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Posted at 8:21 AM ET, 12/29/2010

Capitals deliver early-season salvo against Montreal

By Gene Wang
Morning Roundup

It wasn't exactly a vanquishing because such seminal moments rarely unfold during the regular season, but Washington's 3-0 victory over Montreal last night was about as satisfying and complete as any so far, especially for a club bent on prospering during the playoffs after flaming out in the first round against these Canadiens.

The Capitals left no doubt from the opening faceoff that this game was meaningful on so many levels. They took the fight to Montreal on offense throughout the first period, and that onslaught yielded a pair of goals that left the Canadiens reeling. The first came stylishly from right wing Jay Beagle's backhand with 3 minutes 40 seconds to play, and defenseman Mike Green followed with an acrobatic goal 37 seconds before the first intermission.

Then Washington made it stand by deploying defensive pressure on all flanks consistently, including the forecheck, shot blocking and along the last line of resistance behind 25 saves from goalie Semyon Varlamov.

"Yeah, it was great for us," said winger Eric Fehr, who had an assist on Beagle's goal. "We needed that one just to know we can beat these guys again. Just put a good solid effort forward. I thought everybody on our team played well."

It's no coincidence Washington played with special purpose, considering the opponent created many sleepless nights for Capitals players, coaches and fans alike by dispatching the Presidents' Trophy winners in seven games.

The Capitals had built a series lead of three games to one, but goalie Jaroslav Halak, now with St. Louis, was virtually impenetrable in the final three games, including stopping 41 of 42 shots in a 2-1 win in Game 7 at Verizon Center after turning away 53 of 54 in Game 6.

Before Tuesday night's game, the players talked about leaving doubt in the mind of the Canadiens should the teams meet again in the playoffs.

"Before the game, we obviously had these guys marked on our calendar for awhile," said Green, whose goal off a skilled pass from Nicklas Backstrom came while he was falling to the ice. "They're such a good team. They're so quick, and they pass the puck so well, it makes it difficult. We played a solid game. We played our system to a T, and when do that, we're usually successful no matter who we play."

But while players were rejoicing in the redemptive victory, Coach Bruce Boudreau predictably took a more measured and practical approach to this latest development. After all, it's nowhere close to playoff time, and his aim is about the long haul, not necessarily immediate rewards.

"No, we wanted to beat Montreal because they play Tampa next," Boudreau said when asked if toppling the Canadiens held extra meaning. "We figured that if we can beat them, then all of a sudden they go down there, they're going to get a little more desperate and hopefully come up with a good couple games in Florida. But no, because if we're sitting here in April, and we're playing whatever team, and we don't have success, then this is going to mean nothing, and you guys are going to be all over us again."

FROM THE POST
Game story: Capitals 3, Canadiens 0

Could the Capitals open the 2011-12 season in Sweden?

Check out a photo gallery detailing progress of the Winter Classic rink construction at Heinz Field. (Full Winter Classic coverage is here.)

Over at the Bog, check out the top 11 D.C. sports moments of the year. "The Caps get Halak'ed" is ranked second on the list, so clearly the "top" moments aren't all good.

AROUND THE WEB
NBC4's Lindsay Czarniak goes to Mike Green's house for lunch, and the Caps defenseman talks about how he's learned to take better care of his mental and physical health:

Brooks Laich makes an appearance on Puck Daddy's list of the top 20 hockey stories of 2010.

Captain America John Carlson for play of the year. (FanHouse)

By Gene Wang  | December 29, 2010; 8:21 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Roundup  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Caps claim fourth win in five games, beat Canadiens, 3-0
Next: Semyon Varlamov continues as the hot hand for Capitals

Comments

Beagle's goal made the ESPN Top 10 plays. Congrats!

Posted by: tim-n-VA | December 29, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Beagles goal was great.

I have a new hatred for Subban. Wish Chimera would have channeled his inner Brashear and got up and did something like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJlD00gVJ6Q

Varly looked solid in net.

Is it me or has Green been laying down left and right this season to block shots?

Erskines overall play has been something of a treat lately. I kind of wish he was my uncle, even though I'm like a year older.

Headed up to Pittsburgh on Friday. Anyone know if their fans are as brutal as Philly fans?

Either way- I'm ready for it.

Posted by: Fro_2 | December 29, 2010 9:08 AM | Report abuse

repost:

I thought the Caps couldn't beat the Habs w/Erskine in the lineup because he was too slow?? Another solid game by #4 with yet another different partner....he's been the glue that's held the backline together!! Can't wait for Poti to heal so #4 can be banished to the pressbox w/DJK...

Chimera has speed, veteran leadership, and grit? His cowering to Subban (who gloated over hime and gave him a shove for good measure) was embarassing. Chimera should be traded for Neil, Clarkson, Mair, Mayers, etc... if/when possible.

Subban was itching to go all night, starting w/Chimera and constantly yapping at Ovi. As a rookie, someone on our team should've put him in his place LIKE THE PENS DID a few weeks back. Glad to see Erskine put him on his a@@ when he had the opportunity, we'll sure miss that edge with him out of the lineup.

And one more thing: Put Johnny E. on the powerplay before he's gone!! Camped in the crease w/his stick on the ice, he'd probably break double-digits in goals :) We wouldn't do any worse than another 0-fer on the pp...


Posted by: vermontcaps | December 29, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

@vermontcaps

So what if Subban looked at somebody. Maybe ignoring Subban is what got him so aggressive that led to his horrible play on the Caps 2nd goal. Subban was overly aggressive and put himself out of the play when he tried to level Chimera(maybe Chimera said something that got under Subban's skin) which led to the open ice. If letting Subban look at guys creates more goal scoring opportunities for the Caps, the go ahead.

Subban looked at Chimera. He didn't cheap shot him, he didn't punch him, he didn't even really push him(that was barely a nudge). A look is nothing to take a penalty over. You get him back for that by hitting him hard on the forecheck and making him look foolish when he over aggressively goes for hits instead of proper defensive plays. The Caps did all that. Good job by the Caps players

Just because it gets your panties in a bunch when another player LOOKS at ours, doesn't mean it's a big deal.

Quit making mountains out of molehills. You know you have crazy posters when the Caps play a great 60 minute game, win 3-0, and the crazy posters come complaining about how an opposing player LOOKED at one of the Caps wrong and the Caps didn't go crazy.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 29, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

@vermontcaps:

HBO showed that just because guys are talkin doesn't mean they were talkin trash. Maybe ... maybe not. They could have been talkin about anything. I would love to hear what they were saying. Hopefully it will be on the next episode.

I agree about Chimera (not the trading him part).... that was unlike him to cower. He has way too much speed to trade him for any of the guys you mentioned. It would never happen.

E was good last night. He's been consistent all year. He will get screwed unfortunately. Having said that Green was the best D man last night. He was all over the place. I would still say that even if he didn't score.

Posted by: will111 | December 29, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Green has seemed a lot more collected this past season. He is no longer just our best offensive defeseman, but also our best "defesive" defemseman. He had a couple rough games after he came back from injury, but that is to be expected.

Now if his new found attitude could just rub off on Ovie!

I think a lot of these players could benefit from sports psychology. I get the feeling that they are told what to do by the staff a lot, but when they start making the right decisions for themselves, they can become more empowered.

Those of you who expect players to live the season (and some of you the off season as well) in a bubble, need to cut these guys some slack. Sure they are making big money, but they are allowed to go out on the town and enjoy that money every now and again. They are humans (not just athlete machines)and it is a long season.

Go Green! Go Caps...Lets BRING IT to Pitt!

Posted by: capscoach | December 29, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

@vermontcaps

Also, the worry is the lack of speed in a Schulz/Erskine PAIRING. It wasn't a big deal last night but there wasn't much flow in last night's game due to all of the penalties.

The lack of speed in that PAIRING will continue to concern me if they remain paired together.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 29, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

@vermont

we won 3-0...yet apparently we still did not play well? It was not a perfect game, but it was a good one...and I don't see how taking a roughing penalty when u r up 2-0 is a "good" idea.

Also...in BBs post game he talked about how he is going to play the guys who he thinks will win the game...and it will be a tough decision on who to bench...why don't you WAIT until he starts benching your lover boy before u start freaking out about it.

Would have liked to see more physicality in that game, but again...hard to complain when we shut out a team and keep them under 30 SOGs.

Posted by: capscoach | December 29, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Anyone notice once we got the "Big Nasty" 55 back in the line-up we pitch a shut-out? He is the glue to our "D" !

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | December 29, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

sgm3 - were you at the game? because i was and i saw subban acting like a jerk-*** all night. the play with chimera in the first was clearly an overly aggressive physical dirty play - a hard hit against the boards wasn't the bad part, it was the extra shove while chimera was down on the ice and then the standing over him like a defensive lineman straddles a QB after sacking him just to intimidate. it deserved retaliation.

Posted by: mjw4m | December 29, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

sgm3 - were you at the game? because i was and i saw subban acting like a jerk-*** all night. the play with chimera in the first was clearly an overly aggressive physical dirty play - a hard hit against the boards wasn't the bad part, it was the extra shove while chimera was down on the ice and then the standing over him like a defensive lineman straddles a QB after sacking him just to intimidate. it deserved retaliation.

Posted by: mjw4m | December 29, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

@mjw4m

the commentators were saying that Subban had been a scratch lately b/c of a eserious attitude problem with his own team. When you are uo 2-0 there is no point in getting a roughing call just to allow the team "get revenge" on a player that is not going to learn the lesson anyway and then give them an opportunity to come back. They weren't taking runs at our guys...suck it up and win the game...that in my mind is the better way to "get back" at them.

Posted by: capscoach | December 29, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Also...intersting article about how the caps are not playing "flashy" hockey anymore, and maybe that is why Semin has been struggling lately. Not sure if I agree or not, but there is an argument that ever since the Caps started buying into the new system coincides directly with Semin's slump.

Posted by: capscoach | December 29, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

The best way to deal with pests is to ignore them and let them become a distraction for their own team.

Let's not forget that Varlamov and John Erskine, the sacred cow of toughness for this team, turned the other cheek to Sean Avery who was eventually benched for a game after handing the Caps multiple PPs for his antics. Hopefully at least some of you were on the bandwagon at that point in time.

When they go over the top, which Subban didn't do last night, then you teach them a lesson. So what if he talked some trash. he took himself out of the play on Green's goal trying to be a pest again.

Posted by: GFisher1 | December 29, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

The team did many little things that all added up go into winning - right... They really prevented Montreal from having great scoring opportunities and Varly was still there to do his job which is stop the ones that could have changed the momentum. Still there are so many new guys in the lineup because of injury, and with first year players on defence this team will make mistakes.

I can not predict which way this team will win each night. Last year they were overpowering but predictable.

I have said all along that my biggest criticism is they were predictable and not versatile enough to get out of adversity. I think that is changing and the kids are learning fast.

Also I know that they gave up offense when Flash was traded - and Hannan is being noticed out there now in this system - but I am pretty confident in the guys that will get minutes that Flash would have received.

Beagle, A. Gordon, Johannson, M-P all combined make up for Flash and provide depth and skill sets he did not have.

One guy can slump or go off on injury, but four guys, all guys used to winning and scoring give this team the luxury to make bold decisions for the stretch drive and beyond when deciding on other free agents.

2010: 52 - 17 - 12 is a pretty decent year...and to think 6 of those regulation losses came on one bad stretch of December when the best player is in a scoring slump...not shabby

Posted by: yesisaiditfirst | December 29, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

So who is in Net on 1/1/11. I was thinking Neuvy, but with this shutout Varly made a case for himself too. I'd like to see Neuvy get it - I think his more controlled style of play and strong leg pads match up well against the penguins, but I'd bet that the Gabby bias factor will give Varly the start.

Posted by: chatton | December 29, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

rumors out in the internet world on a semin to islanders trade. maybe we can package what we get and send to calgary for iginla..

Posted by: samb99 | December 29, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

@samb99

I dont know what the heck the Islanders have to give us for Semin so I doubt that happens. But I believe Semin wont be on this team come the trade deadline. With the system being tweaked it is much more important for us to have a Big C,that doesnt get bumped off the puck easily, long term than Semin.

Posted by: ThePat | December 29, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

roloson bailey 1st round pick martinek are the rumors. if the end game is iginla then something to consider

Posted by: samb99 | December 29, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

roloson bailey 1st round pick martinek are the rumors. if the end game is iginla then something to consider

Posted by: samb99 |

Not going to happen.

Why would the Islanders trade for a player they are not willing to sign after the season ends(the Isles don't spend money so I can't see them spending any money on Semin). The Islanders have nothing to play for this year. From an Islanders perspective, it makes no sense.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 29, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

not saying you are not correct. just sharing what the blogs are saying. Semin is only 26 so if they can trade and sign him now vs waiting for full and open competition. Maybe GMGM knows the dollars that it would take to sign and does not want to allocate that amount for sasha.

Posted by: samb99 | December 29, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

@capscoach

I've read those arguments as a theory for Semin's slump as well and don't agree.

Then again, we haven't had much goal production by many of our "big guns" this past month. Semin's last goal was the last game we played in Nov. Backstrom's last 2 goals were on Dec 1. Laich has had 2 goals this month. Ovi's had 4 goals, 2 at the beginning of the month and two at the end.

I'm sure the flu hurt their production as Laich, Backstrom, and Semin were all ill.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 29, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

I dont know what the heck the Islanders have to give us for Semin so I doubt that happens. But I believe Semin wont be on this team come the trade deadline. With the system being tweaked it is much more important for us to have a Big C,that doesnt get bumped off the puck easily, long term than Semin.

Posted by: ThePat

Agree. Semin should not be resigned. He needs to be traded. NYI? Probably not. No way we bring in Rolosson without shipping out a goalie first. At this point, I can't see doing that. Semin no longer fits, and his contract is the huge problem this teams needs to address after the Winter Classic.

I would love to turn Semin into Iginla though. No way we can do that without bringing in another team.

Big Game Saturday. I am taking my family, and very excited. This town NEEDS a big sports WIN. This will have to do until the playoffs start.

Posted by: underpants2 | December 29, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I very highly doubt the Islanders will be trading either bailey or their first round pick, let alone both. Do some thinking be fore you "think out loud."

Posted by: GFisher1 | December 29, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

GFisher1

no one is thinking out loud. just saying what the blogs are reporting.. that was easy... if boston get 2 lottery picks for kessel. semin is worth more..

Posted by: samb99 | December 29, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

not saying you are not correct. just sharing what the blogs are saying. Semin is only 26 so if they can trade and sign him now vs waiting for full and open competition. Maybe GMGM knows the dollars that it would take to sign and does not want to allocate that amount for sasha.

Posted by: samb99

I was not trying to be argumentative. I agree that it is possible that Semin could be traded(although I do not want him traded), but the Islanders would be one of the last places I would expect him to land.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 29, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

I don't know why there aren't rumors about the Caps going after Arnott. Perhaps he is too slow for the Caps system, but NJ needs to dump salary and he's a big guy the caps could plant in the center of the second line. While he has a no trade clause, he'd probably wave it to go to the caps (old man wants to play on a contender). Could probably get a good deal on him - a couple prospects + a 3rd rounder or something. When Parise returns they need to dump salary.

Posted by: chatton | December 29, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Rolosson? No thanks on the 41 year old goalie. We don't even need a goalie.

Posted by: Dizruption | December 29, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Semin for Ignila? No way I'd do that deal. He's going downhill fast, 33 years old, a RW, and signed thru 202-2013 season at $7 million per.

Posted by: ablake70 | December 29, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

I don't know why there aren't rumors about the Caps going after Arnott. Perhaps he is too slow for the Caps system, but NJ needs to dump salary and he's a big guy the caps could plant in the center of the second line. While he has a no trade clause, he'd probably wave it to go to the caps (old man wants to play on a contender). Could probably get a good deal on him - a couple prospects + a 3rd rounder or something. When Parise returns they need to dump salary.

Posted by: chatton

I think Arnott will be traded closer to the deadline when more teams can absorb his salary.

Parise isn't expected back until late March now, and with where the Devils are at, I expect that Parise doesn't play again this season. Not worth the risk in rushing him back.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 29, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

ablake70

who would you have in the playoffs? semin or ignila..

Posted by: samb99 | December 29, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I dont really want Iginla either. At $7M for the next two years after this, no thanks. I just want a 2C. While I know a lot of people love MP or think 90 can play 2nd line C....fact is when we play teams like Pitt, Phi, Bos...teams that have a lot of C depth we wont win a 7 game series right now. If we move Semin we need a 2C back or trading him is pointless.

Posted by: ThePat | December 29, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

@samb99

If it were 3 years ago, I'd take Iginla. Today, it's Semin. Semin hasn't been as bad in the playoffs as many claim.

Posted by: ablake70 | December 29, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

@sam99

I'm in your corner. Iginla has the perfect take-no-prisoners approach that the Caps desperately need. Who cares if he's 33? Knuble's 38-39. You don't think Iginla would be rejuvenated playing on a legit Cup contender? All that said, his $7 mil contract is a huge drawback, and may not be worth it in the long run.

Posted by: redhotCAPSaicin | December 29, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Oh yes that's what we need to do, trade Semin for a 33 yo player at $7 million a year who doesnt know our system, a system it has taken the current players all of training camp and 40 games into the season to try and master, and apparently they arent there yet. Yeah Im sure Ignila would be able to contribute a ton here jumping on board the moving train this more than halfway through the season. Only trade the makes less sense for us is a 41 year old goalie...morons on this blog are starting to think like Ted did back when we brought in Jagr et al...stop with the stupid talk, if Semin gets traded it will NOT be for some 33 yo or 41 yo rental player.

Posted by: opticlguy | December 29, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Oh yes that's what we need to do, trade Semin for a 33 yo player at $7 million a year who doesnt know our system, a system it has taken the current players all of training camp and 40 games into the season to try and master, and apparently they arent there yet. Yeah Im sure Ignila would be able to contribute a ton here jumping on board the moving train this more than halfway through the season. Only trade the makes less sense for us is a 41 year old goalie...morons on this blog are starting to think like Ted did back when we brought in Jagr et al...stop with the stupid talk, if Semin gets traded it will NOT be for some 33 yo or 41 yo rental player.

Posted by: opticlguy | December 29, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Iginla will leave Calgary for somewhere - they just got a new GM there and he is their best asset....he was an impact player in the Olympics last year for Canada so like Sasha when he wants to be an impact he is...

Posted by: yesisaiditfirst | December 29, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure Semin is "worth more than Kessel." Toronto overpaid for Kessel but what they got was a young player 4 yrs from UFA. Semin is half-a-year from UFA. At this point he's a rental, unless some team unwisely wants to throw like $8M to lock him up. Semin on the open market is not worth Gaborik at $7.5M.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | December 29, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

@opticiguy

This is America. You're certainly entitled to your opinion. If reading the opinions of others makes you so upset, I suggest you leave the blog, smart guy.

Posted by: redhotCAPSaicin | December 29, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

@opticiguy

This is America. You're certainly entitled to your opinion. If reading the opinions of others makes you so upset, I suggest you leave the blog, smart guy.

Posted by: redhotCAPSaicin | December 29, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

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