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Back at home, Caps seeking stability

Morning Roundup

The Caps resurfaced for practice in Arlington yesterday after their three-game, three-time zone road trip last week, and the players seemed happy to be back at home after a taxing few days.

The team allowed just four goals during the trip, and Coach Bruce Boudreau spoke yesterday about continuing to have high expectations for the Caps' defensive play, even as they try to find more offensive consistency.

"Our goal, quite frankly, is to be in the top five in everything," Boudreau said. "The categories you would think that we would be in the top five, we're not, but in the other categories we are. Hopefully we can continue to do one as well as we're doing and start doing the other. Offense shouldn't be sacrificed by playing good defense."

The Caps' defense would receive a boost this week if veteran Tom Poti is able to return from an undisclosed lower-body injury that kept him here during the road trip.

Poti's status for tomorrow night's game against Toronto could become clearer today if the Caps recall a defenseman. If they don't, Poti will likely be on the ice against the Maple Leafs.

Boudreau doesn't say much about Eric Fehr being a healthy scratch Saturday, while Mike Green says fellow blueliner Tom Poti "looked good" at practice Monday.

On the D.C. Sports-O-Meter with Cindy Boren and Dan Steinberg, Alex Ovechkin gets a bid for having the second-best week in local sports.

Ovechkin and crew celebrated Halloween at Spider Kelly's. (Reliable Source)

More from David Steckel on his penalty shot against Calgary. (Examiner)

Peerless Prognosticator recaps an up-and-down week, and Japers' Rink has some more ups and downs.

Caps players talk about their least favorite road trips, and Mike Green's 22-hour bus ride from Saskatoon to Seattle sounds less than pleasant. (TBD)

By Greg Schimmel  | November 2, 2010; 6:23 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Roundup  
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Next: Boudreau: Semyon Varlamov likely to practice Wednesday


"Offense shouldn't be sacrificed by playing good defense."

Really? Could it be they aren't scoring as many goals because most other teams in the league have learned not to play run and gun with the Caps but BB refuses to adapt to the style those teams are playing.

Posted by: PhilR | November 2, 2010 7:26 AM | Report abuse

Amen, Brother Phil, Amen!

I said it yesterday and say it again today, you are right sir. Two teams try pond hockey versus the Caps and lose; one team plays defense first and beats the Caps. The silver lining is that the Caps are close in the games versus defensive teams. I am starting to think that BB is trying to adapt, but the team is resisting, used to the fun of run and gun. Hopefully, BB will enforce his adapted game plan by benching players who do not play the new sytem. Maybe that is why Fehr was in the doghouse?

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | November 2, 2010 7:39 AM | Report abuse

Calgary did not start playing "pond hockey" until they trailed by 3 goals. They were trying to com back. But the Caps first 5 goals were against a team playing defense like every other team.

BB has been preaching defense and has his team much more committed to defense. This has been exactly what many people on here had been asking for. Unfortunately, it leaves them unable to complain about that fact anymore so they have to find something else to complain about.

Posted by: sgm3 | November 2, 2010 7:46 AM | Report abuse

Fehr and Fleishman need to go. Both these guys are a waste. Send them to hershey...let them be the next Giroux.

Where did all our skill go? Was Brendan Morrison really that guy who made it all work?

Seems like we have everyone back this year and we still struggle.

Posted by: SoaringCaps | November 2, 2010 8:05 AM | Report abuse

So all offseason we've heard about how the Caps need to commit to team defense. The moment they do we hear whining about where the high powered offense went.

There's a balance between the two which they're trying to find for the playoffs. Unfortunately it might cause a couple more regular season losses. After last year's regular season, I think they can afford to drop a few points -- starting with the games they lost after only showing up for the third period.

Posted by: GFisher1 | November 2, 2010 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Amen SGM3!

I can't believe people are bashing Fehr...what HYPOCRITES!!!!! NO ONE was unhappy with the Fehr signing in the off season, but then they guy has a slow start and we turn on him like we're on a merry go round!

Chill out! He stands an excellent shot at rebounding,and remember that we all loved him before the season started.

Also...Jordan Staal is officially the first Penguin I have ever felt sorry for! Out another 6 weeks with a broken hand two days before he was set to come back...I bet he is pi***d!

Posted by: capscoach | November 2, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse

And btw...I like the new defensive system.

You get that garbage like Jurcina (who is hurt again), and Morrison out and we are MUCH better...

Green is playing outstanding. I like this green better than last year's green!

Posted by: SoaringCaps | November 2, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Caps Coach:

I didn't understand the following deals:

-Erskine (50/50 on this one...only because he is playing well now)

I get the Poti signing...only because they need that vet guy for all the young "D".

Gordon shouldn't get anything but a per game contract.

Varly should get the same contrat Gordon gets.

Posted by: SoaringCaps | November 2, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse


I have never complained about Fehr, I think he will be taking Knuble's spot on the first line next year, he is in a slump just like every other goal scorer goes into. Heck, Ovie just went like 4-5 games without scoring so I'm not worried about Fehr at all.


This years version of Mike Green is certainly much better than any version I have seen in the past, he is really concentrating on being defensively sound which is outstanding!


As usual you took my post out of context as you do most posters. BB expects to be in the top five in all categories? Really? First, that isn't going to happen unless he adapts to playing an uglier style of offensive hockey when need be against those teams clogging the neutral zone and standing them up at the blueline. Second, by playing a more defensive responsible game the offensive numbers are going to suffer. It is a very rare thing to have a team in the top five in all offensive and defensive categories. That is what I was saying although I'm sure you will find a way to spin this post as well.

Posted by: PhilR | November 2, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, but I just don't buy this simplistic "BB refuses to adapt" to a Montreal-playoff style game. We saw a Caps team in Minn. that played like crap until the third period, and most all the errors were not the result of any system imposed by the Wild but instead sloppy play, sloppy passes, sleepy attacks, and lazy D. I do credit the Wild with forcing us offsides effectively, but I blame the Caps first for coming into the zone with no zip or brains. Individual play (not a faulty system) by the Caps had plenty to do with that loss.

As has been said, it's a balance. Strong D can come at the expense of O. We'd like to be stronger up the middle but we've been better on the boards. It's tough to be two places at once.

Our coaching staff are not idiots. Some may think that if they'd only tune in here to pick up on the geniuses that have figured it here out we'd be golden, but I don't buy it.

Consider our goals against with our substandard, banged up D. Someone's doing something right.

Posted by: Justafan | November 2, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse


BB is striving to be tops in both categories. What's wrong with trying to be great? He has put in place a more defensive system and is hoping that his team will cash in on a higher percentages of the good chances it gets.

It is more than possible to be in the top 5 in offense and defense. Chicago was last year and they won the SC. I like the idea of striving to be great. That should be the goal.

Posted by: sgm3 | November 2, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

I will be the first one to bash Green due to his lack of defense this year and to the couple of times I have been around him off ice, but I will give his some love this year because of some of what I have seen so far. He still has a long way to go in my book to be "more defensively minded". I am still seeing him looking at offense first and defense second, which is probably because of one of boards most hated, Schultz, who I feel is better than anyone gives credit for. I am enjoying watching Erskine play... he went after ButtMunch when he ran Nuevy in Atlanta and has been gritty and somewhat positionally sound. Is he a top guy? No, but he brings some energy (even is he is a little slower on his skates)

We have a lot of variables this year... A young paring on the D line and in goal and I am seeing games that I find somewhat boring but that are somewhat better in the amount of goals against and the fact that the Caps offensive skills will not be stymied forever.

It seems that no matter what the Caps do that some will not be happy. I do not look at them through rose colored glasses, but I do look at them as a team who is playing better defense, is in a bit of a scoring slump and is still a team others are gunning for every night. Once we get our O clicking we will be a team that is actually better (foundational) than last year... Can't we just enjoy that for now?

Posted by: Hunter21 | November 2, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Really telling line from Green up there:

"We have a tough time against Western teams because they play a different style...tighter defense."

That's like putting a flashing neon sign out front of your house to let criminals know when you'll be on vacation and oh, by the way, the spare key's under the mat.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 2, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Hey Tom, I think you need to lighten up on Green. Everybody on this blog (and I am sure in the NHL) knows that the trapping defense gives the Caps fits. Green didn't say anything that is not already known.

Posted by: nimrodrsp | November 2, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Are the rumors true that there will be a candle light vigil during the 1st intermission for cstanton?

And by rumors, I mean the one I just made up.

As for Fehr...I think he would be able to shine if he was one the 1st line instead of Knuble or paired with Semin and a legit 2c on the 2nd line. Dont forget, Fehr put up some awesome numbers last year for the minimal amount of ice time he was given. I cant remember the exact stat someone posted, but he was up there for pts v time ratio.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | November 2, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

BB belongs in a minstrial show & Fehr is mediocre.

Posted by: doughless | November 2, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Wow Doughles, really put a lot of thought in to that, huh?

Posted by: _Mark | November 2, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse


doughless and thought in the same sentence is an oxymoron. :)

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | November 2, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

mark & SAOTI:

i am just being concise.

Posted by: doughless | November 2, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

"Ican't believe people are bashing Fehr...what HYPOCRITES!!!!! NO ONE was unhappy with the Fehr signing in the off season"...capscoach

I was unhappy w/the Fehr resigning, as I was the Sloan resigning. I'm glad to see people recognizing and appreciating what Erskine brings to the team, though he played the same way 2 yrs ago (was our best defenseman in the postseason, playing hurt no less)...the Caps would be wise to sign him to another 2-yr extension (1.5 million per); I bet there's 29 teams in the league who would take him at that price for as a 3rd-pairing defenseman

Posted by: vermontcaps | November 2, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

"Ican't believe people are bashing Fehr...what HYPOCRITES!!!!! NO ONE was unhappy with the Fehr signing in the off season"...capscoach

I was unhappy w/the Fehr resigning, as I was the Sloan resigning. I'm glad to see people recognizing and appreciating what Erskine brings to the team, though he played the same way 2 yrs ago (was our best defenseman in the postseason, playing hurt no less)...the Caps would be wise to sign him to another 2-yr extension (1.5 million per); I bet there's 29 teams in the league who would take him at that price as a 3rd-pairing defenseman

Posted by: vermontcaps | November 2, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse


Agreed about Fehr. Despite his size, his skills translate more to a top 6 role than a 3rd line grinder. He's not going to reach his scoring potential playing 11 or 12 minutes a night on the 3rd line.

And even though Bruce has Fehr in Hershey, he's clearly not one of his pet favorites. Flash would have to play about 1,000x worse than Fehr to be healthy scratched.

Posted by: chombie13 | November 2, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to take BB's part on about playing good defense. If you play good defense this will create transition opportunities and offense. We have the speed to make this work. The key to this is quick accurate passing from the defensive zone. With several of our puck moving d-man hurt this is difficult. The two rookie d-man will only get better as the season progresses. Will good defense and transition create as much offense as last year...NO. The key to winning isn't scoring more goals, it is goal differential.

Posted by: chriscaps | November 2, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

To anyone who has been to a Bears game this year (We have been unable to make a roadtrip as of yet)........

Is Fahey really the best defensive prospect they have up there? How have McNeill, Collins and Miskovic looked?

If Fahey really is the top prospect up there then the Caps are in a whole lot of trouble as far as any form of defensive depth for injuries, of course we alreay know that.....just wondering about those other three guys.

Posted by: PhilR | November 2, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

PhilR: I can't understand why they don't use Collins. He's getting $650K whether at Hershey or with Caps and wasn't half bad when he was up end of 08-09 season.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 2, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I thought Collins was solid as well.....don't understand it.

Posted by: PhilR | November 2, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

I tend to keep most of my comments to my blog, but today I decided to jump in the mix after reading a few of the contributions. I think I'm most in agreement with GFisher1.

Yes, of course, I'm a day late with my comment, but felt like leaving one just for posterity. It has been a sore point for me when the term "system" gets tossed around. In a game like ice hockey, which is ever-changing as play occurs and set plays do not happen as they do in say, football, a "system" should be considered an adaptive, organic method of winning games.

Thinking strictly on the lines of "offensive" versus "defensive" can lead to a one-sided approach to a very fluid game. If the Capitals, and by that I mean both coaching staff and players, can learn to sense what each opposing team is bringing to the ice at any given time, they'll become practiced at facing teams who try to shut them down. It takes a few losses and a lot of time to play that way as a team.

If Washington doesn't have the best record in the NHL regular season, or certain players don't get awards for individual accomplishments, but they make the playoffs as a well-honed, adaptive team, ready to overcome the Montreal-type challenges, all the rest is just part of the journey.

Simply put: If the CAPS do the work in the neutral zones to keep the puck in their offensive zone as much as possible and to keep the puck out their defensive zone as much as possible, then really, it's a neutral "system". All the rest should fall into place from there. The scorers get their chances to score. If the puck spends too much time in their defensive zone, EVERY player should be able to recognize that and do their part to change the flow.

Maybe I'm over-simplifying, but then again, maybe simple wins games. GO CAPS!

Posted by: creasesinger | November 3, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

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