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Ovechkin still has something to play for

(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Here's a short roundup of Caps-related reading material to get the day started:

Morning roundup

* Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau is considering resting his stars before the playoffs, but with individual scoring titles at stake, Alex Ovechkin will have the choice to sit or not. | Full story »

*'Larry King used to work Caps games' <-- headline I could not have anticipated. (D.C. Sports Bog)

*Great moments in the Igloo. (OFB)

*Amazing! power-play disparity. (CapsBlog)

*Blame Poti for PK woes? (Japers' Rink)

*Could be Bruins or Flyers in the first round. (Storming the Crease)

*Pierre Lebrun on the Hart Trophy: "I don't think Ovechkin should win this year, and that's a huge compliment to the powerhouse that is the Washington Capitals." (ESPN)

*Looking back at preseason predictions. (Rock the Red)

More to come from practice this morning at KCI, so stay tuned.

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  April 8, 2010; 5:38 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Alzner and Beagle assigned to Hershey
Next: Theodore nominated for Masterton Trophy



Posted by: ludeman95 | April 8, 2010 6:25 AM | Report abuse

Ovie is getting cranked up just in time to finish the season with the hardware he is used to winning, and hopefully another piece of hardware that he still needs. I cannot wait for the playoffs!

Posted by: crooks_c | April 8, 2010 6:30 AM | Report abuse

Line Combinations for the playoffs





Posted by: broud0 | April 8, 2010 7:08 AM | Report abuse

Forward lines kind of automatic at this point, unless BMo struggles badly at 2nd C; and no matter who the opponent is.

D pairs are a bit different; 1st names itself, but then... are you naming your choices, or predicting BBs? If it's the latter, I disagree - no way Bruce drops Poti to 3rd pair minutes. Can't recall even one game over the last three seasons when Poti was not either 1st or 2nd pair.

And unless we are playing the Habs, I am staying away from 3/77 combo.

BTW, at least for the next 36 hours or so, everybody hold their nose and root for the Rags, right? I mean, we want a *meaningful game* for both of them on Sunday, don't we?

Posted by: igor_k17 | April 8, 2010 7:30 AM | Report abuse

the red wings just scored 3 goals in 1:16 against Umberger's BJ's... LOL serves him right

Posted by: joek443

The Red Wings don't play the right way either. :) They'll never go anywhere in the playoffs.

(making fun of Umberger's earlier comments regarding the Caps)

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | April 8, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

I say for Ovie...let him play Atlanta and then play the Bruins only if it looks like he still has a shot at Rocket sense in him getting tired or even hurt in Boston if he is obviously not going to get the scoring title.

Any guesses...does Ovie have a stellar game against Atlanta Friday?

Posted by: capscoach | April 8, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse


I think you have it with Gordon filling in due to injury to anyone.

Lets hope Morrison can get his legs back these next two games.

Posted by: SA-Town | April 8, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

I won't be at all shocked to see someone besides #8 win the Hart. And to be honest- I'm not sure he is the most valuable player on our team. Most outstanding? Definitely. But as far as value to the team- that honor goes to the young Swede.

Or perhaps Tyler Sloan...

Posted by: Fro_ | April 8, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Can't comment on your 3rd line as I don't know who "Steckal" is.

Posted by: ds_kelly | April 8, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Morrison on the second line concerns me. He is not very consistent and not very sound defensively. He has ungodly hand-eye coordination, but he has lost a step or two, also. But a line of Flash, Fehr, and Morrison gives me the heebe-geebies in terms of back-checking. Semin has become a much, much better back-checker. Belanger is a stud two-way center (well at least a defensive stud) and Laich is a very solid two-way player. A second line with Belanger can dominate puck possession, but then what to do with a fairly weak 3rd line, defensively?

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | April 8, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Just for kicks, a reminder of Gene's predictions at the beginning of the season:

1. Washington
2. Pittsburgh
3. Boston
4. Philly
5. N.Y. Rangers
6. New Jersey
7. Carolina
8. Montreal

1. Chicago
2. San Jose
3. Calgary
4. Detroit
5. Anaheim
6. Vancouver
7. St. Louis
8. Columbus

Posted by: Cerealman | April 8, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I won't be at all shocked to see someone besides #8 win the Hart. And to be honest- I'm not sure he is the most valuable player on our team. Most outstanding? Definitely. But as far as value to the team- that honor goes to the young Swede.

Posted by: Fro_ | April 8, 2010 9:17 AM

I don't think the writers really pay much attention to the meaning of "valuable" when voting for Hart - if they actually did, do you think Brodeur would have at least one of those by now?

Another amazing fact: in spite of "your goalie is the most important player" cliche, in the last half century the only THREE goaltenders to win NHL reg season MVP title have been Jacques Plant, Hasek, and... Jose!!! WOW!

I would have no problem with Miller getting the Hart... as long as that leads to enough of the voting writers "splitting the ticket" and handing 52 the Norris!

Interesting observation by someone commenting on Burnside vs LeBrun: the Caps are 6-0-1 without AO against non-playoff teams (if Flyers don't make it, it's 7-0-1); the two losses without Alex? NJ...

Posted by: igor_k17 | April 8, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Ovi had enough games off this season so don't need to rest him. I would let him play about 15 minutes/game, mostly on the PP and at the end of games for empty netters.

Posted by: joek443 | April 8, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Morrison on the second line concerns me. He is not very consistent and not very sound defensively.
Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | April 8, 2010 9:42 AM

Agreed, but that is also why there is no room for him anywhere but on that second line. Laich and Sёmin are probably the most defensively responsible pair of wingers we have (short of 4th liners); also, with those two he has a reasonable chance two spend more time in the attacking zone, which is where he is most useful. And if we are ahead by a goal or two with 10 minutes to go in the third, I can see BB sitting BMo, Flash and Fehr, bumping Belanger to 2nd, and going with three lines.

Posted by: igor_k17 | April 8, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

@capscoach: the Boston game is actually in the VC on Sunday---at least it better be, because I have tickets! But I do understand your point about Ovi not playing if it means getting hurt. It's just that one could say that about any game. I hope Ovi makes his statistical goal, but I hope more that the Caps go all the way this year.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | April 8, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse


I Wonder if you had heard anything about the Caps front office bringing the Playoff Beard Promotion Back this year? My boss won't let me grow mine out unless I show him its for an official cause.


Posted by: RichieRich421 | April 8, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

@Igor, I think BB may need to shorten the bench for time to time also. I can see Belanger on the second in tight games and the 3rd sitting out, unless BB takes a 3rd liner and places him on the fourth (Flash or Fehr), if one of the 4th liners is hurt or playing weak.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | April 8, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

I believe the probability that Ovechkin becomes the third player in history to win a third consecutive MVP (that's the Hart Trophy) is a pretty small one.

(1) Even if he does end up in the lead in goals, the voters know that he has 5 empty net goals this year. Crosby also has 48 total but has only one empty net goal, and Stamkos, with 47 total, has only two empty net goals.

(2) Even if he does end up in the lead in both goals and points, and even if the voters ignore the empty net goals, his lead in both will be very small, and the voters will reason that his two suspensions this season outweigh those things.

(3) The voters will be looking for reasons not to give it to him because he's won the previous two.

(4) The voters will not bother looking at his per-game numbers, which are obviously going to be much better than everyone else's, even if they would normally be inclined to do so (and I do not think most voters are), because the two suspensions are the reason he missed a large chunk of the 10 games he missed.

If I were a sportsbook, I would give you about 4 to 1 odds right now against Ovechkin winning it, i.e. I would think the chances are less than 1 in 5.

Posted by: youaresquishy | April 8, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Everyone should keep an eye on the Rags. They seem to be putting things together and given that they are literally playing to get into the playoffs, could be a bad match-up for the Caps.

Posted by: doughless | April 8, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

As to the goalies winning the MVP issue--I don't understand why goalies are eligible. They have an award already. They are obviously very different from all other players. They get much more ice time, are much more involved, and you could argue that the best goalie should almost always win the MVP, in which case the best goalie would generally get two awards each year and there would obviously be a need for a most valuable nongoalie award to be instituted.

I doubt there is any reasonable way of comparing the overall value of a goalie to the overall value of a nongoalie. Even though there is no goalie exclusion rule, I believe the voters should operate as if there is one.

Posted by: youaresquishy | April 8, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

why in the HELL are people talking about the Hart Trophy??? Frankly, who gives a crap! The discussion here is as irritating as Caps fans at the Phone Booth yelling MVP. Who CARES!! the only thing that truely matters is the Stanley Cup. anything else is just salve for a fanbase with self-esteem issues.

Posted by: doughless | April 8, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

As to the meaning of the word "valuable," I think sportswriters and fans tend to get carried away. I hear things like that it allegedly means "most valuable to his team," which is supposed to imply things like that you shouldn't give an MVP award to a team that doesn't make the playoffs and you shouldn't give it to a team that has too many other really great players, or some nonsense like this.

And it all just sounds like stuff sportswriters made up to give themselves something to talk about.

I think the word "valuable" means essentially what it would mean if you were evaluating, say, a diamond. In other words, the question should just be: Who is the best player? Who is the player whose year, if you could guarantee he would duplicate it next year, would you pay the most for if you were a team owner? That's what value is all about.

The question should NOT be: How good would the Capitals have done without Ovechkin? Because a team might happen to have enough other talent to do just about as well as it did in the standings without the player in question, but that wouldn't have anything to do with how valuable the player is. The question should be something more like: How much would Ovechkin improve a random team were he substituted for an exactly average left wing?

And the offensive aspect of the game is about putting the damn puck in the net, and secondary assists are often not all that important in the grand scheme of things, so, in general, scoring goals is more valuable than getting assists, except maybe in rare cases like where you're talking about a big power forward who gets a lot of garbage goals (although I tend to think good garbage guys are, in general, underrated). Ovechkin and Backstrom have both had their best seasons ever, if you're talking about on a per-game basis, and as incredible as Backstrom has been this year, and as many goals as he's scored, and as many truly excellent assists and other plays he's made, I firmly believe the most valuable Capital this year was, once again, Alexander Ovechkin.

Posted by: youaresquishy | April 8, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Anyone see this?

Reason enough to get HBO, even though you hate the Flyers.

Looking forward to it.

Posted by: Fro_ | April 8, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

I give a crap about who wins the Hart Trophy.

It's fine with me if you don't care about it though.

Posted by: youaresquishy | April 8, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Who is the player whose year, if you could guarantee he would duplicate it next year, would you pay the most for if you were a team owner? That's what value is all about.

Posted by: youaresquishy | April 8, 2010 11:08 AM


Posted by: Fro_ | April 8, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I am a huge CAPS fan but am currently in school down here in auburn, AL. I was wondering if there has been dates or times released for the first rd of the playoffs so I can get my travel plans done for coming home whether I need to drive or fly and all. Any help would be appreciated. Also anyone who knows about tickets also help would be greatly appreciated on both these topics.

Posted by: aucapsfan | April 8, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

aucapsfan: Well, through the season ticket holder pre-sale it appears games 1 and 2 are pretty much sold out now and it started at 10am. The actual schedule has not been released but the first round of some of NHL series begin Wednesday 14 April. The Wizards have a game at Verizon on Wednesday night so my guess is game 1 will be next week Thursday and game 2 will be Saturday. Check on Sunday night after all the 1st round series are set and the schedule will be released.

The safest way to get playoff tickets without getting ripped off (as far as tickets being fake) is to buy from season ticket holder at the ticketexchange. You can access at this URL:

Those tickets will not go on sale at that link until Sunday night or Monday morning. You can get tickets through stub hub too, or craigslist. I just know that I have never had any problems with tickets I have purchased through the ticketexchange. You get to print the tickets with the barcodes right after you purchase them. Travel safely and good luck landing some tickets.

Posted by: fanohock1 | April 8, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Here's my All-Time Caps Team:









Enforcers: Berube/Tinordi/Simon

Please discuss...

Posted by: Rhino40 | April 8, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

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