, 5 isnt too high for our boys no matter who the goalie is. Semin has been on the cusp of a huge multi-goal game and we all know that when Ovi is in a small dry spell, he explodes out of it. I am thinking tonights game will be that "Perfect Storm" type game...where all the storms collide and form one super storm, with storms being metaphors for Ovi and Semin and the super storm being a goal scoring frenzy. BRING THE THUNDER BABY.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | October 21, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

@chatton

u r right that teams have learned we struggle when they clog up the middle, but why should we do the same when our GAA is like 2.24 or something like that...we are overall not letting in a lot and we held Boston to 21 SOG on tuesday.

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

@capscoach

I'm not saying the fan should pursue charges. I'm just saying that it was clearly assault by Rypein and the fan has the right to file charges if he so desires. Personally, I wouldn't do anything. But to each his own, and the fan has the right to do so. If Rypein didn't want assault charges filed against him then he shouldn't have assaulted the fan. The only person to blame for this is Rypein.

If you tell someone "way to be a professional" that, in no way, gives them the right to assault you. Provocation doesn't matter unless it is threatening. The fans' actions were clearly not threatening. Hurt feelings is never allowed as a reason to assault somebody.

Posted by: sgm3 | October 21, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Why does everyone think the Canadiens exposed something??? The teams with less offensive talent have been implementing the trap as a game plan, regardless of who they play, since NJ perfected by in the early 90s.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 21, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Flush will not be scratched in the regular season by BB because he is one of BB's boys. I was shocked that he was scratched in game 7 last year but I think GMGM and Ted may have forced his hand on that one.

Posted by: PhilR | October 21, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

@sgm3

I agree

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

@ SAOTI

Like you lines but 3rd would be even faster on the break aways and the coverind D with Stecks. Can I please be the one to Flush his way to the hotdog stand :)

@ Capscoach

Can't say I know them. I too think that Brooks makes a good center.

Now I am going to stir the pot alittle :)
So 2 years ago we had this older guy, I will say before anyone else says it, he was getting a little slow on his skates but in fairness he still probably skates better than half of our team.
I will also say he wasn't worth the money he was rumored to want(4mil I believe)

With all of that said, he is and was an outstand 2 way forward, won the silkie before he ever won a cup and I don't have numbers but his face off % was probably alot better than Flush.

So with all of GMGM'splanning because of these kids coming up guess this is one he might, I did say might want to have back but again I say not for the money that was said to be wanted.

Posted by: bqts | October 21, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Main problems with the offense -
1. No Green to start the offense by getting the puck cleanly out of the defensive end.
2. PP not functioning effectively (yet).
3. Backstrom has to take too many defensive zone face-offs, because the team can't trust the 2C and 3C to win a key face-off. So Backstrom spends less time in the offensive zone.
4. The Habs gave the league a roadmap of how to stop the Caps (by clogging up the middle) and the Caps haven't figured out (yet) how to overcome that.

Posted by: zmega | October 21, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Flush will not be scratched in the regular season by BB because he is one of BB's boys. I was shocked that he was scratched in game 7 last year but I think GMGM and Ted may have forced his hand on that one.

Posted by: PhilR |

Do you know BB GMGM or Ted? didn't think so...lets stop pretending we know what is going on in their heads...this is not playground kickball...BB may like certain players,but he plays who he thinks will help the team. 2 years ago we ALL were peeved at BB for continuing to play schultz...we all thought he was terrible and had virtually no potential...well we were wrong and BB and GMGM were right. They developed him and despite the fact that he is not physical, he is very good, and I think we got the better end of the deal with his new contract. BB knows he has to win and he is under the microscope this season...he will not let personal feelings get in the way of doing what he thinks is right for the team.

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

@zmega

U R right about montreal...but we have an entire season to figure out how to play it as opposed to last year where other teams had all season to figure out us.

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

@hunterforcoach (from previous thread)

agreed that Ovie and Semin need more coaching support to reach their potential. I think Federov was more open-minded - wasn't quite such the superstar that Gr8 was, so early.

I think #28 HAS been playing fairly good D and seems to be winning the puck quite often along the boards. He actually has some half-board technique (a la Crosby and Datsyuk) that the rest of the team seems to lack. It looks like theirs technique involved - not just guts and "heart" - and Semin knows it or executes it. For one thing, he doesn't stop moving his feet. But he needs to be much more cognizant of the big picture and thus when he needs to make sure to finish his check and maybe also when he needs to disentangle. Semin can be a top, top player and he's pretty good now.

Posted by: RedLitYogi | October 21, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

"Clogging the middle" is called the neutral zone trap, or left wing lock. It isn't new and wasn't created by the wonderful mind of Jacques Martin. It works great, as long as the team using the trap has the lead, or the game is tied. Once they fall behind and have to play outside of their element (have to engage more than 1 forward in the forecheck, or must allow the D to pinch) the team is done.

The Caps muddled through the trap many times last year. The games were ugly, which is what the trap will do, until the Caps got the lead. There really isn't a way to figure out the trap, the key is to score first, and ideally get a two goal lead on a trap team so THEY have to push the pace and move out of the trap formation.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 21, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

@zmega

good points. There is a potential BRIGHT side to this - if teams do play the "Montreal" game against us NOW, this helps: we can solve the problem, now. We'll be that much better. That's a good thing. And if we can't solve the problem, well then, people won't be so bitterly disappointed. There are some other very good teams out there and no one of them - or the Caps - "deserves" or "should win" the Cup. It's kind of a crap shoot and it does not often determine which is the best team. Carolina, Tampa Bay? No way...

Posted by: RedLitYogi | October 21, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

@fanohock1

so what u r saying is that any team that takes a lead can then go into the trap and no team will be able to win? The trap is tricky to beat, but I am sure there are techniques that have proven effective.

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

@bqts

you got me thinking... if Fedorov hadn't sniped that goal against the Rangers in game 7 we might not have had the privilege of watching that Caps-Pens series. We might also be talking about a Caps team that had 3 first round game 7 exits. I wonder who that clutch, proven (previous Cup champion) player will be for the Caps this year?

Posted by: PSD1 | October 21, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

capscoach: Teams that implement the trap can in fact get a one goal lead and suffocate their opponent. Again, NJ has made a living of this. They have also been selective in who they put on their roster because defensive minded guys need to be around. That is why the Kovi signing acquisitiona and subsequent long term contract really doesn't make sense. Anyhow, the trap is not easy to just turn on if you don't practice it. The ENTIRE team needs to buy in. The Caps have improved defensively but a trap team, not even close.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 21, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

@capscoach,

You have your opinion and I have mine! I do not know those guys but I still have the RIGHT to have my opinion, you don't like what I think happened oh well, really doesn't bother me in the least.

Posted by: PhilR | October 21, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

BB is exactly right in saying that ovi should create space for himself. he's the only one who can do it. but he seemed like he's not doing something to create one. when he's really on his game, nobody can stop him but himself. c'mon ovie, don't change your game. be tough & rugged but be smart as well. go caps!

Posted by: capsfan2007 | October 21, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

@PSD1

I have said it all the time, we just signed flush for 2.5 for the year, even looking back what has he done for us???? Anyone think that given time and effort in talking to him they could have got (! for that kind of money for 2 years?? His leadership alone is worth half of that and as has been pointed out, OV needs someone to help develop his paying ability as it is becoming clear BB and GMGM are not the people to do that. And his face off/2 way play/D knowledge and clutch goal scoring are woth the other half.

Posted by: bqts | October 21, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

@fanhock

no no no...I was not calling the Caps a trap team! I was asking how should work against the trap when they face it. While I have seen with my own two eyes how suffocating a trap can be...there HAS to be ways around it or else every team that scored a 1 goal lead would use it and win. So how do teams combat the trap when they are down a goal?

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

@Fanahock

There really isn't a way to figure out the trap, the key is to score first, and ideally get a two goal lead on a trap team so THEY have to push the pace and move out of the trap formation.

--------------------------

What about playing dump and chase until you wear them down then go back to mixing in run and gun?

Posted by: congero | October 21, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Capscoach: I know you weren't saying that. I was just admitting that the Capitals, even with their defensive improvement thus far, don't have the personnel to shut teams down at the end. When I say personnel, I mean players that can think DEFENSE and nothing else when it's time to lock things down. Now, with the talent the Caps have, if BB chooses to practice that, these guys are more than capable of becoming that team. It's a mindset. That thought process starting sinking in a little near the end of last year when preserving a 1 goal lead in the last minute with the net empty. Two years ago Ovi and the gang were leaving their defensive positions to bag that open net goal and taking unnecessary chances. Near the end of last year, and this year against Ottawa, they were content with just getting the puck out of the zone and letting the clock drip time while maintaining their defensive posture.

The same thing that will beat the trap (passes in the narrow seams) are the same things that make you fall victim to the trap.

Kind of like living by the rush and dying by the rush in football. Teams that have marginal passing games like to keep the games low scoring, ideally getting a lead, and running the ball down the throat of their opponent chewing up the clock. When those type of teams fall behind the weaknesses in their passing game, and pass protection are exposed. Much like when a trap team has to resort to taking chances.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 21, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

The trap has been around for years, however what montreal did so differently and boston seemed to employ Tues. night is putting 4 or 5 players in a tight box in their own zone with one hard fore checker. This essentially clogs up shooting lanes from the point and center and lets poor angle shots fly at the goalies. When players do move into the center theyre not able to get rebounds because these players are tying them up. The neutral zone trap has more to do with leaving men high in the neutral zone and preventing odd man rushes. Last year we were able to get away with beating teams playing this with some success in setting the puck up in the zone and beating them when they made a mistake. Teams are now clogging the defensive zone and neutral zone on the caps. With support, defenders are able to step up on ovi at the blue line rather than backing in and letting him use them as a screen. We've had very limited success on odd man rushes this year. We've been a little better in the zone, but most of this is coming when the opposing team has a little breakdown or a lucky shot gets through. These other teams are able to get the rare breakdown by the caps trying to exploit the trap via a long pass. We've had A LOT of outlet passes intercepted this year trying to beat these teams trapping us and they've capitalized. What I'm suggesting is that if we play trap on trap against these teams, we will A. Let up fewer goals - You can only let up one playing a trap team clogging the middle and B. We will score more because each team will make one or two mistakes, but our fore checkers, are better at exploiting the rare turnover. Yes it will result in 2-1, 1-0, games, but its at least one option on how to beat these teams. I don't see many other suggestions on here other than "play grittier hockey, get to the net." When teams play like this it is tough to get to the net. Montreal completely shut down crosby, who, like him or not, is one of the best net players in the world, with this "clog the middle" method.

Posted by: chatton | October 21, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

@bqts

I do think we need a veteran leader, but I would get one for the D and not center. We have two rookies, Green who is still young and Schultz who is not old...the veteran/mentoring presence is needed on D more so than center. Ovie could possibly be better with a different coach, but I wouldn't bank on it. He always plays better after BB calls him out after a bad game. Lets also consider that BB developed most of the players from Hershey we love and appreciate now on the Caps. Glen Hanlon almost destroyed Mike Green before BB took over. Green would be nowhere near the player he is now if Hanlon or another shut down D minded coach had developed him. I get the arguments against BB, but the guy does have some talent and I am not sure there are any coaches available right now that can do better.

I can guarantee that while we should and could focus more on D and physicality, if we hire a defensive oriented coach, this team will fall apart. The Caps are not built that way and it wont work. We can be more responsible, but we can not change who we are and that is an offensive powered team.

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

I know BB's job security has been talked about a fair amount on this board but I think that looking back at the past two East Conf Champs (Pitt then Philly), and the way those teams struggled through 1H of the season then fired the coach, makes me think BB is in the middle of a 40 game job interview. I hope the burden of proof is on BB proving himself capable as opposed to him having the benefit of the doubt, since I think this team inflates his win pct. I also can't think of another team that would hire BB. E.g. if there were a firing in Calgary, BB would not be a candidate, IMO.

Posted by: PSD1 | October 21, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

congero: Yup, that's one way. The Caps and other young talented teams are puck possession teams and have to learn that the dump and chase is the only way sometimes. However, the dump retrieval is also a strong suit of the trap teams.

To be fair to the trap teams, as a Caps fan I have to appreciate a teams ability to shut down a team like the Capitals. The Capitals also need to learn how to retain the lead late in the game. IMO they started to figure that out near the end of last season. That isn't what did them in during the playoffs either. The games they had a lead going into the last few minutes, games 3 and 4, they kept the lead. The games Montreal won, they held the lead as well. The only time the Habs blew the lead in the 3rd was when a vet (Scott Gomez) unneccesarily dropped the gloves with Poti thus creating a momentum swing.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 21, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I can guarantee that while we should and could focus more on D and physicality, if we hire a defensive oriented coach, this team will fall apart. The Caps are not built that way and it wont work. We can be more responsible, but we can not change who we are and that is an offensive powered team.

Posted by: capscoach


Well, since you called me out so nastily earlier what makes you qualified to make this observation? Are you and NHL coach or gm? Do you know all the players personally and know without a shadow of a doubt that they can not adjust to a defensive system? Just wondering how you can be an expert with an opinion when others opinions compare to "playground kickball games?"

Posted by: PhilR | October 21, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

@PhilR

touche (not sure thats how to spell that)I did not intend to come off nastily before. I am no expert, but I read a lot and I watch a lot and what I have seen and read seems to validate that we are an offensively talented team and when we focused on D under Glen Hanlon we kinda sucked! The whole BB playes favorites thing is just a pet peeve of mine and of course everyone is entitled to their opinion. I just really don't see how it is in his best interest to play favorites and I feel that any GM would step in well before the playoffs if that was becoming an issue.

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

@ capscoach

I agree with you totally and I also believe we need a vet D guy but not a change in the way the team as a whole plays. We all get excited to watch the run and gun hockey. I do think that Feds had a lot to offer as a total package and given that we are only 6 games in, the issues we are all talkin about are and were his strong points and we have no one in our system at this point to help the young guys develop these skills and knowledge. Anyway enough of this subject from me as you can tell I am still pissed about this subject, not as pissed as I was about olie but close.

Posted by: bqts | October 21, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

@fanohock,

Don't you think a team can employ the trap and still be an entertaining team to watch? Personally, if I was not a Caps fan I would have really enjoyed watching Montreal play last season in the playoffs. They played with speed and grit and showed skill in the offensive zone when needed. It was really a style I could appreciate and would have enjoyed watchign them play further in the playoffs had I not been so po'd at the 1st round outcome, although I watched I had a hard time enjoying the rest of the playoffs.

Posted by: PhilR | October 21, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

We got our butts kicked the other night and I want some PAYBACK!!!

I WANT SOME BUTT!!!

BB BETTER MAKE THESE GUYS GO OUT THERE AND GET SOME BUTT!!!!!!!

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | October 21, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

rask in net for the bruins

Posted by: _stevo | October 21, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

BB's system is fine, it's not why we lost games or why we looked bad. It has more to do with individual decisions (ie; Alzner stepping up on Boston's first goal, when he should not have) than some "system." People asking to change the system need to get a grip, drink a beer, and watch hockey games. Chill out. I'm sick of people talking about things that don't matter. You know what does matter? How the guys we have RIGHT NOW, including Flash, Schultz, and whoever else is a favorite whipping boy, play. Chalking up individual, defensive mistakes to some perceived kink in the "system" is avoiding the real problems and issue entirely...it sidesteps any pragmatic solutions in an effort to demonize BB, GMGM, whoever. It's weak.

You want to know a team who actually has some serious issues with their "system"? Buffalo.

Posted by: richmondphil2 | October 21, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

@capscoach,

I think the reason they sucked under Hanlon was simply because Hanlon sucks! Look where he is now, KHL.....never got a sniff from another team after his exit. Plus he had lost that teams respect long before GMGM let him go, you could tell by the play on the ice. I think a guy like Lemaire could come in and employ his systema nd the team would react well. Then there is the Scotty Bowman fantasy, oh god, if that ever happened you would never hear me complain about GMGM again!!

Posted by: PhilR | October 21, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

rask in net for the bruins

Posted by: _stevo | October 21, 2010 11:59 AM

I was hoping for some Tim Thomas BUTT, but I will take some TUUKKA TUKHUS!

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | October 21, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

@PSD1

The Philly series was not a dissapointment! We went from last place to a playoff spot and a 7 game series...the team was exhausted just getting to the playoffs! The Pitt series was dissapointing, but I do think they were simply a better team at that point and we made it to game 7 against the future cup champs. Sure BB has areas to improve on, but he took a team from being the joke of the league to a top contender. Hanlon was a defensive coach and look where that got him.

While I think the team is struggling a bit right now, I also think they are struggling b/c they are in a process of change. The D looks comletely different than last season (we are more physical although we still need to get better on that) the PK was revamped, we have a talented new center who is adjusting to the NHL...I think most coaches would be in the same position as BB this season. I am holding off judgement on BB until at least the end of november.

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Every coach, at every level and in every sport has their favorite players that they coach. Its called the human nature of being a coach. BB has just been around a lot of these guys since Hershey that he's almost like a father figure to some so one could say he cares a little too much about his favorites. And others will say its a great thing that he has that connection. The only problem is when it effects the play of the team on the ice, and I agree with PhilR that it was GMGM that called for Flash to be benched in game 7 and it killed BB to do it.

Posted by: ThePat | October 21, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

@wtf
You can be my wing man any time.

@PhilR
Rask in net...SAOTI's Prediction is looking better. The force is strong in that one.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | October 21, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

@richmond

I think all fans from all teams have blogs like this one where every mistake is an iherent flaw and potentially the end of the world! No fan thinks there team is great the way they are...it is human nature.

I do think bad decisions as individuals have been the majority of the problem this season...when we are playing well, the D looks WAY better than it did last season! We are holding teams to 2-3GAA which is great, and I think as the D gets healthy again and starts to gel and our rookies get some more experience, we will be in pretty good shape...I mean Schultz has only been on the ice for 1 GA in 6 games! that is pretty awesome!

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

man my grammar is terrible in this blog! I really am an educated human being.

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Teams that implement the trap can in fact get a one goal lead and suffocate their opponent. Again, NJ has made a living of this. They have also been selective in who they put on their roster because defensive minded guys need to be around. That is why the Kovi signing acquisitiona and subsequent long term contract really doesn't make sense.

_____________________________

Did you even watch the NJD playoff games last year? Kovy was by far the best forward on the ice, in all three zones. Kovy is a world-class player, part of the elite crust. He doesn't back-check in the regular season, much like Ovi and some others don't do it much in the regular season, because his job is to score goals in the regular season. Kick it into playoff gear, and we all know Ovi back-checks way more often than he normally does. Same thing applies to Kovy, but the "Kovy-hate" on this board is rampant, so I will just leave it at that.

Posted by: richmondphil2 | October 21, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I think all fans from all teams have blogs like this one where every mistake is an iherent flaw and potentially the end of the world! No fan thinks there team is great the way they are...it is human nature.

_______________________________________________

We are far from a great team, but we are far from hitting the panic button too.
As I said earlier, it will be a huge testament to BB's ability to coach in the playoffs if he is able to make the needed adjustments to at least have a better showing against Boston tonight. Find a way to get our offense some sustainability and reduce those goals which should never happen.

Posted by: richmondphil2 | October 21, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

@richmond

I think the Kovy hate would be a lot less if he weren't so overpaid and hadn't made such a soap opera out of his trade negotiations...sure u could argue it wasn't his fault, but I think he is only marginally better than Semin anyway.

Just curious...Kovy is terrible at D (at least in the regualar season...he coughs up the puck like nobody's business)yet you seem (and I stress seem...like I could be wrong)to be excusing it because he is a goal scorer...but are you not one of the posters that blasts Ovechkin for not being a more complete player ( I am not acusing I am asking)

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Fanohock - yeah, what he (chatton) said. The Habs were not so much doing the Devils-type trap as clogging their defensive zone and blocking shooting lanes.

Posted by: zmega | October 21, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

We kicked the Devil's you know what.

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

@sporttraveler

you are not seriously recommending giving steckel a shot at 2nd line center are you?

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 10:03 AM


@capscoach: You may very well be right about that. But then again, why not? After all:

--The season is young, so the time for bizarre experiments might be now, rather than at mid-season when we might be clawing for a playoff spot.
--Against all the conventional wisdom regarding Stecks' play, it just might work!

Posted by: Rhino40 | October 21, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

@Rhino

well it might give him the chance to actually EARN that 1.1 mil/yr contract!

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

@capscoach

so if you think Kovalchuk is terrible at D, where is Flash on your terrible D scale?

Posted by: ThePat | October 21, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

@Rhino

well it might give him the chance to actually EARN that 1.1 mil/yr contract!

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Stecks on the 2nd line imo wouldnt work as his play style clashes with the play style of our 2nd line wings. Granted he would help the faceoff situation, but he lacks the playmaking ability/set up capabilities that we require of our 2C. Semin would have to pull double duties again if Stecks was his center. Not to mention teams would just double up on Semin if Stecks was the center. The line would be shut down rather quickly unfortunately.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | October 21, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

No way Stecks has enough speed to keep up with the second line. He is defensively responsible but has been soooooooooo very slow this year that Semin and Laich would have to slow up and wait for him to catch up or attempt to make plays without him. If MaJo can't be the 2C then they need to search outside the organization at least for this year.

Posted by: PhilR | October 21, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

@ThePat

I think Kovy's D skills would be perfectly adequate for a 2.5 mil/yr salary.

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

@ThePat

I think Kovy's D skills would be perfectly adequate for a 2.5 mil/yr salary. I would even bump that 2.5 mil up to 4 mil for the increased scoring potential!

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

@capscoach

The Kovy hate on this board existed way, way before NJ and Kovy hooked up at last year's deadline. And as far as the trade negotiations went, you're right, it wasn't his fault at all. It was his agent and NJD management trying to be sneaky who delayed the process. You make it a Canadian boy, and the hype and buzz wouldn't be nearly as negative as it was to a Russian. All those Russian stereotypes just come rushing forth from the media!

As far as Kovy being only marginally better than Semin, that's your opinion I guess. Sure, skill-wise they may be equal, but Kovy is a warrior. He fights for his team when needed, he was a great captain. He's extremely physical when he wants to be. Semin is only half the hockey player Ilya is, and it has nothing to do with skill.

As for Kovy being terrible at D, that statement is just off. Kovy doesn't backcheck and frequently floats high near the neutral zone...like our friend Ovi. Does that make him terrible at D? No.... Again, I encourage you to watch NJD playoff games last year. Parise is one of my favorite players today, but Kovy just looked better, in all three zones. He had way more fire and heart in his game than any other Devil as well.

As for me supposedly being critical on Ovi being a more complete player, you must have confused me with a different poster.

Posted by: richmondphil2 | October 21, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

You beat size and creat space in the offensive zone also with speed and quickness. Something most of the current Caps' centers on the NHL roster appear to lack.

Posted by: dull | October 21, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

@ThePat

Everyone in the NHL knows the offensive D scale goed from F to D...or Flash to Datsyuk (the lower and upper limits if you will). Duh. Kovy would fall around the F level.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | October 21, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

RP2: How did you tangle my earlier post into Kovi hate? Don't see it. Best player in all 3 zones, IMO, no, he wasn't. Most productive forward and delivered what he was supposed to deliver when coming over from Atlanta. Absolutely. I don't dislike Kovi, not even a little. I even liked how he got ticked because he was getting blown out and wanted to go. He was even smart enough to get Green to drop them. Neither of them accomplished much in the fight, but both earned respect.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 21, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I think Kovy's D skills would be perfectly adequate for a 2.5 mil/yr salary. I would even bump that 2.5 mil up to 4 mil for the increased scoring potential!

Posted by: capscoach |

Yeah, only 4 mil/yr for the only guy besides Ovi who has scored 40+ goals every season since the lockout. It's just a bit of scoring potential...

Hell, if Kovy is only worth that much, that makes Ovi..what..at about 4.2 mil/yr ?

Posted by: richmondphil2 | October 21, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

@capscoach

thats not what i was asking. I really dont think Kovalchuk is a bad defensive player, just like I dont think Ovi is. I just think neither of them want to do it as often as they should. So I dont think Kovalchuk is overpaid at all, his production everywhere on the ice warranted that contract.

But back to it, if you think Kovy is bad, do you think Flash is on his level? Just trying to gauge how you judge our guys compared to players on other teams.

Posted by: ThePat | October 21, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

What the heck, I would give Gordon a shot too. What do we have to lose? It's not like the guys who are playing now are exactly tearing it up.

Posted by: zmega | October 21, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

How did you tangle my earlier post into Kovi hate?

__________________________

It just came forth from your comment, you aren't the one necessarily hating on Kovy for no reason. It just seems to happen a lot on this board for some reason, whether it be because he's the second best Russian player, or because he played in ATL..I have no idea why Kovy is hated so much on this board. Again, not necessarily you, I just used your comment to express the statement.

Posted by: richmondphil2 | October 21, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

I'm actually going to * "second best Russian player," because I want to give Datsyuk a little room here...

Posted by: richmondphil2 | October 21, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

PhilR: I did become a Habs fan in the 2nd round because they were playing the Pens and I would be lying if I didn't admit that I feel Halak stole that series. Every game they won was pure luck. Posts were hit, Halak came out of no where, and Fleury played poorly. All the stars aligned for a lesser team to knock off the Pens.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 21, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

@richmondphil2

that was to make my point to Pat...I would take Kovy for 6-7mil. He is only marginally better than Semin and Semin is better at D,...sure I give Kovy points over Semin for being WAY less of a headcase! And I REALLY hate the Russian/eastern european bias and outright racism that has been very present lately!

@Pat

I think Flash is worth 2.5mil on another team (we just don't need him)As for his D...it needs significant work...but if he were to improve his D, he would be worth a lot more than 2.5 mil. Quite frankly I go back and fourth on Flash...I think I tend to defend him more b/c the hate towards him seems disproportional to his play. The league would not award him 2.5mil if he were useless...I think we just don't appreciate him and can be super critical of him becuase this team has no use of him...I used him way to many times in that run on sentence!

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Kovy is making $6.66M/yr(cap hit). For his talents he is not overpaid. Not even close. There are a lot of less talented players making more than him. Hell, even Souray has a $5.4M cap hit(if he was still on an NHL roster).

Posted by: sgm3 | October 21, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Is Katie C in transit to the game? Any morning skate info? Line-ups? Rask starting announcement? C-mon, lets have all that before I leave work and not 10 minutes before the puck drops. :)

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | October 21, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

RP2: Yeah, didn't mean for it to come out as Kovi hate. Just pointed out that he just didn't fit into the mold of what LL usually goes after for the Devils.

Rumor has it ownership demanded Kovi be signed. Not sure if you've been to NJ to see a game, nice stadium by the way, but even with their success, their stadium is maybe 3/4 full (not even vacant season ticket seats) during weekend games. The rumor is a marquee player, besides Brodeur, will put butts in seats. Sounds like a Leonsis wants Jagr demand. I think Kovi is an exciting player, a friggin' sniper.

BTW if anyone ever wants to go to NJ to catch a game, go for it. They have guys night out deals (don't have to be a guy) and you can get two tickets (in a great location) 2 dogs, and 2 drinks (can be beer) for $48. This was for a Saturday night tilt against the Caps last November. Not sure if they are having as much trouble getting fans out this season or not.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 21, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3

The Cap hit is different from his salary...isn't he making over 8 mil the next few years?

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

On Flash -- The Caps coaches are not idiots or talent-blind. There's a reason that for two years now he's been both on the power play and the penalty kill. There's also a reason he was selected to be a number 2 center (as he was last year right when Ovie was named Captain and he was responsible for Semin immediately going on a scoring explosion.) He has great ice vision and great stick and puck skill -- anyone remember his pass to Chmera coming out of the penalty box? He usually is in good ice position and has very good anticipation -- keep track of how many breakout passes he intercepts or knocks off-track. He's bigger and hitting more this year -- he had two big hits against Boston, which shows he can learn and develop as a pro player (and his numbers go up every year). He goes to the dirty places -- check out who goes to the net when his line is on the ice, and who's at the net when he's on the power play; check out who's fighting on the boards too. Anyone expecting him to be Matt Bradley is being ridiculous. He's a tough skill player in the mold of of an Alfredsson, though he needs to develop to get to that level. If Semin played half as tough and smart as Flash, he'd be a legitimate all-star. Trade him at your peril -- the guy is a legit 25-goal, 30 assist two-way player who will get better.

Posted by: bjoad2 | October 21, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

@ fanohock

The only place I have had trouble getting tickets is the Bell Center, and not really trouble just they want an arm and a leg :). Ottawa is cheap $204 a ticket including fees and shipping for center ice on the glass for the caps game in march. Can't wait 2 new rinks I haven't been too

Posted by: bqts | October 21, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

SeminAllOverTheIce

Katie has posted twitter updates. Lines are

8-19-22
21-90-28
25-14-16
17-39-26

Varly to start

Nothing on the D pairings or if they've put B. Gordon's face on a milk carton yet.

Posted by: ablake70 | October 21, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

I know there's been talk of us getting a 2C or D. IMO if we do pickup a C during the season it's going to be an expiring contract. Think about our C situation. We've got Backy, and now MJ is developing. Next yr we'll probably add Kuznetsov to that equation. Kuzy is ready to play in the NHL now. This is very unlike our D situation in that we already brought up the 2 prospects so there isn't anybody coming up in the next yr or 2 that can help from within. D will be the target and can't say that I disagree. In other words we will not be targeting Spezza who has 4yrs left.

Posted by: pokerface1208 | October 21, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

@fanohock1

Oh yeah, I've been to Newark a few times for exactly the reason you stated; cheap tickets! Of course, that has to do with the Devils being the "latest team" in an area saturated with hockey teams, thus the Devils had the unfortunate task of not getting new fans, but rather had to convert fans from other teams. I can see why management would force Lou's hand, but I like to believe that Lou wanted him there. This will all be very interesting next off-season, with the fate of Parise, especially if the Devils continue to look like one of the worst teams in the league.

Posted by: richmondphil2 | October 21, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

@pokerface1208

you forgot Eakin...he will probably start in Hershey, but could very well be ready for NHl duty mid season!

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

The Cap hit is different from his salary...isn't he making over 8 mil the next few years?

Posted by: capscoach |

I think he actually sees upwards of 10 mil/yr, salary-wise. Vinny makes that much, as does Heatley. Luongo's contract is pretty front-loaded as well, if I recall.

Honestly, a 6.66 mil/yr cap hit for Kovy is an absolute steal. Not sure if he'll be worth that much when he's 38, but for right now, it's one of the best bargains in the league, if not the best. (ELCs, and "redeemers" signing for cheap not included)

Posted by: richmondphil2 | October 21, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Honestly, a 6.66 mil/yr cap hit for Kovy is an absolute steal.
Posted by: richmondphil2 | October 21, 2010 1:05 PM

...a cap hit suitable for a DEVIL!
6.66

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | October 21, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm not ignorant of this team's imperfections, but I'm actually quite happy with what I've seen so far. We're only 6 games into the season, so what do we know? Backstrom not in top form. No biggie, won't last. PP not in top form. No Biggie, won't last.

#1 PK in league. Very Biggie. If that lasts, it will be extremely significant. Going into the playoffs, I'd take the #1 PK over the #1 PP any day of the week. And what having the #1 PK demonstrates is that they have morphed a bit into a team that is aware of defense. They get it now. Are they a trap team? No way, never will be. But they do seem grittier, nastier, tougher than a year ago. I hope that lasts.

Defensive depth: Critical. Many would argue that we need the spawn of Langway at the blue line. I'd argue that we certainly do need some guys who are proven, servicable, NHL Dmen. When the roster is 100% healthy, they're a capable (if not dominant) D corps. But what if the Caps' roster is pillaged by injury a la Detroit or Philly last year? Could be trouble. Good thing we have so many offensive assets in the cupboard. Those eager to deal Flash or Semin might get your wish this year. Green stays.

Posted by: McLobo | October 21, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

@ablake

Thanks sir, I am currently hot up to speed with modern communications...ergo I have no twitter just yet. Nice, I nailed the lines (not that it was difficult).

@capscoach
Flash would have been award money from an arbitraitor based on soley his numbers and compared to averages of similar players. Arbitration can be kind of silly in its awardings. But if you remember, Flash signed for less than he would have one...why...cause he knew GMGM would have said "pass".

@bjoad2
Spoken like a true publicist of Flush. You must be wearing the ultra ultra thick rose colored glasses:Bruce Boudreau Edition. I also dont remember these 2 big hits you speak of...Semin did, but dont remember Flush hitting. He has no hit stats for the game against Boston either. I actually think you might be confusing him with another player. Flush is #14 fyi.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | October 21, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

@PhilR
Hey I least I have you thinking. I would try the players I had instead of spending 3.5 mill for another nylander.I dont care if a center can skate 90 mph If he cannt help gain possession of the puck I guess he could run around chasing the puck in his defensive zone

Posted by: sporttraveler | October 21, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Hey Semin -- I've got the right guy and was there. But, I missed seeing your namesake. He was invisible. Look at each of the goals involving Flash -- not alot of guys can make those passes and hit the one-timer. Sure, he should have more, he needs to get better. But, if you can't see his skill and value you don't know hockey.

Posted by: bjoad2 | October 21, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Uh oh...someone has a Flush Crush. How cute.

Flush can play offense just fine. And does well at wing. But alas, he is playing center, at which he is sub-par. And if you do not see this, then you might want to look in a mirror when you make statements such as "But, if you can't see his skill and value you don't know hockey." And you're right, Semin was invisible...10 shots, a goal, couple big hits, back checking like a champ, etc...totally invisible.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | October 21, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Semin -- Umm, did they change the goal from the "kid" to Semin? I think not. 10 quiet shots.

Flash was 4 out of ten on faceoffs. Not great, but an improvement.

Posted by: bjoad2 | October 21, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Opps, confused the goal with the Preds game.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | October 21, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

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