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Posted at 12:41 PM ET, 01/24/2011

Capitals seek more than redemption for ugly December loss against Rangers

By Katie Carrera

The Capitals are playing much better and in a different place than the last time they saw the New York Rangers on Dec. 12, when they lost 7-0 in what was the ugliest point of Washington's eight-game losing streak.

"Low point of my life," Coach Bruce Boudreau said when asked if the loss to the Rangers was the low point of the streak. "It was not fun. I watched it again, actually for the first 18 minutes we played Ok. Once they started going in we weren't very mentally tough that game and obviously it cost us."

But that said, seeking some sort of redemption for that loss can not be the only motivation the Capitals have as they face the Rangers at Verizon Center tonight. Rather, Boudreau stressed that the primary objective must be to continue gaining points to keep pace with the Southeast Division leading Tampa Bay, which holds a three point edge on Washington with 65.

"They're not going to slow down. There's no way they're going to slow down," Karl Alzner said of the Lightning. "We need to keep pace and we need to string a few together. We haven't had a really good group of games where we can get to seven, eight wins in a row. That'd be huge, that's all we need; it's pretty impressive we are where we are after losing eight in a row. We can turn that around give ourselves a little bit of breathing room, we just to stay close to the top and contend, be there at the end of the season and hopefully take it over."

--Braden Holtby was the first goaltender off the ice for the Capitals and he looks set to make his seventh start against the Rangers tonight. New York is expected to start Martin Biron. When asked why he was starting Biron against the Capitals rather than Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers Coach John Tortorella said "Why not?"

By Katie Carrera  | January 24, 2011; 12:41 PM ET
Categories:  New York Rangers  
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Comments

Time for a 60 minute effort and contributions from all 4 lines let's give New York some more pain on top of the loud mouth Jets.

Posted by: Redwolf1 | January 24, 2011 12:56 PM | Report abuse

@SAOTI. I don't think the Ovechtrick would ever happen in this day and age. That being said anyone else notice the "score" of that "game" was 9-7 after the 9th goal. Think that says something about how others see our team?

As for the goalies I saw an article about Detroit and how they might let Howard walk and try to go cheaper on goaltending next year. If that is true I wonder if they would be interesting in Neuvy for Howard (assuming the Caps can talk to him and work out a contract first). They would get their lower priced goalie for at least another year with Neuvy's current contract and don't lose Howard for nothing which is what would happen if they didn't sign him. We would then get a goalie who has lead a team and been solid in the playoffs and other then one small injury this season has stayed healthy.

Posted by: icehammer97 | January 24, 2011 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Puh. Glad we are not playing King Henrik - he's been on a tear this season.

Posted by: jakopz | January 24, 2011 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else think that Tortorella's goalie decision may be a ploy? Let the Caps think they're facing Biron and then start Lundqvist? I know it's been done before and don't put it past Torts...I despise all things Rangers!

Posted by: Thisistheyear | January 24, 2011 1:28 PM | Report abuse

@Thisistheyear

I think it is more of a mind game. I think Torts knows the Caps are likely to come out hard after the 7-0 loss to the Rangers. But after hearing that Lundqvist is not in net, maybe the Caps let up a little bit. Just human nature. So I think Torts is doing it as a way to get the Caps to let up some.

Posted by: sgm3 | January 24, 2011 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Braden Holtby was the first goaltender off the ice for the Capitals and he looks set to make his seventh start against the Rangers tonight.

Posted by: jerry2178 | January 24, 2011 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Braden Holtby was the first goaltender off the ice for the Capitals and he looks set to make his seventh start against the Rangers tonight.

Posted by: jerry2178 | January 24, 2011 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Really...what has Jimmy Howard won - 1 playoff series over Phoenixast year...I know he had a great year last year as the star of Detroit but he hardly has my confidence that in the playoffs he would outperform either Varly or Neuvy...Just because he had a wing on his chest doesn't certify him as able to stand on his head....Perhaps the talented guy is one we already have..goaltending was not the Caps downfall in 2009 or 2010.

Posted by: yesisaiditfirst | January 24, 2011 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Look for Kris Newbury (if he's in) and Matt Hendricks to square off. They're both similar players, similar size, both eager to set a tone early in games. Newbury's the better scrapper.

Hope King's in the lineup. Rags have more quality depth at their role player checking line positions than anyone in hockey. They're like 10 deep at that position.

I also hope to see the real Ovechkin show up again in this game. He needs to play every game the way he played v Toronto. Skating his butt off on every shift and going thru the opposition. There's no reason for him to have a letdown v the Rags, considering what happened in the last game.

I wish we played teams like NY more often. They're really a tough team to play against and now that they've gotten their offense in gear they're much more balanced. I really like the way they play. Add them and the Bruins to this year's list of improved teams who play a real playoff brand of hockey.

Posted by: cstanton1 | January 24, 2011 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to see Pinizzotto get a call-up at some point. He's really playing some strong hockey down at the farm. He's getting PP time now as well besides his usual PK duties. We've seen AGordon up here. I'd like to see Pinner get his shot at RW on a checking line.

Posted by: cstanton1 | January 24, 2011 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Look for Kris Newbury

_________________________

Funny you mention that. I was watching the Rangers a few games ago (against Toronto I think) and the announcers were mentioning Newbury all game long. He ended going with one of the Leafs and had him wrapped up good. If it wasn't for the refs stepping in- Newbury probably could have worked the dude pretty good. I liked what I saw out of him.

Posted by: Fro_2 | January 24, 2011 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Poti's not going to the HoF but he's decent enough for what he is--a puck moving DMan with some offensive skills. He's certainly a better defender than Green.

Posted by: getjiggly1

Green makes his turnovers in the neutral zone. Poti makes his in his own end.

I'll take Green (ver 2) over Poti when we need to hold onto a lead.

And saying Poti's not going to the HOF is like saying Sean Avery isn't going to win the Lady Byng. It doesn't need to be said.

Posted by: cstanton1 | January 24, 2011 1:53 PM | Report abuse

And I've only been to 1 Bears game before so I've never really seen Pinner play. Is he a Bruess type player? I know Bruess is a bit undersized, but I liked watching that kid play and actually enjoyed his interviews too.

Posted by: Fro_2 | January 24, 2011 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Green makes his turnovers in the neutral zone. Poti makes his in his own end.

------------------------

That's because Green is unable to win the puck in his own end.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | January 24, 2011 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I've liked Kris Newbury's game for a while now. Watched him get some time with Toronto during their awful year (07?) and he was one of their "Hendricks" type of players for them every game. Then he went down with a bad concussion in a fight against a Pens player and that killed whatever NHL momentum his career was gaining.

But he's a quality NHL type of grinder. He can play in many defensive situations and he's as tenacious as they come. He's like a slightly smaller version of Brandon Prust. Like I said, the Rangers are swimming with quality checking line players. Newbury, Prust, Boyle, DiDiomete, Dale Weise. They're all extremely strong on their skates and they all play a very tenacious defensive-minded checking role. And heavy hitters too. Definitely hit harder than any current Capital not named Ovechkin.

Posted by: cstanton1 | January 24, 2011 2:01 PM | Report abuse

And I've only been to 1 Bears game before so I've never really seen Pinner play. Is he a Bruess type player? I know Bruess is a bit undersized, but I liked watching that kid play and actually enjoyed his interviews too.

Posted by: Fro_2

Bruess is the poor man's version of Pinner. What Bruess has over Pinner is his ability to play both center and wing. But Pinner is better with the puck, he's also stronger than Bruess is. But they're both cut from the same ornery cloth. Which is rare round these parts :)

Posted by: cstanton1 | January 24, 2011 2:03 PM | Report abuse

That's because Green is unable to win the puck in his own end.

Posted by: getjiggly1


when was the last time Poti won a puck battle? His idea of defense is to let a forward skate in unmolested and then attempt to wave his stick around to try and get the puck. All Poti can do is give an accurate outlet pass when he has time. He's better at that than is an Erskine. That's the sum of his value to the Caps.

Posted by: cstanton1 | January 24, 2011 2:06 PM | Report abuse

NYR also seem to have a bunch of guys I haven't really heard too much about. Are they battling through injuries and have some call-ups filling in? Names like Boyle, Weise, and Newbury all sound relatively new to me. Although from what I have seen, Boyle is having himself quite a year and may be on his way to earning himself a solid spot in the NHL. And the announcers seemed to be pretty pleased with Weise's toughness as well.

Posted by: Fro_2 | January 24, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I was looking at the standings today and noticed that TB had a negative goal differential. Ours was decently positive. There didnt appear to be a very strong correlation between differential and standing, but there is at least some relationship.

TB seemed to stick out among top teams with its negative differential.

In baseball, there is a relatively strong relationship between run differential in record (or at least enough of a relationship that it causes people to cite it). Baseball does have more games and thus the likelihood that things even out and run differential would more strongly correlate to record.

So is Tampa just getting lucky with a few bounces here and there that cause them to win close games? Might they fall closer to .500 (which is what a -2 differential would indicate)?

Posted by: makplan20002 | January 24, 2011 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Well, it can't get any worse than that December 12th game. I was there so I would know.

That game was the worst game I've ever seen the Caps play in quite a long time and I've been to many a game at the VC.

Let's Go Caps!! Drop the puck already!!!!

Posted by: jwash4472 | January 24, 2011 2:41 PM | Report abuse

So is Tampa just getting lucky with a few bounces here and there that cause them to win close games? Might they fall closer to .500 (which is what a -2 differential would indicate)?

Posted by: makplan20002 | January 24, 2011 2:19 PM | Report abuse

I have watched Tampa Bay get very lucky lately - they get into plenty of 3 point games and get points...Lets see what happens in March....time will tell.

Posted by: yesisaiditfirst | January 24, 2011 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Tampa Bay is 6-3 in games decided in OT and 5-2 in shootouts. That makes them 11-5 in games decided in extra time. The Caps are 4-5 in OT (after starting the year 4-0) and 2-3 in shootouts for a total of 6-8. That puts us at 21-14 in regulation and the Bolts at 19-15.

Posted by: ouvan59 | January 24, 2011 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Tonight is a great test for the Caps as the Rangers play a physical, grinding style, and are strong defensively. The Rags are the exact type of team the Caps will have to beat to go anywhere in the playoffs. The Caps need to get some scoring from the second and third lines now that Backstrom and Ovie seem to be coming out of their slumps.

As far as Torts starting Biron, I think is as much minds games as anything else. He doesn't want Lundqvist to have to play a game against the Caps who will be out for blood against a goalie who shut them out last time. Not to mention that Biron has done pretty well against the Caps over the years. He probably thinks the Rags have a big advantage with a rookie in net for the Caps and is trying to send his team a message that they can win without their No. 1 goalie in net.

Posted by: wizfan89 | January 24, 2011 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Braden Holtby is a solid goalie. Go CAPS!

Posted by: DCSportsfanatic1 | January 24, 2011 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Follow-up question:

Because he's not the starting goalie and/or the hot hand.

So, again, why are you starting Martin Biron?

I thought this was the type of (issing match that journalists lived for....

Posted by: CF11555 | January 24, 2011 5:10 PM | Report abuse

"NYR also seem to have a bunch of guys I haven't really heard too much about. Are they battling through injuries and have some call-ups filling in?"

Yes, very much so.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 24, 2011 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Why would you trade any of your goalies at this point if you're the Caps? They (the Caps) don't know which two of the three are going to be "the guys". And, perhaps more importantly they don't know if two of them might be "Rick DiPietro types".

"Rick DiPietro types" = good goalies but injury prone

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | January 25, 2011 8:10 AM | Report abuse

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