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Ovechkin likely out this weekend

Alex Ovechkin said his injury -- it's obvious now that it's a strain near his left shoulder -- continues to improve by leaps and bounds. But it has not improved enough to allow him to play in this weekend's back-to-back series with the Panthers, he said, after returning to practice this afternoon in Sunrise, Fla.

"It's still a little sore," Ovechkin said. "I feel a little bit better, but there is still a little bit pain. From last night to today, I feel much better. It's not disturb me."

I've got to find my hotel now, but I'll have more on Ovechkin, the Caps' penalty woes and other items of interest on the blog later and in the paper tomorrow.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  November 5, 2009; 2:09 PM ET
 
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Comments

Ovi and Caps, please err on the side of caution and stay out of the lineup for a healthy period. No need to aggravate a nagging injury, and there's no way we know the full extent here.

Posted by: Sonyask | November 5, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Good. I am glad they will have to play without Ovi for at least a couple of more games so they will not use him as a crutch and we can see what this team is made of.

Do you remember when Ovi was with his sick grandfather last year? We won games without him but I think it was because others, especially Semin, really stepped up.

I would like to know if you think the team has actually gotten worse this year--at least so far

Posted by: caraveli | November 5, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

@caraveli, I agree, it would be a good idea to play without Ovi for a spell.

The most prominent improvement from last year is Schultz. His passing has been accurate and excellent. He is throwing his body around. He has made a couple of mistakes but fewer than most. He is one of our most effective players clearing the zone.

I've been very impressed by the intelligence Schultz is displaying. He is pinching, shooting, passing, and otherwise getting into the offensive game, while at the same time not getting in trouble defensively despite his slow speed. That is, he is maintaining good position and managing to disrupt any rushes back the other way, despite more aggressive offensive play.

And at age 23 there's plenty more upside there.

Posted by: Sonyask | November 5, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

well I think we kinda knew already that he would be out this weekend when they changed his status from day to day to week to week.

I'd be very surprised if he were out less than two weeks.

Posted by: joek443 | November 5, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I think we may see him back for the Islanders or the Wild.

That's some good beat reporting, Tarik. You've got some video, quality follow-ups, etc. Well done.

I thought for a minute that the video was from the last Atlanta game - that's about how many fans it appeared were there that night.

Get well, 8.

Posted by: saintex | November 5, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Sonyask, but what about all the GM's on here saying Schultz is the worst player on the team? Surely they can't be biased to not seeing his improving play, that would never happen here at CI.

Seriously, I am with you the guy is growing up this year and I think he has been one of the most pleasant surprises for me.

Let the bashing and name calling begin.

Posted by: PhilR | November 5, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

@ Sonyask

a great observation, nice to see people noticing it... unlike all the noise-makers on here who still say he's a bum because he doesn't hit anyone

Posted by: joek443 | November 5, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

The team compared to last year's is more talented. This team compared to last years however seems to just be going through the motions. They are essentially playing like they can get by on talent alone for the most part right now and that the 100% effort for 60 minutes each game doesn't have to be there. And that is fine considering it's early November.

They get up for certain teams right now where they know they have to compete harder to stay in the game and to win, ie Boston, SJ, and Philly. Against the less talented teams, they essentially don't give a crap it seems. This is an attitude and effort thing, its not a talent thing. When they want to be the best they can be the best. When they don't want to, they are merely an average team with great talent. That is what frustrates everyone beyond belief.

The questions becomes when the heck are they going to realize that this mindset could carry on for too long and become the norm. This isnt up to the old guys(Knuble, Clark, Poti, Theo, Morrison)and coaches to fix, they can only say so much...its up to the most talented players to fix. When the most talented players realize it takes a 100% effort for 60 minutes night in and night out to be considered the best, only then will things change. Otherwise we all are going to love them one day and be completely frustrated the next.

Posted by: ThePat | November 5, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Here's another good piece on the Yzerman - Bowman marriage. There a lot to be learned from it.

http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=504907

Posted by: saintex | November 5, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

@PhilR -- right. Unlike last year, whenever I see a blanket "Schultz sucks" of late all I can think of is that poster has not been watching the game.

Posted by: Sonyask | November 5, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

like i said, i was a Sarge basher. if he keeps it up, will be a raving fan.

Posted by: doughless | November 5, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Jurcina leads all Caps Dmen in plus/minus with a plus seven followed very closely by SCHULTZ who is plus six.....and for those of you who say its because he plays with Green a lot that is BS because Green is only plus three.....the remaining Dmen are all minuses so I won't keep going here....the guy has improved his game and goals aren't coming against when he is on the ice very often.

Posted by: PhilR | November 5, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: crosbyisajoke | November 5, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Sonyask: thanks for bringing Schultz to our attention. I agree with you. I just had not been as observant as you.

ThePat: excellent and fair analysis, and you put your finger on why we love them and get so frustrated by them.

If, according to LeBrune, you and others, the stars have such a big role in a turnaround, shouldn't Ovi be enlisted, as suggested? And shouldn't Ovi be the captain. Crosby is the captain. It seems the star player on teams is the captain. Why not Ovi? He carries this team, for God's sake, and he seems to be the one who cares the most about capturing the Cup. I don't get why they do not acknowledge and unleash his leadership. Do you think Ovi, himself, doen't want it? Anyone wants to start a campaign for Ovi as captain?

Posted by: caraveli | November 5, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Did the caps recall Nylander?
http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog/Steven-Hindle/Capitals-Recall-NylanderCaps-Officially-in-on-Forsberg/98/24117

Posted by: crosbyisajoke | November 5, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Yes, but it's not like they had any choice. They get a single conditioning stint, then it's back to the club.

Posted by: Sonyask | November 5, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

@crosbyisajoke

they had to recall nylander. just a formality

Posted by: _stevo | November 5, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

@caraveli

Whether Ovi or anyone else should be captain, they wouldn't do that to Clark. In my opinion Laich is the next Captain of the team. Would Ovi want and embrace it, sure he would. But I don't necessarily think you should make them rely on Ovi for everything. Ovi is still going to do his thing regardless of being captain.

Posted by: ThePat | November 5, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

ThePat's points are right on point regarding playing down to the level of their competition. The loss to Columbus on Sunday was bad on a number of fronts - losing a two-goal lead, losing a late 3rd period lead after getting a goal from an unlikely source (Laing), and the committing two horrible penalties. I do think that some of the teams vets need to start holding people accountable for taking dumb penalties and not playing a full 60 minutes.

If it isn't a veteran like Clark, Poti, or Knuble, then maybe one of the leaders like a Brooks Laich needs to air out some of the concerns in the locker room. BB can only continue to harp on the players taking bad penalities, but the players are the ones who are accountable to each other.

Posted by: wizfan89 | November 5, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

@caraveli
Actually, the Caps are 1 win, 4 losses in the 5 games that he has missed since the beginning of his career. That says a lot. Let's face it, Ovie is a franchise player and is the spark plug of the team. They do not have the scoring depth to be a top tier team without him in the line-up.
This being said a shoulder sprain means that it involves ligaments. This is another fact that confirms the theory of a shoulder dislocation. At this point, I am thinking a minimum of 3 weeks of rehab, a maximum of 6. If that is the diagnoses and he comes back earlier, the Caps management is nuts.
I think that the main issue for them, will be to make Ovie understand that he needs to take his time, and for BB not to rush things if the Caps get into an ugly losing streak.
Interestingly enough, if the Caps are not too successful without him in the line-up, it may procure ammunitions to GMGM to shave off a few $100,000s off his offer to Semin and Backstrom. He is a tough negotiator and has little loyalty to the players.

Posted by: atybat | November 5, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I want to know what Bruce intends to do to shake them up enough to stop them from thinkg they've won anything. They act like they don't have to think or work hard anymore.

Posted by: ridgely1 | November 5, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Good points on Schultz. I haven't been a fan of his over the last couple of years due to his mistakes and his lack of hitting for a guy his size. However, I must admit that he has improved his game this year (so far). His outlet passes are crisper and he seems more at ease. Of course, it's still early in the season, but, if this keeps up, he'll be a boon to the Caps.

As for it not being to the old guys to lead the way, well they are -- the wrong way. Even Knuble admitted it, he taking a stupid penalty the other night, BMo last night and Semin with several last night. They all say the same garbage after the games -- Need to cut down on stupid penalties, need to be disciplined, need to play better defensively, yadda, yadda.... but yet, they forget it all by the next game. It's getting to be a frustrating and boring broken record. Realistically, if this same mindset, actions and at times suspect defense/goaltending are still in place at the end of the season, the Caps will go out in the second round again. Don't know what it would take to motivate them or to make them change their approach, but I hope someone finds it soon.

Posted by: Puckdawg69 | November 5, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Very interesting discussion after last night's game. There were the usual calls for Semin's head, trade him for a bag of pucks, etc. What surprised me was the number of people who not only support Semin as valuable to the team (as I do) but also DEFENDED HIS PLAY LAST NIGHT. Various defenses were offered, cheap calls by refs, PK should have killed off penalties etc. But several here actually thought his performance last night was OK. One poster actually said that anyone who questioned Semin's play LAST NIGHT is an idiot. Wow.

Posted by: zmega | November 5, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

wizfan89

I'd like to see BB hold guys accountable by sitting them out one game, or, maybe cutting ice time by 2/3, something like that. It might hurt the team in the short run but should send a msg to the team. I know it won't happen, but besides that, a coach doesn't have much leverage.

Posted by: Puckdawg69 | November 5, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I don't think that work ethics was a problem last night. I think that BB's system (or lack of) is based on throwing the puck high at Ovie who is roving around the opponent's blue line, usually near the Board. This tactic is used for about 20 minutes a game (Ovie's ice time 5-5). Then, they generally spend another 6-8 minutes on Power play with Ovie at the point for the most part.
The rest of the game (about 30-35 minutes)is spent trying to kill time until Ovie gets back on the ice. I would like to see the team play without Ovie for 4-5 weeks. This would be a good test to see if BB can actually develop a defensive system. Since the Caps are going to see their offensive production go down, giving 3 goals a game ain't gonna cut it.
If he pulls it off, this team will be so much improved for the rest of the season, but most specially for the play-offs. Of course, the more casual fans may well tune off the Caps for a while but the real hockey fans will watch with interest.

Posted by: atybat | November 5, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

@ridgely1: I share your frustration:
"I want to know what Bruce intends to do to shake them up enough to stop them from thinkg they've won anything."

If I were patient I would say it would be very interesting to see what BB does next and how far his leadership can extend. But not being patient, I am frustrated and all I can do is second-guess with you guys. It helps.

What I want to know is what other coaches have done and what do we guess BB will do based on his past actions. You hear of coaches who took teams from rags to riches. Well, BB has accomplished this. I haven't heard of stories when the coach has to keep transforming the team as they hit plateaus. These would be great lessons learned because teams (like people or relationships) are not fixed permanently and fly off into the sunset.

BB led the Hersheys to the champonship and the Caps from ridicule to admiration. He has great instinct. I have to believe that he will find the right lever to pull at the right time. Does anyone know how he has dealt in the past with teams getting stuck?

Posted by: caraveli | November 5, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad Ovi is feeling better, but I do hope he stays out for at least 2 weeks. It's November, the team can afford to struggle now.

Reading some of your comments about what to do without Ovi got me thinking about some of the comments other teams have made about our team. For instance, Babcock said his coaching strategy was to throw 3 guys on Ovi every time he touched the puck. Hitchcock had his players target Ovi with hits to knock him off his game. Even Brodeur acknowledged that the Devils probably wouldn't have won that game with Ovi in the lineup. So it looks like the league wide game plan against the Caps is to just stop Ovi. That's scary.

Posted by: ablake70 | November 5, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

From other thread

My intuition tells me that Ovi hurt his left shoulder when he lunged to punch/push Chimera with his left arm at the beginning of the scrum.

That would support the idea that the punching should be left to the enforcers, of which the Caps have none, and not the two-time league MVP.

As a pugilistic player in his own right, McPhee should know better than to play the big-boddied and Hitchcok-coached Blue Jackets, w/o Erskine or any other enforcer-type. I think that management has to take some blame for the circumstances leading to Ovi's injury. Others?

Posted by: dml1077 | November 5, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

I still don't understand why so many have pushed the panic button and are desperate for change. "What's Bruce gonna do? What's Bruce gonna do"? Seeing as how the team is leading the division, 5th in the league (I think), and actually have lowered their penalty minutes to very respectable, I don't see why we should expect any major shakeups. I am sure he is unhappy, and rightfully so, with a few aspects of the team overall, and a few players ups and downs, but I am sure the coaching staff is more than capable determining the best course of action.

Posted by: gonchpup | November 5, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

There's no point rushing him back to play Florida early in the season. This is the time of year where you can afford to be without your top player for a few games and Florida is a team they should be able to beat without him in the lineup.

Posted by: Stu_c | November 5, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

You guys that think Schultz has been playing well...you certainly do not know hockey.

I have seen every game this year (except the ones on VS because Gary Bettman's inability to control his TV contract).

Last night's goal that went off of green, that my friends was Schultz's man in front green was blocking the pass to.

If Schultz would have been in position, green wouldn't have had to try and defend that pass (also out of position)and it would not have been redirected into the net.

Schultz has zero upper body strength and is a horrible (by NHL standards) backwards lateral skater (which is what Defensemen are supposed to be best at).

In addition, his clearing attempt the other night DIRECTLY led to another glorious scoring opportunity.

You all must also believe Boudreau when he says he thinks Mike Green is playing exceptionally well...when he's been individually exploited on 1 goal against Islanders and 1 goal against the Blue Jackets...

Terrible, terrible...stop trying to act like you Marylanders are "hockey people"...

Posted by: SinkingCaps | November 5, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

@gonchpup

You're right. It's November and if Ovi wasn't injured, people would need to relax. The problem is that this is Ovi's first real injury of his NHL career and there are concerns as to if this team is built to succeed without him. I'm not panicking just yet because I haven't seen enough of the Oviless Caps, but it is a real concern.

Posted by: ablake70 | November 5, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

@sinkingcaps--wow you have seen every game so that makes you the expert and the other fans come from Maryland as if that negates any hockey knowledge. Your choice of "sinkingcaps" already tells me what your mindset is so your opinion is of little value to me. There are many posters on this board who are highly critical and with whom I sometimes disagree but they all show passion and extensive knowledge of hockey and of the Caps both past and present. I pay attention and think about the argument they are making even if I don't agree. Go sink yourself.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | November 5, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

SinkingCaps is without a doubt the dumbest poster on here

Posted by: joek443 | November 5, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Joe...and caps young guns....you guys are great...can't handle the truth.

I was a caps fan since the day they opened the doors with Bernie WOlfe and Red Light Ron Low....loved Dennis Maruk and Garts, Gus and Ridley...Kelly Miller....Big Al Iafrate...

My name signifies...if we keep this up, we will sink and the window of opportunity to win a cup will be gone.

I speak the truth. The fact that you are in LOVE with Schultz...that's fine. But that doesn't make him a good defenseman (or even an NHL defenseman).

If the salary cap could handle Alzner and Schultz had options, he would be in Hershey. That is the truth.

If you think that Mike Green is having a good year...look outside "Caps Country" and see what the experts are saying. Green is lazy and he has very little chance of making the Olympic team because of this. If he had a 1/3 decent playoffs, we are probably winning the cup. But he didn't. And he signed a huge contract...and now he is too nonchalant about everything and is constantly getting burned...

Open your eyes and face the truth.

Posted by: SinkingCaps | November 5, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

well who gives a rats ass about the frigging olympic team... guess all those who voted for Green for the Norris must have been on drugs, huh?

Posted by: joek443 | November 5, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

also you sound like one of those dumb MFers who started the whoop whoop chant for Larry Murphy

Posted by: joek443 | November 5, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

well who gives a rats ass about the frigging olympic team... guess all those who voted for Green for the Norris must have been on drugs, huh?

Posted by: joek443 | November 5, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

no they obviously just go by stats and not by what transpires on the ice. Green was a huge liability most of last season. Turnovers galore.

The fact that he even got within sniffing distance of the Norris starts and ends with his offensive statistics. Defensively he was atrocious and lazy. I actually have seen more of a willingness from this THIS year to work on his defensive game. I'll take 40 less points from him if he can turn into a solid defensive player.

Posted by: cstanton1 | November 5, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

sure they always go by the stats.. that's how Langway won his back to back Norris trophies.

Posted by: joek443 | November 5, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

cstanton1: No, Green was not horrible defensively last year. Someone posted last year during the playoffs three sets of stats. One was goals against the team while defenders were on the ioce 5-on-5 per 60 mins. Green, Chara and Lidstrom were all at 2.15 goals agaist per 60 mins ES time. PK they were close I think and Green had them killed on PP.

The best thing that can happen to Green is they leave him off the Olympic team. Then he has a chip on his shoulder and he's well rested. Either way, this Olympic thing obviously weighs heavy on his mind. Just pick the GD players already Yzerman so Green can get over the nerves and start playing his game again.

Posted by: tominfl1 | November 5, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

joek443: Regarding your earlier note, I've yelled at my children countless times and tried benching them but it didn't work. Guess I must be a bad coach.

I did yell at one and it took me 5,471 times of telling her before she started hanging her towel up (and not leaving it on the floor) after a shower. She still takes a 20-25 min shower - I can't stop that. They tell me it's a "female" thing.

One thing is that being a parent and going through trials and tribulations (believe me when I say I can't even begin to discuss these incidents on a public forum), I have learned some patience. Let me just say I could have given up on one a dozen times, but now at almost 29 she is slowly but surely turning it around.

Never, ever give up on your children. Never. And never should a fan give up on a top-flight talent like Alex Semin or Mike Green. They are rare and they are wonderful and as fans we should relish them and count our lucky stars that GM picked them.

Believe me again - many people aren't mature at 23 or 25. Many, many people. Like with your children, if their hearts are in the right place - you don't give up. Ever.

Posted by: tominfl1 | November 5, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

@ tominfl1

my problem with all the noise-makers who shout trade Semin, Green or give up on Shultz, Fehr is that they don't bother with providing any alternatives...

you wanna trade or give up on them? fine... whom do you suggest they should go after.. NOT what they should go after but whom?? give me some names

Posted by: joek443 | November 5, 2009 6:56 PM | Report abuse

joek443: I summed it up on the next thread, in answer to caravelli. But, I don't advocate trading any of those players you listed except maybe Fehr.

I didn't give a list of names in the "whom." I gave examples of types. I don't know all 30 teams for sure well enough to spout out all the names. I just know the kind of guys we've had in the past (Steve Konowalchuk, Kelly Miller, Mark Tinordi) who we desparately need now.

This doesn't mean - to you detractors - that I want to go back to the lunchpail Caps of yesteryear. But, our roster is unbalanced and needs fine tuning.

Posted by: tominfl1 | November 5, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

@sinkingcaps--I hardly think you are the only poster here who has been a hockey fan and Caps of longstanding AND many of the posters have also played and/or coached hockey. So I don't think you have any expertise greater than many of the other posters.

This and the previous thread has been lively and interesting to read--Tho' I am mulling over the various arguments made here in general I do agree with the statement: "never ever give up on your children," meaning our less consistent but still extremely talented players. And I agree with several of the posters here that our team is unbalanced and defense needs some shoring up. But we have the rest of the season to do it. And I am not about to give up on the Caps as you seem to have. I am and will always be a diehard Caps fan--even if my hockey knowledge goes back only a few years.

Posted by: newbiecapsfan07 | November 5, 2009 9:17 PM | Report abuse

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