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Notes From Friday's Scrimmage

*Nicklas Backstrom finally got on the board -- and he did it in style. The 19-year-old center scored the game-winner in double overtime (three on three) in today's scrimmage, tapping in a cross ice pass from Francois Bouchard. Speaking of Bouchard, he's making a strong case to be named MVP of the camp.

"It is only a scrimmage, but I was thinking it's a 2-on-1 and we have to score," Backstrom said. "Camp is getting better and better [for me]. It was a little difficult in the beginning because the rink is smaller and the game is a little faster than in Sweden. Here, you have to think before you have the puck, so it's a little different."

*Michal Neuvirth, meantime, has emerged as another potential MVP (there really isn't an MVP award, but for my purposes, let's pretend there is one). The baby-faced goalie had the week's best save in the first overtime. He was beaten, lying on his stomach when he lifted his glove and snatched Bryan Lerg's wrist shot from out of the air.

*Defenseman Sasha Pokulok, the 14th overall pick in 2005, continues to skate in the morning sessions, but has yet to lace 'em up for a scrimmage. And it looks like it's not going to happen. Pokulok is "99-percent" recovered from the two major concussions he suffered last season. GM George McPhee said it's not worth the risk, considering it's only development camp.

*Bruce Boudreau's record behind the bench dropped to 2-0-1.

*About Josh Godfrey's claim that his slap shot has been clocked at 99 mph, well, now I've seen it. I didn't have a radar gun, but the goal he scored today on a bomb from the point was awfully hard.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  July 13, 2007; 6:26 PM ET
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Next: Summer Camp Ends


Thanks for the update Tarik. I live in Pa, about 140 miles away, so can't get there for the action.

Posted by: sidehillman | July 13, 2007 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Thx for the update on Pokulok, Tarik. Why not be better safe than sorry and let him have another two months before TC.

Posted by: usiel | July 13, 2007 7:05 PM | Report abuse

I don't think it's Godfrey's claim! It's a fact on record from the OHL Allstar game that he shot 99.3!! His claim is that he can shoot harder!!

Posted by: mr. hockey | July 13, 2007 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Tarik -
Did hanlon have anything interesting to say after the scrimmage? I think I saw you over there listening while he was on camera.

Posted by: Mike | July 13, 2007 7:29 PM | Report abuse

That's good news about Pokulok; definitely better safe than sorry.

We've been hearing lots of great things about how stacked with young defensemen the Caps are. There's no reason why Pokulok can't be the best of the bunch if he's healthy.

Hopefully he'll be 100% by training camp.


Posted by: Oneal | July 13, 2007 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Pretty good turnout for today's scrimmage I thought.

Posted by: Joe | July 13, 2007 8:05 PM | Report abuse

They gave that goal to Godfrey? I thought someone else (maybe Taylor?) put it in on a rebound. I could be wrong, but that's what I thought I saw.

All in all, they looked like prospects. It really won't mean much 'til they get to camp with proven NHL talent.

By the way, that Backstrom kid is WAY too soft for the NHL. He sucks!
(Just kidding)

Posted by: Godfrey's Goal? | July 13, 2007 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Since there weren't any scorers, I gave the goal to Godfrey. Looked like it hit a defenseman on the way in.

As for Hanlon, I was talking to him about Bouchard for a small story I'm writing for Sunday's paper.

Posted by: Tarik | July 13, 2007 9:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm not the least bit surprised that Bouchard has been quite impressive thusfar. Regretably however, I give him little to no chance of making the big team for next season's Opening Night. I say that for two reason. First of all, The Caps have a lot of veteran dead weight slotted ahead of him, that is going to be virtually impossible to rid themselves of. I'm referring specifically to Ben Clymer and Bradley. Sadly, Clymer has two years remaining on his contract, and Bradley has one. And, since both are "One way" deals, they'll either be cluttering up the roster, or ( And I refuse to allow myself to dream this dream ) GMGM will be incredibly fortunate to pawn them off on someone else. More than likely, the former of the two will occur and Bouchard will find himself back in The "Q" for another season.
That, IMHO would be unfortunate, because I believe that both he, as well as Eric Fehr ( If healthy ) are ready for the NHL. However, GMGM's overconservative nature is, more than likely, going to cancel my hopes. I've often thought about the younger Stall brother that plays for Pittsburgh. If he were a Caps' employee, there's no way he'd have played in the NHL last season. Not with George McPhee pulling the strings. And, we all know how well he performed for the Penguins.
It just appears that George has these preconceived notions of how long it takes for a player to be ready for the NHL. His goalies have to be darned near thirty (30) or older, before being considered "Ready." There's no way twenty one ( 21 )year old Cam Ward ( Goalie for Stanley Cup winning Carolina, two seasons ago, would have been given that opportunity by McPhee. Fleury in Pittsburgh is another good example. Hey, I'll be shocked if anyone other than that tired, worn out, slow reflexed, has been Olie Kolzig is in net any time in the forseeable future. You know how Caps management seems to have some kind of "Love affair" going on with Kolzig.
But, the whole Olie "Fiasco" will be better saved for another discord. In the meantime, I'll hold my breath regarding Francois bouchard.

Posted by: Puckguru | July 13, 2007 11:35 PM | Report abuse

I agree with your comments on Olie. They should have some young talent pushing him in there. Many times last year he looked his age, and it's been a long time since he has really shut down opponents. I know he gets a lot of slack because we have had such a terrible defense but he lets in a lot of softies. And Johnson isn't the answer either. They think there will be some kind of backlash from the fans if the pull Olie? What fans? Did they see the average attendance last year?

Posted by: capfan1 | July 14, 2007 12:27 AM | Report abuse

Finley is a beast. He tossed a charging winger to the ice like a rag doll with one arm. The crowd loved him. Alzner looked solid and very smart with the puck.

Posted by: dellamarc | July 14, 2007 12:40 AM | Report abuse


The goal you gave to Godfrey definitely was put in by another white player. I was standing up on the cat walk at the time. Godfrey rang it off the crossbar/post joint, it hit someone (taylor or the other winger on his line) up high on the shoulder or under his chin (but on the shoulderpads) landed flat in the crease and he banged it in. Then he looked up and exhaled with a look that said "thank god that didn't just hit me in the face!"

Not that it really matters though. It was a rocket.

And Bouchard isn't going to be hurt by playing in the Q next year. I'm sure the caps will be in contact and get him to work on specific things. He'll play for the caps in a year or two.

Posted by: Mike | July 14, 2007 1:03 AM | Report abuse

Sure, it fashionable to bash McPhee.
But the starting goalies comments are ridiculous.

- GMGM hasn't been presented with an opportunity to consistently play a young goalie. Olie's first full season (at age 26) was the same year McPhee arrived. So the start goalies 'near 30' comment is bunk.

- You're crazy if you think that had Carolina had Olie he wouldn't have been the #1 goal for the Cup run. Don't forget Gerber's play helped the Canes make the decision.

- Remember the past few years we've seen d-men like Doig, Kwiatkowski, and Muir. Did you really expect him to put a rookie goalie in behind them?

Posted by: slappy | July 14, 2007 7:49 AM | Report abuse

You guys will see me take over this year after Hanlon gets us off to a slow start. You guys know of any good restaurants?

Posted by: Bruce Boudreau | July 14, 2007 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Go clean your room like I asked

Posted by: PuckGuru's Mom | July 14, 2007 8:56 AM | Report abuse

I would like to know what the consensus is concerning this group compared to other camps. Seems like there is a lot of optimism. Is it unfounded or real? How do they compare with other classes? What do you hear?

Posted by: Muddapucker | July 14, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

First, I suggest you learn HOW TO READ! I didn't say ANYTHING regarding Olie playing for The Hurricanes. They're not that stupid. What I said was, that Ward would NEVER HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO PLAY HAD HE BEEN A WASH. CAP.
So, who's really "Crazy"? I respectfully suggest you get your reading skills together before you attempt to lampoon me again.

Posted by: Puckguru | July 14, 2007 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Guru, if you can make up hypothetical situations about Ward having been a Cap, there's absolutly no reason Slappy can't make up hypothetical situations about Kolzig having been a Cane. Going off on him like that makes you look like kind of a hypocrite.

Posted by: Murshawursha | July 14, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

To Capfan 1,
I agree with you 100%. Unfortunately, you know, and I know that Olie will be doing his "Goalie impersonation" thing for the majority of this upcoming season's games. I can just imagine how the good young players on the team must REALLY feel. While all the while declairing the co. line bull about how "Olie's THE BEST GOALIE IN THE LEAGUE, etc., etc. When only a total moron could believe anything that preposterous.
I've been fed up with Olie since the last year J. Jagr polluted our ice. That's the year his play began to REALLY become subpar. I was literally in shock when GMGM signed him for another 2 years - $10,000,000 contract. Unbelievable! I've always felt that George tried to trade Olie ( Along with Jagr, Lang, Gonchar, etc.) but couldn't find any takers. That's what I think REALLY HAPPENED. So, we're stuck with his sub par abilities for AT LEAST this upcoming year. But, I almost EXPECT George to extend his contract through the 08 -09 season. Hate to say that. But, I do. Just watch!

Posted by: Puckguru | July 14, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I hope when we start playing better d Olie comes around too, but I have my doubts. He is such a "good guy" and team guy that is why they keep him. You would think he is Cal Ripken or something. There were times when he shouldn't have started either.

Posted by: capfan1 | July 14, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse


Mellow out little fella.

You set up the imaginary world where Ward would never be able to play for the Caps.
Just because I drag Olie in and imagine him playing for the Canes doesn't mean I can't read.

Don't hate the player, hate your imaginary game. Now go clean your room.

Posted by: slappy | July 14, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe everyone has turned on Olie now!! What do expect when you face over 50 shots a night your bound to give up 5 goals a game on average and a softy here and there. How many times did that young lad keep the Crapitals in games last year!! I would have rather have Olie back there then some kid trying get his NHL wings, they are bound to get shell shocked. Hopefully, all that is behind us with some new additions to our pourous defense.

Posted by: Shake 'n Bake | July 14, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

My bet is Olie plays here another 3-4 years. He'll start this year and next, and hopefully we'll be able to start grooming Varmalov or Neviruth (sp?) to take over the starting job and have Olie back them up when they're ready to take the reins. At this point, we don't have anyone in the system who is ready to step up and start in the NHL.

I really would like to see him win a Cup with the Caps though. Say what you will about his skill level these days, there's no doubt that he was a phenomenal goalie (I would argue that he's still pretty good) and he's definitly a leader on this team. not to mention a veteran anchor for all these young guys (though we brought in more vets this offseason, which should help.)

Posted by: Murshawursha | July 14, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

you certainly are entitled to your opinion of olie. but i doubt a has been,worn out goalie would have been able to have a .91 save pct and 3 gaa with the make shift d from last year. and ward was only in the lineup w/ carolina due to gerbers injury...and gerber actually replaced himin the conf finals. remember, the caps got ouilette to replace olie but he sucked. sorry but i dont think olie is the problem with this team. he'll be fine with an upgraded d. in the mean time, sounds like some good young goalies in the "pipe"line....

Posted by: Cap Fan 1 | July 14, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Puckguru - I'm pretty sure at this point Cam Ward has never won a Vezina Trophy. And, Kolzig has led his team to a stanley cup finals too, and his team lacked a ton of offense needed to compete with the Red Wings that year. You learn to read. A save percentage of .910 is phenomenal, considering he was faced with power play after power play this last year. It's not uncommon when your team allows 35+ shots a game that your GAA Will end up around 3.00. It's not his fault that his GAA is up that high.

Posted by: Whiter Mage | July 14, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

My dear Murshawursha,
It's obvious you can't read EITHER. I never said ANYTHING WHATSOEVER about Olie tending goal for Carolina. NOT ONE SYLABLE! At least get your facts right before you go making a fool of yourself. So, who's the "Hypocrite" for REAL? I suggest maybe you look in the mirror.
Frankly, I'm more than just a little bit amused about the whole thing. I swear. You guys certainly get your panties rearranged quickly, if anyone dares criticize that sorry excuse for a goalie. It almost makes one wonder, who's zooming whom. I suggest you get used to folks criticizing Olie. Just as leopards certainly don't change their spots, Olie Kolzig will continue being Olie. And, that's truly discouraging, for those of us who really want to see the Caps succeed .
If I didn't know better ( And I don't ) I'd almost be convinced that Slappy and Murshawursha ( Wow! I'd hate to have to say that real fast three times )were one and the same person. Frankly, I hope they are. Because I'd REALLY GET SCARED if I were to think there were two such sub par I Q's on this one little planet.
I hope you guys are finished with your oh, so pathetic attempts at "Name calling." Neither of you is very good at it. Oh, I almost forgot. Slappy and What's his face are actually only one person. Whew! what a relief.....

Posted by: Puckguru | July 14, 2007 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Please, someone get these guys a tissue to help them with their crying. If I want to hear kids argue I'll go to Chuck E Cheese.

Posted by: fish | July 14, 2007 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Alright. This is my last post regarding Olie until the season starts, and he becomes a human sieve once again. Honestly? I wish you Olie lovers could see the tears that are pouring down my face from the laughter you've given me. It never ceases to amaze me how impassioned you losers defend your poster boy. And, the stuff you use to support your arguments is TRULY LAUGHABLE. "He won a Vezina trophy." Well, hoopdie do! Imagine that! I ask you. How is that relevant? That was 10 years ago, for christ's sake. I guess I have to remind you one more time. Pro sports is a "What have you done for me lately / YESTERDAY business. They don't pass out "Lifetime Achievement" Awards in the NHL. Ha. If they did, he wouldn't qualify for that either.
Another sorry, pitiful excuse for his substandard play is, "Well the D. in front of him sucks." To that I say, THAT's WHY THE HAVE A GOALIE!! To clean up the D's mistakes. And, he's paid very, very, handsomely I might add.
Or, someone will quote his "Save percentage." Another crock. What about his W I N P E R C E N T A G E ?!! That's the only relevant stat. A very wise man once told me, "Stats are for losers." Boy, was he ever right.
And, the last excuse for keeping him around is absolutely the most ludicrous of them all. You know. The "He's a good guy" schtik. WHAT A HEAP! Since when does one's "Supposed" character rating translate into their competence to do their job? What does his being a "Nice guy" have to do with it? I respectfully submit, NADA! ZILCH! ZERO!
But, you guys continue being what you are concerning Mr. Nice Guy. And, that is, DELUSIONAL! I'm out.

Posted by: Puckguru | July 14, 2007 5:30 PM | Report abuse

I hate to tell you this, but the idiots with their juvenile banter are messing up your blog.

You have a first rate blog and it gets contaminated by people that don't know how to respect other peoples opinions and dis anyone who doesn't agree with theirs.

I am not going to mention any screen names... No need to, the losers identify themselves. They can't resist the urge.

Posted by: Beast from the East | July 14, 2007 6:05 PM | Report abuse

oh my god SHUT UP, you are so wrong guru, do you even know what youre arguing about, did you want them to sign belfour? and since when did save percentage not become a good indication of a goalies performance? listen to yourself, or is it too hard to hear over the constant slamming of the 'CAPS LOCK' key. what exactly is your suggestion? it also seems really likely mcphee has been trying to trade him for practically four years, as you suggested, and he still hasnt found any takers. since you dont have any of your own, i have an idea for you, start your own hockey team at your local rink and appoint yourself g.m. and when your team sucks (much like the caps team you have assembled in your head) email yourself, and spare us all the time we wasted listening to your whiny, irrational, child-like banter.

Posted by: UPPERCASE doesnt help prove your point | July 14, 2007 6:10 PM | Report abuse


but he has had his prime. If he was on a team with better D he could play 3-4 more years. Im not sure he can handle too many more 40+ shot every night seasons, either mentally or physically. Need to start grooming a younger goalie for next (08-09) season.

oh and chill out guys, we can all disagree but there is no need for personal attacks.

Posted by: LIVINIT | July 14, 2007 6:50 PM | Report abuse

BTW, Vogel gives Kyle Wilson the credit for the rebound goal off Godfrey's rocket shot.

Posted by: norske | July 14, 2007 6:52 PM | Report abuse

I never said anything about you saying anything about Olie playing for Carolina. I simply pointed out that if you were allowed your fantasies about Ward being a Cap, then there was absolutly no reason Slappy wasn't allowed his comments about Olie hypothetically being a Cane. Say whatever you want about my IQ, but you have no right to attack Slappy for basically making the same comparison you did, only in reverse. I'm going to shoot some of your own advice back to you and invite you to read my post before you respond to it.

I would say save percenatge is an extremely relevant stat. If a hypothetical goalie has a .990 save percenatge, but his team gives up 100 shots a night and is incapable of scoring any goals of their own and his win percentage is therefore ziltch, is he a bad goalie? Your comments would seem to indicate yes. One player can only do so much for a team. There's 5 other guys out on the ice who also have a job to do to help the team win, and if they don't all do it, it's not one player's fault.

Posted by: Murshawursha | July 14, 2007 8:29 PM | Report abuse

See what I mean? They can't resist...

Posted by: Beast of the East | July 14, 2007 8:46 PM | Report abuse

I saw a goalie lose a game 8-1 while making 74 saves. That's right, he faced 82 shots, stopping a little more than 90% of the shots he faced. Goalie that won the game, stopped 1 of the 2 shots he faced and had many off the post, through the crease, etc. I'd take the goalie that allowed the 8 goals before I'd take the goalie that stopped 50% of his shots.

Save percentage is the only true way to gauge a goalie. Wins/Losses don't mean anything, GAA can help but only save percentage says something. A goalie with a GAA of 1.00 (such as this one) with a save percentage of .500 just wont cut it.

Posted by: Stats Mean Something | July 16, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

I saw a goalie lose a game 8-1 while making 74 saves. That's right, he faced 82 shots, stopping a little more than 90% of the shots he faced. Goalie that won the game, stopped 1 of the 2 shots he faced and had many off the post, through the crease, etc. I'd take the goalie that allowed the 8 goals before I'd take the goalie that stopped 50% of his shots.

Save percentage is the only true way to gauge a goalie. Wins/Losses don't mean anything, GAA can help but only save percentage says something. A goalie with a GAA of 1.00 (such as this one) with a save percentage of .500 just wont cut it.

Posted by: Stats Mean Something | July 16, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

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