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Morning Skate Update

Here's the latest from KCI:

As mentioned previously, with Tom Poti going on LTIR this morning, the Caps are able to keep Karl Alzner in Washington for the time being. Tomas Fleischmann and Sergei Fedorov are also in the lineup tonight, replacing Eric Fehr and Michael Nylander, both of whom will be healthy scratches. Jeff Schultz, meantime, is out after aggravating his finger injury. So Tyler Sloan is in.

If the combos look like yesterday's, here's how the Caps will line up tonight against the Blue Jackets:

Forwards
Ovechkin-Backstrom-Semin
Fleischmann-Fedorov-Kozlov
Laich-Steckel-Clark
Brashear-Gordon-Bradley

Defense
Alzner-Jurcina
Sloan-Green
Morrisonn-Collins

Some other notes and quotes:

*Jose Theodore will start tonight. But whether he gets the nod again tomorrow in his hometown, well, that isn't known - yet. Boudreau said he'll inform the goalies of tomorrow's starter on the flight to Montreal tonight.

Theodore has won six straight starts, but, as you may remember, he doesn't have a history of success at Bell Centre.

Theodore is expected to oppose sensational rookie Steve Mason tonight. Mason, the league leader in goals against average (1.82) and save percentage (934), shut out the Caps 3-0 on Nov. 29.

If the Rick Nash-less Jackets are going to beat the streaking Caps again, they'll likely need another great performance from Mason.

"I thought he was so hot that he was going to cool down," Boudreau said of Mason. "It didn't happen. So I have to believe he's the real deal."

*Speaking of hot, since being pulled in the first period in New York on Dec. 23, Theodore has a 1.40 goals against and a .948 save percentage.

*The Caps' seven game winning streak is the longest in NHL at the moment. If they win tonight, they'll tie the second longest winning streak in club history, behind only a 10-game streak in 1983-84.

They've also won nine in a row at home, also the longest in the league. With one more they'll equal the longest home streak in team history, set in 2000.

*Boudreau can clinch a spot behind the Eastern Conference all-star bench with a win tonight over Columbus. But he promised there won't be any "Win one for Gipper!" talk tonight.

*The YoungStars team should be announced shortly.

*Nylander will be an expensive healthy scratch for the second time this season. To say he is struggling would be an understatement. The 36-year-old has only 18 points all season.

"Feds is a center and we have to move [out] one center," Boudreau said. "Michael was the natural first guy to come out. When you're in the middle of seven game winning streak, everyone is playing well. Somebody has to come out."

"We have to give these guys who were playing well before they were hurt a chance to play now that they are healthy," he added.

Asked specifically about Nylander's struggles, Boudreau said: "He hasn't scored, but he's played well defensively. He hasn't hurt us at all."

Maybe he hasn't hurt the Caps. But he should be helping them, right?

*Alzner joked that he was worried when he walked into the rink that his stuff would be packed up and he would be headed back to Hershey. When he found at that Poti was on LTIR, the rookie was relieved because now he "can go grocery shopping."

*Dan Steinberg just put up an entry about Donald Brashear helping Alex Ovechkin with self-defense. It's a must read.

That's it for now. I'll update again when YoungStars are announced.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  January 9, 2009; 11:53 AM ET
 
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Next: Backstrom Named To YoungStars

Comments

It's so good to have Feds back...Can't wait for 7pm at VC...

GO CAPS

Posted by: fnralch | January 9, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Can anyone recommend someone other than Al Koken, on the radio, who is worth listening to where the Caps are concerned? Do any stations cover them somewhere on the level that the Skins and Wizards are covered?

Posted by: WTF_Fehr | January 9, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

@WTF Fehr

Ah, NO.

Posted by: JSchon | January 9, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Johnny said Theo is starting and Feds is definately playing, he wasn't sure about flash though although flash looked good to go.

Posted by: capsfan387 | January 9, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone else noticed that Florida is tied with Pittsburgh in the standings?

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | January 9, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Tarik -

While it may be too esoteric for a print article, at some point could you give us a good explanation of how the salary cap works? Specifically, why are the Caps having such a problem with it? Do they have the most expensive roster in the league? How will they be able to keep their your nucleus together? etc.

Thanks.

Posted by: evco94 | January 9, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Dead on earlier JSchon about the Caps being a much better team with Kaberle vs Poti. Pure bonus to shed Nyls's $ and keep Alzner in the bigs.

Posted by: Steve_R | January 9, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I am so happy to see MN sit! It was painful to watch him play last game. He has a no trade clause, does that mean we cannot waive him? I can't believe anyone would take him for free even, but it is worth a try!

Posted by: majiksea | January 9, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

how long has feds been out?

Still think he should be out for another week or so and see how practices go.
Didn't TE-B note that he was still limping as early as late last week?

Last time he was fine for a couple of days came back and then re-injured himself in the first couple of minutes.

Posted by: caps28fan | January 9, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

XM love the Caps. Nothing local though.

Posted by: lornemyoung | January 9, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Is anyone more excited than me about the beginning of the stretch run?

Looking Ahead: Really really Good News (update)

The last 21 games of the season the Caps schedule includes:

13 games against division foe
4 against Atlanta
3 against Tampa
3 against Florida
3 against carolina (2 at home)

2 games against the Maple Leafs

1 against the Bruins (A)
1 against the Penguins (H)
1 against the Flyers (A)
1 against the Predators (A)
1 against the Sabers (H)
1 against the Islanders (A)

Looking good for the stretch run...no rush to rush back Poti.

Posted by: windjammersouth | January 9, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

@drinkingpartner

i've quietly been keeping my eyes on that one for the past couple weeks. not only are they tied, but the pens have played 1 more game. would love to see 3 teams from the SE in the playoffs.

Posted by: Fro_ | January 9, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Aside from 17 on line in lieu of 16, this is my favorite compilation of players. Sloan on for 55 is unexpected and he'll certainly have his work cut out for him as 52 pushes forward.

I LOVE the 8/19/28 line and the 14/91/25 line will be great to watch.

I've been noticing during Mason's 200+ minute shutout string that he isn't forced to make tons of saves - that's not a knock on him at all. Does Columbus play a D configuration that is conducive to only giving up about 20 shots a game?

Posted by: saintex | January 9, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I'm upset that Fehr is scratched. He's been playing well and making chances. I love him on the forecheck and he's a hard skater. I guess it's a good thing when you have to make tough scratch decisions??

Posted by: gogogreenie | January 9, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

@DrinkingPartner

I have noticed it and think its hilarious. Don't see them winning the atlantic so they had better shape up or else be ready to sit out at the dance this year.

Posted by: trunkenmath | January 9, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Last nite on CSN, they actually showed footage of Brash showing Ovie a few fighting moves...pretty funny. Ovie pretended to punch Brash in the face a couple times as they were locked up, Brash popped Ovie in the gut. They were both laughing the whole time.

Posted by: fullright | January 9, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

to pile on with everyone else - i would have scratched Clark over Fehr. Do you think Clark was saved by his Captain status?

Posted by: ThatGuy2 | January 9, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Jammer
While I appreciate the continued reassurance of the last 21 games, the bigger more important contests are in the next 20 games, not the last, which will show how good this team has become, IMO.

Posted by: caps28fan | January 9, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Only person on the radio around here to give the Caps the time of day is Elliot on DC101. But since I listen to sat. radio 98% of the time now, I rarely listen to Elliot.

Posted by: FusilliJerry1 | January 9, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

ps @ windjammersouth. We get you're excited about the stretch run. You've posted that on every thread for quite awhile now...

Posted by: ThatGuy2 | January 9, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Feds is back, Karl is staying...can it get any better?

Posted by: jen-s | January 9, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

start the fehr/nyls trade rumors...

Posted by: richmondphil | January 9, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

The real question is if anyone will put pictures of Ken Hitchcock in the urinals tonight.

Posted by: SA-Town | January 9, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

evco

Check out nhlscap.com for a brief tutorial and data on the caps contracts.

It's much more complicated than that, and no team is going to divulge 100% what they're doing with their $ as that makes their necessities known and lessens anyone's trade value.

You can also go d/l the CBA from NHLPA's website and read through it. Once you get used to it, finding info is kinda easy. Figuring out how it applies is the tough part.

Good luck.

And yes, the Caps are having a hard time because they didn't leave themselves much breathing room under the cap after the offseason.

Posted by: FFSEnough | January 9, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

@ThatGuy2

I think Clark has been solid. He hasn't put up huge points, but he's been going to the net and has gotten in many scraps to help motivate the team.

I think he's doing what a leader should do . . . the down and dirty stuff.

Posted by: griffin13 | January 9, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Mason for Vezina?

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 9, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

i like the coverage on 1500AM. I think Warner and Kolbe do a pretty good job.

Posted by: doughless | January 9, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

As much as I love watching Nylander control and skate with the puck, I can't argue with BB sitting him down now that Feds is back. He's just not producing on the score sheet and took a real bad penalty against Philly the other night. Fehr just has never impressed me. He skates like Happy Gilmore.

Posted by: dsphvywght | January 9, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Clark needs some lessons from Brashie, too. He throws pretty good blows, but leaves himself wide open for the 1-punch knockdown.

Posted by: doughless | January 9, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I chuckled when someone used this logic to compare Kaberle to Poti: "Kaberle is a 3 time all-star ". Seems kind of meaningless really, given the selection process.

Besides, don't you think Kaberle would want a NMC/NTC? I don't think the Caps want that. Either that or he basically be a rental. I say Poti's a keeper and Nylander is no longer.

For those worried about having another center in case Federov continues to have ankle problems, I think Laich is a logical candidate, or Kozlov.

Wrt the question about why sit Fehr and not Clark, my thoughts are 1) Clark is the captain and should get preferential treatment, for better or for worse and 2) Clark has been laying it on the line the last few games.

Posted by: AleksanderOMunchkin | January 9, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I didn't say he wins scraps, just gets in them. But hey, at least he's better than a certain other forward. :-)

Posted by: griffin13 | January 9, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Is Feds really healthy yet, however?

Posted by: DrAdamson | January 9, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

ok when I have time i'll cover the 20 or so games. It's just that I'm not that excited about them cause we still have a few issues to work out such as what is going to happen to the Alzner issue, Fehr on the block, Nylander bust, etc.

By the time we get to the end of Feb. all Caps fans will be roaring ready to go -- hooting and hollering. I promise to lead the charge from Section 110.

Posted by: windjammersouth | January 9, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

fehr is also a bum.

Posted by: richmondphil | January 9, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Clark was not saved by his captain's status so much as for the reasons why he was named the captain in the first place.

The grit and combativeness we have seen since his return is something the Caps need and not something Fehr brings. Clark also has scored since returning and Fehr while creating chances, has not been scoring. Easy choice.

Posted by: txpd | January 9, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I've heard the goalie chant - who started it?

JSchon:
Kaberle?!? Love it!! BTW, pulled this from a 1/05/09 National Post article:

"Kaberle's name is often attached to trade rumours ... The three-time NHL all-star is a precious commodity: a puck moving defenceman and a power-play quarterback with two goals and 25 points in 39 games. Kaberle admits the NHL trade gossip is impossible to ignore. "You have to think about that," he says. "But while you are here, you just have to focus on your game and be part of this team. And if (a trade) happens, it happens. It is part of the hockey.""

BRING IT ON!!!

Dave:
Your cousin in the great white north hearing anything about Kaberle?

Posted by: Boo- | January 9, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Don't like Fehr being scratched, but its a tough call with Chris Clark showing renewed enthusiasm and leadership on the ice. We need that spirit in the lineup.

I hope Nylander never skates another shift on this team. He's terrible. And yay for Sloan replacing Schultz! He musta hurt his finger while sitting on it in the defensive zone

Posted by: cstanton1 | January 9, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Clark is probably better as a checking line guy anyway.

LOL at the Ovie/Brashear entry. "I SEE NOTHING!"

Posted by: koalatek | January 9, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Boo, I think Dave pointed to an article about Kaberle earlier. He said something along the lines of "If they approach me about leaving, then I might as well leave since by asking they are obviously saying they don't want me here." Its back in the earlier posts, somewhere.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | January 9, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

He obviously said it with less attitude and more PC than I just did.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | January 9, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

JMU:
Oops! That's what I get for scanning ... thanks, dude!! ;-)

Posted by: Boo- | January 9, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

If we were to trade for Kaberle, I think it would be Morrison, Nylander, and Giroux or Fehr. They'd need a veteran C, but they also want young bodies. Giving them Poti, does not help them rebuild. Just my opinion on that.

Posted by: ThePat | January 9, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Wasn't it stated earlier that Columbus is looking to add and their ownership gave the GM the green light to spend away?? Maybe Nylander gets on the plane with them tonight through a trade for draft picks??

Posted by: PhilR | January 9, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Boo-, Not a problem, homes!

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | January 9, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

nicky made the young stars again

Posted by: _stevo | January 9, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

@PhilR

dude.....nylander for FILATOV. NOW

Posted by: richmondphil | January 9, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

@ Bruce Boudreau,
IF IT AIN'T BROKE, YOU DON'T FIX IT, PAL. How many games in a row have they won? You DO NOT CHANGE a winning combination. EVER!!
Historically, you've seemingly had an obsession with Flash, calling him, "Your Ovechkin" when you were both in Hershey. Well, NEWSFLASH!! This ain't Hershey, Bruce. And, it sure as heck isn't The AHL.
Fehr has been coming along quite well these last 8 - 10 games. He's played quite strong along the boards ( Certainly not Flash's stong suit ) and he's played exceptionally well defensively. Keeping him in the line up is a no - brainer.
Other than to reiterate the adage, "If it ain't broke, you don't fix it," I certainly can't argue passionately for not replacing that stiff, Michael Nylander. BUT, I WOULD'T!! Again, "If it ain't broke, you don't fix it" GENIUS!!!

Posted by: Puckguru | January 9, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

richmondphil,
Don't think they are looking to get rid of anyone....that is the reason I think it would be for picks. Nice thought though, would love to see it!!

BY the way......NEW POST....

Posted by: PhilR | January 9, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Not adding Steve Mason to my fantasy line-up when he got his first start is the biggest regret of my fantasy season so far. I knew he was gonna do very well from seeing him in the WJC. Schucks.

I've been one of the biggest Theo bashers on here, but I said that if he gets his game back I'll be the first to admit it, in order to be objective. So here we go. I no longer want Theodore off the team. He's been good. A huge difference in confidence level even though, it has to be said, that he hasn't really been tested much during his good streak. He hasn't had to stand on his head even in one game, unlike Mason who pretty much has to do it every night. OK, now that I admitted that Theo has been good watch him lose it again.

Nylander. I don't know what the deal is with him. I can't help it, but like the way he plays and what he brings. He's still an excellent skater, great at keeping possession, calm with the puck and makes good passes. But the points aren't coming. The only thing I can think of is that he needs to play with better finishers. How many of his great assists aren't converted into goals by the people he plays with? Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems to me like if he got to play consistently with a good finisher like Semin he'd have a boatload of assists now.

Posted by: ranndino | January 9, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Ouch, healthy scratch for Nylander. I'm not surprised about Fehr, but really I'd prefer to see Clark out. Sort of tough to scratch your captain when you're still hoping he's going to get his game back.

Maybe they are confident enough that Fedorov will stay healthy to finally trade Nylander.

Posted by: Stu_c | January 9, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Serious trade discussions from an insider of the Leafs Organization declaring it almost a done deal:

Tor: Filatov

Pitt: Kaberle, Vorachek, Columbus 1st 2009, Columbus 1st 2010
Columbus: Malkin


Looks to me that Toronto is getting a little less if true but overall, could be a changer for all 3 Organizations.

Posted by: atybat | January 9, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Tarik,

The Caps coverage you (and Katie) provide this season is particularly outstanding. Thank you!

Posted by: washingtonpost31 | January 9, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

@evco94:

I agree that a breakdown would be helpful. FWIW, there is a post from yesterday's Japers' Rink blog "Keeping King Karl" that discusses the cap and various players' salaries and gets *more* into the cap situation than articles I've seen.

Posted by: pachanga74 | January 9, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to extend a congratulations to Boudreau for once again benching Nylander. Nylander has played awful and there is no two ways about it. Keep him on the bench or send him to another team please. Thanks Bruce!

Posted by: DrAdamson | January 9, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

They will bring Nylander back soon.

If he comes back in a couple of games and doesn't produce then maybe we're looking at the extended benching and things start to get not so nice.

If he does produce then good for him and the Caps and maybe he gets an offer he may consider worthy.

Posted by: austinsteve | January 9, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

anyone catch the nhl video highlights of this game? I'll give you a hint - Alzner was horrifically bad tonight. His partner Jurcina had the bad luck to be on the ice at the same time but Alzner was on the ice and pretty much played a part in all 3 goals against. He also got very lucky that a dead giveaway of his didn't lead to a 4th goal. If he's going to play like this, dump him to Hershey. please

Posted by: cstanton1 | January 9, 2009 10:21 PM | Report abuse

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