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Posted at 11:53 PM ET, 02/21/2011

Caps, Penguins put an emphasis on defense

By Katie Carrera

Monday night's game was not what one has grown to expect in the current era of the Capitals-Penguins rivalry. But this season, as Washington has opted to take a more defensive stance in their own play and struggled to score goals and Pittsburgh has turned to its defense as it has endured injuries to its top offensive stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin the tight, low-scoring affairs may be the new normal.

That said, the games between these two teams never want for intensity, emotion and hits. The Capitals earned a third-straight win over the Penguins Monday with a 1-0 victory in one of Washington's most tightly contested games of the season.

"When we first started everything was up the ice, down the ice, up the ice, down the ice," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I think if you just look at the NHL now everybody's just playing defense so you either join the party or get kicked out. We decided to join the party. They've joined the party and every team plays great defense."

While a few of the two teams' meetings this season have carried the same tone none quite featured the same reliance on goaltending and defensive fortitude like the game Monday night, once the Capitals found a spark in the second period.

Heading into the final contest against the Penguins in the regular season, Boudreau said he didn't believe that the fact that Pittsburgh's lineup featured five American Hockey League regulars would change the tenor of the game. In the first period, he couldn't have been more right as the Penguins, call-ups from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and all, completely outhustled the Capitals.

Michal Neuvirth was the lone exception though as he started off sharp for a 39-save showing and his third shutout of the season, second against the Penguins. His counterpart, Marc-Andre Fleury finished with 23 saves.

"We were getting outworked. It was obvious. We weren't thinking and we weren't moving our feet enough," Karl Alzner said. "We were very fortunate that they didn't have some of their key guys in who would put the puck in the net every chance they get but eventually we went out there and did what we needed to do."

In four games this season, the Capitals and Penguins have combined for 13 goals posting nine and four respectively. In the 2009-10 season, the two teams combined for 34 goals with Washington tallying 21.

Boudreau was asked how different a playoff series between the two teams might look this year as opposed to seasons past.

"I kind of think that at the end of the series if we happen to play them there might only be 12 guys on each team ready to play the next series," he said. "We'll wait to see how it goes."

By Katie Carrera  | February 21, 2011; 11:53 PM ET
Categories:  Pittsburgh Penguins  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Open thread: Capitals at Penguins
Next: Number of the night from the Capitals' 1-0 win against Pittsburgh

Comments

So I put peanut butter on the dog. Now what?

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 21, 2011 11:56 PM | Report abuse

Only 12 guys left standin eh? let me go out on a limb and say that #3, #15, and #28 would be among the fallen?

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 22, 2011 12:02 AM | Report abuse

Only 12 guys left standin eh? let me go out on a limb and say that #3, #15, and #28 would be among the fallen?

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 22, 2011 12:05 AM | Report abuse

Was there really an emphasis on defense?

Didn't Pens have 39 SOG?

Weren't Caps kinda asleep first 20 minutes?

Didn't Pens hit a crossbar AND a post?

I'm not taking anything away...it was a good effort. Maybe very good. But the best part of this game (from Caps POV) was BRADLEY. And that wasn't defense.

Just imagine...just imagine...just imagine...if we had FOUR Matt Bradley's out there tonight!

Yeah, just imagine...

Well, we had one. BRADS HIMSELF! And we have another - Hendricks was sick! And...and...and...Beagle? And what about Pinizzotto? Could he help?

Brads is a middleweight (I'm being generous) and he made himself large tonight. BUT, what if one of their guys says one of our guys likes tootsie rolls?

Schultz would skate away quickly...Chimera would scowl and return to the bench...Semin would ask for a translation...

No, this wasn't Ravens-Steelers kinda defense. This was more, "defense by attrition."

Here's defense: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_bunker_hill

Anyone can spread some peanut butter to slow them down. Show me though, "I didn't shoot until I could see the boogers in his nose," and there's a blueliner who can help you win 16 in spring.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | February 22, 2011 12:16 AM | Report abuse

"We were getting outworked. It was obvious. We weren't thinking and we weren't moving our feet enough," Karl Alzner said. "We were very fortunate that they didn't have some of their key guys in who would put the puck in the net every chance they get but eventually we went out there and did what we needed to do."

Well said, Karl. That's what I saw, too. Another smart kid. The hockey IQ of this season's Caps is a notch higher than in the past. Unfortunately, we are softer than ever. Gotta up the grit factor for next season. Any move(s) McScarf makes outta be with an eye toward the future. By sitting on his hands this past offseason, we were too many pieces away coming into this period of trade activity. Don't give up too much for this year's run. Any moves should be made with to make next year's team better and more well-rounded. Obviously do the best you can this season but it's too late to plug in all the holes this time around.

Posted by: tmac2yao | February 22, 2011 12:18 AM | Report abuse

And I can't stand seeing that douch*bag from the State Farm commercials anymore. He's infiltrating my computer screen now too. Since we're barely using DJ King, why not send him after that tool. Put us all out of the misery.

Posted by: tmac2yao | February 22, 2011 12:29 AM | Report abuse

@jpmurray

What are you nuts ? Chimera went 5 games without a hit. How does a wing in the NHL pull that off and keep his job ? Man's a wall flower. Another "play off beast" that GMGM traded for. (Not to mention his hands of concrete !)

Murray, if you watched play off hockey, you would understand why Cstanton is pissed off. We're the softest team in the league. Which spells play off DOOM ! But, Caps fans don't ever watch beyond our early exit, so I understand why you would think Chimy will do well in the play offs.

What are you an 8th grader with the peanut butter remarks. Make an intelligent argument. Mine - no hits in 5 games !!

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | February 22, 2011 12:35 AM | Report abuse

nothing like making a swan into an ugly NJ neutral zone trap wannabe.

Nothing like putting people in a style of play they are not used to.

looking for scapegoats when we get swept out ofthe 1st rd? Look to the 80's fanz who wanted this crappy style.

We coulda been the Oilers...instead my gramps Caps. same ole Same ole.

Posted by: Rocc00 | February 22, 2011 12:39 AM | Report abuse

DMV people will always think grit wins cause they don't have talent to ever imagine or dream of any other style.

Yay I want my kids to grow up & be just like Alan Halworth!!

Posted by: Rocc00 | February 22, 2011 12:42 AM | Report abuse

tmac: You have never read one negative word about Alzner from me and you very likely won't. Fact is, sgm3 and I were maybe his biggest supporters when there were many detractors back in Oct. I've said many, many times: Calle Johansson.

Green, Alzner, Carlson, Hannan, Erskine, Orlov...there could be a Cup-winning six.

You know...bring up Beagle and Pinner...maybe get a stopgap D...get us an Umberger type to bridge the gap (Koivu would have been perfect) until MaJo can be true #2C...

I don't know. Honestly I haven't touched an ounce of Kool-Aid, although I have forced down eleven peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

"C'mon, Luke! Jes keep swallowin', Luke! Dat's my boy! Cool Hand Luke!"

(mrstominsocal1 recently entered the bedroom - where we have the computer - and I have yet to broach the subject about having her wear the Juneau jersey. And she has no clue about my secret love for Sarah in a Dino jersey. Some things you must simply resolve to take with you to the grave.)

Posted by: tominsocal1 | February 22, 2011 12:45 AM | Report abuse

Hitting is for slow overweight guys who can't skate or never could shoot.

Yes I sure like to have 4 more Bradleys just so I could prevent myself from winning even more.

Posted by: Rocc00 | February 22, 2011 12:45 AM | Report abuse

@croftonpost
@caravelli


Let's see no Kunitz, no Shrek, no Cindy, and you think we have their number and GMGM has built a great team via the draft.

With those three guys missing, it should have been a "womp ass" game for a contender. Instead GMGM's "play off beast" struggles !

Get a clue ! Fehr in the first round. Does GMGM interview these guys to see if they have a spine. I know Backy is turning out to be another "I played for the big contract" Euro. Draft isn't lookin' so great now. I'll take any 3 Pitt centers (healthy) over Backy and his "Oh, so pretty passes", and Euro-laz style. No wonder Ovi struggles, his center never slot crashes !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | February 22, 2011 12:46 AM | Report abuse

Hitting is for slow overweight guys who can't skate or never could shoot.

Yes I sure like to have 4 more Bradleys just so I could prevent myself from winning even more.

Posted by: Rocc00 | February 22, 2011 12:45 AM

Ok, Rocc00, my gloves are off.

29385 Gary Drive
Santa Clarita, CA 91387

You stop by at 5 pm PST tomorrow evening (2/22/11) and we'll square off. And I don't care how big you are because I will cheat to win.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | February 22, 2011 12:54 AM | Report abuse

Let's see no Kunitz, no Shrek, no Cindy, and you think we have their number and GMGM has built a great team via the draft.

With those three guys missing, it should have been a "womp ass" game for a contender. Instead GMGM's "play off beast" struggles !

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | February 22, 2011 12:46 AM
------------
In addition to the three you mention, there are an additional 7 players - 10 in all - of the Pens who are on IR.

Posted by: Dalliquippa | February 22, 2011 12:54 AM | Report abuse

@rocco

Yea, "jailbreak" hockey wins the Cup every time. People on this site want a play off team that can win 16 games, NOT the old 80's Caps.

Did you watch the Finals ? Did you see what Pronger and Keith were doing ? No, too busy with the Nats ! Maybe you should head over to the Nats site, since you don't really want to watch play off hockey.

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | February 22, 2011 12:57 AM | Report abuse

@rocco

Tom in MUDSLIDE cali just called you out !

"We could have been the Oilers" Dumbest remark on this site in 5 years !

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | February 22, 2011 1:01 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to bed. I need plenty of sleep in case Rocc00 stops by tomorrow. Not sure if I'm a "real man," and hope I don't need to sleep with my wife to prove it.

Jesus, you've been married 32 years, is there anything left to prove?

32 years. That's like how long Gordie Howe played in the NHL.

Remember what he looked like at the end?

Do I look like that?

So, ladies, which do you prefer most:

Peanut butter; jelly; or money?

Posted by: tominsocal1 | February 22, 2011 1:03 AM | Report abuse

@tomin FAULTLINEcali

I would prefer Gordie Howe. What's up with these guys, and who they're sleepin' with stuff ? I'm looking to see if a play off team emerges like a Phoenix from GMGM's mess, and guys are doing the peanut butter tango. WTF ?

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | February 22, 2011 1:12 AM | Report abuse

Huntsy: Now that you mention it, the San Andreas fault runs about three feet off my property! Matter of fact mrstominsocal1 wakes me up the other night to say the whole house is a-tremblin' and there's an earthquake but turns out I had just cut one!

Still made 4.7 on Richter scale! That's them mexican beans for ya! Root-toot-toot!

Posted by: tominsocal1 | February 22, 2011 1:18 AM | Report abuse

Why does cstanton even watch the games?

I mean damn you are one negative fella.

Enjoy the beautiful game that is hockey!

Posted by: digster1013 | February 22, 2011 2:57 AM | Report abuse

@Tominsocal, You are a phenom with a spreadsheet, great sense of humor, a mixologist, but for the love of God, Sarah "Barricuda" Palin in bed? She has the IQ of Terri Schiavo. And yes, bedroom IQ is just as important as hockey IQ, in it's respective sphere. Stay with Wonder Woman, for the Pete's sake. Heck those bloomers, lasso, and peanut butter could make one heck of an evening. As for me, can the PB&J, and Gwen Stefani, I choose you.

As for the Caps, nice win. Tighter than, well, see Das Boot and the mechanics talking about the Giblatar Straights. Brads was the dude. OV, nice shot, man (cue the music). Schultz still needs to grow a pair. Sloan is fun to watch ala Happy Gilmore. But 2 points is a whole lot better than a PB&J doggie treat...

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | February 22, 2011 6:09 AM | Report abuse

@jimallcaps2
@digster1013

Jimall,
Whole lota class there pushing a Terry Schaivo joke over the board. Next thing you'll joking about is the CNN reporter ?
You and Leftcoast need to Tattoo "liberal nut" across your foreheads.

Digster,
Cstanton is in the same boat as me. It's our team, and it has been high jacked by an incompetent GM. We love the Caps and can't wait to get management in here that
really knows how to build a Cup winner. The 13 year "on the job training" has run it's coarse. Cstanton makes the most sense of any one on this site (tmac second). His insight into what is wrong is dead on. GMGM will be gone soon. I just hope Ted finds a seasoned GM and coach.

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | February 22, 2011 6:39 AM | Report abuse

@Hunter, go back on the meds already, your posts come as someone nuttier than squirrel poo, even though I agree with you that BB and GMGM need to go, you really seem unhinged

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | February 22, 2011 7:03 AM | Report abuse

Too many 12year olds on this site to be enjoyable.

Posted by: sidehillman | February 22, 2011 7:22 AM | Report abuse

Guys... a win is a win, no matter how ugly. I know we are a machine leaking oil, but there still is time before the deadline. I have to believe that a trade is coming to put is in better contention. With that said, you have to respect the Pens organization. No matter who they bring up seems to play well, Tim Wallace aside (I really don't like him). And they picked up Neil from the Stars. He gives them another good scorer, from the wing.

Posted by: penscapsNOTarivalry | February 22, 2011 7:47 AM | Report abuse

Cstanton is in the same boat as me. It's our team, and it has been high jacked by an incompetent GM. We love the Caps and can't wait to get management in here that
really knows how to build a Cup winner. The 13 year "on the job training" has run it's coarse. Cstanton makes the most sense of any one on this site (tmac second). His insight into what is wrong is dead on. GMGM will be gone soon. I just hope Ted finds a seasoned GM and coach.

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | February 22, 2011 6:39 AM | Report abuse

Not sure even the best GM/coach tandum in the history of the sport would appease these two and several others.

Being a fan and wanting something is one thing but repeatedly writing about it over and over again in a blog that only fans read is bashing and negative.

I don't disagree that we need to make a couple of trades and need to decide which way we want to play as a team and that BB and/or GM may both be gone at the end of the year. But I also don't come on here, after a win, and repeatedly announce it.

Whatev, I am on vacation in St. Maarten and am going back to the beach. You guys/gals can fight it out until Friday when another episode of How the Caps World Turns starts a new chapter.

Oh yeah, Tom, what happened when you moved from FL to CA. You became a different man.

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | February 22, 2011 8:05 AM | Report abuse

@tominsocal1

SOG even though they favored the penguins were not reflective on how many good opportunities they got. Caps defense did a good job containing (an albeit AHL) pens team. The vast majority of their shots were perimeter low percentage shots. In previous seasons, the caps gave up actually on average less shots, but those were usually higher percentage shots indicative of defensive breakdowns.

@Hunterforcoach
Chimera played his game, and while he was credited with 0 hits, he was effective in dump and chase and washed out a few icings actually spurring offensive chances. He's been noticeably absent as a presence as of late, but he's not useless. Take Semin for example, he prevented a clean breakaway chance and forced a weak shot

Posted by: ricemonkey | February 22, 2011 8:13 AM | Report abuse

CTCapsPhan

Amen

Posted by: sidehillman | February 22, 2011 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Best 36 hours of Caps hockey this season.

Keep it up, boys!

Posted by: kbash33 | February 22, 2011 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Anyone else think that was the last game for Alex Semin in a Caps sweater? He was awful last night, and barely skated after the 10 minute mark of the 3rd.

6 days and counting. Tick, tick, t

Posted by: underpants2 | February 22, 2011 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Anyone else think that was the last game for Alex Semin in a Caps sweater? He was awful last night, and barely skated after the 10 minute mark of the 3rd.

6 days and counting. Tick, tick, tick George.

Posted by: underpants2 | February 22, 2011 8:38 AM | Report abuse

How's the goalie working out for you now, Dan?

Posted by: Ve1ostrummer | February 22, 2011 8:52 AM | Report abuse

@Hunterforcoach:

I have had enough of your BS. You and Tmac go on endlessly about how "soft" the Caps are, yet fail to give credit where due after a win by the team you claim to support.

So the Pens several key players injured...so do the Caps!

So the Pens have been struggling to score...so have the Caps!

So the Pens were on the tail end of a back-to-back...so were the Caps!


Big deal. Caps won. That's two more points. I'll take it.


"Dumbest comment in five years"? Sorry, but that's not possible because your comments already swept the top ten!

Posted by: Rhino40 | February 22, 2011 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Semin is a NON Factor whenever it matters. They guy is SOFT, SOFT, SOFT...get him off this damn team! It's an embarrasment to the organization that someone like that can garner so much ice time. Ship that little b$tch off to Buffalo for Connely....

Posted by: joshu1 | February 22, 2011 8:55 AM | Report abuse

OMG, I am finding myself it was CStanton, and not Green, who took the puck to the head as I am so f ing tired of coming on here every day and reading his self important blather. Enough already dude! You dont know any more about hockey than the Mexicans who cut my neighbor's yard, so just sit back and watch and let the season play out. Better yet go back to last year's posts and read about how in awe you were of the Caps racing to the league scoring title.......yeah how did that work out for us?....

Posted by: opticlguy | February 22, 2011 8:57 AM | Report abuse

If Mike Milbury, or however you spell his name, had to say the Caps were playing good defense, you know it must have been so.

Posted by: coastallp74 | February 22, 2011 9:14 AM | Report abuse

@tominsocal1-Hunterforcoach

gentlemen please make your trades to strengthen our team . You have 180 minutes to build a SC playoff team winning 16 straight .You can use any player within the team including the AHL Bears . Only players that cannot be moved are,

1.Alexander Ovechkin LW
2.Neuvy Goalie
3.Green D
4.Hanon D
5.Bradly D
6.Carlson D

The Dog Breeder
New Carrollton,Md

Posted by: doggydodo | February 22, 2011 9:21 AM | Report abuse

English Bulldog puppies , superior blood lines dating back to 1635 .I live in the Dc metro area , College Park area , check out our website goggle nofoolin bulldogs
for our url cannot list it here cause WP will not post my responce .
some very nice pictures of my girls & boys

love the washington capitals . I am a season ticket holder 4 years running .

Posted by: doggydodo | February 22, 2011 9:28 AM | Report abuse

@HunterforCoach

"'We could have been the Oilers' Dumbest remark on this site in 5 years !"

You don't watch many movies, do you?

Posted by: gocaps99 | February 22, 2011 10:02 AM | Report abuse

What's the big deal?

The Devils used to ride Brodeur to victories on nights they were outplayed for long stretches. Ditto for the contending Buffalo teams when Hasek was there.

If the Caps can finally get the benefit of a goalie that stands on his head instead of having the Caps see one instead, that's all for the good.

Besides, shots on goal totals are not what's important but rather scoring opportunities.

How many times this year have the Caps put up 35 shots but only 6 or 7 of them were really scoring opportunities?

Pittsburgh is playing without a number of injured players, granted.

But no one gave the Caps any sympathy the past two weeks as Semin, Fehr and then Green have missed considerable time with injuries themselves.

Posted by: RoyHobbs4 | February 22, 2011 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Good points Roy. But let's not compare those three injuries to what Pittsburgh is going through. What do you people think of the Flyers? What do you think our chances are... right now... of beating that team in a series? Just wondering? I can easily see us playing the Pens first round, with a second round match of the Flyers.

Posted by: penscapsNOTarivalry | February 22, 2011 10:36 AM | Report abuse

A win is a win. We have a good team. BB and GM are not going anywhere. The negative guys on this board are in for their own amusement. They show BB's record last night and I think he would have to lose a lot more for a ticket out. We have a very patient owner who will see the season run its course and then work to make moves to make it better. We play great defense now folks. It is not firewagon hockey but you can not win that way in May.

Posted by: ballgame21 | February 22, 2011 12:59 PM | Report abuse

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