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Capitals get a rare practice day

By Katie Carrera
Morning Roundup

The Washington Capitals have the best record in the NHL, they sit atop the league standings with 27 points and they've played seven games in 12 days so far in November. That last note doesn't leave much time for a complete regular practice, especially when factoring in recovery time for players.

"I was thinking on the bench we need a practice," Coach Bruce Boudreau said after Sunday's 6-4 win against Atlanta. "We haven't practiced in eight days, because of the games we've played and you could see systems getting looser....We'll have a good practice on Tuesday and just review everything, tighten everything up a bit."

As the season goes on these days can become a little less frequent, but as the Caps prepare for another long stretch of games in the second half of the month -- another seven games in 12 days -- the chance for practice may be just what the team needs.

FROM THE POST
Colleague Gene Wang examines the scoresheet success of the Capitals defensemen, who have contributed 31 points and 11 goals in the past eight games.

Monday was also the official launch party for Alex Ovechkin's new DVD. Dan Steinberg got a sneak peak and talked to Ovi about the project.

Somewhere a quarterback signed a contract extension, but Steinberg still made time to take a look at the many faces of the mustachioed John Erskine.

AROUND THE WEB
As part of the media onslaught for the release of the DVD, Ovechkin talked to LaVar and Dukes on 106.7 The Fan yesterday afternoon. You can listen to the audio here.

Japers' Rink has a translation of Ovechkin's latest interview with Sport Express' Slava Malamud.

RMNB's Neil Greenberg broke down the scoring chances for each of the Capitals forward lines.

Penn Live blog Stack the Pads has more on Semyon Varlamov's first start in Hershey.

By Katie Carrera  | November 16, 2010; 8:56 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Roundup  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Statistical analysis: Will Alexander Semin remain a Capital?
Next: Boudreau shakes up Caps' lines for practice

Comments

Good -- the team can use a practice to reinforce good winning strategies. Not that they are playing terrible, but they have been a tad sloppy at times (cf. period 2, versus Buffalo and Atlanta). Need to gear up for the challenge from Philly.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | November 16, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

The delay in Semin's return had to do with his VISA. GMGM worked on it and it took a year longer than expected. The Caps were still a losing team, even with Ovechkin, when Semin returned. Please stop making things up to make people dislike Semin. The elections are over, no more politics for a while, please.

Someone poked a Schultz and I just don't get it. Yes, he is boring, yes, he is slow, but the dude just does the right thing just about every time. He blocks passes and clogs passing lanes with his long legs and huge wing span. Every team needs the Schultz type defensemen.

Let me give a quick example that I doubt many Schultz haters recognized at the end of the Boston game when Rask was pulled the Caps had the puck in the Boston zone. An errant pass was intercepted by Schultz before it got out of the zone and people in my section of course yelled shoooooooot. Well, Schultz didn't shoot because if he had it would have probably been blocked by Lucic who was coming right at him. It would have lead to an odd man rush the other way. Instead Schultz put it back into the corner, Backstrom retrieved it, backhanded it to Ovi, Ovi buried the puck to secure the win. Yes, a very simple play, but a very SMART play. I believe Schultz will be a Capital for his entire career, and I am just fine with that.

Posted by: fanohock1 | November 16, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

With set lines seeming to emerge, has Flash potentially played his way off this team? There has been fairly solid chemistry on the first, third and fourth lines, with the following combinations:

First: OV - Backs - Semin
Third: Chimmy - Gordo - Fehr
Fourth: Brads - Stecks - Hendricks

This leaves Laich and Knuble as second line wingers, and I would assume MaJo to center them. I know Flash has seemed to be BB's boy at times (aside from the benching in game 7), but he certainly appears to be the odd one out when the team gets back to full strength, should that day ever happen.

Posted by: Aldred15 | November 16, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

fanohock1: Agree re: Schultz. I have never had a negative thing to say about him. He does have limitations. If it's late in the game and you need physicality, he won't have that. But he's a solid #2 pair at a fair price.

Aldred: If we could trade Flash and a pick or prospect and get a strong, physical defenseman, maybe with this year and next on contract, would solve your problem and give us needed depth on blueline.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 16, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Thank God for the Caps. Without them I would be stuck with the Skins.

Posted by: sshores1 | November 16, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Boyd Gordon definitely helps this team, but he's still massively injury prone (if he ever pulls a 9-game stretch together again, ill be amazed) so, having flash and MaJo to go at center is definitely crucial for our success...

also, Ive been really impressed with Flash so far this year, he backchecks well and stays high to stop odd-man breaks, his defensive game is really coming around, and anyone's who has watched him over the years knows he'll find the back-of-the-net soon enough...

that said, if we can use him as the centerpiece for a deal to get a solid-skating, physical defenseman, SEE YA

Posted by: cotelloer | November 16, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I still think Flash is gone by the deadline...MaJo still has to prove himself, but I think he will. Once the kid starts getting points Flash is disposable...and if we lose him and also have left over cap money, we can get someone really nice for the playoffs!

Posted by: capscoach | November 16, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

@capscoach, @tominsocal - agreed on Schultz and I, for one, thought him slow and ungainly. He's improved every year. Flash has competed from what I can tell, the question is whether he's better than Gordo or Chimera who would be his main competitors for a spot, I think.

Since Flash is nowhere near valuable enough to net a good defenseman, what prospect, or other defenseman, would you part with? Moving a goalie seems more likely, at this point. Laich would bring far more back...

Posted by: RedLitYogi | November 16, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

@ Fanohock1

I don't know that I can say I have ever read a post I agree with more.

2 years ago I was one of the many Schultz haters and after the offseason he came back and I joked with my wife that he had spent the summer at hockey school and then again he came back last season even better again. This year at times I have questioned why I was such a hater ..... I must have forgotten he was and to some extent still is a kid.

All the Green fans are about to hunt me down for the following ..... but if it wasn't for Schultz Green would NEVER be mentioned in any Norris talk, NEVER EVER. If you watch the games and see how many times Schultz covers Greens ass it is mind blowing that people hold Green in such high regard.

@ Capscoach

Not sure if game will be aired here tonight but I know I will watch on center ice

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

Posted by: bqts | November 16, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I also think Flash has played well when he centerd Laich and Knuble. When they had that line and BGordon was centering the 3rd line, each line seem to know its defined role. Knuble and Laich would do the inital forecheck while Flash stayed high for defensive purposes. Flash would then move down low if Laich or Knuble retrieved the puck. That line played pretty well and had a lot of offensive zone time when they were together. Unfortunately they didn't cash in on many goals. But Flash is definitely getting better at playing center. It was probably a little unfair to expect him to be a high quality 2nd line center immediately. There is a learning process.

When BGordon centers the 3rd line with Fehr and Chimera they also seem to know exactly what to do and what is expected of them.

When MJ substitues for BGordon and Flash moves to the 3rd line it seems as if both lines become sort of lost.

I like MJ and his potential, but he is very young and I personally would not feel comfortable with him centering the 2nd or 3rd line in the playoffs this year.

He is improving and this could possibly change, but most young centers take a little while before getting very good in all aspects of the game.

If the playoffs started tomorrow, and everyone was healthy, I would want Flash centering Knuble and Laich on the 2nd line with BGordon centering Fehr and Chimera on the 3rd line and Stecks centering Bradley and Hendricks on the 4th line.

IMO, that is our best lineup as of now.

Posted by: sgm3 | November 16, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

@RedLitYogi

As a winger, Flash is worth his 2.6mil salary. He is a 20+ goal scorer and there are a few teams that need that. Even if we trade him for picks, that salary space can be used at the deadline to pick up a good defenseman. Teams always want to clear space...we can get someone for sure.

Posted by: capscoach | November 16, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

@bqts

green finished second in norris trophy voting when ShaMo was his defensive partner

Posted by: _stevo | November 16, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Yogi: What capscoach says could work, Flash for a pick then the pick for a player. You could also find a team with stronger D and weaker O and maybe move Flash for a defenseman who likewise is a UFA after this year. I was thinking St. Louis and Brewer but doubt that could be done. I don't know the Western teams very well at all but somebody out there has to be light on the wing and heavy on at least #2 pair defensemen.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 16, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Good post Fanhock1. I think a lot of people — mostly those who watch the game on TV - don’t realize the importance of positional play, Schultz is very good at it. Because TV only gives you a partial view of what is going on in the ice, the development of an offensive or defensive play is often missed by its viewer, most fans only see the tail end of it and thus they give too much credit to one player while very little to the player who may deserve it the most, and likewise they place too much blame on one player with minor responsibility in a particular failed play.

Posted by: hock1 | November 16, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

@fanohock1

It was me who poked criticism at Shultz, and I'm amazed at how when Shultz makes a play he should that he's deemed "smart"...I don't know what to say if you think that the "smart play" at the end of the Boston game is evidence of how great Shultz is in his own subtle way. I want, and expect, more from d-men other than they're big, long reach, clogs the passing lanes,is "smart" etc... Nolan Yonkman could've done that; so I ask again....aside from height, how is Shultz any different than Steve Eminger?

Posted by: vermontcaps | November 16, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Well vermontcaps, I don't know what to say. Schultz is a good defensemen and you better learn to like him because he's not going anywhere my friend. So we disagree, oh well.

Posted by: fanohock1 | November 16, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

who died and annointed Jeff Schultz the next Calle Johansson???

Posted by: joek443 | November 16, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

who died and annointed Jeff Schultz the next Calle Johansson???

Posted by: joek443
---------------

That'd be GMGM.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | November 16, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

I don't know the Western teams very well at all but somebody out there has to be light on the wing and heavy on at least #2 pair defensemen.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 16, 2010 11:23 AM

@tominsocal1:

...Which brings me back to Kevin Bieksa of Vancouver. The Canucks will--rather sooner than later--have surplus of quality defencemen. Vancouver needs:

1) Help up front, and
2) To move salaries when Salo returns from injury.

A Flash + Picks-for-Bieksa trade would accomplish these objectives for Vancouver. For the Caps, it would help clear a logjam at wing and give the blueline corps a needed boost.

Sure there are better defenceman out there in the league, but I can think of no-one else who both a) has a skill set the Caps need and is realistically gettable in a trade that can benefit both parties.

Posted by: Rhino40 | November 16, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Well vermontcaps, I don't know what to say. Schultz is a good defensemen and you better learn to like him because he's not going anywhere my friend. So we disagree, oh well.

Posted by: fanohock1 | November 16, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

So long as BB is the coach, I unfortunately agree w/you that Shultz will be here...For you Shultz lovers, better hope the Caps win the cup; without BB, it'll be adios Sarge

Posted by: vermontcaps | November 16, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

THE MOST IMPROVED PLAYER ON THE CAPS IS
JOHN ERSKINE.

Posted by: duckyjimpond | November 16, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

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