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No Practice Today For Caps

After back-to-back road games, the Caps are taking today off. They'll be back on the ice tomorrow morning at KCI.

The thing to keep an eye on this week will be the injuries to Boyd Gordon (back spasms) and Alexander Semin (sprained right ankle). I spoke to Gordon yesterday and he said he's feeling a lot better and hopes to resume practicing tomorrow. Semin wasn't on the trip.

Both players catch a break thanks to this week's schedule. The Caps don't play again until Thursday, when they host the Islanders. Gordon and Semin could be back by then, which would be a huge boost after a pair of ugly losses to the Rangers and Sabres.

Gordon may not be a regular presence on the score sheet, but his play on the penalty kill, on the checking line and in the face off circle is critical. (Many of the Sabres' scoring chances came after lost face-offs deep in the Caps' zone.)

Semin, on the other hand, is an enormous threat on the power play and he allows Coach Glen Hanlon to roll out two balanced scoring lines. Without him, the forward combinations have been thrown into chaos. It's tough to build chemistry and consistency when the lines change from game to game.

Their absences weren't the reason for this weekend's performances in New York, but they certainly were a contributing factor.

That's it for now. I'm going to be traveling for a good portion on the morning and early afternoon, so don't expect much today in the way of blogging. I'll do my best to provide an update if there's news, but I'm not expecting anything significant.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  October 14, 2007; 8:49 AM ET
 
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Comments

Hey Tarik..
You don't mention Eminger, will he be back on the roster for the game on Thursday against Islanders? And what about Sutherby, is he still wearing the A? Any news about Fehr? And what did you think about Motzko last night? What are your thoughts about Backstrom? I sure hope not he is thinking about his old team Brynas in the swedish elite league, they have lost 7 games in a row now.. Don't get me wrong, I am still a fan of Brynas being from Gavle, Sweden but it doesn't look good for them right now. And Backstrom being young and his heart belongs to Brynas, it might be a wall for him but he is professional enough to focus on his own game in my opinion.. Sorry for all the questions but by only following Caps on radio and through blogs I have to ask them.. Go Caps go!

Posted by: Gavle-girl | October 14, 2007 9:44 AM | Report abuse

I don't care if they played 2 games in 2 nights, the Caps didn't deserve a day off after taking 4 periods off in the last 2 games. Hanlon should have had them out there bag skating this morning. I hope they'll be working on skating, oulet passes, and face-offs tomorrow.

Posted by: errantelf | October 14, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

I think that they should gather up all the fans at Kettler today and apologize for being so horrible! The last two games were ridiculous!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 14, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Chris Bourque scored again in Hershey's loss Saturday, with Ray Emory in goal for Binghamton. How exactly is he down there while Fleischmann is up here?

other notables...

6 Schultz, Jeff D 0 0 +1 0
14 Klepis, Jakub RW 0 0 -1 6
33 Boumedienne D 0 0 -2 6

Oneal

Posted by: Oneal | October 14, 2007 10:43 AM | Report abuse

galve-girl -- not sure about the Caps' plans for Eminger. He's been practicing fully, so I'm guessing he's ready. Not sure if that means he'll get into the lineup, though.

Sutherby is still an alternate captain. He's just the odd man out right now.

Fehr is still out with that mysterious hip ailment. I don't think we'll be seeing him anytime soon.

Motzko wasn't great. He had one shift where he bobbled the puck twice and missed the net from point blank range. But he was in a tough spot. He didn't even arrive at HSBC Arena until just before game time.

Backstrom has been okay. He had that great give and go with Nylander in the first, then was a non-factor the rest of the way. He's got loads of skill and plays with a bit of an edge, but he really needs to bulk up.

Nicklas is going to be just fine, though. Gotta remember he's a teenager playing against grown men.


Posted by: Tarik | October 14, 2007 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Tarik and your blog is superb for news about Caps, it is my number 1 for information..

Posted by: Gavle-girl | October 14, 2007 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Being outplayed the last three games is not a good sign, I don't care how eary it is, or that they played back to back games. I really only see two lines that can score, and that worries me. At least we are getting goals from our defenseman. I know I will probably get blasted for this, but if this continues a coaching change might be in order. Now I am not talking about the next couple of games, but if this continues into early December. This might be unfair to Hanlon, because since he has been head coach he really has not had any talent. If a coaching change is in order, maybe they should look at Bruce Boudreu and belive me, he is no Butch Cassidy. I am just throwing this out there and not saying they should fire Hanlon now.

Posted by: Pete Peeters | October 14, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

What this team needs is a coach that will chew their butts in between periods to get some motivation out of them. These days of, "it's ok guys, we'll get it back" are overwith. We need to man up, grow some grapefruits and let rip when things are bad. Trust me, I've been a soccer coach for a long time and while I haven't had to do it a lot a good butt chewing at halftime has always worked for me and produced results in the end. Maybe Hanlon should look into changing his coaching philosophy. Either way, we need to get more support around OV. Right now, since Semin is out its been OV vs the Isles, Rangers and Sabres. I also mentioned in a blog last night that if we're going to continue taking penalties then Hanlon should only dress three skaters and one goalie and let everyone else rest. That seems to be the only way we play the past few games. I would really like to know where the discipline from the 1st two games went...

Posted by: Mitch | October 14, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

The problems with the Caps go beyond injuries, personel and chemistry. Other teams have the same issues with which to deal. The problem with the Caps is that, aside from two games to start the season, they look like the same befuddled, unproductive, weak team that has (dis)graced the Verizon center for a half-dozen years. The Caps need a coach that can actually get the best out of his players...and then some.

Posted by: Sam - dc | October 14, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

We don't know what Hanlon does behind the doors of the locker room. He may be chewing them out after every bad period of play. Him chewing the players out in public isn't going to do much mroe than make them surly at being singled out in public when the team as a whole is struggling a bit.

They'll right the ship on Thursday. We almost always have a good game against the Isles.

Posted by: EricS | October 14, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Mitch--Trust me, I've been a soccer coach for a long time

All I have to say to that is..'ha ha ha'...I'm sure the experience you've garned being a pee wee soccer coach is the same as coaching in the NHL. With your coaching resume I"m surprised you haven't gotten the call yet from Ted.

Posted by: Yosh | October 14, 2007 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Mitch--Trust me, I've been a soccer coach for a long time

All I have to say to that is..'ha ha ha'...I'm sure the experience you've garned being a pee wee soccer coach is the same as coaching in the NHL. With your coaching resume I"m surprised you haven't gotten the call yet from Ted.

Posted by: Yosh | October 14, 2007 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Backstrom would be better served spending some time in Hershey. It would not hurt. Caps need to be more physical. They are playing on their heels.

Posted by: PaCap | October 14, 2007 5:06 PM | Report abuse

honestly, i dont think backstrom was the problem, the kid has 3 pts in 5 games--that's good for most vets.

People, stop panicking, we still have a winning record. the last two games we were missing our number two scorer and our best defensive forward. our goaltending has been pretty good as well.

How can any of us know if Hanlon is a coach? who of us has been in the locker room. any player reports i have heard of Hanlon have been positive, so I think everyone needs to chill out.

Posted by: czechsmix | October 14, 2007 5:20 PM | Report abuse

wish i'd checked the blog this morning before heading out to KCI! though honestly i didn't expect them to get the day off...i have to agree with errantelf, they have a lot of things they should be working on!

Posted by: sonia | October 14, 2007 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone else think Pothier has to go? He has looked just as bad, if not worse, as last year.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 14, 2007 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Pothier has been real bad, but its interesting that him and Poti are the only 2 d-men that have a plus rating if I'm not mistaken.

Posted by: Trevor | October 14, 2007 6:23 PM | Report abuse

I agree w/ Tariq.
1. Without Semin - you have Ovechkin as the only main scoring threat.
(Nylander is more a playmaker vs. goal scorer)

2. Hanlon is still struggling for line combinations that work, and having Backstrom trying to find his way, is another issue.

3. I don't believe Boyd Gordon is a huge loss, but would help on PK.

Finally - the biggest reason the Caps lost last night is.... Brent Johnson. He's a weak back-up and while I'm sure he's a great locker room guy, and doesn't mind the role, he's a major weak link.

Olie will have to carry the load again.

PS - While we upgraded the defense from an "offensive" perspective, the defense part is still a huge issue. Caps need to shore that up before X-Mas if they are serious about making the play-offs.

Posted by: Big Teddy Ruxpin | October 14, 2007 8:58 PM | Report abuse

This team needs to start being the aggresser and go out and hit people. They are on their heels. They need to colme out and attack! We have not been physical enough and what about a forecheck in the last three games?

Posted by: PaCap | October 14, 2007 9:10 PM | Report abuse

backstrom to hershey=foolish

Posted by: huh | October 14, 2007 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Big Teddy, I know how it looked but you've got it all wrong. Brent Johnson was on fire and bailing out the team time and time again through the first and half of the second. The defense was just terrible. Johnson couldn't play the entire Sabres team by himself for long...

Posted by: Trevor | October 14, 2007 11:08 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe noone has mentioned it but the problem w/ the last two losses are simple. PENALTIES! Jesus H. How in the world are we ever supposed to get going if we are constantly killing off stupid penalties? This is the sign of an undisciplined team and stems from coaching.

Also, everyone talks about how much deeper we are this year but how is that? We added Nylander, and Kozlov and Poti. Do 3 players and maybe Backstrom make us that much deeper?

I thought Motzko looked pretty darned good Tarik! If I'm not mistaken he was involved in a sweet scoring play--not sure if he got an assist or not, but otherwise looked very confident and showed patience with the puck in traffic. I can think of at least 2 players he could replace!

Fans are not going to show much patience with this team if they keep reverting back to their losing ways. It's one thing to lose close games but when you aren't even competitive it gets old real fast. Stupid penalty after stupid penalty is really frustrating, and the defense looked awful again.

Posted by: Capfan1 | October 15, 2007 12:27 AM | Report abuse

Big Teddy Ruxpin,

WTH? You said the main reason we lost against Buffalo was Johnson? What are you smoking?

He FACED 53 fricking shots!!!!! and you surmise it was his fault. Do you want to maybe lay some blame on the so called D and the fact that a very large amount of those shots were on the power play? What was the main reason against the Rangers?

Posted by: capfan1 | October 15, 2007 12:35 AM | Report abuse

Johnson was not the problem. Lazy hockey resulting in penalties was it. The first 2 games they were getting 40 shots on goal - now they struggle to get 12... Missing Gordon was definately a factor, he's one of those guys you don't see too much until he is gone, then you realize just all the things that he does well.

So far we have only managed to play well against our division. This is a good thing, but we need to learn to be the agressor against teams we dont see as often.

Posted by: cs | October 15, 2007 8:21 AM | Report abuse

If you think that Brent Johnson was the reason we lost to Buffalo, then you need a stiff OV slapshot to your head!!!

Johnson was the backbone of the team and behind OV was really the only player that came to play.

Everyone else has hit it right on the head, stupid penalties are the reason we lost. Stupid Penalties=Stupid Results...for example a 7-3 loss to Buffalo.

Posted by: Mitch | October 15, 2007 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Looks like the game against the Isles will be key. If we play well and win, it's possible that the Caps simply aren't good enough for a Cup run yet, our losses are against likely playoff teams. But if we beat up on the rest of the NHL, we can still challenge for that 7-8 spot, which is what we were expecting anyway.

But first we need to stop taking dumb penalties and making lazy/stupid passes again.

Posted by: dgc | October 15, 2007 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Pothier? The problem? He has the best plus minus on the team. The problem isn't Pothier. The problem is coaching. They seem to be without any real strategy. They can't execute when they need to. Despite two PP goals against Buffalo, the caps have been absolutely ghastly with the extra man. Nothing has changed from last year, except the jersey colors and a few names printed on the back. Hugs might be able to turn things around...but I hope that he is on a short leash. If this team gets 5 games below .500, he needs to go.

Posted by: noah - silver spring | October 15, 2007 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Gordon is outstanding. His offense is still not there, but when he is on the ice, the oppositions' offense isn't there either. Penalty killing is better too.

Posted by: Old Bob | October 15, 2007 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Well, let's see how they do against the Pens. Maybe the losses to the Rangers and the Sabres were part of the only slump of the season.

Posted by: Finn | October 15, 2007 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Can't believe what I'm hearing...Special teams has to be the biggest issue. The Caps have played 5 games so far. 4 of them on the road against teams that made the playoffs last year and Carolina is pretty strong as well. The Caps need to stay out of the penalty box and they will do well.

Let's get out to the Verizon Center and give the guys more support.

GO CAPS

Posted by: LFR | October 15, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

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