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Caps 3, Predators 2 (OT)

Coach Bruce Boudreau couldn't say whether Michal Neuvirth had played a better game in his brief NHL career than his 37-save performance against the Predators on Saturday night. Regardless, one thing was certain: Neuvirth was the primary reason the Capitals remained within reach of Nashville through the first half of the game and even had the opportunity to rally for a 3-2 overtime win.

It's the Capitals' fourth straight victory and one that made for an upbeat locker room afterward, considering how they managed to turn the tables on a fast-starting, previously-undefeated Nashville squad after one of the uglier 20 minutes of play in recent memory.

"I can't really repeat it," Boudreau said when asked what he told the team after the first period, when the Capitals were outshot 18-7, took four penalties and looked remarkably out of sorts. "Except that we weren't very good; that we were embarrassed in that first period. Their speed, we took penalties because we couldn't catch them. We weren't working hard enough."

I have a 6 a.m. flight back to Washington, so I'm going to be brief, but check tomorrow for more on this come-from-behind win.

Lost amid the chaos of the Capitals' horrid start to the game, Neuvirth's performance and the comeback, though, was an uncharacteristic boarding penalty on Nicklas Backstrom. The call came late in the second period after Backstrom's hit knocked Nashville's Marcel Goc out of the game with an upper-body injury.

Predators Coach Barry Trotz had quite a few things to say about the hit, so here's his full take:

"The league's going to look at it. I'm probably partial because it's Marcel and my player, but those are the type of hits that you want to take out of the National Hockey League. The biggest thing was [that] I didn't think Backstrom was playing the puck. I mean, he basically hit a player probably five feet away from the boards. If you're a player and you get hit in the back there, you're going headfirst into the boards, and that's when people get really hurt in that situation. The league will look at it; whatever they decide, we can live with. But to me those are extremely dangerous hits and I didn't think he was playing the puck at all.

"You can watch it and make your own judgment, but those are the things we have to get out of the league because we have a hurt player and left us shorthanded. They had a two-minute penalty and Backstrom [sic] ends up getting their first power-play goal and then he gets an assist on the winning goal. Not really happy with the call; thought he should have been out of the game. But I'm a coach, not a ref."

--Another day, another four-point effort from the Brooks Laich, Tomas Fleischmann and Alexander Semin line. They've now combined for 14 points through five games this season. One funny thing, though, is that prior to the game-winner in overtime, Alex Ovechkin told Laich not to try to deflect his shot from the point.

"It was a pretty good goal for Brooksie," said Ovechkin with a smile. "I had just told him before that, that when I'm going to be shooting the puck, don't try to tip it in front. But he tipped it and he made it."

--I asked Fleischmann what he saw on his goal. The answer? Not much at all. "Just six pairs of legs. I have no idea how it went in." But at that point the Capitals couldn't afford to be picky with their shots either.

By Katie Carrera  | October 16, 2010; 11:47 PM ET
Categories:  Michal Neuvirth, Nashville Predators, Nicklas Backstrom  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Open thread: Capitals at Predators
Next: More on the Capitals' comeback in Nashville

Comments

Just got home after the two-and-a-half hour drive back to Chattanooga. I enjoyed Rockin' the Red in Nashville and chatting with the friendly fans around us.

It's nice to win after only playing for one period. Neuvy, as you saw, was great.

Posted by: Cerealman | October 17, 2010 1:44 AM | Report abuse

Good reporting Katie! Ovechkin must have also winked, talking about the overtime goal. Also Trozts' comments are sour grapes...though eloquent!

Posted by: carlton46 | October 17, 2010 2:39 AM | Report abuse

@ Carlton 46 - nice touch to pay kudos to Katie. I can not believe some of the negative comments thrown at her from the fans. Give the new person a chance to adjust. Anyway, good job Katie, following the CAPS from Paris, France. Good Day all!

Posted by: hunter321 | October 17, 2010 5:02 AM | Report abuse

"He can do it without insulting people, Hunter."

nope, i cannot. Its not fair to expect me not to hurl insults at other posters when they close ranks and attack me. How many times do I outright attack another poster with no provocation ? Instant replay says hardly ever.

"I apologize for my language, but one or two old Anglo-Saxon words are not worse than the venom he spews, particularly the stuff he hurled at capscoach tonight."

you called me an fn prik. I had not said one word to you or Capscoach at that point. I'm not expected to respond? The only person I was flaming was SAOTI who attacked me for denigrating the team's effort.

if you notice, its pretty par for the course around here for certain fans to attack other posters simply because they critique certain aspects of this team.

all i ask is this --- we have our koolaiders


big kitty, sgm, fanock, steveingrouptherapy, capscoachinneedofmakeup,rhino,seminintheeye,

the middle of the roaders wtf_fehrovergetzlaf?, tomiehenrykissinger, capnkirkbreakingsocialmoresbyengaginguhura,icehammerithoughtyourockedavag

therealistspeggedaspessimists

cstantonruggedlyhandsomefamouslymisunderstoodasamysognist,tmacmydearbrotherinarms,hunterforcoach,underpanties



we r all caps fans. We want this team to do well. I'm just sick of half-azzed efforts is all.
capscoach mentioned we had an AHL D so we shouldn't have expected much from this team tonite. Bogus! I want EFFORT! If our regular NHLers aren't putting out effort, then they aren't doing their job. I will never bag on this team for losing a game. I will ALWAYS bag on this team for mailing in a performance.

anyway, i reiterate this. Its no fun to be an outcast, even on a piddly msg board. And that's why I respect tmac. He calls it as he sees it, and he spares em no quarter (zep fans can relate to this).

If we "haters" left this board, would that make you all happy? This is a serious question? Would this be a better blog without the perceived relentless negativity? I like some of you, i kinda get irritated with some of you, and i have downright despised some of you. But i will never forsake anyone on this blog. I think we all have a valuable perspective to offer and i for one would have zero enjoyment if most of you vacated and it was just me, tmac, doughless, and underpanties.

so i am willing to put up with differing opinions on this blog. I am not that willing anymore to be insulted just because someone is ticked off that I have a chicken little attitude about this team. in fact, i'll abide by board majority. If at least 15 posters on this blog want me gone, so be it. I'll vacate. Just let me know muthereffers. You want me gone? I'll respect your vote. 15 nays on this blog speaks volumes.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 17, 2010 6:56 AM | Report abuse

Maybe you should assess your family...I'm sure your kids will appreciate your jackholeness.

Give it a break.
Posted by: saintex |

saintex, i don't have a good handle on you. But your comment about my family, thats uncalled for. I have a great family, one that I'm privileged to be part of. And my irritabilty with the Caps never spills over to my 'regular' life.

But i'm an easy target. Someone said i have no credentials because I've never been in an nhl locker room. Prior to that statement, I never bragged about being in nhl locker room. So I admitted as a matter of irony that I had been in those situations. Then I read fanock's slam on me implying i have delusions of grandeur because i claim i have been in locker rooms. That ticked me off. Because i never used that prior to being called out on it. In fact, i qualified my statement and said I gained zero insight by my experience of being around nhl players and locker rooms. You want the truth? I found it to be a gigantic pain in the azz going into nhl lockerrooms. I didn't learn anything except how ignorant most reporters are. They don't kmow anyone except 2 or 3 players on each team. in fact, up in the press booth they give you a newsletter on each team so you can easily identify the "famous" players for each team. I walked into a Dallas lockerroom once and none of the press corps knew anyone in that room. It took Dave Manson to make a joke and identify Mike Keane before the press rushed in to ask some vanilla questions about the game. I've been in a lot of nhl locker rooms, and learned absolutely nothing. Everything i've learned is from either watching the game, or getting inside info from scouts. I was once offered a job as a WHL scout via the Caps and I turned it down. why? Because I was past 30 at the time, had just bought a house, and they offered me less money than i was making in the IT field (40k). I didn't want to uproot my life at that point.

but the real reason i turned it down was I didn't want to spend my life in Humboldt, Saskatchewan investing a few yrs in players that I believed in only to deal with McPhee shooting my prospects down. If I wasn't a Caps fan, I'd work for someone like John Davidson who I feel shares my view on what a viable nhl prospect looks like. But McPhee? No way. I could not take that offer. It would absolutely crush me to invest time in a prospect who doesn't fit McPhee's criteria. I've read some of McPhee's personal emails that have been forwarded to me and frankly I have no respect for him. His emails have a very corporate attitude to them. I once send an email to my contact in the Caps to lobby for Dion Phaneuf and likened him to Scott Stevens.

McPhee's response? "We don't feel Phaneuf is anywhere near Stevens, but if we do end up drafting him we'll make sure to tout him as a Stevens type, lol"

when i got that response i felt disenchanted. And that really sowed a seed with me, I felt McPhee was a corporate man.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 17, 2010 7:23 AM | Report abuse

Wow, what'd I miss?

(don't tell me, just joking, I got the gist).

Embarrasing effort from the Caps. Neuvy's the man; Semin was excellent; I'm sorry Ovi didn't get credit for the OT goal cause it was awesome.

Even when the Preds tired, though, the Caps were still sloppy. We are fortunate.

Posted by: Justafan | October 17, 2010 7:24 AM | Report abuse

i wouldn't even say fortunate.

I think McPhee has truly done a good job of finding some speedy talent that is capable of flipping a switch and putting pressure on another team. Did the Caps DESERVE to win this game? I think that is irrelevant. The fact is, they DID win. And its the Predators fault for allowing it to happen. And its to the Caps credit for making it happen.

The point is, you cannot win a Cup without having a work ethic that starts from the drop of the puck and goes until the final whistle. That's what it takes to win. I've never seen a team win the Cup without an intense work ethic. And the Caps' experience of coming from behind in the 3rd pd of reg season games just enforces the wrong msg.

FTR, I don't consider the Preds to be a great team, and I don't consider this victory to be some type of defining moment. I just think its foolish to assume the Caps will change the way they play as the season goes along.

saoti said, why can't you be happy with a win. Echoed by sgm.

I'm never happy with a win that I feel prolongs the lessons this team needs to learn. I'll use a Skins reference I've used in the past. Norv Turner's Skins once won 2 games in a row to 2 awful offensive teams who put up something like 500 yards of offense v the Skins D. Instead of addressing the awful defensive performance, Norv glossed over it as a non-issue. Needless to say, the season went downhill because our D couldn't hold the line. I think Rich Gannon was the QB at the time. That totally infuriated me. By ignoring clear flaws despite a win, you set yourself up for failure.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 17, 2010 7:38 AM | Report abuse

@cstanton1 -- you are more negative than me, but your posts are factual and insightful. So stay; it's an open forum and you are not a troll. I admit that the length of your posts can be a bit much, but I know how to scroll ;-)

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | October 17, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

@cstanton1:

I get your point entirely. I agree with it. We saw it last season, particularly during the streak when we played worse with every win.

So, I know we could stand to lose, and we should lose because we deserved to. Nonetheless, I still get a thrill out of winning. You aside, it's hard to be a fan and not enjoy the comeback win.

Posted by: Justafan | October 17, 2010 8:13 AM | Report abuse

WOW...I musta missed something. I may not agree with cstanton on every topic, but I respect his opinion and look forward to his insight. Yeah, sometimes it gets tiresome, but....I went to bed last night hating Chokin Al Koken even more than before and woke up to another over time win. I think everyone could see that the Caps played badly. I would say that they seem to be in the same mindset as last year. I can't see any "Lessons Learned" or "work Harder" efforts yet. Looks like last years Caps so far. And we know how that ended.

Posted by: nimrodrsp | October 17, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse

And @cstanton1, I read through the game thread train wreck. stevie_in_gp came after you unprovoked and it was uncalled for.

He may be right that you have some anger management issues, though.

Posted by: Justafan | October 17, 2010 8:18 AM | Report abuse

By the way, Carlson had 4 giveaways and 1 takeaway last night and Flash was 1/12 in the faceoff circle. Expecting Carlson to play as a top line blueliner this early is not a great position to be in. And Flash is a total liability in the circle. Backis was good in the circle and MJ was 1/5, I think. I knew the defense was going to be weak with 3 ahl'ers out there (I still consider Erskine and Sloan AHL level talent) and 2 rookies. I am surprised the Caps got a W, frankly. Neuvy is making a suspect defense look a lot better than it is. Time to trade Flash for a quality, hard-checking blueliner. How much worse could MP be than Flash, honestly? And the Caps desperately need defensive grit that can keep up with NHL skaters (Sloan and Erskine cannot for the most part).

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | October 17, 2010 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Carlson's 20. It's October. I'd expect nothing less than a steep learning curve.

Nonetheless, I think his development is going to be quick and he's gonna be awesome.

Posted by: Justafan | October 17, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

I think Carlson has the potential to be a great blueliner. He also had 4 hits and 4 blocks, I think, as did Alzner. They have the potential to be a top pairing in a few years. Right now with Green and Poti out, they are being rushed into top line duty where they will look like rookies (they are, kinda). My point is not to bash Carlson, but note that the Caps defense is not where it needs to be for the playoffs. They need a veteran, mean blueliner who can skate, hit, check, lift the stick, etc... I think trading Flash who is an effective winger (not a center) may get the return the Caps need. I do not like seeing Fahey, Sloan, and Erskine out there as NONE of those 3 are NHL quality blueliners. I think that MP could replace Flash and do a better job.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | October 17, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

@cstanton1: My perspective is one of a relatively new fan (within the past 5 years) and relatively new to the CI blog (maybe have been reading it for 2-3 years.) I have come to appreciate your posts, along with almost everyone else's on the blog. Even people who don't know much about hockey have a point of view, and as long as they are sincerely trying to say something, it's worth reading.

At times the posts get vitriolic---some of that is due to the sheer frustration of supporting a team in a sport we love. Some rise to defend, others rise to criticize---it does come down to glass half empty/half full/ half and half, whatever the person's outlook is at the moment.

I just wish that when we on the blog disagree with each other, we stick to what we are disagreeing about and not whether or not someone else is a total idiot, or some other nasty term.

I would like to know if people thought Fahey was terrible or okay last night. Fortunately, I went out to dinner and a movie (Nowhere Boy -- about John Lennon before he was a Beatle) and didn't get home until after the first two periods. Was glad to see the Caps win, but from what I saw even in the third, they looked terrible. But I don't believe Boudreau won't be giving them a hard time about that and just doing some of his famous bird calls or dancing in a track suit in front of them.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | October 17, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

NOT playing hard and putting in full-game effort but still ending up winning games has really served this team well for the last couple years, has it???

Old habits really die hard.

Posted by: joek443 | October 17, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

And I meant to say "frustration of supporting a team in a sport we love and experiencing bitter disappointment in the playoffs for three years running"

Posted by: dccitizen1 | October 17, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Another PP goal for Cody Eakin last night. Three in two nights including two on the the PP.

Posted by: dull | October 17, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

I told you to stop whining in the previous thread...sorry if you took that to heart...you then proceeded to tell me to put some make up on go out and "get some". I have NO problem when you go after my hockey opinions. actually agree with your assesments more than you may think. But your attack on my was WAY out of line and if you had any decency you would apologize...would you want someone talking that way to your mother, sister, or daughter! I do not attack your "manhood" when you ger me riled up. I keep it hockey related.

Also...I while I am by no means proud of that game, I think the D responded well by having their a***s handed to them in the first...they got progressively better and if we looked at just the last 40 minutes of that game the D did not look that bad (for who we had).

you see cstanton...I think if you look at my posts over the past few years you would see that I acknowledge the bad but try to also focus a bit of attention on the good...If you want to call be a koolaid drinker that is fine...it is far more classy and appropriate than the comments you directed at me last night.

Posted by: capscoach | October 17, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

surprising game - I think Preds pretty good, but 3 games in 4 nights caught up with them. Neuvirth held us in.

@cstanton01 - I agree with the gist: esp at this stage of things, performance is more important than results.

@saoti - Still some good things: Semin had a very strong game, even more so defensively and retrieving the puck along the boards in traffic than he did on offense. Would like to see that game from him sixty times this year. The 2nd line was the best. Backs has struggled this year.

I have to say being one of those who has hammered on Steckel's slowness he does seem faster this year.

Posted by: RedLitYogi | October 17, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

@ cstanton1:

I don't post much, and, in fact, I read the comments only sporadically. So I missed the stuff that you are complaining about. My remarks are based only on what I have read.

You come across as "negative," but there is often a lot with the Caps to be negative about. Even when things are going well, careful analysis will reveal flaws. (But occasionally they do things right; you could disarm your critics by pointing that out, although it would not seem right if you did not add a caveat or two.)

I do not always agree with you, but you seem focused, relevant, and sometimes right. Be aware that not all of the readers here post, but we exist. I'll take analysis over cheerleading any day.

My advice to you is to focus on your game (which is analysis), and ignore the taunts and maneuvers of others. If you are persuasive in your comments, that ought to be enough.

Posted by: phillyreader | October 17, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I'm never happy with a win that I feel prolongs the lessons this team needs to learn. I'll use a Skins reference I've used in the past. Norv Turner's Skins once won 2 games in a row to 2 awful offensive teams who put up something like 500 yards of offense v the Skins D. Instead of addressing the awful defensive performance, Norv glossed over it as a non-issue. Needless to say, the season went downhill because our D couldn't hold the line. I think Rich Gannon was the QB at the time. That totally infuriated me. By ignoring clear flaws despite a win, you set yourself up for failure.

Posted by: cstanton1

This mindset would be fine, and expected, if you were some sort of coach with the team or tied to the team in some fashion. But you aren't. You are a fan, just like the rest of us. As fans, we are outsiders who watch the Caps for entertainment and enjoyment.

Yes, the Caps have some problems(so does every team), but you can't fix them. So why is that the only thing you ever focus on. Sitting wherever you are after each and every game and fixating on every single Caps' problem while never just enjoying a game is puzzling to me.

I just can't see the point of watching the Caps that way since watching the games would no longer be entertaining or enjoyable.

I watch the games for entertainment and enjoyment and am happy when the Caps win. I do enjoy discussing what I think the Caps need to improve on (defense and 2nd line center). But it's all for fun. It puts a smile on my face. If this part of my life became s more stressful than enjoyable then I would stop watching, because what would be the point.

Posted by: sgm3 | October 17, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I guess I'm on the Dark Side. After the first 40 minutes, I literally wanted the Caps to lose, and was a little disappointed that they weren't down 5-0. That's the only way this team is going to get the message.

The reason is that BB and the players are, independent of each other, overconfident. The players see themselves down 2-0 through two periods and think they played well enough to only be down 2-0, when in reality it required a herculean effort by Neuvirth and had nothing to do with them. The players further believe they are good enough to erase that deficit, when in reality it required questionable calls or non-calls that benefited the Caps, plus an exhausted Nashville team that was not capable of competing at the same level. The team won, and the players' delusion was fortified yet again.

BB probably did realize that they deserved to be down much more, but he is equally confident in the team's ability to erase deficits. He constantly makes the mistake of lauding the team publicly for this ability, which only reinforces in the players' minds that it's ok to play badly for two periods. Even if BB DID realize how bad the team was in the first 40 minutes, and even if he DID realize that they deserved to be down much more, and even if he DOES lambast the team in the next practice, it won't matter, because BB has never demonstrated that he has the ear of the team when it comes to embracing a sound game plan. The reason for this is that he brought with him an unsound all-attack game plan when he joined the team. The players LOVE this game plan. Any player in the NHL would love free reign to play that way. So after a couple years of overall regular season success playing that way, the players cling to that message. We have spent the last two years listening to BB tell the team to give a 60 minute effort and play more responsibly. And we constantly see them ignore that advice yet continue to win based on talent. BB simply cannot overpower his own message. It is an ingrained part of him and it has become an ingrained part of them. The only thing that can possibly wake them up in the absence of a coaching change is a solid string of losing. A solid string of seeing the real-world results (the possible playoff results) of putting in 25 minutes of effort.

Now for the Kool-Aid part: I firmly believe that the team's best chance to win the Cup is next year or the year after. That's when the maturity and talent of our core players will reach maximum potential and when we'll have the flexibility to make the right roster moves. Making a blockbuster move at this point in time is unwise, given that there's no reason to suspect that a bone-crushing defenseman would somehow create a responsible team, and no reason to suspect that he wouldn't be infected with the same systemic-woes that everybody else suffers from. So, I'll be calling for BB's head after the playoffs. In the meantime, I'll let the player's talent continue to blossom.

Posted by: struggler | October 17, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

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