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Ovechkin ready for 'cool moment'

Have a seat, folks. We've got a lot to talk about this morning.

First off, Alex Ovechkin was the first player on the ice here at Madison Square Garden and treated the short session as though he's going to play.

Afterward, both he and Coach Bruce Boudreau stopped just short of guaranteeing that he'll play, but I'm not even sure they believe that there's a chance the two-time MVP won't be in the lineup tonight.

"Unless something negative happens this afternoon and I don't get the okay from [head athletic trainer Greg Smith] to play him, then I think he would be back," said Boudreau, who can become the fifth Washington coach to reach 100 wins tonight (and the fastest to reach the milestone).

Ovechkin added: "I'm kind of excited to come back. It's a pretty good feeling. It's going to be a pretty cool moment for me. I just want to come back and play hockey, not practice."

The status of Alexander Semin, meantime, is a little more mysterious. Semin has been nursing a host of injuries, including a sore right wrist, and did not skate this morning. It's not entirely uncommon for Semin to skip optional skates the morning of a game, but when Boudreau was asked whether the Russian winger would indeed be in the lineup, he would only say, "We'll see."

Jose Theodore definitely will not be on the bench tonight, however. The veteran goalie returned to Northern Virginia to tend to a family matter. According to a team official, he's expected to be back for practice tomorrow.

"He's fine," Boudreau said. "There's just a personal matter that he had to take care of at home."

Without Theodore, the Caps recalled Michal Neuvirth from Hershey to sit on the bench tonight and back up Semyon Varlamov, who is 6-1-0 in his last seven games with a 2.09 goals against average and .928 save percentage in that span.

David Steckel came off the ice after about eight minutes this morning but told me he expects to play after taking a Nicklas Backstrom pass off the ankle in practice yesterday. The puck, he said, hit a spot that was already sore and caused significant swelling. Just in case he can't go, however, the Caps called up Jay Beagle from Hershey.

"That's a game-time decision," Boudreau said.

The biggest story this morning, though, was of course the status of Ovechkin, who has missed six games with a strain near his left shoulder. It's by far the longest amount of time that he's been sidelined in his career.

"When you have the best player in the world, you miss him a lot," Boudreau said. "You try to overcome that he's not there. For the most part, we did a pretty good job [because] we were 4-2 without him."

Boudreau also said there's no better place for Ovechkin to return than on the grand stage at MSG. But, at the same time, he's a little worried he may try to do too much.

"I think Alex kind of likes that," Boudreau said of the extra attention he receives in New York. "I know he's missed playing because he loves playing all the time. You add this building, if he does play, he'll be pretty excited. I'm just worried about him trying to do too much too early."

Two more notes: Boyd Gordon (back) is out and Milan Jurcina (pulled leg muscle) has been placed on IR.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  November 17, 2009; 12:27 PM ET
 
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Next: Semin sent home to see doctor

Comments

I'm raedy for Ovi to have a "cool moment", too.

Posted by: uncatim | November 17, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

this is straight up annoying. I can understand the speculation is based on how good ovechkin is, but he's been healthy for a week and I'm getting kind of tired of "coy" quotes from Boudreau and Ovechkin every morning and minute reporting on Ovechkin's every move. Who cares?! He's not the only player and the only story right now. I think a more interesting use of our imaginations is to see a way for Perrault to compete with Boyd Gordon for his spot, bc he's definitely made a name for himself. There's also a goaltending situation going on - strong numbers (if a bit shaky on the ice) for Varlamov and alternating performances from Theodore beg the same question of last year: who will be the goalie down the stretch?

Bottom line: Ovechkin has been healthy for a week and if they want to sit him to make sure he's good for the rest of the year, so be it. Move on. Enough with the "will he play tonight" crap.

Posted by: fronesis1016 | November 17, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Yeah TEB, what makes you think any of us care about whether Ovechkin plays? How about an update on the NY weather instead?

Posted by: mikebrady1 | November 17, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

@kittypawz: Liked the photo set from your prior posting; reminds me of Spy Magazines "Separated at Birth?" feature.

Anyhoo, here's another possible Perreault nickname:

Минименя

(Russian for "Mini-Me")

Posted by: Rhino40 | November 17, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

this is straight up annoying. I can understand the speculation is based on how good ovechkin is, but he's been healthy for a week and I'm getting kind of tired of "coy" quotes from Boudreau and Ovechkin every morning and minute reporting on Ovechkin's every move. Who cares?...

Posted by: fronesis1016 | November 17, 2009 12:46 PM

I care!

Posted by: jdhoover | November 17, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

@ fronesis1016

why don't you give it a rest? you've been saying the same thing for 3 friggin' days and in case you haven't noticed, nobody cares.

also it is a long way from "down the stretch" to decide which goalie gets to start in the playoffs

Posted by: joek443 | November 17, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

@fronesis1016

Do you show all your cards in a poker game? I suspect you do and I would love to sit down and take all your money.

Posted by: meagle | November 17, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Gordan- his back is becoming a big issue.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | November 17, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

@ fronesis1016 - What a wonderful idea - let's start up the endless round-and-round goalie discussions from last year - very interesting and not at all repetitive. While we're at it, we should get people's thoughts on the Nylander situation. Who cares about Ovie.

I'm trying to figure out if you're a troll.

Posted by: hook99 | November 17, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of the Nyls situation...

Posted by: Moose33 | November 17, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Also why the assumption he has been healthy for a week? The first game he was even possibly playing was with the Devils on Friday. Rather have him healthy this early in the season. Count me in as interested as well!

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | November 17, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

@fronesis1016

u mad?

Posted by: jsnyd1 | November 17, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

You guys forgot the other 'new' subject to talk about: the what-a-selfish-player-Semin-is thing. And as opposed to Perrault and Nyls, Tarik actually mentioned his name in this update.

Posted by: Snowball98 | November 17, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm all for Bruce being coy. I don't care if those of us hitting the refresh button get a bit left in the dark until game time. The possibility of Ovi not playing leaves one more thing for NYR to prepare for.

Hope Gordo gets well soon, but he's gotta hear Mathieu's footsteps. I am glad to get a chance to see Perreault again tonight and for at least a few more games. I know his role is different, but if Perreault he keeps it up Gordon really becomes a spare part.

Posted by: Sonyask | November 17, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

@fronesis1016: I don't think he's necessarily been 100% for a week. I think he's been close enough to consider it, but not necessarily to go. That said, BB is using the media to play the coaching equivalent of chicken with Torts and Lemaire. He's forcing these two coaches to doubt their gameplan, because if Ovi is in the lineup, you have to wrap your defensive gameplan around controlling him. So, if you play coy, you might be able to get into your opposite number's head, make him wonder if he picked the right gameplan to contain Ovi. BB is milking an opportunity for all it's worth, and I for one am greatly entertained.

Don't sweat it. It's a poker game, and one the media is cheerfully participating in without realizing it.

Posted by: kittypawz | November 17, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

@Rhino40: Yeah, the "Separated at birth?" moment ran through my head, too. But more than that ... if you watch #85 skate - he really does look like a smaller version of Ovi in his stride.

Posted by: kittypawz | November 17, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Ovi and BB aren't fooling anyone. There is no way the Ovi is going to miss this game. Besides, we saw how well that game of chicken went with Lemaire.

I'm glad that Ovi's back tonight. It seems like he's been out forever (so spoiled). I just hope he has a Kovalchuk like return and that Clark and Brads turn down any offers from Brash. But maybe I'm asking too much?

Posted by: ablake70 | November 17, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

@ablake70: Can't win if you don't play, man. I agree that he probably won't, but Semin might. Why tip your hand when you don't have to. Chill out, really.

As for the whole working thing with Lemaire, fact is that things don't always go how you planned. *shrug* Doesn't mean you stop after one try. Lemaire's cannier and cooler than most. Torts ... well, the water bottle speaks. :)

Posted by: kittypawz | November 17, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

this is straight up annoying. I can understand the speculation is based on how good ovechkin is, but he's been healthy for a week and I'm getting kind of tired of "coy" quotes from Boudreau and Ovechkin every morning and minute reporting on Ovechkin's every move. Who cares?! He's not the only player and the only story right now. I think a more interesting use of our imaginations is to see a way for Perrault to compete with Boyd Gordon for his spot, bc he's definitely made a name for himself. There's also a goaltending situation going on - strong numbers (if a bit shaky on the ice) for Varlamov and alternating performances from Theodore beg the same question of last year: who will be the goalie down the stretch?

Bottom line: Ovechkin has been healthy for a week and if they want to sit him to make sure he's good for the rest of the year, so be it. Move on. Enough with the "will he play tonight" crap.

Posted by: fronesis1016 | November 17, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse
-------------

Actually, THIS is straight-up annoying. But it is also funny!

Posted by: CapsChick | November 17, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

@ kittypawz

I'm not knocking BB. It's just that this isthe worst kept since ....I don't know. Ovi has already told Dmitri Chesnokov (sp?) that's he's playing tonight.

Posted by: ablake70 | November 17, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Why doesn't the team place Knubs on IR also? He's out 3-4 weeks, and will be on the IR. Is there a strategic reason for not placing him there right away?

Just curious if I'm missing something. Not that it changes anything...

Posted by: fricknoutstandin | November 17, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

@lylewimbledon - I'm with you about Boyd Gordon's back situation. That's troublesome. He lasted eight shifts and a whopping 5:55 of ice time.

He took a hit at 10:02 in the first frame, went 50% (1 for 2) on the faceoff, had a takeaway that resulted directly in a shot on goal by Quintin Laing, and that's it. His back situation does not bode well for an extended season with the Caps...

Posted by: irockthered | November 17, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I believe LTIR is 10 games and 24 days. One reason not to is that he might come back sooner and you can do it retroactively to get the benefits. So, first see if he needs 10 games and then, if so, put him on retroactive LTIR to get the benefits. If not, get the benefit of his play earlier.

Posted by: Sonyask | November 17, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

that's what I was thinking... but because of the short season, and known 3-4 weeks for surgery, I was just wondering if there may be something else I wasn't aware of...

Posted by: fricknoutstandin | November 17, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

@ablake70: He also told Chesnokov that he'd be out 4-5 weeks. :) Somehow me no believ-y. :)

Posted by: kittypawz | November 17, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Sonyask: We went through this constantly last year. I truly believe there are no retroactive benefits to being on LTIR. A team at the cap with injured players is still capped out if they are on LTIR. LTIR just means you can replace the salary ($2.8M in this case) with a player or players making up to that amount. If you lose a guy at $2.8M for a month, and replace him with a guy making $700K for that month, you don't end the month with an underrun of $2.1M (prorated to a month) that you can then use to be over the cap later (like after the deadline).

Like Bill Clinton always said, that is the best of my recollection I think.

Posted by: tominfl1 | November 17, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

@fricknoutstandin - Regular IR does not give cap relief; LTIR would, but in the next 3-4 weeks, we play:

Injury - 11/13
3-4 weeks = 12/04 or 12/11

1) The Rangers (11/17 - away)
2) The Canaidens (11/20 - home)
3) The Maple Leafs (11/21 - away)
4) The Senators (11/23 - away)
5) The Sabres (11/25 - home)
6) The Canaidiens (11/28 - away)
7) The Hurricanes (11/30 - away)
8) The Panthers (12/03 - away)
-----End of 3 Weeks-----
9) The Flyers (12/05 - away)
10) The Lightning (12/07 - away)
11) The Sabres (12/09 - away)
12) The Hurricanes (12/11 - home)

If I'm correct... someone correct me if I'm wrong? If I'm not - if Knuble is only out 3 weeks, and we put him on LTIR, he has to miss the games against the Flyers and Lightning before he can come back, because of the way LTIR works.

Better to not put him on LTIR until we know if it's 3 weeks or 4 weeks he's out. At 4 weeks, LTIR would be a good decision; losing him against the Flyers and Lightning, if he's healed up and ready to go? Not so much.

Posted by: irockthered | November 17, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

@ kittypawz

True. But I am willing to bet that Mr. Ovechkin will play at MSG tonight.

Posted by: ablake70 | November 17, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

By "cap relief," I mean what tominfl1 said: we could use his cap for another player, but we don't get the difference back.

Posted by: irockthered | November 17, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I definitely think Neuvy should play tonight... let's give him a chance and see what he can do. I wonder if he'll at least get a start sometime, but that depends on how long Theodore is out.

Posted by: rachel216 | November 17, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

i can't help but notice that nylander is still here.

Posted by: jamebow | November 17, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

@jamebow

the guest that wouldn't leave!

I'd be sitting on the Caps couch eating cheetos for 4.2 million a year also!

Posted by: lylewimbledon | November 17, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Tominfl -- I think you are right, but I wonder about the assertion that there is no retroactive benefit. Can't we benefit from cap relief from LTIR for called up players, so if he goes out on LTIR we can exceed the cap by the amount paid to Beagle, for instance, while called up during that time?

On the other hand, perhaps you're saying there's a benefit vis a vis the cap, but that benefit cannot be done retroactively. If so, a team could only exceed the cap for players called up after LTIR is designated. Is that what you mean?

Posted by: Sonyask | November 17, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

TAKE AWAY NYLANDER'S CHEETOS!!!

Posted by: jamebow | November 17, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Amen - hard to do when he keeps putting in contract clauses like," hey, I can walk away from your Russian team at anytime if I get better cheetos."

Posted by: lylewimbledon | November 17, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

LTIR only allows to to temporarily replace the missing player. His full salary still counts on the cap. If cap is 56.8, and you start the year at 56.8, and you run 56.8 to the penny all year, you are at 56.8 at year's end. Even if half-a-dozen players went on LTIR, you are still at 56.8. HOWEVER, while a player is on LTIR, he can replaced by players up to the value of the salary. Those players DON'T COUNT against cap because original player does. And if a guy sits three weeks and then you LTIR him, you get nothing but a missed opportunity for those first three weeks. Maybe someone who truly knows can verify. I'm a cost estimator, Jim, not a capologist, to paraphrase Dr. McCoy.

Posted by: tominfl1 | November 17, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

if i remember correctly, the only way for knuble's injury to help cap wise is for him to go on ltir without calling anyone up.
teams are allowed to spend x amount of dollars per day (yearly salary cap / number of days in the season). player on ltir (their salary) do not count against the teams cap. saving that 'daily' money could allow you to spend more than your daily allotment later in the season.

you can take on additional salary for a player that is on ltir without it counting against you daily allotment. when you do this, you are not saving that 'cap' space for when it may be needed later.

any 'cap' experts can/should correct me if i got it wrong

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | November 17, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Any interesting line combos for tonight?

Posted by: Searchingforstanley | November 17, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone have any serious info on Nyls? It's a ludicrous situation at this point.

Posted by: jerseygirl15 | November 17, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Can the forwards back check...better to win 3-2 than lose 6-5...this will be a rock'em sock'em game...MSG...Versus TV...the return of the MVP...Gooooooo Caps...

Posted by: AMGABBER | November 17, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

tominfl1:
i refuse to try and read the cba again. very likely that i don't remember correctly. i'll go with what you say

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | November 17, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

i didn't read the cba - but found this by someone that did

CBA Section 50.10(d):
(ii) The Player Salary and Bonuses of the Player that has been deemed unfit-to-play shall continue to be counted toward the Club's Averaged Club Salary as well as count against the Players' Share during the League Year in which the Player is deemed unfit-toplay (including during the period such unfit-to-play Player is on a Bona Fide Long-Term Injury/Illness Exception Conditioning Loan to another league)

so tominfl1 is right and i was wrong

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | November 17, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

My best wishes for Theo and all who Rock the Red.

Just as no Redskins season would be complete without an annual Quarterback Controversy, it now appears that no Capitals season will be complete without an annual Goalie Controversy to match.

meh.

But the Redskins' season and the Caps' season (so far) are polar opposites: even if the 'Skins somehow manage to "run the table" for their remaining games, they may still miss the NFL playoffs. The malaise at FedEx field is so thick you'd need a chainsaw to cut through it.

The Caps' season thus far--on the other hand--is another story: Plenty of success, and still brimming with promise despite some nagging hiccups.

(OK, OK, I admit I'm something of a homer...so sue me. And if my refusal to say things like...

"If we don't trade/fire/acquire[INSERT PLAYER/BB/GMCM NAME HERE] we'll miss the playoffs/NEVER win the Cup"!

...makes me a "Pollyana" then so be it!)

Face it, folks: We're barely ¼ through the season and we're (I think) at least tied for fewest regulation losses in the NHL so far this season.

And, oh, by the way: also tied for FIRST PLACE in the Eastern Conference.

In what delusional alternate universe does this suck?!??

Probably the same one where the Yankees are viewed as bums if they fail to win 200 games in a regular season AND sweep the World Series in two games...EVERY YEAR.

Oh, wait...those bipolar-paranoid-schizo Yankee fans believe that ANYHOW--at least when they aren't busy crowing about how the Yanks are "The Greatest Team There Ever Was Or Ever Will Be" or how victory for the Yankees is not only an All-American Tradition but also part of God's Natural Order...

Please God don't ever let us Caps fans become like that (the delusional part, that is)!

Last season I don't think our Caps got above second seed in the East. While I'd always rather we won more (of course), I am satisfed that most of our few losses have been quite close: if a 5-2 loss once in a while is as stinky as it gets, I guess I'm OK with that.

C'mon, folks: ENJOY!

GO CAPS--SMITE THE RANGERS!

Posted by: Rhino40 | November 17, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

So tonight's game is on Versus, right?

So how can I watch the game if I have Center Ice but am on Direct TV?

Posted by: garbageman | November 17, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

AMGABBER - "the return of the MVP..."

Isn't that a C.S. Lewis novel?

Posted by: superpaqman | November 17, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Nyls was skating hard/training yesterday at the Rockville ice arena; he was sporting his blue NY Rangers jersey (not joking).
He was told by GMGM that he is not welcome around the team anymore...his work ethics during practice and the skills and intensity he has been showing during practice probably makes GMGM and BB look a bit silly.

Posted by: atybat | November 17, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

@atybat: - Is that you Nylander?

Posted by: guer_j | November 17, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

What? Nyles is still in the area? What about signing with a Russian team? I'm getting the feeling that Nyles will be back in the pressbox soon.

Posted by: ablake70 | November 17, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Of course Nyls is in the area. He is under contract with the Caps. Where do you want him to be? He keeps himself in shape. He is a professional.

Posted by: atybat | November 17, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

So 'atybat', tell us why you havent signed yet with the KHL?

Posted by: guer_j | November 17, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

garbageman:
unfortunately games broadcast by versus are not available on center ice. i too, have direct tv and have had to resort to watching on the internet. i have used atdhe.net to get me through.

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | November 17, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

no surprise nyls is in the area. i wouldn't make a move to russia until i had a signed sealed deal. i'm sure he's still hoping to stay in the nhl so until a KHL deal is signed, best to stay put. glad to hear he is staying in shape. he is a true professional and i hope it works out for him wherever he ends up.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | November 17, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

@atybat

If he's as close to signing with a KHL team, I would've thought he'd be over there checking out his potential team. It's just strange to hear that a guy has been banished from a team yet is still under contract.
'

Posted by: ablake70 | November 17, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone know of a place in Atlanta that has versus?

Posted by: _newt_ | November 17, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

@all

Nylander was close to signing with a Russian team but he and his agent wanted a clause in the transfer that if a better offer came up he could leave that team for another. Ruskies laughed at that- we are stuck with him forever!

Posted by: lylewimbledon | November 17, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

I was hoping Nyls was mulling it over, not that that he has already nixed it. He really needs to find another team. His agent may be a good negotiator but this simply cannot be a good situation for him. He needs to accept an offer. Any offer. Take away his cheetos--as a poster said above.

Posted by: newbiecapsfan07 | November 17, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

And given how good our call-ups have been especially Pereault, there is no room for Nyls on this team. We got to keep moving forward.

Posted by: newbiecapsfan07 | November 17, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

And given how good our call-ups have been especially Perreault, there is no room for Nyls on this team. We got to keep moving forward.

Posted by: newbiecapsfan07 | November 17, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Do you suppose that Nylander is using his agent to play head games with Caps GMGM given the treatment he has received in DC so far? (In other words, let's tease the Caps and make it look like he is close to going to KHL when he has no serious intentions of doing so?

Perhaps the Caps are learning that what goes around comes around.

Posted by: TrackCollector | November 17, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

oops sorry for the repost but I did correct my spelling at least.

Posted by: newbiecapsfan07 | November 17, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

@trackcollector--Nyls bears some responsibility for the situation too. He could not or would not adjust his style of play to fit BB's system. You can't put the entire blame for the situation on the backs of management and coaching alone. And from what news we have thus far, this current situation is on Nyls. If he chooses to sit in the press box this year and be sent down to Hershey next year then I personally will waste no pity on him. He made his choices too.

Posted by: newbiecapsfan07 | November 17, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Nyls has every right to do what's best for him and his family even if that means sitting out and collecting his money.. he doesn't owe the Caps any favors.

Posted by: joek443 | November 17, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Lyle, you are wrong...you seem to put more trust in the red army's ability to negotiate a contract within what could be consired secured and professional as opposed to Nyls who has a great track record at negotiating contracts (at least his agent does). Are you blaming him for not accepting to go to Russia without great safeguards? Remember, he has played in Russia before so, the problem has not been is...it is the KHL team not negotiating with his party in good will... so I hear.
And no, I would not think that he is playing any games with the Caps. He has been humiliated in the face of the entire hockey world, yet, what does he do? train train train and keep his mouth shut...

Posted by: atybat | November 17, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

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