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Ovechkin Asked to Leave Bench

It's not even 11 a.m., but the games have already begun here at MSG.

Moments after the Rangers hit the ice for the morning skate, Washington star Alex Ovechkin emerged from the visitors' dressing room alone, took a seat on the Caps' bench and watched intently. After a few minutes, Caps PR guru Nate Ewell came over to Ovechkin and tapped him on the shoulder.

I'm told the Rangers asked Ewell to tell Ovechkin leave the bench but offered him a seat in the stands. Ovechkin stood up, smirked and walked back to the dressing room. Check out the photo on the D.C. Sports Bog.

While it's not totally unusual for an opposing player to sit in the stands while the home team skates, it is unusual for an opposing player to sit on the bench.

Don't forget to leave any questions you want answered in today's video in the comments, tagged as "Question for Tarik."

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 20, 2009; 10:37 AM ET
 
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Next: Ovechkin Playing Mind Games

Comments

because watching from the stands is fine, but the bench isn't?

Posted by: RedBirdie | April 20, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

That's kind of rediculous. As long as OV wasn't saying anything, should it really matter? Think about it, is it easier for players to get to the bench from the locker room or to the stands? Anyhow, nice to see that OV is focused this early in the day.

If I were him I would go into the stands behind Lundqvist to see the net vulnerabilities from that vantage point. Not necessarily where the players are shooting, but what OV sees. Let us know if OV pops his head out in the stands Tarik.

Posted by: fanohock1 | April 20, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Question for Tarik
What do you think Ovechkin's motivation for this was?

Posted by: Ovechwin | April 20, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Interesting

Posted by: RITdude | April 20, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Mental games....

To me, the only way to crack the confidence of the Rangers is on the scoreboard...They are not playing great, and are up 2-0. They feel like they cant lose, as long as they dont make dumb mistakes.

Posted by: SA-Town | April 20, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

perhaps OV should have showed up on the bench yesterday at practice.

Posted by: doughless | April 20, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Clearly one of the Rangers things to beat the Caps is block every shot that comes their way. But is this a smart long-term strategy? In 2 games, they've blocked 50 (!) shots--some of them very nasty shots that are going to leave a mark despite pads. Might this strategy win them the series? Yes, I suppose it might. but might is also result in them being so beat up they promptly drop 4 straight to the Bruins (who I assume will win their series, and thus match up with the rags, shoudl they win)

Posted by: RedBirdie | April 20, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

A bit much on the Rangers part, maybe they are still hurt about the "smelly" comment! They should take it as a complement that one of the greats even cares enough to watch them. Shove it Torts!

Posted by: NatyBG | April 20, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

No mental games. Up front and in their face. This is OK Corral stuff. He's watching and they know it...

That is great, Ovi.

Posted by: saintex | April 20, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

I've got to think that Varly starts again tonight. He played well in game 2 and I think he earned another shot. That said do we know what our line combos for tonight are? I heard BB say that they'd probably change.

Posted by: ovys8 | April 20, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Reposted:

Wow! How quickly gushing admirers can turn against their idols at the first sign of weakness. The next game will show us if Ovie deserve his status as a great athlete? Give me a break. One game will count more than his 4 years of breathtaking achievements?

Even my favorite (up-to-today) columnist, Wise, is all gloom and doom one day after predicting that the Caps would come back and win the series?

At this point, I think the battle is for mindset rather than technique. If the Caps' thinking reflects in any way the doubts and negativity of the press and fans, they are doomed.

Even if we lose, it's not over. Didn't we come back after losing 3 games last year? I know we lost the first round, but didn't we come within one goal of winning? And this year we are a better team.

The first game we scored 3 goals against "unbeatable" Henrik. Had it not be for Theo, there is no doubt that we would have won.

I have faith in them. Go Caps!

Posted by: caraveli | April 20, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

The Caps can't practice their way out of this one. I don't care if they practices yesterday or not - played the night before and traveled yesterday. I prefer rest to some type of vindicative practice.

Posted by: saintex | April 20, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

He needs to get his head in the game on the ice and stop trying to play mind-games off the ice.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | April 20, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Ovechkin is gearing up for battle!

Posted by: sroessle | April 20, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I LOVE it that Ovie was at the bench watching. This "in-their-face" attitude tells me that he is not licking his wounds and biting his nails, but is gearing up for a fight and is relishing the challenge. He is a born champ!

Posted by: caraveli | April 20, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

@caraveli

If we can win tonight, we are in a better position then last year, with a better team, vs a team that is not as good as Philly was last year.

Tonight is everything...But we need a good solid win for our confidence...If we steal a game from NYR, I'll be happy, but will be worried...

Posted by: SA-Town | April 20, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

I don't think it's mind games. Dude is ready to roll. It's in the Garden, getting the mojo....onions.

Posted by: saintex | April 20, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Probably just trying to study Lundqvist a bit or see what the Rangers are working on as there weakness. Probably no ill intent but sure made NY uncomfortable..."Why is this vulture staring at our goalie?" Eat up Ovie!

Posted by: cappies | April 20, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Wow, OV skates his @$$ off, and throws his body around with reckless abandon way more than he should in my opinion. "Get his head in the game..." The guy probably can't sleep at night. No matter how bad you, or I think we want the Caps to win, it can't even compare to how badly the boys that strap them on want to win.

Even when OV has had a bad game it hasn't been due to lack of effort so get off his back!!!

We have been saying it for a couple of months now, we need secondary scoring, others to contribute. The winning goals for the Rangers have come from Dubinsky and Callahan. Our goal scorers have been Kozlov, Semin, and Fleishman (deflected OV's shot). OV, Backstrom, Semin, Green, are all working their butts off to score because they probably feel that if they don't they'll lose. Time for Feds, Flash, Fehr, Nylander, and Laich to poke an ugly one in. The big bodied boys just need to take the puck and drive hard to the net, that's how they're going to score.

Not that OV needs to be defended, none of you trashing him would have the guts to say it to his face man to man, but I can't just sit back and have people imply that he's not working hard.

Posted by: fanohock1 | April 20, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Well, the O's are officially looking to 2010. They lasted a week longer than the Nats at least!

This is what makes Ovie great. He's a competitor of the highest order. Lots of players have world class talent, but few have the combo of the talent and competitiveness like Ovie. He's going to hoist a cup before he hangs up the skates, make no mistake about it

Posted by: JS26121820 | April 20, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Question of Tarik

Hi. Thanks for reading this. My question:

With the apparent lack of leadership coming from the veterans on this team, do you think the Caps should cut bait with them this off-season and make room for some of the rising Hershey guys? I'm looking squarely at Federov, Kozlov, Nylander, and maybe even Poti.
Is this something that can be done?

Posted by: cdksc | April 20, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

i dont think torts is going to be doing game planning or anything (unlike bruce cassidy who would work on pp set up in full view of the visiting team coaches). morning skates are for shaking off the cobwebs and getting loose. ovie's not going to learn anything. he's just there to remind them he's in the house and ready to roll.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | April 20, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Maybe the whole team should have went out and sat on the bench. Great to see he is focused. Let's Go CAPS!

Posted by: RedRocker | April 20, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

BTW, I'm amazed that opposing players are allowed to watch a skate at all, whether from the bench or the stands. Does this happen in any other sport? Not that I can think of.

Posted by: JS26121820 | April 20, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

He's eager to make up for those first two care-free periods on Saturday. Sounds like he's coming out with fire tonight. I hope the rest of the boys are just as ready because I can't wait to see it. Should be a great game.

Posted by: wesvenis | April 20, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Repost... *sigh*

I don't get where Lundqvist is suddenly unbeatable. We hit him for 3 in game 1. Our problem was no D and no goalie. We seemed to have "fixed" that piece of the puzzle, but broke the offense. The Rangers haven't changed. It's the same team.

The problem as I see it is that the offense started playing individually - except for the 4th line - trying to win the game on their own. That will not work in the NHL.

It's the same formula that worked all season. Traffic in front (we had practically ZERO in front of Lundy), getting the goalie to move side to side, get the puck deep, and clean quick passes.

While we've had precious few times when we actually had traffic in front, almost every time it worked out for us.

The cross crease passes we used to do with someone parked on the opposite post worked great all season but were missing in this series so far. Long bombs don't work.

On defense, clog the neutral zone, offense back checks and supports the D. Has anyone seen DET play? Almost every time CBJ attacks they have to go through 3 or 4 DET players to get to the net. For us it's often 1 or 2.

Hats off to Varly. I was very nervous about him being in net, but he played a solid game.

Posted by: Greg S. | April 20, 2009 11:25 AM

Posted by: Greg S. | April 20, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

cdksc,

Not Tarik, but I can sort of answer your question.

fedorov and Kozlov's contracts are up. the Caps can cut ties with them. Will they? I don't know.

Nylander, imfamously, remains under contract with a No Movement Clause. The Caps could buy him out, but I honestly don't see that happening, nor do I think they can trade him. He's old and owed quite a bit of money, who will take him? And more importantly, you'd have to get Nylander to approve a trade. Unlikely.

Poti is also under contract, but he does not have a NMC. He could be traded--but,he's not the same guy he once was, ie, a goal scoing D-man. That was his value. Is someone really going to trade for an average (sometimes slightly above average) D-man that no longer cranks out goals? Again, unlikely.

Posted by: RedBirdie | April 20, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Too many metro sexual euros on this team who have never crashed the net before in their lives...need to grow a pair tonight or else it's off to the golf course.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | April 20, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

I'm not concerning myself with anything beyond tonight. Nothing.

Posted by: saintex | April 20, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

@RedRocker
EXACTLY what I thought. Where's everyone else on this team? It's beginning to look like a one man show. And it can't be done with just one. Hopefully everyone is going to have the same mindset as Alex or we could be in trouble. I think we're about to go on a run like they did last year to get into the show. Go Caps!

Posted by: edmontoncapsfan | April 20, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

wesvenis: "He's eager to make up for those first two care-free periods on Saturday."

Were you texting while watching the game on Saturday so you missed some of the action? OV had a brilliant scoring chance in the first period and Koz missed the yawning net on the rebound. He also had big time hits on Staal. The guy is full throttle and is exciting everytime he is on the the ice. He may be making poor shot selections because he wants, and feels like, he has to score all the time, but we can not accuse him of not trying. Even when OV has bad games you see his passion in pieces on the bench as he leaves the ice.

Posted by: fanohock1 | April 20, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

wesvenis: "He's eager to make up for those first two care-free periods on Saturday."

Were you texting while watching the game on Saturday so you missed some of the action? OV had a brilliant scoring chance in the first period and Koz missed the yawning net on the rebound. He also had big time hits on Staal. The guy is full throttle and is exciting everytime he is on the the ice. He may be making poor shot selections because he wants, and feels like, he has to score all the time, but we can not accuse him of not trying. Even when OV has bad games you see his passion in pieces on the bench as he leaves the ice.

Posted by: fanohock1 | April 20, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

lyle has hit the nail on the head

Posted by: doughless | April 20, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I think its sorta funny so many Caps fans are confident Lundqvist will not be able to keep up his good play. What about Varl? I'd be a bit more concerned about the a 20-year old in his 8th game in the NHL ever, in what will be an extremely hostile environment. If he lets up a goal early or a weak goal, he will be hearing it-- who knows if HE will be able to keep it together? If he doesn't, Lundqvist won't even need to be lights out like he was in Game 2.

Posted by: jman3 | April 20, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

The best screener in the game is Tomas Holmstrom, a swede. So stop jumping on the Cherry wagon and bashing the Caps because we have a European style team.

Posted by: fanohock1 | April 20, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I read LeBrun's article. Pothier said everything I've been saying the last few days. That makes me feel good because it means that the team is actually hearing those words. The goals I saw in Philly's game yesterday and the Ducks game last night were all of the traffic/slot/crease variety. Thats how you score in the playoffs. If you dont want to do that, the Swedish Elite League and KHL would love to have you.


Posted by: oo7 | April 20, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

lylewimbledon---
I dont know who youre reffereng to as metro sexual, but i think youre wrong. Semins goal in game one was just that he was parked in front of the net, so was the fleishamns goal, kozlovs goal was just that going hard to the net. If you want to call anyone a metro sexual you should be paying more attention to the game metrosexual!

Posted by: madboost35 | April 20, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

@jman3

I dont think Henrik really had to be that great in game 2. The Caps didnt have all that many solid chances...Most of our shots were from the perimeter, never gaining any odd-man rushes...

Henrik was better in game 1 when he gave up 3 goals.

He will be as good tonight as the Caps want him to be...in my opinion...No reason the Caps cant light up the Rangers...we have one of the top offenses in the league...We just have to get our heads right, and know when to, pass, know when to shoot...and get MUCH more heart to crash and swarm the crease.

Posted by: SA-Town | April 20, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

The European thing is weak. Euro teams have won 7 of the last 10 World Championships and 4 of the last 5 gold medals. Being that those teams are actually ALL European, seems a pretty good record.

Posted by: saintex | April 20, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Still can't understand why 9 out of 10 comments are bashing an individual or the Caps in general... You are writing as though we have a team well-below 500. Give them a break. Look where they finished for the year. Look at their overall play against the Rangers. They are bringing it, and aside from an admitted off night by Jose and a post or two the next game, the Caps would be up by 2 games. And it's not like they are playing a slouch team that isn't fired up for us either. Torts has done a good job in NY, but the Caps should not be written off as many of you have. Go bash the Islanders, Lightning, or Avs.

Posted by: gonchpup | April 20, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

well, the euros need to bring their game THIS series. the only grit we have had thus far has mostly been supplied by north americans.

Posted by: doughless | April 20, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I don't get why we can't get some guys, NA or European, who's primary job will be to park themselves in front of the net.

We have no net presence on this team. During our cup run, we had some big bodies, ala Chris Simon, that could fill that need.

If I'm GMGM, that would be my mission, in addition to trying to pick up a veteran D. We need guys that understand that standing in front of the goalie is their primary job.

Who from the caps team now, job is it to stand in front of the net? Sometimes its Laich, sometimes its Fehr, there's not a clear assigned responsibility. OV scores, Brasher fights, Backstrom passes, (insert hear) screens goalies.

To address some of hte comments concerning OV's effor Saturday, he does bring it every game, but he does need to tweak his game a bit for the playoffs-

when rushing up the ice and entering the zone, he can try to take on guys 1-on-1 (excep Charra), but 1-on-2+, he needs to wait for his linemates to catch up and begin the cycle. Otherwise, 9 out of 10 it leads to a turnover and a missed opportunity to set things up.

Posted by: floms | April 20, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Lyle's got it right. The Caps are in danger of becoming the Senators of years' past.

As for FANO....sorry, dude, just stating fact. I'm not a fan of Milbury, but he and Panger nailed it in the second intermission by saying the Caps' star players had no urgency. Ovechkin is my favorite player by far, but I can at least admit when he's not playing up to his high standards.

My apologies for writing something factual that wasn't pro-Caps. Go to Japer's if you want to socialize in a "Caps Bubble".

Posted by: wesvenis | April 20, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Stanley Cup playoff hockey isn't the same as the Worlds, my man.

Posted by: wesvenis | April 20, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I love all these armchair GM's who weren't around 3 years ago when we were the hardest working team in the league and would lose on a nightly basis to a team with 3 skilled guys. Detroit has put EURO stereotype to rest LONG time ago. 91 has 3 RINGS enough said.

Ok Here is the Problem. Our 3rd and 4th Line guys are the SOFTEST in the league. Steckel, Fehr, Nylander, Gordon. These guys don't score enough to play SOFT. When your 3rd and 4th line guys go out throw their bodies around it opens ice for your top guys. In this particular series we are missing Brashear, Clark. Ovie is the only one who is constantly throwing his body around. Instead of trying to line up hits he needs to concentrate on scoring. But unfortunately our Grinders don't want to pay the price and so Our Best player has to do it all.

The chances of Gordon, Bradley, Steckel scoring are slim. So what they should be doing out there dumping the puck on net and crashing the net and causing SCRUM.

Posted by: lightshow | April 20, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Agree with everything you say lightshow....except you mentioned Clark. Until he proves otherwise, and captain or not, he's a useless tool that's only good for taking random penalties (talking recent performance, not a couple of years ago)

Posted by: wesvenis | April 20, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

i think floms has it right about ovie up the ice. it is getting a bit predictable what he will do. there was a perfect example of it on saturday when he tried to the the shot between the d mans leg. the rags guy was ready for it and closed his legs and blocked it. i know that move has been successful for him, but it's a seven game series and guys pretty much have a book on him. fake the shot and go around the net and look for the trailer coming in the slot. or head behind the net but drop the puck back short side.

there is a fine line between urgency and despiration. i think ovie needs to pace himself and not always look for the physical stuff. when he does that, guys like milbury will say he has no urgency and when he's hitting guys they'll say he's running around too much. the price for being a star.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | April 20, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

wesvenis,
those random penalties were?
guy is no question a leader and someone who has been there before. you want someone who can show others what it takes to win and score in the playoffs, he's your guy. they need him in the locker room and on the ice.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | April 20, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

sorry lightshow, Bradley has done just fine this series. at least he appears to be adhereing to a STRATEGY, unlike most of the rest of the team (in particular the first 2 lines).

looks like Bouds and the team are still "working on chemistry", like they did the last 2 months. for a good part of this season injuries dictated ever shifting lines. however, i think the downside is that lines have not been able to solidify any chemistry. call me an armchair coach, but i think the constatnt shifting of lines right up until playoff time was a mistake.

Posted by: doughless | April 20, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

DC, I know they were few and far between, but did you catch the few games Clark played? The penalties were there, my friend.

Posted by: wesvenis | April 20, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Hey, floms and dcsportsfan1 - here's an idea...why don't the 2 of you track OV down, get on the ice with him, and show him how it's done. I think he would greatly appreciate it. Drrrrr.

Posted by: gonchpup | April 20, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Questions for Tarik

Watching the Red Wings the other night it was crystal clear to me what they were doing differently from the Caps to get their shots through to the net. Do you think it's worthwhile sometimes to check out video of another team that does something well that our team is struggling with?

Posted by: ranndino | April 20, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Doughless,

How many hits have you seen, Steckel, Gordon, Fehr throw around? Fehr still thinks he is a 50 goal scorer because he was drafted in the 1st round. The guy can't score to save his life has no skill and doesn't throw his body around. Steckel looks pretty dumping and chasing but rarely uses his 6'6 body on anyone. Gordon is your typical Dump and Chaser except won't line anybody up. Bradley is the only one with any fight on the 3rd line.

Nylander is misplaced. Guy is 36 and played on top 2 lines all his life and now past his prime and really serves no purpose on this team whatsoever.

OUR NORTH AMERICAN DEFENSE is the SOFTEST in the LEAGUE.

Shultz can't hurt a fly. Poti thinks he is Lidstrom. Pothier will never be the same guy again after the injury. Jurcina thinks he is Chara except can never find the puck between his 6'7 body and only hits on the boards and never in front of our net.

I love Green, but he should be worrying about our transition game rather then try to line everyone up and play games with Avery.


Posted by: lightshow | April 20, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Question for Tarik

I don't get why there's such hopeful talk of Clark's return to the line-up. He was absolutely useless in every game I have seen him play this year (and I watch every game). He couldn't even stop a simple pass without fumbling it. The way some people are talking one might think we're missing Ovechkin #2.

Posted by: ranndino | April 20, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Questions for Tarik:

1. I know Hershey is in the playoffs, but has there been any consideration of calling him up to add speed and spark to the 4th line?

2. Everyone talks about crashing the net, but do you think the coaching staff understands that we don't have TIME to crash the net because we enter the zone and shoot too fast? If OV rushes up and shoots the puck into Henrik's chest for a faceoff, there's no time to crash the net.

Posted by: jhamond1 | April 20, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Nylander is misplaced.

Agree

Shultz can't hurt a fly.

Agree

Poti thinks he is Lidstrom.

Agree

Jurcina thinks he is Chara except can never find the puck between his 6'7 body and only hits on the boards and never in front of our net.

And agree.

Posted by: wesvenis | April 20, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

While Alex O. was scouting the Rangers looking for weak spots, Koslov and Nylander were back at the hotel watching the Price Is Right eating Cheetos and Snickers from the vending machine. Just kidding! Go Caps, put it on 'em tonight!!

Posted by: kcbrichmond | April 20, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Hey, floms and dcsportsfan1 - here's an idea...why don't the 2 of you track OV down, get on the ice with him, and show him how it's done. I think he would greatly appreciate it. Drrrrr.

Posted by: gonchpup | April 20, 2009 12:13 PM |

That's funny. Reminds me of John C. Reilly's character in Boogie Nights..."let me show you how it's done..."

Posted by: saintex | April 20, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

OV was on THEIR bench cause he wants to be on a winning team! The Clown is still up to his circus act, instead of playing hockey.. ME ME ME OV!

Posted by: StanleyCup1907 | April 20, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

lightshow:

i didnt defend any of the guys you mention, although Gordo wins plenty of faceoffs and plays the system. some of the guys you mention are Euros. Bradley has made several big hits and had a couple of legit scoring chances. Erskine has been the best D-man this series, followed by Mo. Juice has been okay.

Posted by: doughless | April 20, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Doughless,

I actually said Bradley is the only one playing with any Grid on our checking lines. I love how he gave Avery a face wash in the 3rd period. We need more of that from our 3rd and 4th liners. That's their job.

Bottom line, you need guys that score goals. You just wont win without them or even if you do you wont go far. But what you also need is guys that CAUSE HAVOC from your 3rd and 4th lines. Those guys get 18-24 minutes of ice time per game. That's alot of ice time wasted on not scoring goals. So if they don't score they need to cause HELL when they are out there. But they are some of the nicest guys when they are on ice and that is the Main problem.

Watch Hockey around the league and you will see what I mean.

Posted by: lightshow | April 20, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Watching the Pens - Flyers series I really miss Cookie. The kid is the type of a 3rd line player we now don't have. Quick, has some skill and a ball of energy who hits everything that moves.

OK, last question for Tarik

Do you think that our starting goalie for game 3 is really that big of a mystery? Theodore almost single handedly lost us game 1. Varlamov was excellent in game 2 and gave us every chance to win. This is a must win game. It's a no brainer to me. Varlamov will start tonight.

Posted by: ranndino | April 20, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

dcsportsfan1 - I'm not on board with your ideas on OV, but agree with you on Clark. He is exactly what this team needs at this point. Clark bashers just don't get it. Most of his games played this year were with an extremely painful hand injury. He sucked it up and did what he could, playing virtually one-handed. I bumped into him a few weeks ago and he was practically salivating at the idea of getting back in there. Clark messing with Lundqvist might be the key to finding the back of the net.

Posted by: gonchpup | April 20, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

right on ranndino. we could use a guy like Cooke right now. i kinda expected that style from Clarkie and Brooksie.

you were asking Tarik, but at this point I hope Varly starts just so we can have some consistancy. i think the constant shifting of lines / goalies has been bad for the team.

Posted by: doughless | April 20, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I have an idea for a new poll.

- Would you like to see StanleyCup1907 banned from this blog?

If over 90% vote "yes" can this be implemented please? It's quite obvious that this guy is a pathetic Flyer troll with no life. And not even remotely entertaining, which to me, is his biggest sin. If you're gonna troll at least make me laugh, b*tch!

Posted by: ranndino | April 20, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Lightshow - Agreed.

gonchpup -

Look, I love OV, and by no means can show him how its done. The man is a freak of nature, breaking the laws of physics in a 6'2" 220 lb frame while on ice.

HOWEVER, it is clear that he tries to take on more than 1 d on his own, when he's entering the zone by himself. Backstrom sometimes is back deep heling out our D, and OV takes the spring out pass and rushes up ice. 1-on-1, he makes 5hit happen. 1-on-2+, I have yet to see that work in the playoffs, and can maybe think of 1 or 2 times its worked in his career (when entering the zone, not in the high slot area).

He feels a lot of presure to score and carry the team, and rightfully so. Other plaeyers around him defenetly need to step.

All i'm saying is that if he tweaked his game, he could make better use of his ice time to create more scoring opportunities.

What can he don instaed? That is what BB neads to him with as our coach.

For those of you bringing up the Worlds and Olympics, yes, Euro players have tons of talent. They also grew up playing on larger rinks (used in the worlds and olympics). NA players from day 1 are bred to to play in a small rink. I also don't think the Euro leagues are 7-game series.

I think the russian league is best of 3 or 5 or someithing like that.

The SC is the hardest trophey to win in sports. We need to be prepared to play this style of hockey from game 1, not wait until we're down 0-2 to realize how to score playoff goals. We should have relized that from last hear, and GMGM should have realized we didn't have the right ingreadients at the trade deadline.

Enough of the Euro vs. NA, finess vs. grit debate. You need a complete team with all of the above..

What do we do tonight? That's the question. How can we use the players we have now to win tonight?

What line combos can you guys suggest?

I'm gonna throw this crazy 5hit out there -PUT MIKE GREEN ON WING WITH OVI and BACKY!! Or on Semin's line. He practically plays offense anyway.

Put in M. Shulzt or Alzer to take his place.

We need offense, that will get it and trhow the Rags totally off.

Posted by: floms | April 20, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

"Wow! How quickly gushing admirers can turn against their idols at the first sign of weakness. The next game will show us if Ovie deserve his status as a great athlete? Give me a break. One game will count more than his 4 years of breathtaking achievements?" - Caraveli

I agree with you. What we have here is a bunch of emotional fans who are critiquing the Caps on their emotions and not analyzing the game as it is played. Tomorrow after their win - and yes the Caps will win tonite - these same people will be jumping for joy and praising how great their team is.

As for OV on the bench watching the Rangers practice. What I see is a very determined player studying and analyzing the opposition, of course I might be wrong and OV is just an emotional fan who just wanted to show up and "play mind games" or just say "in your face" - but I doubt it.

As for Miracles and silly meaningful stats like "no team has ..." or " nth % ...", well, they are just that silly talk for emotional fans, no real athlete pays attention to that.

To quote Laich (I believe it was him) "you have to win four games to win the series, it doesn't say which games" Well, said.

My prediction, if BB follows my advice as he should (LOL): The Caps on 7 - 3 wins, 1 lose, 1 win.

Now back to the emotional people: Which player are we going to hang next? Nylander, Kozlov, Semin or Fehr? LOL

Posted by: opita1 | April 20, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

meaningful? I meant meaningless.

Posted by: opita1 | April 20, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

@ gonch

Exactly. Get some immovable objects in front of the net (Clark and/or Brash). Good things will happen. Yes, Brash is slow and Clark has been hurt, but I think the main thing holding Clark back was the groin which has now had a long time to get better. Brash should be in purely as a screen. Not an agitator/enforcer, a screen.

Not sure what's going on with Feds either. I saw a play I think in the first period where he was all alone along the boards and he just threw it blindly into the low slot with no one there but defenders. He seemed a little bit lost for such a veteran player.

Put on the foil, boys.

Posted by: snakegriffin | April 20, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Maybe ovie was going to sit there and learn how to be a team player and see how it is to hustle back and play defense. Oh that is right he doesnt know know how to do that.

Posted by: ASHLAS1 | April 20, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

"Watch Hockey around the league and you will see what I mean."

I wish so many more Caps fans would do this.

Posted by: wesvenis | April 20, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

@ wesvensis

This is a bit of a problem when you have a lot of new fans: a lot of them know nothing about hockey outside of DC, so they don't have anything to compare to. I don't expect it to change anytime soon, either.

Posted by: snakegriffin | April 20, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Maybe ovie should give Malkin a call, to get a few pointers on what is like to be complete hockey player at both ends of the ice. You would of never seen Malkin do what ovie did on that 2 on 1. That was disgraceful the way he skated back. Malkin is the best player in the nhl.

Posted by: ASHLAS1 | April 20, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Look I'm no NHL coach, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express once. The Caps need to come out hit these guys hard, and unleash the fury around the net and get some *$#@*#@ goals. I mean these are the Rangers we're talking about, a team that had to watch Florida and Montreal falter before they even got into the playoffs. Obviously Brashear isn't going to get a hat trick, but let him play just for the joy of watching him knock the heck out of Avery once! Bring it tonight Caps!

Posted by: kcbrichmond | April 20, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

@ gonchpup

1. If you can only use one hand, as a captain, the smart thing would be to take yourself out of the lineup rather than play through it because it's not doing anybody any good. You're hurting the team and further aggravating the injury. Being tough does not equal being stupid.

2. At one point Clark came back and it was said that he was now healthy. I did not see any positive difference in his game.

I can only judge based on what I've seen and what I've seen is that any of our call-ups from Hershey were more useful than him.

I am not a Clark "hater". My opinions are based on objective analysis of facts. As soon as he shows me something of value I promise to give him some love.

I find it ironic that the same people who think Nylander is useless clamor for Clark to be back in the line-up. In my opinion, on the scale of uselessness Clark has been much higher than Nylander. At least Nylander can control the puck, keep possession and make passes.

Also, I've made this point earlier, but I'd like to repeat it. As much as we all think we know everything we can only judge based on what we see in games. Other Caps players and coaches also evaluate based on practices. I'm 100% sure that if, based on practices, Boudreau thought that Clark looks ready to return and can help the team he would find a spot for him.

By now I'd think that anyone who has an IQ above 100 has figured out that Boudreau is very intelligent and knows what he's doing.

Posted by: ranndino | April 20, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

I don't know what Teddy L or GMGM want their team to look like. But to me it seems they use Detroit as their model. And why wouldn't you. But the biggest thing that is missing with us and Detroit is only Green would crack their starting D.

Lidstrom, Rafalski, Kronwall, Stuart (their 3rd line D Crazy, would be our first paired with Green) Lilja and Chelios. Ok who on our team would you put instead of these 6 with exception Green. And that is the main problem with this team. Until our TEAM D improves with quality we will have these Growing Pains.

Our top Forward Talent is one of the best in the league. That's not in question.

Our Blue Collar Forwards still think they should be scoring like they were in Juniour's They have identity crisis of what role should they be playing.

Posted by: lightshow | April 20, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

I feel qualified for what I am about to say because I have spent most of my years here in the DC area and have supported the Skins and O's as well as our Caps. I still think that "we" as a group are pretty crappy as fans. Focusing on the Caps here-
2 years ago, on the last day of the season, which is fan-appreciation day, we were outdone by busloads from Buffalo. It was embarassing. Each time OV touched the puck he was booed as if the game was being played up north. Finally, we are filling the seats with Caps fans, but this new generation knows little and wants to do more complaining than applauding. Support your team. Have faith in coaching decisions. Trust that these guys know a hell of a lot more than we do. I guarantee they ARE working their asses off because I am pretty sure they would like to hoist the cup...you think?

Posted by: gonchpup | April 20, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

"By now I'd think that anyone who has an IQ above 100 has figured out that Boudreau is very [hockey]intelligent and knows what he's doing." - randinno

I agree, and although he pisses me off at times for not doing what I am thinking, I have to admit he knows more than I do.

Posted by: opita1 | April 20, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

@snakegriffin: How is OV not a team player? He had 56 goals and 54 assists, can't get much more balanced than that.

@wevenis: Have been watching professional hockey for 38 years, caught WHA games before they folded too so not sure what you want Caps fans to see. I see other teams scoring goals between the legs, slapshots from the perimeter, and from the slot. Lundqvist is playing way over his head. His save percentage is 95.7% and he's a career 91% in the NHL with regular season and playoffs combined. Law of averages show he's due for a few stinkers to bring his average back where it will end up. The Caps will probably score 3 to 4 goals on less than 25 shots or so. The Rangers will come out of their defensive shell because besides the NJ Devils, all teams seem to abandon good disciplined defense at home. The Caps on the other hand won't have to be flashy. They can play tight defense and be the team that takes advantage of mistakes. MSG will turn on the Rangers by the 2nd when the Caps get their 2-3 goal lead built.

Posted by: fanohock1 | April 20, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Also,

what do FEHR, GORDON, STECKEL have in common. All DRAFTED in the 1st ROUND. They were drafted to be goal scorers. They weren't drafted to play on the checking lines. The guys that will pay the price with their body are found in rounds 4-7. Laich, Bradley. Those guys have a chip on their shoulder and they know that it takes hard work to get into the league. FEHR, GORDON, STECKEL don't have the make up of Checking guys. Look at the rosters of teams around the league and see the guys that play on 3rd and 4th line. You won't see many 1st ROUNDERS playing on checking lines.

Posted by: lightshow | April 20, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

@ fan1

Huh? Where did I say that OV isn't a team player?

Posted by: snakegriffin | April 20, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

@ floms

You are incorrect. The KHL (Russian league) uses a best of 5 format in the early rounds and a best of 7 for the semifinal and final.

Having said that, unlike the NHL, the formats over in Europe often change so the Euro players currently in the NHL might have had a different experience when they played at home.

However, all of this is irrelevant. I'm not sure what your point is exactly. All of our Euro players have experience of a NHL playoff series now.

The whole Euro vs. NA debate is retarded, pardon my abrasive language. It's inane, annoying and has nothing to do with facts, but rather with cultural stereotypes of ignorant people which are no longer true. There are plenty of tough as nails Euros in the NHL now as well as soft, finesse North Americans.

One most recent example that comes to mind is from yesterday's Pens - Flyers game. Kimo Timonen, a Euro Flyers defenseman was on the end of one of the most vicious hits I've ever seen at the beginning of the game. Did not see it coming at all and his body just got flung in the air and twisted in a very unnatural fashion similar to what happens to a human being who just got hit by a car at full speed. Not only did he immediately get up, but proceeded to have a great game. So much for a soft Euro.

Posted by: ranndino | April 20, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

ranndino -

Clark did what he could to fight through the pain and basically pulled himself out of the line up when it became obvious he could not offer what was needed and required surgery. He has not played since. His return from injury was from a different situation.

As for Nylander, I have never bashed him and can't understand why so many do. I feel each player brings a certain element to the game and Nyls has his. We need his puck control and I recall him netting a few key goals himself this year. The need for Clark is to fill a role as well - the pest in front of the net. When healthy, Clark brings that element every time he is on the ice. Obviously, BB does not think he is quite there yet. All I am saying is we could use him in the line up.

Posted by: gonchpup | April 20, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

ASHLAS1: Weren't Crosby and Malkin both on the ice when Carter scored his nice backhand goal in the 1st period yesterday? When they showed the replay from Fleury's vantage point there were two Pen forwards dogging it up the ice, Crosby was definitely one of them and I believe Malkin was the other.

Posted by: fanohock1 | April 20, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

The Trolls on this forum need to stop comparing OV to any centerman. Compare him to Rick Nash, Kovulchuck, Brett Hull, Bure, and any other great winger. The center is a completely different position with more responsbility defensivley.

Can OV tweak his game and back check more? Sure, I guess he could score fewer goals but during the regular season there was no one consistenltly picking put the slack. Plus its the coaches responsibility to talk to OV and help him improve his game. OV is OV. He wants to help his team win and the best way HE KNOWS to do that right now is to score and hit. Yzerman and Fedorov (albeit centerman) were not the defensive forwards we know them to be before Bowman's influence.

Posted by: floms | April 20, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

I agree with ranndino. Not only did he take that hit, he was in the offensive zone trying to score immediately after he got up. Play was stopped because Hartnall had tackled Kunitz. It was a clean hit so Hartnall should have left it alone, Timonen did.

Posted by: fanohock1 | April 20, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

snakegriffin: Sorry dude it was ASHLAS1 that made the comment.

Posted by: fanohock1 | April 20, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

No worries, ASHLAS1 is nothing but a troll, anyway.

Posted by: snakegriffin | April 20, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

gonchpup: I could not have said that better myself, THANK YOU. I was at that game I remember the piercing chant the F'in Sabres fan were saying as the clock ran out. Do you remember what it was? I do, and it was all I could do not to flip out because Briere speared OV yet again that game. The chant was...Season's over.

I don't know about the rest of you fans but I am not ready for THIS season to be over and I doubt the any one of the Caps want to pack up their crap and go home this week. They've dreamed of raising the Cup more times than we've dreamed of watching them do it.

Posted by: fanohock1 | April 20, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Its pretty amazing the lack of respect that Caps fans have for the Rangers. The team played 2 phenomenal, defensive road games. With a bit more confidence playing at home, I would expect them to increase their offensive play also. And keep this in mind-- they will be shooting on a fragile 20-year old in his 8th NHL game ever in a pretty rough environment at MSG. I don't the Rangers are quite as anemic offensively as they led on in Washington in games 1 and 2. Just something to keep in mind.

Posted by: jman3 | April 20, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

@lightshow -

Interesting fact. That explains a lot, and all the more reason to revamp our team, not just on the d.

@ ranndino-

The KHL has fewer games in the regular season as well. But that's really beside the point.

I am not a proponent of NA vs. Euro. I'm first generation Russian myself. Some Euros are tough, some are not, same goes for NA.

The key if finding the right balance with out being too much of one or the other.

Our current line up is not balanced. Call it what you want, but what is our teams identity come PLAYOFF time?

WHAT I WOULD DO for a Dale Hunter right now. We had the grit and D in years past, and not the skill. Now we have the skill, and not the grit or D.

People who say Semin, Kozy, and Fed need to get gritty, that's just rediculous. An apple is an apple, etc. Detroit had the McCarty, Draper, and Maltby line, for their grit, but they could also score. We need our 3rd and 4th lines to supply the grit with occational scoring. We're flat out not getting that now. Look at who's been scoring for the Rags

Also back to what I was suggesting earlier,

What's the line ups for tonight? Any chance we see Green on Offense? Talk about shcking things up. What's the worse outcome of that? We know he can score, and on D he's been a liability.

Posted by: floms | April 20, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

@gonchpup:

I agree with you that the fanbase does more complaining than anything. That's why I quit reading any message boards related to the Caps. The people that frequent those things are too stuck on themselves and think they are more important to the cause than the players themselves.

Posted by: Randy_Hawkins | April 20, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Beat us first in the series & then talk about respect.

You earn respect by out scoring the other team in the series. that's how u rip the heart out of the other team.

It's only 0-2. Not 0-4.

The Rangers have won by 1 goal in each of the game.
They haven't dominated. Far from it.
They raised their game. While the Caps haven't.

Let see what happens when the Caps put it to the metal.

Posted by: Rocc00 | April 20, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

@gonchpup - might be a good idea to throw Clark in, have him crash the net.

But it's hard to even get to the net: the Rangers are lining up walls of players in from of Lundquist. The first goal is crucial tonight: Caps need to score first. They played a strong game on Sat and generated enough high quality chances to score 3 or 4 times. It's hard to do better when the other team is so deep into a shell. The good news is the Rangers are not playing well other than preventing shots. I think the Caps can win this series.

Posted by: WritingLight | April 20, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

@Redbirdie & CDKSC,

I can promise you Nylander WILL be cut in the offseason. The reason for this is, per the CBA if they cut Nylander they will have to pay him 1/2 of his remaining contract and the cap hit is that amount over 2x's the amount left on his contract. So in plain English, he is owed 8.5M over the next 2 years so they'll pay him 4.25M to make him go away and the cap hit will be a little over 1M per year for the next 4yrs. So would you rather him go away for 1M, or keep him here and have him count 5.5M next yr and 3 the next? There's no way in H.E double hockey sticks he'll be here next yr counting 5.5m against the cap. The contract alone was the reason we didn't do anything at the trade deadline in my opinion.

Posted by: pokerface1208 | April 20, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

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