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Posted at 1:11 PM ET, 11/20/2010

Caps get a chance for 'a better effort' against Flyers

By Greg Schimmel

Friday was a forgettable night for the Capitals, and after their miserable, 5-0 loss in Atlanta the Caps have a chance to get back on home ice Saturday night against Philadelphia and put it behind them.

Bruce Boudreau wasn't in the best of moods at the Capitals' optional skate Saturday morning at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, and the Caps coach still seemed to be stewing a little bit after his team's dismal performance.

"[I expect] a better effort," Boudreau said. "To see how we react is going to be interesting."

Rookie goaltender Braden Holtby had a nightmarish third career start Friday, allowing three soft goals in the first 9:07 of the game and putting the Caps in a hole from which they could not recover. Michal Neuvirth was the first goaltender off the ice Saturday morning, meaning he will likely start against the Flyers, but the goaltending isn't the only thing that needs to improve.

The entire team looked off Friday, and it is clear the Caps will need to play better Saturday against the Flyers, who despite a two-game losing streak enter Saturday's game with the second-most points in the Eastern Conference after going 9-0-1 in the 10 games before the last two.

While playing back-to-back days in different cities can be grueling, especially against a physical team like Philadelphia, it gives the Caps an opportunity to quickly move past Friday's loss.

"You want to get rid of the losing feeling right away and that starts with forgetting about last night," forward Brooks Laich said. "We're going to lose hockey games. Whether you have a couple of nights to think about it and practice hard and work on it, or you get right back in it, I don't think it really matters to this team."

Several of the Capitals' more prominent forwards didn't participate in the optional skate Saturday morning, so it's hard to tell if Boudreau will shuffle any of the lines for tonight's game. The only apparent significant change is that Boudreau said veteran winger Mike Knuble will be out for a couple days after he took a puck to the face Friday.

Boudreau said the Caps would not recall anybody from Hershey to replace Knuble, and it appears Boyd Gordon will replace him in the lineup for now, as Gordon left the ice with the regulars Saturday morning.

Both teams will have something to prove tonight, as the Flyers are also coming off a game they would like to forget. They lost, 8-7, against Tampa Bay on Thursday in a game that saw goals by 12 different players and nine goals in the first period.

"We had a lot of high-scoring games in Hershey, but that was pretty outrageous," defenseman Karl Alzner said. "They're going to probably come back battling pretty hard and so will we. Hopefully for both our sakes, it will be a low-scoring game."

By Greg Schimmel  | November 20, 2010; 1:11 PM ET
Categories:  Philadelphia Flyers  
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Next: Tonight's lineup: Flyers at Caps

Comments

I think we need to take a step back and look at MJ.

He has played 10 games, probably split between 3rd line center and 2nd line center.

His stats are:
1G 0A 1Pts -5

That is brutal. Especially considering how well all the other Caps forwards play and some of the wingers he has played with. If that was Flash, BMo, Nylander, or any other center that has played here in the past few years people would be ripping him to shreds. He has just been brutal.

In addition, the Caps played their best stretch of hockey when MJ was out with an injury. Maybe it was a coincidence, but after looking at his numbers, maybe not.

This is not a rip on MJ as a prospect. I think he shows a lot of promise as a player. But he is nowhere near ready to be a 2nd line center. IMO, he should be getting either 4th line minutes, or more preferably, should be getting more time in the AHL. He is young, he needs to improve and work on his game(along with his strength, speed, etc.). I think he should follow the footsteps of most other Caps players and spend some more time in the AHL getting prepared.

If you judge all the Caps forwards for how they played this year, there is no way MJ deserves a sweater. He may only be surpassed by DJ King in poor play, and that is a close call.

I say send MJ down to Hershey for a while and bring up MP.

Posted by: sgm3 | November 20, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3

agreed

Posted by: _stevo | November 20, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

This is an extension of the discussion in the previous thread and my view won't be popular but I think there's an added urgency for McPhee to be aggressive during this "window of opportunity" because of the type of player that Ovechkin is and his contract. This view argue strongly against McPhee's long-term approach to building the present roster.

Ovechkin's game is heavily dependent on athleticism and if you take that away from him, I'm not sure that he has the hockey IQ or complete game to deliver up to value on the latter half of his contract.

There are different kinds of "superstars" or "franchise players." Some of those players can still be elite once they lose their physical advantages because of their versatility and hockey IQ.

I think Backstrom is one of those types of players. He never really had elite athleticism to start with though despite being deceptively strong.

Crosby is a better example (sorry but it's true). Right now, he's the total package - youth/athleticism, elite skill, great work ethic and high hockey IQ. He'll still be elite when he loses his athletic edge because he possess all those traits.

Once Ovechkin loses the athleticism, he'll still have certain skills but he doesn't from what I've seen have elite hockey IQ. He's probably average-at-best in that respect and that doesn't bode well for his future return on investment so to speak.

Furthermore, he has less of a variety of skills and his best skills are largely based on athleticism.

Adding even more to the problem is that Boudreau doesn't seem to be the type of coach teaching him the finer points of the game, including but not limited to defense.

Every season that goes by where Ovechkin relies largely on shooting and hitting and isn't learning to think the game and play a complete game is lost development time that can't be recovered.

Getting back to the point, the window for this team may be even smaller due to the type of player who is currently making about one-sixth of the payroll. It'll probably be closer to 12% toward the end of his contract.

McPhee can't afford to be overly conservative and too forward thinking. Simply put, the time is now and sacrifices need to be made to upgrade in key areas this season and in the next couple of seasons.

Posted by: tmac2yao | November 20, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3
I think it is too early to give up on MJ. As you said he has only played 10 games and on different lines with different partners - this has been my problem with BB, his constant shuffling of lines and of course I am not referring to those times where he has no other choices. It is my contention that on a fast game like hockey players have to have trust and timing on each other, and you can only built that by playing together. I don't think sending MJ to Hershey will help on that respect, the guy already has the skills and the talent to be on this level, now is just a matter of finding comfort with his linemates.

(Note to some other people: That does not mean I hate BB, or that I am calling for him to be fired, or that I think he is bad coach)

Posted by: hock1 | November 20, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

I say leave MJ, and Bring up MP. Let MP play 2, MJ play 3.

No more Steckel. Trade/waive him. He may get claimed, but if not send him down, clear his number. Gordon should be 4th.

This team could greatly benefit from some new blood.

Semin should be shopped. Work out a package with LA, SJ, MIN or EDM.

Guerin would be free at this point. Why not try him? He has been a captain, won a cup.

One last thing, Flash should not be on the PP. He is brutal. Brutal. I would rather use 2 men, throw Carlson out there. More Carlson on the PP, No Flash!

Posted by: underpants2 | November 20, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

@tmac2yao.
Good point on your take of OV. I agree with you (whoopee!). I feel the same way for Stamkos on Tampa Bay. You hit it right on the head: There are different kind of "super stars" and players.
However, I think GMGM is doing a good job and I have faith on him to put a good team on the ice, so far he has done that. Like everything else, it can be improved but the fans have to have the patience and the belief on him. I think he has done a terrific job, since 2003 every year the team improved, and our players are just getting to their peak years.

Posted by: hock1 | November 20, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Cody Eakin scored his 12th goal in 19 games last night for the Broncos. Would love to see him on a line with Semin. That would be hockey magic. On the other hand MJ has hands of stone and needs work in the AHL.

Posted by: dull | November 20, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Nobody knows but my guess is that people would realize that Eakin is just as not ready for the NHL if he were up right now. He may not be a 2C at his peak, either.

Posted by: tmac2yao | November 20, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Flash and Fehr for Zajac.

??? for Bieksa.

Posted by: Jordan_Kitts | November 20, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

@tmac2yao

I agree on your overall assessment of Ovie and your assessment on Eakin.

@hock1

I'm not giving up on MJ, but I think he could really benefit from some playing time in the AHL. He looks like a very good prospect, but he definitely has areas he needs to work on. I do not put him in the same tier as Backstrom or Ovie, guys who are so good that there is no need for them to play in the AHL. MJ has talent, but I think he should be playing some more in the AHL. Just like Carlson and Alzner.

If the Caps were bad or if MJ was playing on the 4th line, then I'd be fine with keeping him up. But he is just not good enough right now to be a 2nd line center. IMO, MJ getting 1st line minutes, PP time, and more responsibility at the AHL level will be better for his overall development.

I think BGordon, when healthy, is a very good 3rd line center, and he has proved that with his play this year.

Posted by: sgm3 | November 20, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Once Ovechkin loses the athleticism, he'll still have certain skills but he doesn't from what I've seen have elite hockey IQ. He's probably average-at-best in that respect and that doesn't bode well for his future return on investment so to speak.

Furthermore, he has less of a variety of skills and his best skills are largely based on athleticism.
-----------------------

He'll be like Allen Iverson with a couple steps slower...

Posted by: joek443 | November 20, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

what i think this team really needs is smarter fans! maybe some who have played hockey at a higher level than NHL live on PS3 or XBOX...i know i know you played the Franchise mode right.

Posted by: heathdog1119 | November 20, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

One thing I think is that BB needs to have some consistency. The lines were playing well for a little stretch there, but in Buffalo they got completely blown up when the team didn't have 4 goals by the end of the second. I have played hockey at a very competitive level (including 2 seasons off and on in the QMJHL) and I can tell you that there is always a 'feeling out' period when playing with new guys. BB needs to trust his instincts and leave guys together for more than 2 games at a time. He had 3 lines producing really well not long ago (OV-Backs-Semin, Chimmy-Gordo-Fehr, Brads-Stecks-Hendricks) but all three lines were broken up when goals weren't flooding into the net. I have obviously never coached in the NHL, so in a way I ultimately will always trust BB's instincts, but I guess it'd be nice to see him stick with some lines for a more extended period of time.

Posted by: Aldred15 | November 20, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Honestly I would get rid of BB as it seems that the team does not want to follow what he is preaching anymore. They have the extra money to spend I would make the changes to the team sooner then later make a few solid moves and keep the team at the top of the standings.

Posted by: PhilW10 | November 20, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

To me, MJ looks good when he has the puck and when he is playing defense. I think his decisions on where to be on the forecheck are what is killing him. 9 times out of 10 he is one step behind the play. Anyone else notice this?

Posted by: Dizruption | November 20, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

@Dizruption

I've very much noticed it and not just on the forecheck. I see the same issue on the backcheck and in general.

This stuff is very much expected and I don't blame 90 at all. I think he's doing roughly as good as you could expect considering his age and total lack of experience playing NA hockey.

For better or worse, this is on McPhee once again. This is the roster that he's built. Rushing 90 as well as going with 4 defensemen 25 and under and 3 kids in goal is on him.

I understand that we he'll likely make at least 1 move before the trade deadline but the way I see it, we need to make more than 1 move and I don't think enough can get done in one trading period. I think he should've taken advantage of both market opportunities to have a better chance of fill more of our needs and even correcting things if the first moves didn't work out.

As is, we better hope he hits a homerun with whatever trade(s) he makes because as far as I see it, we need a 2C, a top pairing D and another veteran 2nd or 3rd pairing D if we want even a chance to make a real run this season.

Posted by: tmac2yao | November 20, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Seriously? Some nights you just lose....Holtby was overaggressive and put the Caps in a big enough hole and Atlanta is not that bad a team that they couldn't manage the game well enough to hold that lead at home! Holtby was only in his 3rd NHL start - and even the best goalies get bad nights...I actually thought the Caps played great in the 2nd and tried hard to get back in it - the 4th goal sortof sapped any of that but thats hockey some nights.

That was the only reg. loss in November - the D is still working hard, Green is playing great, and guys are collapsing back to defend. Overall I think they are better prepared most nights than this time last year.

Posted by: yesisaiditfirst | November 20, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3
Agreed until you get to the DJ King part. I think he's done his job when he actually gets a sweater, but considering it's been in only 6 games out of 20, it's really not fair to judge the guy yet, IMO. He's not a PP or PK guy. He hits, uses his body well along the boards both with and without the puck. I wish BB would dress him more often, especially in light of how poor Flash and Fehr have been playing, and specifically in games like tonight's vs. a rough and tumble team like the Flyers. Just silly not to dress him, IMO.

@tmac2yao
Interesting take, but I think Crosby gets too much credit for being better defensively than OV. They play different positions and thus have far different responsibilities. Pivots have just as many defensive responsiblities as they do offensive. Simply playing the C position requires more Hockey IQ, and at the same time it instills and encourages a more responsible game. Winger has the least responsibilities on the team. Why do you think all the enforcers play winger? Conversely, why do you think all the purely offensive players play winger (e.g., Bure)? It gives them room to create offense, with minimal defensive responsibility. It doesn't necessarily mean they are poor defensively, just that they do not have much opportunity to showcase it other than on the forecheck.

People tout that Crosby is so much smarter than OV in terms of hockey IQ, and while that may be true, OV brings a lot that Crosby does not. Have you seen Crosby singlehandedly make a defense look silly with his moves/speed/power, or blast a 100mph+ one-timer like OV has done numerous times in the past?

They are different players, from different cultures, playing different positions. They are about as close to apples and oranges as one can get in hockey... Yet not a day goes by that people don't compare them.

Posted by: DaleHunter32 | November 20, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

A goalie upgrade is another possible need but I'd prefer to upgrade the D first. I'd prioritize the needs like this:

1. Veteran, top paring D-man.
2a. Veteran 2nd or 3rd pairing D-man upgrade.
2b. 2nd line C
3. Goalie upgrade*

*Depending on what we do with 1 and 2a above and how the kids perform going forward. If we can somehow get 1, 2a and 2b, I'd consider 3 depending on what was available. Unfortunately, the chances of having enough assets to make all 4 of those upgrades are unlikely and even if we somehow had enough assets, I would be against giving up that much. I'd be content if we could get 2 of those first 3 done, assuming they were very good moves.

Posted by: tmac2yao | November 20, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Good team defense requires defense from all 5 guys on the ice.

I hear people downplay the need for wings to play defense far too often.

Good defensive teams have 5 guys playing their roles in all 3 zones.

Wings ABSOLUTELY have crucial defensive responsibilities even if it is different than that of other positions.

And when I was talking about hockey IQ, I was talking about a lot more than defense which is why I said "including but not limited to defense."

Hockey IQ is a vague and general term but it has to do with seeing the play, understanding positioning on the ice, offensively and defensively, making smart decisions with and without the puck, etc...

A lot of it is innate to a player but at the same time, a lot of it can also be taught. Some players need more teaching than others. Ovechkin needs a lot of it and I'm not sure he's getting it under this coach.

And I wasn't trying to get into the Crosby vs Ovechkin crap. There are plenty of other players I could've used as an example: Zetterberg, Hossa, Sedin, etc...

Some "star" players have a greater liklihood of still remaining elite or borderline elite when their athleticism is in decline. I don't see that being the case with Ovechkin and certainly not if he isn't being taught the finer points of the game by his coach.

Posted by: tmac2yao | November 20, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Just watch Ovechkin when he doesn't have the puck, particularly when the other team has possession in our zone. It's incredible how often he is just standing straight up watching the puck along the boards with absolutely no awareness of his positioning on the ice or where his man is. I don't think any other coach in the league would let even a star player get away with that stuff. It's maddening at times.

His all too frequent half-hearted backchecks are also a major concern.

There are times where you can make up for somebody else losing their mark. That's just one part of team defense.

Watch a good defensive team and observe their forwards (wings included) off the puck. Watch how they are much more frequently looking for the unmarked man or getting involved in the d-zone, engaging or cutting off passing lanes or lifting a stick, etc...

Ovechkin will do it "occasionally" but good defense has to be a consistent thing from everybody on the ice and it has to be preached and demanded by the coaching staff of all players, superstar wings included.

Posted by: tmac2yao | November 20, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

"1. Veteran, top paring D-man.
2a. Veteran 2nd or 3rd pairing D-man upgrade.
2b. 2nd line C
3. Goalie upgrade*"

I agree with the addition of ONE D-man and a center. But do not see the need for 2 D-men unless Poti is out for the year.

I also do not see the need for a goalie. I think Neuvy has proven he is more than capable of leading a team, and Varly has proven he is more than capable of playing well in the playoffs. Again, unless Varly is out for the year, I see no need to address this.

On a 2nd line center for this off-season. Who could have the Caps acquired this off-season? Don't give me Belanger, Cullen, or even Madden(although I think Madden at his price would have been very good, but BGordon has also been very good at #3C). Madden is not a 2nd line center. What 2nd line centers, who would be of the quality the Caps(and the posters) are looking for changed teams?

Defense, yes I was on board for Willie Mitchell and AV. But I think Willie Mitchell was probably overpaid, considering his injury risk of the concussions. Two years, at that money, was risky. It may turn out great for L.A. but the risk was pretty big when he signed.

AV received a very long contract(6 years, I think). Again, given his injury risk, that was probably too long.

So again, who out there could have been acquired by the Caps, at the salary(or more) that would have fit the Caps needs?

I'm all for getting another D-man, but 1st pairing D-men are not cheap and easy to get.

@tmac2yao

On coaching Ovie, I think Ted should shell out some money and try to bring in Fedorov as an assistant to pretty much just mentor Ovie. Ovie seemed to be at his best when playing under Fedorov. Fedorov is a guy Ovie clearly looks up to and would listen to. And Fedorov learned all the tricks of the trade from Scotty Bowman(a pretty good teacher). Now I have no idea if Fedorov would even consider coming over, so it may be moot. But that would be a great guy to have around Ovie and to train Ovie.

Posted by: sgm3 | November 20, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Now Fedorov is another great example of a player with great hockey IQ, and while some of it is innate, he was also taught very well. The same goes for Yzerman.

Adding to the previous stuff... when you have four young defensemen making up the bulk of your defense, it's even more vital that ALL forwards are commited and motivated to work hard and responsibly defensively.

It's not just Ovechkin that has consistent lapses either. I was just pointing him out because it was related to my previous point about our window to win. He's also a core player making a lot of monety who will be here for years to come so it's more of a concern than when a say, Fehr or Chimera are blowing defensive assignments.

When you're making $10 mil per season, you need to feel responsible, and be held accountable, for playing a total game.

Posted by: tmac2yao | November 20, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Funny how everyone thinks the sky is falling after one bad game. Bad games happen to great teams also.

Posted by: casser | November 20, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

*nearly $10 mil for the sticklers out there...

Posted by: tmac2yao | November 20, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

I agree on ovechkin. I was watching stamkos one night just to see what he did. He came back behind the goal line to help out the d. What Ovie doesn't seem to understand is that backchecking will create more offense for the team. IMO he doesn't need to be bringing the puck into the o zone as much as he does anyway. Is he afraid backy isn't going to pass to him?

Posted by: Dizruption | November 20, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

What's with all this about Ovie? I'm not going to defend him just because of his "Great 8" label, but it's almost humorous that a few feel he needs "mentoring". He is what he is, a pure dynamic power forward - the best the league has seen in some time. 20 games into the season and he's not at his customary league-best, but it seems to me that his game has changed for the better. A few years ago, some were criticizing his all-out goal scoring prowess and called him selfish. This season and last, he seems more aware of his teammates and is racking up the assists. Defensively, he has improved as well regardless of the perceived "standing around". You really think he is unaware of where he is on the ice and unaware of his responsibilities? I'm not saying he is a 10 in every measure, but he's way up there in what he was drafted for - creating points.

Posted by: gonchpup | November 20, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Funny how everyone thinks the sky is falling after one bad game. Bad games happen to great teams also.
-------------------------------

In case you've forgotten, we're talking about the Washington Capitals on here, NOT the Detroit Red Wings... you know the team that has lost 3 outta the last 4 playoff series and haven't beaten anyone in 6 games or less in the playoffs in God only knows how long???

Posted by: joek443 | November 20, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

I don't necessarily expect Ovechkin below the goal line although there are times that demand it. It's just his defensive awareness and decicion-making in general that concerns this fan.

Posted by: tmac2yao | November 20, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Ovechkin absolutely needs "mentoring" and "teaching" and "guidance" to become a more complete player and he needs more of it than a lot of other players.

It's actually silly to think that he doesn't and I suggest you watch his play off the puck more closely and compare it to that of other forwards, even some on this less-than-great defensive team.

He absolutely "stands around" and "puck watches" and "lets up on backchecks" like nobody's business... like he isn't even being held accountable for it and can get away with it... *ahem* coaching *ahem.

Posted by: tmac2yao | November 20, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Does anybody know where we rank in terms of age on defense and in net collectively, i.e, average age of all defensemen and goalies?

I'm sure it's somewhere near the bottom. I'd like to see which teams are ranked near the bottom vs the middle and top.

Posted by: tmac2yao | November 20, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

"but it's almost humorous that a few feel he needs "mentoring". He is what he is, a pure dynamic power forward - the best the league has seen in some time."

@gonchpup

I never said Ovie "needs" mentoring. But I do think having a guy, such as Fedorov, around could be very beneficial for Ovie. And I just point to when Ovie played with Fedorov as an example. Ovie is a great player and plays with his heart on his sleeve most of the time. I'm just thinking of ways to possibly get the most out of Ovie. And, IMO, having a guy like Fedorov around would do so.

It's all about maximization. It's not a slight on Ovie. But everyone can be better. IMO, Ovie would be a better player if he had a mentor like Fedorov around. That doesn't mean he isn't great already, just that he would be even better.

Posted by: sgm3 | November 20, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

I still think Ovie has improved defensively. Also, I agree that every player HAS defensive responsibilities and is basically a defender when the opposition has the puck. Still, it is the center who has the most significant role defensively, and I'm sure you know the wings float more and cover the points. If you look at past Selke winners, the majority are centers. I just don't see any urgency in re-defining his role on the team. He is the offensive sparkplug and he is always chomping at the bit. I know some don't see much value in the +/- stat, but Ovie has consistently improved there and that has to be some indication of a better defensive game. Anyway, 1 more hour "til showtime. I hope you all enjoy the game and here's to some Flyer butt-kicking, eh?

Posted by: gonchpup | November 20, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Dizruption - Stamkos is supposed to follow the puck behind the net... he's a center! That's what they do, ala Backstrom. Ovie plays his defensive wing position where he is supposed to - covering the points and the halfwall.

Posted by: gonchpup | November 20, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Interesting conversation re Ovie. If the Caps front office and coaches think he needs mentoring or to improve on his defensive skills, position awareness, etc turn they would make it happen. None of us as hockey fans have any idea what development work is taking place with Ovie on or off the ice. Unless of course one of you is Boudreau, McPhee or Leonsis! As always my favorite Caps fans are the ones who think they know more than the players, the coaches and gms. Too bad Leonsis doesn't comb CI looking for consultants!

Posted by: CapsSighting | November 20, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Here's a suggestion:

Watch Ovechkin closely in tonight's game off the puck and defensively, particularly on the backcheck and when the puck is in our own end.

Then tune into just about any other game later tonight or tomorrow and pick a wing on another team and watch what they do off the puck.

Depending on how Ovechkin plays and who that other wing you watch is, chances are you'll see an observable difference.

Ovechkin has multiple lapses in every game so odds are that you'll see several of them even tonight in a game where players have a greater sense of urgency because of last night. If you want to blame it on the back-to-back, pick another game of your choice and repeat the exercise.

Maybe one night I'll take notes of all his shifts and mark the plays where he's out of position defensively.

Posted by: tmac2yao | November 20, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm not the biggest fan of BB but you can't really blame him for not "coaching him up" as far as Ovi's defensive play.

BB knows Ovi will probably be here long after he's done coaching this team. The NHL isn't as bad as the NBA as far as the superstars "allowing" themselves to be coached.

Still even NHL coaches need the cooperation of their superstars and they have to protect them. You don't think BB knows Ovi has the ears of Ted who will side with Ovi if he had to choose sides??

Posted by: joek443 | November 20, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

i'll tell you what ovi could improve on, his skating stride. he's certainly fast with the puck but watch him skate without the puck. as an old power skating instructor he does what we used to call "railroading". he takes a full leg extension in his stride but doesn't bring his leg fully back to center. he comes about half way back and then extends for another stride. it's like you're skating with a railroad between your legs. you're almost working twice as hard to go as fast and someone with a full stride like a Federov or a Coffee.

just an observation, plus he flails his stick back and forth a lot when he's trying to skate fast without the puck.

I hope we see a better game tonight from the boys.

Posted by: natresgroup | November 20, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

And odds are that you'll be able to highlight a couple of solid defensive plays that he makes because even the worst defensive players make a couple of good reads/plays over the course of a game.

The key is how often there are mistakes and how often compared to other players.

Posted by: tmac2yao | November 20, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Interesting point, natesgroup. I can visualize what your saying. I don't know enough about skating to have identify that but I can see it.

Posted by: tmac2yao | November 20, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

sgm: Why only one D? Just the other day you said to sign Bergeron. Why not get him as a replacement for Sloan? You could do that now at no cap hit if you send Sloan to Hershey. Then trade when all the cap-strapped teams bring players off LTIR and get an upgrade. Maybe Salvador or Bieksa really become available. The you have a top line D so that Ersk is #7 and then maybe your extra D, #8, is either a PP guy like Bergeron or else a fighter. A guy like Exelby could help maybe. I feel better with Sloan at #8 than #7 but would feel even safer if he were #9.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 20, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

@tominsocal1

You are right, if one of the 2 D is a 7th or 8th man like Bergeron or a fighter and the Caps get rid of Sloan, then that would be fine.

I meant, there was no need to try to acquire two top-4 defensemen unless Poti is out for the year.

If everyone is healthy, I am in full support of having Schulz, Green, Poti, Alzner and Carlson as part of the top 5. I think Alzner and Carlson are getting better and better and by the time the playoffs come around I would feel comfortable with them going against any forward line. That would leave a spot for one top-4 D and Erskine can drop to 7th D-man(this is not a slight on Erskine at all).

Acquiring another 7th or 8th D-man who fills an exact role(such as Bergeron) would be fine since it would cost almost nothing to acquire them and would have no cap hit significance since Sloan would be sent down.

Posted by: sgm3 | November 20, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

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