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Bruce Boudreau and the Capitals' search for lines that 'click'

By Katie Carrera
Morning Roundup

Coach Bruce Boudreau has never hesitated to experiment with line combinations in his coaching career, in fact, it's something he's done regularly during his time in Washington. The alignment he used in a 4-2 win against Buffalo Wednesday night is the most altered one so far this season, and following the contest Boudreau said he believed all four lines did a good job.

The checking group of Jason Chimera, David Steckel and Matt Bradley looked as though they had played together numerous times before despite never having done so and Boudreau called them the Capitals' best line. Meanwhile, what would be considered the "top" line of Alex Ovechkin, Marcus Johansson and Mike Knuble didn't always appear on the same page. Some of that is likely because of the rookie center needing time to acclimate to playing alongside those particular wings.

We'll have to wait and see how long any of these particular assignments stick together, because it's unlikely that the tinkering will wrap up quite this early in the season.

"It's funny. It's the first quarter of the season, you're trying to find things that are really going to click so that you'll leave them there," Boudreau said when discussing the new lines the Capitals used. "So we're doing a little bit of experimenting with the lines. I've done the same thing every year, you know. We get to where we're pretty confident with what we have and we just go with that the last half of the year. Right now everybody plays with everybody."

Back to Johansson on the first line though. It wasn't his best outing or his worst, but at times it was noticeable that he might have been over-thinking plays when determining how to react to Ovechkin. Johansson also didn't play past the 10:07 mark of the third period.

Statistically, with wins in 10 of 15 faceoffs, two shots and no official giveaways Johansson was solid.

"He worked hard and he skated and I thought he did an ok job," Boudreau said when assessing Johansson's performance. "I gotta imagine for a young guy there's a lot of angst when you're playing with Alex....'Do I skate with it? Do I pass with it? Do I look for him? And it takes a little of getting to know somebody."

FROM THE POST
Check out the game story from the Capitals' 4-2 win over Buffalo as they refused to let an early lead fully slip away and rallied to shut an opponent down.

As mentioned at the end of yesterday's Q&A session, I'm going to answer your questions live online each game day (Monday-Friday) as much as time permits this season. The next chat will be 12:30 p.m. Friday from Philips Arena in Atlanta and you can submit those burning questions here.

Speaking of Johansson, a reader sent in screenshots to Dan Steinberg of the rookie wearing another Swedish center's gloves.

Box Seats blogger Kareem El-Alaily discusses John Erskine's steady play.

AROUND THE WEB
Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski has created a guide for All Star write-in campaigns, including one for Alexander Semin.

HBO is planning to air a preview of the 24/7 Caps and Penguins series this Saturday with replays scheduled in the weeks leading up to the debut of the full series on Dec. 15. (NHL.com)

By Katie Carrera  | November 18, 2010; 7:50 AM ET
Categories:  Bruce Boudreau, Marcus Johansson, Morning Roundup  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Capitals shut down Sabres, hang on to lead and win, 4-2
Next: Holtby, Neuvirth each to start a game this weekend for Caps

Comments

Solid game; solid hitting by the Caps; Jason Chimera, what great hands you have! That trio looked absolutely terric.

And Semin-Backstrom is just a thing of beauty.

All in all this was a good win for the Caps, and a very responsible game offensively and defensively. Flash was not missed.

Posted by: Justafan | November 18, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

terric = terrific

Posted by: Justafan | November 18, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Is Flash ever missed?

Posted by: Moose33 | November 18, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

@Moose33, that reference to Flash was tongue in cheek.

When the season started I had some hopes for Flash -- he looked stronger on his skates, showed a few deft moves, and seemed to land some hits. Apparently that was illusory because he's delivered just about nothing.

I'd like to see him play better so that we can get something for him.

Posted by: Justafan | November 18, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Great so apparently I post too much in a short time. My whole attempt at 1 today.

Boooooooo

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | November 18, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

"Apparently that was illusory because he's delivered just about nothing."

@Justafan

You do know that Flash had the 3rd highest +/- of all the forwards(only behind Laich and Semin) going into last nights game.

Flash has been much more defensively responsible this year and you could tell he was the third man high almost all the time. It hasn't translated into tons of points, but it has translated into much less goals against. Something most people on here have been ranting about for a while.

I think MJ shows great potential and you can tell from his skating ability that he is likely to be a very good center in this league. But he is not there yet. Like most young guys, it will take some more expereince and some more training to get bigger, stronger and faster. It's the same for almost every 20 year old. But it will take some time.

The Caps are a better team, this year, with Flash playing over MJ. I don't think it's even close.

Now I am all for playing MJ some. It's only the regular season and now is a time to get MJ some valuable experience.

But if the Caps needed to win a game immediately, MJ would be on the bench.

The 3rd and 4th lines were great last night.

I still think the top 2 lines should be Ovie/Backstrom/Semin and Laich/Flash/Knuble.

The Laich/Flash/Knuble line played well together. While they didn't get many goals, they created a lot of zone time and chances. They were just unable to bury them.

The other possibility is dropping Knuble to the 3rd line. Someone mentioned it earlier, but I think it is true that he, given his age, has trouble keeping up with Ovie all night long with all those long rushes up ice.

Maybe moving Fehr up to 2nd and allowing Knuble to play on a grinding line with BGordon and Hendricks on the 3rd line would help save his legs and cut down his minutes.

Posted by: sgm3 | November 18, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

At the Hockey and Heels event this week, Brooooooce said that he changes the lines when he gets "pissed off" at the players. His presentation on analyzing game tapes was fascinating.

Posted by: pirate1 | November 18, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

@sgm3

no offense but if you think Flash has been defensively responsible after the 5th game of this season then we are watching two different teams. +/- can be a very faulty number to look at, some guys it means something other guys it doesn't. I'll give Flash credit for the first 5 games of the season, it seemed like it was clicking for him but sense then he fell off the face of the earth.

Posted by: ThePat | November 18, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Moose33: "Is Flash ever missed?"

Flash who? :)


sgm3: "You do know that Flash had the 3rd highest +/- of all the forwards(only behind Laich and Semin) going into last nights game."

I don't have a problem with his +/- or defensive play. I have a problems with his turnovers and losing puck battles.

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | November 18, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone believe that we can get through the playoffs with MJ as no 1 C?
And, where is Ovi???

Posted by: bluejeener1 | November 18, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Well, some of us, all last spring and all summer, whined, moaned and pleaded for a true 3rd, chcking line. Often I said Bradley (absent Clutterbuck) could be the RW. I thought we needed Belander back for C, but sgm3 said if Steckel played like 09 playoffs Steckel, he could be C. I and others doubted Chimera could be LW because he never seemed to be physical enough.

At least last night, they did a good job. Let's see if they stay together and see how they do against top offensive teams.

The problem with Poti and his groin is getting serious. He's been out 6 games, 1 back, three missed. You can't be pushed against the cap (Caps aren't) with players who miss time but don't go on LTIR. The Poti extension must be questioned as next year (and, even more, 2012-2013) we could be cap limited. Having him on cap, not playing, is a detrement. Meanwhile, a number of teams could use a scoring LW. We have an extra. For the 16 games in spring, we need another solid d-man. But, for now, Flash for even a solid third pair guy would be a help.

Oh, yes, re: Ovi on ice during the last minute...I agree, he's not the best player out there. And he didn't do anything during the game to warrant the "reward." BB seems to use empty-net time to reward players to pad stats. I don't know about that strategy. I'd rather have my best five defensive players (think of a Kono checking line) out there. He's the coach though and I'm not.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 18, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I see that they did not give Laich an assist on the EN goal. Laich though won the key faceoff, the puck was corraled by Semin and then saucered down for the goal. Give the guy his due.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 18, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

@BetterOffWithFedorov

I agree with you on Flash and his tendency to turnt he puck over too much. That has been the worst part of his game this season and he definitely needs to improve upon it.

But that is a fixable problem. The question is if he will fix it. There are 63 more games(or maybe 40 until trade deadline) to find out.

There are definitely flaws in his game. His inability to win battles on the boards is one too. That is why I think him being on a line with Laich and Knuble helped because those two are pretty good players on the boards. Remember, that line only got split up because BGordon got injured. Then once BB split the top two lines, they stated to play worse.

Flash's play has its negatives, but he is a much better player than most people on here give him credit for.

@tominsocal1

I agree with you on Poti. To be out this long with a groin injury is worrisome. It makes you wonder how serious it is. Luckily there is a lot of time for him to heal(do you rest him until January or February?). But that is definitely a concern.

I think the Caps will acquire a D-man, but I also think GMGM knows it is better to wait until January when the salaries of the players he acquires is less. This will allow him to acquire players of greater total salary(and likely better players). It is only mid-November and the Caps are 14-4-1. IMO, it is prudent to wait it out before making a move. Especially with so many teams about to be in salary cap hell with their guys coming off of LTIR.

Posted by: sgm3 | November 18, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I think GMGM might surprise us and go for a solid center rather than a defenseman...or maybe a center in Jan orFeb, and a 3-4 Dman at the deadline

Posted by: capscoach | November 18, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

capscoach: I also, all summer, wanted a solid #2C. Said neither MaJo nor MP could do that. However, for the balance of the season, I would get the defenseman first. Already (although I agree with sgm3 to wait until the cap-strapped teams must dump) we are seeing too many minutes from Green. One injury and the D is stretched.

As for center, if you get that #2, where do you put him? If Steckel makes for a good #3, and the new #2 mov es in, do you put MaJo to #4? He might be fine there as a rookie, actually. It never hurts a C to work their way up.

It's just that I think, due to lack of depth at D, acquiring someone who can play 20+ minutes and not be injured and give some vet presence on the blueline is more important. Bieksa would be a good move for one year. Find out what Van will want. Trade Flash for some of that. Add a pick to the deal. He will have plenty of time to blend in with the team. Then you can get that vet, playoff center March 1st and you are set for April.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 18, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

There was quite the following of Buffalo fans there last night. Probably the most opposing team fans I have seen this season.

Boyd looked bad last night as well. Rough game for him.

Then again, the Caps are still perfect with him in the line-up...and perfect when Semin scores a goal. I wonder if this mystery of "Who is the lucky charm" will ever be answered.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | November 18, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

> Laich though won the key faceoff...

Well, actually Gaustad "won" that faceoff (http://www.nhl.com/scores/htmlreports/20102011/PL020260.HTM), but not well enough to get it all the way back to his point men, and Semin was quick enough to step in between and immediately shoot on goal. Laich helped by keeping Gaustad from a clean win, but otherwise that was single-handed wizardry by Semin, so no assist.

Posted by: yosemite_sam | November 18, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

@tom

oh I agree about the D! I just think GMGM might not.

As for what I would like to see...

Ovie/Backs/Laich
Semin/_______/knuble
Fehr/MaJo/Flash or Chimera
Bradley/Gordon or stecks/Hendricks

Scratch: King

I have no major problem with trading Flash for something in return....did I leave anyone major out?

I realize putting Laich on the first line is a bit crazy...but Knuble can't keep up and Semin and Ovie together puts to much fire power on one line(unless we are having scoring issues and then go for it!)

Posted by: capscoach | November 18, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Yet anonther reason supporting the idea of the Caps acquiring BXӘ: He hates Penguins.

See his fight from last night in which he levels one of the stinking fowl for trying to run Luongo. Granted PIT won that game, but, it was nice to see. You can probably find it on YouTube somewhere or if you watch NHLOTF anytime before the first puck drops tonight...

Posted by: Rhino40 | November 18, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Defensively, I thought the #1 and #2 paings looked pretty weak in our zone; if not for some stellar saves by Neuvy, Green/Shultz and Alzner/Carlson would have been scored against on quite a few occasions....if Erskine (only 12 minutes???) and his partner played that lax people here would be screaming for their benchings and how we need to "upgrade" their spots....another clean/gentlemanly game devoid of emotion and passion won by the Caps

Posted by: vermontcaps | November 18, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

"but he is a much better player than most people on here give him credit for."

@sgm3

I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with this (and I'm going to have to ask you to come in on Saturday...and Sunday mmmkay?)

I really don't think he is a much better player that what we are used to seeing from him which is a player with better than average offensive ability, defensive liability, below average faceoffs and doesn't like to muck it up and fight for pucks.

Maybe that's ok for a third liner but a second line center (or wing) can't have such blatant deficiencies.

The guy just can't be counted on in big moments and I don't trust him. I would personally have MJ play 2C (or even 1C from time to time) to get experience than have someone there that might be better in the short run because of experience.

I think this is the perfect time to get MJ lots of minutes in different situations to build up his awareness, chemistry and experience. He will make mistakes that will cost us goals but can you think of a better team to overcome this than the caps who have the best record when down early?

Posted by: Moose33 | November 18, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

@capscoach

I dont think I want to see the current Laich on the 1st line.

Ovie/Backs/Semin
Fehr/Majo/Knubs
ChimChim/Hendricks/Laich
Bradley/Stecks/Gordo

Scratch: King, Flush

You could swap Knubs and Laich if you wanted to...same with Hendricks and Gordo.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | November 18, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

@Moose33

Defensive liability?

Flash hasn't been that at all this year. If you watch he has always been third man high and is back playing defense. His +/- numbers indicate that his line doesn't let up many goals, especially considering he hasn't(or his linemates) haven't been scoring much.

Your evaluation is the sort of evaluation I find hilarious. You already had in your head, before the season started, that Flash is a defensive liability. Therefore, you go ahread and state that he has been a defensive liability this year. When, in actuallity, he hasn't. He has shown to be much improved defensively and has been playing his defensive zone coverage much better.

Just because you had it in your head that he is a defensive liability, does not necessarily mean that is true. Try to evaluate his(and all players) play this season wth an impartial view. It works better that way.

Posted by: sgm3 | November 18, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

My two cents on the game.

At first I thought the new lines were going to be a problem, but I was pleasantly surprised in that they worked well specially the OV line when you consider that they didn’t have much experience together.

I like chimerra and Bradley playing together, those guys are constantly going and bring a lot of energy to the team.

I think OV is pressing and playing a bit reckless.

Posted by: hock1 | November 18, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Though I want Flash gone I agree with @sgm3 that he has not been a defensively liability, particularly when compared to last year. He's taken to heart the new system and he's been responsible on the backcheck.

Semin-Backstrom is money, but query where that leaves Ovi if they're not on the first line. For that reason I don't think last night's top two lines hold, even though I kinda liked 'em.

Marcus is going to be good. We've got a winning record. Keep playing him.

Posted by: Justafan | November 18, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

@sgm3

"If you watch he has always been third man high and is back playing defense."

You are watching a completely different game, I am sorry. He tends to be the last one back on defense the majority of the time. He is a defensive liability. He has been paired with Laich who is the most defensively responsible player among the top 6 F's. I have seen him get stuck below the goal line after losing a number of battles and look like he doesnt even care to get back.

I said in a previous post he was good the first 5 games. After that he has played like utter crap.

Posted by: ThePat | November 18, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

vermontcaps: Go ahead and continue on with trashing Green, Schultz, Carlson, and Alzner. If all of our pairing had the skill of the pairing you like best, Erskine and Sloan, we would be in the basement. After all the props I gave Schultz he probably played his worst game of the season, it happens, I have bad days at work too. Green, Carlson, and Alzner all played pretty solid games.

vermont: You are now the new cstanton1 because you come here following games and tear apart the players that are the critical core of the team. The difference is cstanton1 didn't just complain to hear himself complain, he provided very good insight. Emotionless game? Of course it was. The Sabres and Capitals do not have bad blood between each other, none at all. They did for a short time because of the Briere incident but Briere left 3 years ago. Every game cannot be emotionally charged because the human mind cannot take that kind of abuse.

Posted by: fanohock1 | November 18, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

"Emotionless game? Of course it was" - fanohock1

Not true, the annoying girl behind me got really angry when I started chanting "WE WANT WINGS" after goal 1 and "WE WANT BUFFALO WINGS" after goal 3.

Alas, we didnt eat wings...so I cried on the metro ride home.

Anger, annoyance, crying....sounds like emotions to me. =)

Also, in defense of vermontcaps, he has been a strong proponent of Erskine...but I have never seem him say he likes Sloan as one of his favs.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | November 18, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

How anyone can say that Flash is responsible defensively is beyond me. The wingers have been making up for his lack of D the entire season no matter what line he is playing on. The guy just doesn't skate hard into the back check and gets stuck down low way too often after he loses yet another puck battle. He is a soft player, I think that is the bottom line.

Posted by: PhilR | November 18, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

@PhilR

Thank you for agreeing with me. I really don't get it. If he has been responsible our 2C wouldnt have been told its "his turn" to sit. The way they played last night I wouldnt be surprised if its "his turn" again this weekend, unless Boyd isnt fully healthy.

Posted by: ThePat | November 18, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

@PhilR

Your statement would lead some on here to think that you are simply being blinded by your opinion and must be watching the games in your "head movies" (yay Tropic Thunder). Flush is obviously a sure in for the Selke.

I for one have seen him more often than not, play lazy if at all in the D zone. Granted he is a little better from last year and occasionally has made a good play or 2, but usually I find myself sighing followed by a forehead slap and a mumbling of g** d*** Flush. His +- thus far has been saved by the likes of Laich (no I not trying to be phonetically punny) a couple others and of course some stellar goat lending. Had it not been for these others, his plus minus would be deep in the negative.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | November 18, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Alright @PhilR, since I said something I'll clarify, because I was not clear the first time. I've seen Flash make a some good defensive plays this year (though maybe that was in the first five games), that reflect improvement from last year. I think it's reflective of BB's greater emphasis on D. I still want Flash gone.

Posted by: Justafan | November 18, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

@capscoach/seminallovertheice

Think capscoach lines are right on. Would love:

Ovie/Backstrom/Laich
Semin/MaJo (for xprnc)/Knuble or Fehr
Chimera/Steckel/Bradley (roll it)
Hendricks/Gordon or Flash/Knuble or Fehr or King
Scratch: Flash(trade?), King

Green-Schultz
Carlson-Alzner
Poti(Sloan)-Erskine

For playoffs, need real second line center (let MaJo get experience in the meantime), need shutdown blueline D to pair with Carlson and have Poti-Alzner play together with Erskine solid depth.

problem is what do we trade? Flash can't bring a lot right now, don't want to deal a goalie (Varly needs to prove he's healthy and Holtby can run it in Hershey for this year). Easy to say we want 2nd line C and shutdown D (who doesn't) but what do we give??

Posted by: SiberianTiger1 | November 18, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

"You do know that Flash had the 3rd highest +/- of all the forwards(only behind Laich and Semin) going into last nights game"

sgm,

And what's Flash's quality of competion vs the other Caps forwards and what's his percentage of draws offensive zone vs defensive? +/- only shows part of the picture. With him getting more offensive zone draws vs defensive of course the +/- is better, the two go hand in hand. Flash sucks as a center. Just an opinion formed from watching him play the position.

Posted by: Steve_R | November 18, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

@fanohock1

I've never trashed Green and I've expressed great hope for Carlson; I've only been critical of Shultz and Alzner. I hardly "tear apart the core of the team" after each game, I merely point out what you obviously choose to ignore...As for the lack of emotions, who says there has to be "bad blood" between teams for there to be passion and intensity? I guess that's why you defend Shultz and Alzner and I like Erskine....he brings it EVERY GAME whereas Shultz and Alzner seem to play like they don't want to make anyone on the other team mad or angry

Posted by: vermontcaps | November 18, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

"The guy just doesn't skate hard into the back check and gets stuck down low way too often after he loses yet another puck battle."

That couldn't be more incorrect. He is the third man high so often and is almost always in good defensive position this year.

His biggest problem this year has been turnovers. He has committed too many of them. But that is a problem that can be corrected.

@Justafan

I agree that MJ is going to be good and gaining experience playing this year will be valuable. With the Caps good record it is wise to get him some experience now in preparation for the following seasons.

I also agree that trading Flash would be fine(for an upgrade on D or an upgrade at #2C). I just don't like people calling him a defensive liability when that has been completely untrue this year. Flash definitely deserves criticisms for some aspects of his play(as do most players), but I just wish some posters were accurate in their criticisms.

Posted by: sgm3 | November 18, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

SAOTI,

And those same individuals are more than likely blinded by stats!!

Justafan,

My post was not directed so much at you as another who is talking the +/- stuff on Flash. The only reason the +/- is where its at is due to the wingers he has been playing with. I admit, he had a couple good games at the beginning of the season but has been hideous since. He and Sloan should have seats molded to the form of the a$$es in the press box.

Posted by: PhilR | November 18, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Two other quick notes:

Knuble: He's playing same minutes as past, taking even more shots (pace for 200; had 151 last year), but fewer PIMs (pace for 25, not 60) and points (pace for 32; never had less than 45). Does fewer PIMs mean he's hurt/less aggressive? Old? Just starting slow? Real issue is he's not on the first PP unit (Laich's spot for good with big 4). He's 38 though...??

MP: 6!! assists in the last Hershey game. In 9 games, 2-13-15 (most PPG at Hershey) with +6. Champions post-lockout are built from puckmoving blueliners (Hawks, Flyers, Wings), not necessarily goalies pre-lockout, and up the middle (Pens, Wings). Good to see GMGM has got the middle coming for future years: Looking forward to Backstrom-MP-MJ up the middle with Green-Carlson along with Ovie, Laich and 2 of Varly, Neuvy, Holtby for years to come.

HUGE question is does Semin fit?? He does for this year, but...

Posted by: SiberianTiger1 | November 18, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

sgm3,

Exactly what games are you watching?? GEEEEEEZ!!!

Posted by: PhilR | November 18, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Flash = Peter Sundstrom

Anyone ever remember seeing Sundstrom duck and turtle when he was about to be hit? Good hands, soft player. Waaaay too soft...

Posted by: sca187 | November 18, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

@PhilR

Exactly what games are you watching impartially? Clearly none.

Posted by: sgm3 | November 18, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

So Erskine played with more emotion than any other Capital player last night?

There has to be a basis for games filled with emotion, at every competitive level. Often times it is said that unfamiliar opponents build a hatred toward each other in a 7 game playoff series. Games 3 and 4 are almost almost more emotionally charged than games 1 and 2, and it ramps up from there.

No one can tell me that game 1 against the Habs or Rangers were anywhere near as electric from the drop of the puck as the series' against the Flyers and Penguins. I have been lucky enough to be there for all of these games. A REGULAR season game against the Flyers and Pens creates more buzz in the stadium than game 1 against the Rangers or Habs.

Posted by: fanohock1 | November 18, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

...to read this board you'd think Fleischmann is the only thing holding back the Caps from winning the cup (and presumably was the reason they didn't win last year).

I personally think he is a good player - probably better on the wing - and probably an attractive asset to other teams via trade. I also think BB is halfway through his 40 game job interview and so far he is giving reason to believe he deserves to coach this team through the playoffs, but I still think getting the coaching right is a bigger issue than Fleischmann

on another note... what's the latest on Varly? I read he was decent in a 7-3 Hershey win and might stay the week?

Posted by: PSD1 | November 18, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

SiberianTiger1,

I do not see MP ever being a permanent fixture with the Caps as I think it will be MJ and Eakin even as early as next season. MP is a good AHL player but I just don't see him having the size to be durable at the NHL level on a nightly basis.

Posted by: PhilR | November 18, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Knowing my luck, that tool will appear immediately after I ask the question, but where is cstanton1? And who should I send my $5 for the floral arrangement being sent to his hospital room? =/

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | November 18, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

sgm3,

The amazing thing is there are soooo many other posters saying the same exact thing I am and have seen few if any in agreement with your position. I think that speaks for itself right there!

Posted by: PhilR | November 18, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3

Flash is rarely 3rd man high. Is he a couple times a game sure, but way more often he gets stuck down low and is a defensive liability. He is slow to get back. And that is about impartial as you get. Even the coaching staff just benched him. So Im sorry but attempting to convince people of your viewpoint of Flash probably isn't going to happen.

Posted by: ThePat | November 18, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

@PhilR

No question Eakin is part of the future (he's 19, in WHL, and probably at least 2 years away from the NHL) but he's 5'11", 175. Perreault (22) is 5'10", 174.

Not disagreeing but Eakin's a couple years behind is all (along with the Russians) and isn't a size upgrade over Perreault.

Speed can make up for lack of size with the post-lockout rules though. St. Louis is the obvious example...

Posted by: SiberianTiger1 | November 18, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

There were a lot of fans from Buffalo there last night. I saw quite a few girls who looked like both buffalo fans and a buffalo mascot. They must be following the chicken wing as it migrates south for the winter.

Posted by: griz0615 | November 18, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Flash has not been a minus in ANY game this season. Not once. Hardly a defensive liability because that usually means goals are let up. Just because Laich is a good defensive forward does not mean that Flash isn't.

MJ is a -3 on the season, including multiple games where he was a minus playing with Laich. Where was Laich then?

But somehow it is always Flash who is considered the defensive liability. Eventhough the RESULTS do not show that. The PLAY on the ice do not show that. The STATS do not show that. NOTHING has shown that.

Yes, there are posters on here who say that he is. Those are all the same posters who have shown, repeatedly, that they reach their conclusion first and then try to match what happens to try to define their already decided opinion(such as now, with a statement of "Flash is a defensive liability because I say so".)

Instead of actually watching games and THEN drawing conclusion based on the play. You know, the way it is supposed to be done.

Posted by: sgm3 | November 18, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

@fanohock1

Erskine didn't get much of a chance to show his heart last night, but his hits per minutes played was best on the D...I guess the difference between us is this: you think emotion, passion, intensity only exists between traditional rivals or in playoff series. I don't think you watch enough NHL hockey, or maybe you only watch Caps games. I think the emotions, passions, and intensity in regular season games is indicative of the teams heart and compete level. Whereas I think the emotions should be present at all times in the NHL, I guess you think it's a switch that we can turn on whenever we need to.

Posted by: vermontcaps | November 18, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3

The COACHING STAFF thinks it. Do you ever think you are wrong? That is a serious question.

Posted by: ThePat | November 18, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

@fanohock1
I think you missed the joke in my post about emotion. :)

@smg3
I attend every home game and watch every road game. I watch Flash and all the others. I praise players for good plays and call out sloppy play. Flash more often than not is playing soft D at best. Flash's good defensive plays and being 3rd man high can mimic his faceoff win percentage at best.

Perhaps you should take your own advice about impartiality. All you have done is provide ONE stat (plus minus, which could only means a goal wasnt scored while he was on the ice...it does NOT show why that goal wasnt scored) and claiming your opinions from watching him are more accurate than others who watch him is simply YOUR opinion.

I can do that too...did you know the % chance for rain when Flash is in the line up is significantly higher when he isnt in the line up. This mean God often weeps when Flash isnt scratched. =)

@griz0615
I agree bud. If the Buffalo fan behind me had actually been a Caps fan rocking the red (and not the ginormous yellow coat she was)...I might have accidentally turned around and asked her to get me a glass of kool-aid but please use the door and not the wall. Heeeeyyyyy KOOL-AID....OH YEAH.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | November 18, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

"The COACHING STAFF thinks it."

Where did you acquire such information? He was benches last game because of his turnovers and the bad penalty he took. BB also did not want to bench the 3rd or 4th liners because they have been playing very good all around games.

But, at no point, was it ever stated Flash was benched because he was a defensive liability. Never.

To your question of if I ever think I am wrong.

Sure, occassionaly. But I sure do know when you are wrong, and you are clearly in the wrong here.

Posted by: sgm3 | November 18, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3

If you think Im wrong thats fine, but its clear that everyone else thinks you are wrong. Just read @SAOTI over and over and over again to you and maybe it will get through to you. Im at every game just like he is so if you ever want to stop by and watch Flash together Ill sit there and pin point for you every time he is not 3rd man high, everytime he is stuck and loses a battle(those things make him a defensive liability), everytime he doesnt get back after losing those battles.

Posted by: ThePat | November 18, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

"All you have done is provide ONE stat (plus minus, which could only means a goal wasnt scored while he was on the ice...it does NOT show why that goal wasnt scored)"

For one game yes, but to have 18 games played without being a minus in any of them, combined with the lack of scoring on the lines Flash has been on, shows that his line has not been giving up many goals.

You can just give credit to all the other players he plays with and just call him lucky. But when you compare his teammates numbers(+/-) when they are with him to when they are against, they are favorable to Flash. Such as MJ being a -3. MJ seems like much more of defensive liability as Flash, esepcially since he has played with the same groups of wingers as Flash has.

But why evaluate the statistics and draw logical conclusions from them when you can just state "Flash is a defensive liability" and call it gospel.

Posted by: sgm3 | November 18, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3

"Where did you acquire such information? He was benches last game because of his turnovers and the bad penalty he took. BB also did not want to bench the 3rd or 4th liners because they have been playing very good all around games."

And where did you acquire such information? You are a joke, get over yourself buddy.

Posted by: ThePat | November 18, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

"Ill sit there and pin point for you every time he is not 3rd man high."

Then I'll sit there and point out how most other centers are not 3rd man high much more often than Flash which leave their teams open to more scoring chances against, which makes Flash a better option than most possible replacements and thus does NOT make him a defensive liability.

Posted by: sgm3 | November 18, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3

" Such as MJ being a -3. MJ seems like much more of defensive liability as Flash, esepcially since he has played with the same groups of wingers as Flash has.

I mean really buddy? MJ played with Semin and Laich for one game before getting hurt. He was playign with Fehr, who was not playing well and has already been scratched.

Posted by: ThePat | November 18, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3

Turning the puck over is part of being a defensive liability and you yourself admitted that he does turn the puck over alot...it goes hand in hand.

The guy is soft and is nowhere to be found at the biggest moments. There are attributes not in the box score that are sometimes more important than +/-.

Posted by: Moose33 | November 18, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

@Moose33

I agree that Flash turns the puck over too much. While that is a liability, it is not a defensive liability.

Defense is played while the opposing team has the puck(or ball in other sports). Flash's tendency to turn the puck over is while the Caps have the puck, not the opponent. Therefore, the Caps, and Flash, are not playing defense when he makes those mitakes. Thus, turning the puck over too much is not a defensive liability.

It is a problem, but falls outside the realm of "defensive liability".

Posted by: sgm3 | November 18, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

as i walk across the field, in the distance, i can see a red figure on the horizon. i as get nearer i can tell this is not going to be a good thing. the red mass has a liquid look to it. as i get closer i can now see that it is a bloody pulp of hair, hyde & interanl organs - all massively disfigured. i attempt to discern what this grotesque pile of blood & bones is.
then it dawns on me...
... it's an overly beaten dead horse.

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | November 18, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I like turtles.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | November 18, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Ok,lemme see if I have this correct - so if one player [Schultzie] has a glorious +/- [mostly playing with the likes of Backy, Green & Ovie] but then utterly and completely spits the bit two straight playoffs, the playoff performances mean nothing, because the only relevant stat regarding his play, is the reg. season +/-, is that correct? And nothing else should be taken into account? Got it.

But if another guy, playing a new position but with the all-world Brooks Laich, ties for the 4th-highest plus-minus on the team, that stat signifies nothing, is that right?

Thanks guys, just wanted to make sure I had it!

Posted by: Timbo_1 | November 18, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

i think the real question is:

If we get rid of Flash, what the hell would you guys talk about?

Maybe we should send Flash to the middle east, at least it will get people talking together.

Posted by: natresgroup | November 18, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Symantics.

Bottom line he's a liability whether he is technically on offense or defense. So we should tell him not to touch the puck and just play D since he's an "offensive liability"? Why isn't he playing on the checking line if he's so good?

Also, I didn't see any argument against his lack of toughness, inability to perform on the big stage and inconsistency so I will assume you agree with me on these points.

At least he's not technically a "defensive liability". He's got that going for him.

Posted by: Moose33 | November 18, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3 - wow, got a lot of response out of Flash!

I agree with you - good to give MJ experience and I think maybe BB trying to catch lightning in a bottle. MJ bigger upside but right now the lines you mentioned are better...

Posted by: RedLitYogi | November 18, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

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