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Posted at 7:06 AM ET, 12/15/2010

On the Capitals' quest for balance

By Katie Carrera
Morning Roundup

The Capitals entered this season determined to win the right way, to learn how to shut teams down, to not be the team that wins games by a score of 6-4 all the time but to do all that without sacrificing their potent offense.

To fully complete that transition and add a new dimension to their style of play is not an easy task. That alone can be gathered from the ups and downs the Capitals have had both in goals against and goals allowed. After preventing opponents from scoring more than three goals in all but two of the first 11 games this year, they've allowed more than three in five out of the past 13 and three or more in eight games during that same span.

Offensively they've been shutout four times in 13 games and scored two or fewer goals in seven. During the six-game losing streak alone they've been outscored 8-23. In order to see this process through, Mike Green says the Capitals must be both diligent and patient in pursuit of balance.

"It's finding balance and it's not always easy. I know that myself with my game, it just takes time," Green said. "If we can find that balance of playing our system to be strong defensively and still being able to create that offense that we're actually good at, which isn't easy, that's what can take us to the top. We've never really been great defensively, so now we're working on it. Now we're in transition with this hockey club and it's going to take time."

FROM THE POST
Many things haven't gone right for the Capitals recently and it appears many opponents are relying on similar methods to knock them off balance from their intended game and system.

Tracee Hamilton writes that Washington's struggles shouldn't be met with panic or rash reactions, but that's what the team is getting after instilling hope in a fan base so hungry to cheer for a winner.

Bruce Boudreau on the Capitals' goaltending situation: "We're not going after anybody else."

AROUND THE WEB
The first episode of HBO's "24/7" series on the Caps and Penguins airs tonight at 10 p.m. and will be replayed immediately at 11 p.m. One thing that you can expect to hear a lot of is profanity so, as HBO senior producer Dave Harmon told Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski: "hide the kids." (Puck Daddy with audio, D.C. Sports Bog)

A discussion about Bruce Boudreau's job security. (Japer's Rink)

Jay Beagle has picked up his scoring pace as the Bears entrust him with more ice time and responsibility while coping with the absence of some usual workhorses due to call-ups (Mathieu Perreault) and injury (Keith Aucoin). (The Patriot News)

By Katie Carrera  | December 15, 2010; 7:06 AM ET
Categories:  Mike Green, Morning Roundup  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Capitals' tenor during practice is all business
Next: Caps recall Andrew Gordon, Jay Beagle from Hershey

Comments

Great article by Katie today and here is where the rubber meets the road. Read BigBaby say his system is not at fault whereas hockey insiders are laughing at how predictable the system is:

Bruce Boudreau, who recently marked the third anniversary of his being named head coach, dismissed suggestions that opponents have discovered a magic formula for beating his team.

BigBaby is tied to a losing system. Martin figured it out and everyone knows how to stimie the BB system -- line up at the bluelines, clog up the middle, screw with the stars, and make the Caps shoot from the perimeter. Brads and Hendricks and Knuble have all said in code that the Caps are NOT playing a playoff oriented system.

Drop BigBaby in 2010!

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | December 15, 2010 7:19 AM | Report abuse

Here is Craig Button on how predictable the Caps are over-relying on talent and not a system:

"Teams look at who had success doing it and how they did it [so] that when one team happens to find the formula - like the Montreal Canadiens did - other teams are going to use it. Now it becomes the responsibility of the Capitals to counteract what's happening to them and they haven't done it yet. I think it makes them predictable and when you're predictable you're easy to play against."

Let me see, is predictable bad? Yeah, I think so. See an insider laughing at BigBaby.

Drop BigBaby in 2010

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | December 15, 2010 7:29 AM | Report abuse

And if Button is not an authority you recognize, maybe Ray Ferraro. Here's what he has to say,

"I don't think it's a big secret that teams want to play the Capitals hard so that they try to do things by themselves and fall into some individualistic practices," said Ray Ferraro, a former player who is now a television analyst in Canada. "Their fallback position when things get tough is to do things themselves, and you can't."

See pond hockey from the stars because BB cannot discipline these guys to play a system, even his phaila$$ system. Teams pick on the superstars getting them off their game. Semin ejected in one game and OV gets in a fight the next. No discipline. OV's fight did not light up the bench in New York, and we'll see about against Anaheim.

Drop BigBaby in 2010

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | December 15, 2010 7:33 AM | Report abuse

BB has to be sweating this morning. Even he can't know how long a leash they'll give him. This thing goes down one or two more games, he may be the fall guy. I'm not wishing for anybody to lose their job. However my concern is that if the Caps fire off a couple 5 to 2 wins, all will be peachy and once again the problems will be "forgotten".

Posted by: kcbrichmond | December 15, 2010 7:46 AM | Report abuse

However my concern is that if the Caps fire off a couple 5 to 2 wins, all will be peachy and once again the problems will be "forgotten".

Posted by: kcbrichmond

No one is that stupid. Even us koolaid drinkers don't think that...but if they happen to pull off a well played game, I won't pretend to not be happy.

Posted by: capscoach | December 15, 2010 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Balance? If we really wanted balance, then why did BB declare Erskine a lame-duck considering he was leading the backline in hits, blocked shots, and fights. Isn't that just the kind of play we need to balance the skill play of everyone else?

I'm convinced BB lost the team with that decision. You can't tell me the players weren't aware of #4's performance, and to see him discarded publicly sent the message that hard work, commitment, and perseverence amounts to nothing. The team recognized this, and we've seen it in their uninspiring play ever since.

We've got the talent, and I still believe we've got the pieces if utilized properly. Unfortunately, BB has shown no signs to give me confidence that he recognizes the importance of players other than his golden/chosen ones.

Posted by: vermontcaps | December 15, 2010 7:56 AM | Report abuse

I just can't see BB leading these guys to many victories in the future. They have tuned him out. He has tried to install some tweaks to balance out his system, but the stars go back to pond hockey when they get frustrated. Bring in a veteran coach, like Bob Hartley or Larry Robinson, and trade for a veteran 2nd line center (e.g. Doug Weight) or tough 3rd line center (e.g. Zenon Konopka). This team needs a legit shut down 3rd line to win in the playoffs. It needs a coach who can get his team, including the superstars, to play defense first and play consistently, to buy into his system.

Drop BigBaby in 2010

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | December 15, 2010 7:57 AM | Report abuse

It's no secret that the Caps have been hit hard by a stomach bug this last week or so. I applaud Boudreau's decision to give the team the day off yesterday despite Sunday's 7-0 loss to the Rangers. He's under a lot of pressure from fans looking to see what changes he's going to make in light of the team's recent skid, and I'm sure a day off wasn't the kind of change fans were looking for. They wanted the Herb Brooks approach (Again!). Still, a little rest will help sick players to fully recover, and may also give everyone a chance to stew, think, and be ready to work hard.

Amen

@Vermont

going back to my high school days OMG!!! get over the Erskine comment...wait until he acts on it before you freak out! Maybe he didn't mean it, maybe it was taken out of context (thats not how I interpretted the comment) Just chill!

Posted by: capscoach | December 15, 2010 8:00 AM | Report abuse

@capscoach
Do you constantly look just to comment on others opinions? Unfortunately, after the Montreal debacle apparently there were some folks who tended to ignore what they had just seen. Did GMGM spend his summer looking to get a big tough D-man, or the more pressing need of a solid veteran 2-C? No. Nothing major was done outside of obtaining DJK, and giving Hendricks a try out. Now the team is playing like it did last spring, and the opposing teams have figured out a lot. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe (in your words) "nobody is that stupid". but I could easily see a few big wins make a lot of people conveniently forget the underlying issues.

Posted by: kcbrichmond | December 15, 2010 8:07 AM | Report abuse

Vermon is on a mission. I agree with you Erskine. I thought they should have played him against Montreal. He was not playing this kind of hockey last year though. He has improved his game and even looks faster than last year. Who would you sit is my only question? Personally I think the two young guys have looked awful in the last couple of games. However it does not matter because Erskine will be starting for awhile.

Posted by: pkme | December 15, 2010 8:13 AM | Report abuse

These games while they count in the standings are not the games I worry about. With the talent on this team they can drop 20 straight a still make the play offs. There is no doubt in my mind the team will go NOWHERE in the post season under BB.

So as a LONG time Caps fan I find myself hoping the Caps continue to lose until GMGM is forced to replace BB. It may sound horrible to some fans, but I see it as a short term sacrifice for a long term greater good...

Posted by: FLDave | December 15, 2010 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Andrew gordon and jay beagle just showed up at kettler!! They have been recalled YAY

Posted by: capsfan387 | December 15, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

That means Semin will not be playing tonight. Not good.

Posted by: pkme | December 15, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Andrew gordon and jay beagle just showed up at kettler!! They have been recalled YAY

Posted by: capsfan387

Why is this a yay? Having one call up in a game is challenging enough (it will be 3 of Fahey is still here) I mean I am not saying Gordo is bad, but we need a strong team to get out of this slump and right now we are just sick (a lot of them at least) and now have to have a bunch of guys that don't know our system come in.

Posted by: capscoach | December 15, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

@capscoach
Do you constantly look just to comment on others opinions?

KCBRichmond

um...yeah. It's a comments page


per my last post..I know someone will jump on me saying no one on this team is strong so maybe some call ups will spark life into the team...I gotta disagree. One call up can spark life...3-4 (If you inclide MP) just means our team is REALLY injured/sick and that sucks!

Posted by: capscoach | December 15, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Injuries cannot be prevented but the flu can be avoided with flu shots. How can a professional organization paying players millions of dollars not administer team flu shots to avoid the current situation where it appears half the team is sick? If a consumer can get a flu shot for a few dollars at the Giant, Walgreen's Target, Walmart, why are so many Caps out of the lineup with the flu?

Posted by: offsides | December 15, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Injuries cannot be prevented but the flu can be avoided with flu shots. How can a professional organization paying players millions of dollars not administer team flu shots to avoid the current situation where it appears half the team is sick? If a consumer can get a flu shot for a few dollars at the Giant, Walgreen's Target, Walmart, why are so many Caps out of the lineup with the flu?

Posted by: offsides


It's a stomach flu...I seriously doubt the players didn't get the flu shot.

Posted by: capscoach | December 15, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Maybe they all got the Clap.

Posted by: pkme | December 15, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Great news on Beagle and A. Gordon being recalled this morning. They may very well be part of a permanent solution to the debacle the Caps find themselves in now.

Posted by: MReilly9 | December 15, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Its a yay because a. Gordon and beagle happen to be two of my personal favorites. And seeing a. Gordons fb psost about being sad about being sent down on his bday and the smile he had on his face when I saw him and said "you are back, congrats!" When we r in a slump like this I. Try to look at the positives and good things, it is more then just a game you know. If half the ppl who commented on here went to just one practice if they could they wouldn't be as angry. And beagle and I went to the same college and I've followed him ever since. So again I say...YAYS

Posted by: capsfan387 | December 15, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Maybe they all got the Clap.

Posted by: pkme

well Ovie does through those CRAZY parties :)

Posted by: capscoach | December 15, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

When we r in a slump like this I. Try to look at the positives and good things, it is more then just a game you know. If half the ppl who commented on here went to just one practice if they could they wouldn't be as angry. And beagle and I went to the same college and I've followed him ever since. So again I say...YAYS

Posted by: capsfan38

well we have that in common...trying to look at the positives. I would have been happy had one guy gotten the call up, but to have this many guys out right now is so depressing...b/c we may not get out of the slump and everybody here will blame BB. (of course they could help) But when out top D pair is out, our toop scorer is out, and lord knows who else at this point...well we might not look very good and that might not be BBs fault.

On a high note...articel on Japers rink about how well Beagle is playing and he seems to have rediscovered his offensive up side.

Posted by: capscoach | December 15, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

@capsfan38

I agree on your comment about people going to practices...I try to go whenever I have a day off work (and it's not a school holiday). People might not be so quick to judge these players and coaches attitude and work ethic.

Posted by: capscoach | December 15, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

BigBaby is tied to a losing system. Martin figured it out and everyone knows how to stimie the BB system -- line up at the bluelines, clog up the middle, screw with the stars, and make the Caps shoot from the perimeter.
------------------------------------------

The fact that it was Martin who figured it out is disturbing. He's a terrible playoff coach, with a winning percentage of 45% in the post season. He had four Ottawa teams with over 100 regular season points, and he made it out of the first round once.

Bruce's post season winning percentage isn't any better at 46%.

Posted by: Fletch22 | December 15, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

@pkme

meant to say throw

Posted by: capscoach | December 15, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Bruce's post season winning percentage isn't any better at 46%.


Posted by: Fletch22

It's actually 1% better:)

Posted by: capscoach | December 15, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

GMGM should be on the phone for a new coach, a disciplinarian with a proven playoff record. One who will get a team to play defense first and be accountable. One who will form a 3rd line as a checking line, shut-down line. One who will be a calming presence, not a triade buffon like BigBaby.

GMGM should also be looking to trade away Fehr (and maybe an AHLer/pick or two) for a center (or two). The Isles, Flames, and Edmonton could be nice trade partners for a veteran 2nd/3rd center.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | December 15, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

@JIMALLCAPS2

what forward do you replace Fehr with? We still need a legit 3rd line forward, and the ones left are really 4th liners.

Also...what team is going to want Fehr the way he has been playing? He has looked a lot better recently, but with no one to support him, he still hasn't gotten the points.

Posted by: capscoach | December 15, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

@pkme
@CAPSHOCKEY
@Lloydchristmas
@Fletch22

I've been watching a great deal of the Flyers and Pens this season, because the road to the cUp goes through one or both of those towns.

After watching "playoff type" hockey in December from these two teams, we have no shot at the cUp even if BB goes. Our team is too soft. Both of those teams take is in 6.

pkme - that draft list just makes me sick. How could GMGM not see that Fehr was soft ? Has Fehr ever played ONE game where he played his size ? Even in the juniors ? I doubt it. The man's a true wimp.

An unbiased opinion. Crosby is a beast. So is Mike Richards. I love Ovi and my Caps, but the Flyers or the Pens will be flirting with the prize this year. When you watch either of these teams play, you can't help but go away upset at McPhee, BB, and 6 or 7 true wimps we still have skating for us. (Such is the life of a Caps fan. Pens have reloaded AGAIN.)

What makes Ted such a believer in GMGM ?
I'm lost. Does Ted watch other teams play when they're not in his building ? I'm lost !!!!!!!!! (I have never been more frustrated with this organization in the 35 plus years I've been following them. )

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | December 15, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

"bad luck" "hot goalie" etc. rationalizations/excuses that don't recognize fundamental problems that have gone years without being addressed (tough stand in front of the goal players to compliment the shooters) and a captain who doesn't set the tone by showing up to "optional" practices when in the midst of a loosing streak or before a game 7.

Posted by: B-LeaguerD | December 15, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

It's actually 1% better:)

Posted by: capscoach

Can't get anything by you can we?

In all sincerity, did you watch the Pitt/Philly game last night? Some posters were discussing it a little bit in the last thread. I'm wondering if you think we stand a serious chance of beating those two teams in a 7 game series?

I believe we're going to have to go through one, if not both, teams to reach our goal, and I don't see it happening.

Posted by: Fletch22 | December 15, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

"bad luck" "hot goalie" are rationalizations/excuses that don't recognize fundamental problems that have gone years without being addressed (tough stand-in-front-of-the-net players that compliment the shooters) and a captain that doesn't lead or set the tone by showing up for "optional" practices in the midst of a losing streak or before a game 7.

Posted by: B-LeaguerD | December 15, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

@Capscoach -- Bill Guerin comes to mind as a RW. Beagle, Gordon, Hendricks can all play RW and they may fit a shut-down 3rd line with the right coach. Look at the roster of the Flames, Isles, and Oilers, some veteran centers and wings could be traded for, esp. since Fehr is young with potential.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | December 15, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Half the people on here have no right to complain. In all their wisdom, they were telling us that all that matters is the playoffs? If that's true why do they care about a regular season losing streak. As they say, "The regular season doesn't matter." Hypocrites.

I thought I would get a break from the know it alls until April.

Posted by: will111 | December 15, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Half the people on here have no right to complain. In all their wisdom, they were telling us that all that matters is the playoffs? If that's true why do they care about a regular season losing streak. As they say, "The regular season doesn't matter." Hypocrites.

I thought I would get a break from the know it alls until April.

Posted by: will111 | December 15, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

@Hunterforcoach

I am shocked at your statement that you have never been more frustrated with the Caps in the last 35 years.

More frustrated than last years playoff lose to Montreal?

More frustrated than squandering our 2 games to 0 lead on Pitt the year before?

A 6 game regular season losing streak is what finally did it for you? Hilarious!

Posted by: will111 | December 15, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

"Half the people on here have no right to complain. In all their wisdom, they were telling us that all that matters is the playoffs? If that's true why do they care about a regular season losing streak."

---

1) You have to actually make the playoffs, first. This isn't something you should be taking for granted at this point. We may be only 4 points out of 1st in the East, but we're also only 4 points out of 8th.

2) The losing streak is due to the same reasons why we lost in the playoffs - teams have figured out "The System." The book is out on how to stop the Caps. An inability or unwillingness to adjust as a result on the part of BB is troubling for Playoff Prospects this season (if we make them).

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 15, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Hunter.

Some of Mcphee's picks have been great. I do not agree with you on this one. Go through all of his drafts and by in large he was darn good based on what the team needed at that time and what was available. In my opinion he had one really bad pick in Fehr based on his Junior numbers verses some of the others taken after him. But I could see the appeal in drafting a guy like Fehr at age 18 with his big body. Green was a great pick and so was Semin. In 2002 class Semin was IMO the best at number 12. Green was 29. I do fault him for not securing Belanger over his agents stupidty and ego. he is arrogant and I think the organization thought MJ was going to be ready and while MJ is going to be a very good player it will take time. Not signing Bellanger was big mistake.

Posted by: pkme | December 15, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Belanger was fitting in well with the Caps system and could play Center pretty well. Didm't we give a 2nd rounder up for him. Not that most 2nd round picks work out but still. That is the most critical mistake made by GMGM as it turns out in two years. But of course time will tell on that one.

Posted by: pkme | December 15, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Well, I guess the regular season means something after all huh folks? Hunter for Coach knows, I am sure, despite his fevered declarations, that playing "playoff hockey" in December is nice, one wants one's team to be playing "playoff hockey" in April May, and maybe June. The CAPS will be in the playoffs this season. To do better, something had to change this year than last. It has in that the system is being modfied and, as a result, bumps in the road have been hit. But April May will tell the tale not December.

Posted by: adhardwick | December 15, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Lets sign Brian Rolston off of waivers. he's old ,I mean a veteran then lets get Glen Hanlon to coach this team he's a great defensive coach..if they keep this losing streak going hopefully they can shake all these bandwagon fans off and give them time to go watch their other favorite teams like the Lakers or Heat and the Steelers or Patiots and the Yankees.

Posted by: heathdog1119 | December 15, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

BigBaby is tied to a losing system. Martin figured it out and everyone knows how to stimie the BB system -- line up at the bluelines, clog up the middle, screw with the stars, and make the Caps shoot from the perimeter.
--------
Guess what? Every NHL team does this. Since the days of Howie Moritz. This isn't some novel approach. And the key to defeating it is equally well-known and practiced by every NHL team: chip the puck in deep, pressure the opposing D-men, cycle the slot, screen the net.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | December 15, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Half the people on here have no right to complain. In all their wisdom, they were telling us that all that matters is the playoffs? If that's true why do they care about a regular season losing streak. As they say, "The regular season doesn't matter." Hypocrites.

--will----

talk about overly simplistic thinking. The reg season point standing is what doesn't matter as long you get into the playoffs. Everything else - how you play for example, matters greatly. If you don't play the right kind of reg season hockey, you can't hope to simply turn it on when the playoffs start. The reg season also matters because it gives you a chance to tweak your lineup before the playoffs start.

get it now will?

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 15, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

@pkme Maybe they all got the Clap.......

wouldn't they have to score first ?

Posted by: doggydodo | December 15, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

that is good about the scoring thing.

Posted by: pkme | December 15, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

When there was talk about needing a second center, I wondered why Keith Aucoin wasn't given a chance to spell Johannson. He is, after all, ONLY the AHL MVP from last season. But now I found out he's still trying to get back from an injury to a nerve in his knee.

Paraphrasing John Lennon, when he's ready, maybe it's time to Give Keith a Chance.

Posted by: OakdenWolf | December 15, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

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