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Neuvirth vs. Bryzgalov

As I mentioned in a previous post, Michal Neuvirth will get his chance to reprove himself tonight against the Coyotes.

"Why not?" Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "He's had 10 days off, basically, and we don't want him to get too rusty. [Jose Theodore] has played three games in a week for the first time in a while [and] he's probably going to have to play three games again next week, or more. So it's not a bad time to give him a rest."

Neuvirth is expected to face Ilya Bryzgalov, who boasts a 2.31 goals against average and a .919 save percentage but has yielded four goals four times in eight starts this month.

Based on the morning skate, the Caps' forward lines do not appear to have changed (I think we're entering record territory for Boudreau). The D-pairings, however, will be different with Mike Green and John Erskine set to return from injuries.

With Green, who missed Thursday's game in Pittsburgh, it was all about being able to generate velocity and lift on his shots. He was nursing a sore left hand after instinctively blocking a shot against the Red Wings with his fist.

"I asked him the other night to be honest with me, and usually the players are," Boudreau said. "If they're going to hurt the team then they're not going to go."

Erskine, meanwhile, will return after missing six games with an upper body injury. Brian Pothier, though, will sit out at least one more game with a fractured bone in his left hand that he suffered while blocking a shot in Florida.

"You don't like to change the lineup too drastically," Boudreau said about reinserting Erskine but not Pothier. "I would rather have guys come in the lineup one at a time rather than have wholesale changes."

Some other morning skate notes to get you ready for tonight's showdown at Verizon Center (where the Caps are 17-3-3 and have won five straight):

*After scoring on Brent Johnson, Alex Ovechkin has now scored on 71 goalies. Will Bryzgalov, his Team Russia teammate, be No. 72?

*The game will mark Sami Lepisto's first against his former organization. The defenseman, who was drafted by Washington in the third round in 2004, was dealt to the Coyotes for a fifth round pick last summer because of the logjam on the blue line.

So far the 25-year-old has appeared 43 games, racked up seven assists and a plus minus rating of minus-1. He's averaging 17:57 of ice time per game, but also has eight 'DNDs' on his resume. Tonight, he'll probably be on the third pairing with Keith Yandle.

"He's a good defenseman," Boudreau said. "We just had too many. We didn't think he would accept going back to the American Hockey League again, and probably would have stayed over in Finland. So we had to move him if we didn't think that he was going to crack our top seven this year."

*Boudreau on bottling up the Coyotes' high-scoring defense, which features three players with six or more goals and 21 or more points, a group led by veteran Ed Jovanovski (8 goals, 26 assists): "They have the most goals from the D, I think, in the league. Our [forwards] have to be on the ball tonight because you know they're going to be coming up with the play."

*Boudreau on the mentality his team needs to bring to the rink tonight: "They play so structured and are so sound in their system. They have that 'us-against-the world' mentality and they're tough to beat. They may not have a lot of goals up front, but they certainly can skate. They'll pressure us [and are] very similar to the Islanders in that they will work very hard. If we think we're just going to go out there and throw our jerseys on the ice and say, 'We just beat Pittsburgh,' we're going to get our butts handed to us. We better be ready to work tonight because we know they will be."

*Boudreau also said that Dave Tippett deserves Coach of the Year consideration for what he's done with the Coyotes. (They're clearly more capable than what they showed under Wayne Gretzky and currently sit in fourth place in the Western Conference.)

"He's a really intelligent guy and the players play for him," Boudreau said of Tippett. "He's done a great job. He's right up there when you're [talking about] coach of the year. I would think he'd be a candidate."

*Phoenix's leading goal scorer is Scotti Upshall with 17 goals. The Caps have four players with 17 or more (Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom and Tomas Fleischmann).

*The Coyotes skated here at KCI this morning because of the Georgetown basketball game at Verizon Center.

*A win would give the Caps their third six game winning streak. Only San Jose has more than one.

I'll check in later with a lineup.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  January 23, 2010; 12:27 PM ET
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Next: Live game chat: Caps vs. Coyotes


Am I correct in assume "DND" means "Did Not Dress"?

Posted by: 1995hoo | January 23, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

This could be a tough one tonight. Overcoming the let-down effect against a fast, hard-working team will be a challenge.

Posted by: zmega | January 23, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Oh great, an afternoon Georgetown game. The ice is going to be horrible tonight.

Posted by: NovaCath1 | January 23, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Scheduling like this is another reason I hope Uncle Ted decides to buy Verizon Center from the Pollin estate. Time for this nonsense to stop!

Posted by: wocoliz | January 23, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

The Bears rolled up another 8-spot last night. They're the '27 Yankees of the AHL. What do they average, 6 goals per game?

Posted by: zmega | January 23, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Obviously some ice improvements have been made -- I don't recall any real complaints about our ice lately, a perennial problem in past years. Let me know if you hear differently tonight.

Sounds like our forwards are going to have to work hard on the back check. While the temptation against a team with 137 GF might be to run and gun, it would be a nice test of our system to see our guys play a disciplined team D game. In addition to our centers, I'd love to see Ovi committing more to the D tonight rather than consistently sitting back looking for the quick outlet. At the same time, I'd think the Phoenix D will have to be timid in the O zone. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Keep a foot on the gas, Caps. No letdown.

Posted by: Sonyask | January 23, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

zmega: I also have a "not so good" feeling about this one for some reason. After beating the Flyers, Red Wings, Penguins, it's possible they have a letdown. I really hope the D can help out Neuvy and he gets back that confidence he had after the Atlanta game. Just makes me nervous that this team is flying so high right now, I don't want them to have a letdown. The Coyotes are certainly no pushover.

Posted by: rachel216 | January 23, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Rach - let's hope we are just crying wolf.

Posted by: zmega | January 23, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

"Threeormore" still applies to Jose, but now it just refers to his games-played per week.

Posted by: Fro_ | January 23, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

no letdowns...the players know how much it means to us to beat an arch-rival like Phoenix...

Wear Red and be ready for war.

Posted by: SA-Town | January 23, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse


Give credit where credit is due:

Jose ThreeNoMore ...

... as an omen of success ...

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | January 23, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

@rachel216 and others

You're not the only one who's fearing a letdown against the Coyotes. The "Bleatings of a Cap Nut" blogger and various people on Japers are expressing similar sentiments.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 23, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

So the "New Kid" is once again in net to reprove his "Virth" all over again. He has done it successfully against good teams before.

So, now Tarik has coined a new definition of the word "reprove" -- to prove again.

Good luck, Mikey; i.e. Neuvy.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 23, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

another perfect example of a great player not being able to duplicate the success as a coach

Posted by: joek443 | January 23, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

In the Schadenfreude department:

I noticed New Jersey lost a low scoring affair to Montreal last night.

I also noticed that Buffalo lost to LA in a shootout on Thursday. (All right, they did gain a Bettman point but we gained ground on them.) Buffalo plays the Sharks tonight. Go Sharks!!!

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 23, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

@JSchon (whereever you are)

There's an article on Japers about Eric Fehr on how he's making the most of his minutes. As a fellow Fehr fan, thought I'd point it out.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 23, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

"... reprove himself tonight against the Coyotes. " - Tarik (why would he want to do that?)

"... but also has eight 'DNDs' on his resume." - Tarik (dumb and dumber?)

Is you speak'n Inglisch? I cain't understood nothing.

Posted by: hock1 | January 23, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

to all those who don't like Green and offensive d-men in general, you all should watch the highlights of the 94 Cup Finals.

you will see how dominant Brian Leetch was in that series, by far the best player in either team... an easy choice for the Conn Smythe trophy - 11 goals, 23 assts in 23 games.

Posted by: joek443 | January 23, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse


Tarik has created a new definition for the word "reprove". It's new meaning is "prove again".

I asked my husband what DND was and he said the same answer as 1995hoo.

I guess you have to really be an insider to understand some of the stuff here.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 23, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of new words, I guess we could say that Georges Laraque, Montreal's former enforcer, was nylanderized.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 23, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

laraque was nylandered

Posted by: fromthebeginning | January 23, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

I don't expect the letdown to come until we play Anaheim. I think this team knows what the Coyotes are capable of and will come out pretty hard today.

Posted by: Raber | January 23, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

nylander (v): to ship an nhl player to siberia (figuratively) so as to avoid their salary cap hit.

example: laraque was nylandered by the montreal canadians and told not to come back

Posted by: fromthebeginning | January 23, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

I see that ulf samuelsson is an assist. coach with the coyotes... finally found a reason to hate them

Posted by: joek443 | January 23, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

don't know who was the more annoying player, ulf or kasparitis...

Posted by: joek443 | January 23, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

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