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Posted at 7:00 PM ET, 12/23/2010

Open thread: Capitals vs. Penguins

By Washington Post Sports Editors

The Washington Capitals (20-12-4) and Pittsburgh Penguins (23-10-2) tend to put on an offensive show when they play each other, and here's hoping this Winter Classic preview with HBO cameras rolling is no exception. The Caps have turned around an eight-game skid to win two straight, and the Pens are coming off a 5-2 victory against Florida last night.

Tonight's Caps lineup will appear below this post shortly before faceoff at Verizon Center.

Faceoff: 7 p.m.; TV: CSN, NHLN; Radio: 820, 1500 AM.

Click here for a live game summary.

By Washington Post Sports Editors  | December 23, 2010; 7:00 PM ET
Categories:  Pittsburgh Penguins  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Tonight's lineup: Penguins at Caps
Next: Caps fall to Penguins, 3-2, in shootout

Comments

Caps will win, 4-3.

Ovie will have no points.

Semin will have no points.

Green will have no points.

Neuvirth will be unreal!

And unfortunately, Crysby will have all three goals (2 on the PP).

Malkin will miss an open net to tie with under a minute left...and we will all laugh at that big goofy dummy! LOL!

Posted by: SoaringCaps | December 23, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Line combos??? Seriously, why the F doesn't BB start King?

Posted by: Matt252 | December 23, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Again...my prediction for tonight.

Caps-5
Pens-4
F/OT

Go Caps!

Posted by: robostop10 | December 23, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Jeebus. I'm inclined to have BB start DJK for no other reason than to shut up all these hockey no-nothings. But the Pens would skate circles around DJK and he'd probably lose a fight with Fleury, so it's not worth it.

Posted by: getjiggly | December 23, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Caps, pplleeaaasse wair the 3rd uni's tonight!

Posted by: Nats1924 | December 23, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

where do you see the line combos ?

Posted by: Nats1924 | December 23, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Well, we have had our warmup games against two horrible teams. Now here is the real thing. Crosby is the best player in the NHL. My three christmas wishes are: 1-He would live PIT for the Caps when he goes UFA. 2-He would stop whining about everything. 3-He would shave that silly stash, it makes him look really stupid.
Never mind the 2nd two until the 1st one comes true. GO CAPS! (and I still think we need to get rid of BB).

Posted by: chriscaps | December 23, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

VogsCaps: #caps lines tonight: 8-85-16, 21-19-22, 25-90-28, 83-39-63. Defense: 23-52, 27-74, 3-4.

Posted by: Matt252 | December 23, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Capitals 5, Penguins 2.

Let's see if they can play an all-around game like vs Tampa nearly a month ago.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | December 23, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

I hate BigBaby's all offense system -- no defense on the pp??? And such an easy layup for Crysbaby. This coach is a joke. Pissburgh waited for the easy goal -- no one on Crysbaby next to the post. Now when have I seen that before. Can we please get rid of this loser coach? Two wins over two chump teams, big deal.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | December 23, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

SoaringCaps & everyone: Neuvy just gave up a goal to Crosby on the Pens 2nd shot of the game. Does anyone really doubt that the Caps MUST get a vet goalie before the playoffs begin?
Don't know how the game will turn out, obviously, but this is unacceptable, defensive breakdowns or not. The Caps' netminders will assure another 1st Rnd heartbreaker as things stand now.

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | December 23, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

5 ON 3 -- any shots? This team can't get out of its own way, sheesh.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | December 23, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

sid 1 ov 0

Posted by: wendel2 | December 23, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if they ever practice 5-3. Every time they are in that situation, it looks like it is the first time.

Posted by: ebolean1 | December 23, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

so when the caps caromed the puck off the boards and fleury played it between the pipes, is it considered a shot on goal?

Posted by: ebolean1 | December 23, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Could be worse. Letang to Crosby standing by the side of the net for a tip in, who'd have thunk it?

Posted by: FloridaCapsFan | December 23, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Caps are gonna get BB fired. God, I hate Pittsburgh! But they're the better team.

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | December 23, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

I don't see how neuvy can be blamed for that goal. Just a great tip by crosby. We are matching their toughness and our forwards are backchecking well. We need to create better scoring chances an shoot the freaking puck on the powerplay.

Go caps

Posted by: Dizruption | December 23, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Caps getting absolutely screwed by the refs again. The league wants the Pens to win so badly that it's embarrassing.

Posted by: getjiggly2 | December 23, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

I hate BigBaby's all offense system -- no defense on the pp??? And such an easy layup for Crysbaby. This coach is a joke. Pissburgh waited for the easy goal -- no one on Crysbaby next to the post. Now when have I seen that before. Can we please get rid of this loser coach? Two wins over two chump teams, big deal.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS

Really, you really think that goal was the coach's fault?

The defenseman in front covered the correct guy in front of the crease who was at a much more dangerous scoring position. The Pens had to make a great play to score. That was a very nice slap pass from Letang and Crosby scored on a tip from a ridiculous angle.

For the love of god people, every goal is not because of a horrific mistake on the Caps. It was a nice goal. Neuvy was in good position too. Crosby had an incredibly small space to fit that tip in. He did. Nice play by him.

Unfortunately, the Caps 1st PP might have been the worst thing for them to get(if they scored on it that clearly wouldn't have been the case). The Caps, and Ovie came out flying and hitting. They were going hard to the goal too. The PP sort of slowed things down and killed the momentum.

The Caps definitely need to fix their PP. I still suggest the possible idea of bringing in Marc-Andre Bergeron and dress him as a 7th D-man/12th forward. He could get a few forward shift but is used on the point of the PP with Green. This would then allow Ovie to move down lower while also keeping a booming shot from the point. Also, Backstrom needs to shoot more on the PP. He did more last year but is not doing so anymore. Teams are not really threatened by him shooting when he has the puck which allows them to concentrate on getting in the passing lanes.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 23, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

"Neuvy just gave up a goal to Crosby on the Pens 2nd shot of the game. Does anyone really doubt that the Caps MUST get a vet goalie before the playoffs begin?"

Crosby was left absolutely alone on the doorstop. No netminder, veteran or not, stops that shot unless he gets lucky. That goal is all on the D. How the blueliners can let Crosby lolligag at the side of the net like that is beyond me, but this is an all too common occurrence with our defensive corps. You'll notice that opposing teams always have one, and sometimes two, players shadowing Ovi at all times. It's one of the reasons he hasn't been scoring any goals of late. Why BB doesn't assign someone to do the same with Crosby is disturbing, but it's simply inexcusable to let Crosby hang out in front of the net w/out paying a price. Hopefully that'll be a wake-up call.

Posted by: skaboom | December 23, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

I think some fake shots/quick passes are in order on the PP

Posted by: Dizruption | December 23, 2010 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Shots shots shots

Posted by: Dizruption | December 23, 2010 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, it was a great call by the D man to cover the guy in the "dangerous position" and not the guy who is the league's leading scorer, who just so happens to score something like 80% of his goals from that exact spot.

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 23, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

The PP is terrible.

A star on this team needs to emerge again. Ultimately, that's our problem in a nutshell.

BB, Neuvirth, Carlson and Perrault can only do so much.

Where are 8,19,28,52?

Posted by: underpants2 | December 23, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Please score!!!

Posted by: underpants2 | December 23, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

If they don't score on this 2nd 5 on 3, I won't even know what to say anymore.

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 23, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

the PP is KILLING this team.

Posted by: rachel216 | December 23, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Thank freaking God.

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 23, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Yerp

Posted by: Dizruption | December 23, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

haha and right when i said that they score. now score again.

Posted by: rachel216 | December 23, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

I feel like if we can kill this, we could open the floodgates in the 3rd. Pitt may be tired.

Posted by: underpants2 | December 23, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Bs call

Posted by: Dizruption | December 23, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Yes, SGM, I do think Sid's goal was a part of the Caps system. How many weak goals does Sids have to score from the post to see that there is a huge hole in the Caps defensive system? The two break aways were also typical of the Caps crud system, and the second should have also been a penalty shot. Neuvy came up huge on the first, good for him. That does not take BigBaby off the hook.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | December 23, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

That was the best PK I have seen from the Caps in quite some time.

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | December 23, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

I agree they look tired.

Posted by: Dizruption | December 23, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Great PK, did they even get a shot off?

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 23, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

The Caps have had 6 PPs including 2 almost two minute 5-3's... get ready for a few Pitt PPs in the 3rd.

Posted by: joek443 | December 23, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Caps 25 shots. Pens 12.

Posted by: Dizruption | December 23, 2010 8:54 PM | Report abuse

"The Caps have had 6 PPs including 2 almost two minute 5-3's... get ready for a few Pitt PPs in the 3rd."

---

I was thinking the same thing. When they're calling stuff like whatever that was on OV, you know it's make-up call time. That's why not being able to convert on 5 of 6 power plays is troubling.

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 23, 2010 8:54 PM | Report abuse

When is Boudreau going to realize that he needs to have 2 power play lines play 40-45 seconds and that Ovechkin is a liability on the blue line? Also something is wrong with Ovie. He has more "swing and a miss" shots this year then all the rest of his life.

Posted by: wgoodm01 | December 23, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Yes, SGM, I do think Sid's goal was a part of the Caps system. How many weak goals does Sids have to score from the post to see that there is a huge hole in the Caps defensive system? The two break aways were also typical of the Caps crud system, and the second should have also been a penalty shot. Neuvy came up huge on the first, good for him. That does not take BigBaby off the hook.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS

You do realize that the Caps have played a pretty good overall game so far. The scoring chances are 16-6. Who knows what may happen in the 3rd period, but at least to this point the Caps have played well and disciplined.

Yes, the Malkin breakaway was bad as was the Crosby breakaway. I forget which one, but one was because MP whiffed on an open pass at the blue line to an open Caps in the corner(getting the puck in deep).

That isn't the coach's or the system's fault. The plan was to get it in deep and their was an open lane to do that. MP just whiffed. Poor execution, it happens sometimes. Don't blame the coach or system for that.

@VTDuffman

If the defenseman covers Crosby then there is a wide open forward(I think Kunitz) standing at the top of the crease. No matter who the guy is, you must cover the guy at the top of the crease before you cover the guy at the goal line. Crosby made a great play. Obviously you want everyone covered and someone may have made a mistake, but it was NOT the defenseman who covered the guy standing alone at the top of the crease. That is always the guy to cover first, always.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 23, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

The Caps have had 6 PPs including 2 almost two minute 5-3's... get ready for a few Pitt PPs in the 3rd.

Posted by: joek443 |

True, and that worries me. But the Pens did have a Penalty Shot also. Hopefully the refs feel bad for making that horrible call on Ovie and just call the game straight from here on out.

Also, two of the Pens penalties were delay of game calls for shooting the puck out of the rink. There is no judgment in those calls. It is clear and must be called. So it is more 4 judgment penalties on the Pens and 3 on the Caps (2 for PPs and 1 for a penalty shot).

Posted by: sgm3 | December 23, 2010 9:04 PM | Report abuse

When is Boudreau going to realize that he needs to have 2 power play lines play 40-45 seconds and that Ovechkin is a liability on the blue line? Also something is wrong with Ovie. He has more "swing and a miss" shots this year then all the rest of his life.
-------------------------

The biggest problem I have with BB is he doesn't reward guys doing well by giving them some minutes on the PP and he NEVER ever takes away any ice time from his number one PP unit no matter how much they stink.

Posted by: joek443 | December 23, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Jesus, didn't see that one coming.

/sarcasm.

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 23, 2010 9:06 PM | Report abuse

"Obviously you want everyone covered and someone may have made a mistake,"

---

He was wide open right at the net, how could someone have *not* made a mistake?

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 23, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse

LOSERS!!!

Posted by: DCFanatic | December 23, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Letang totally hooked Marty p's arm right there

Posted by: Dizruption | December 23, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

:17 seconds in ... what a backbreaker after finally tying. Anyone think we have enough in net?

Gotta get a goalie! Wouldn't hurt to get some more (tougher) Ds, either. GMGM's got a lotta work to do.

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | December 23, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

"Anyone think we have enough in net?"

---

I don't blame the goalie for either of those two shots tonight, I blame the group of keystone cops we call defensemen. Seriously, watch a replay of that last goal and try *not* to hear the song "yakkitey sax" in your head.

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 23, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse


"Wouldn't hurt to get some more (tougher) Ds, either. GMGM's got a lotta work to do."

---

The last time we needed more, tougher, D men, GMGM gave us Joe Corvo.

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 23, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Way to go, Knubs!

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | December 23, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

VT: Yeah, I agree that the D's the problem, but it looks like that's never gonna change! Same story every year. That said, if we can't fix the D then we need better netminders, with playoff experience.

We're gonna lose this game. Unfrigging believable!

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | December 23, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Yerp

Posted by: Dizruption | December 23, 2010 9:30 PM | Report abuse

We have'nt had toughness on the blue line since Langway & Stevens. We've been cursed ever since we erroneously traded Stevens! And no sign of change this year.

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | December 23, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Hannan has actually been playing well, very physical, on his guy, safe passes. Now it's time for the Caps to cycle and get some possession time in the Pen's zone. Forecheck, forecheck, forecheck, ftw.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | December 23, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Now THATS Leadership!

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | December 23, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

"VT: Yeah, I agree that the D's the problem, but it looks like that's never gonna change! Same story every year. That said, if we can't fix the D then we need better netminders, with playoff experience."

---

The problem is that you get into a chicken-egg thing with this discussion as the best netminders often also have the best defenses in front of them.

If we went for a Goalie, I'd almost want Vokun more than anyone, because he's been very good despite having a really bad team in front of him for the majority of his career.

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 23, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Rush versus possession, that is a bad versus a good system. The Pens made that last period look like a half-court game. The Caps need to follow NJ's lead and get a legit coach. Yeah, I know it's 2-2, but the Caps rely more on talent than setting up a winning system.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | December 23, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

They're not going to overturn that, all this is doing is killing any momemntum we might have had.

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 23, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

shocked if they call this a goal - you can't see the puck and have to guess where it is in his glove

Posted by: ebolean1 | December 23, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

"The Pens made that last period look like a half-court game."

---

Meh, the 3rd perios looked like a half court game because the Pens spent 1/3 of the period with a man advantage. Their only goal of that period on the rush.

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 23, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Crosby really needs to give up on the mustache...looks so white trash...

Posted by: TimDz | December 23, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

"Crosby really needs to give up on the mustache...looks so white trash...

He looks like someone you'd find on peopleofwalmart.com

Posted by: sabredc | December 23, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

"Crosby really needs to give up on the mustache...looks so white trash..."

---

Crosby wishes his mustache looked white trash. It looks like the mustache that an 8th grader tries to grow when he goes through that special period in a young boy's life.

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 23, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Meh nothing, look at where the puck sent most of the period during 5v5, in the Caps zone. The Caps had a few rushes, but could very rarely gain possesion. The Pens often looked they were on the PP when it was 5v5. That's about system. The Pens did not force passes, but waited for their set up and tried high percentage shots. The Caps would rush and shoot, and let the Pens bring the puck up -- patiently, with responsible passes, not low percentage stretch passes. They got screens, they got traffic, they passed the puck. Stop looking through rock the red glasses. I want the Caps to win, they have plenty of talent, but a chump coach.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | December 23, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Semin is playing so poorly he couldn't hit an empty net. Wonder if the Senators would take him straight up for Alfredsson?

Posted by: wgoodm01 | December 23, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Look I agree with you that we have a bad system, I'm just saying that your observations are lacking. Making an argument I agree with, but making it weakly draws my ire more than making an argument I disagree with but making it well.

The problem is that your sample size is warped, it must be restricted to the 3rd period. IF you extend it to the 1st and 2nd period, it no longer applies, because the Caps dominated possession in those periods. So, your one period that your argument applies is tainted with the Penalty discrepancy and that's an issue.

My point is that it's more important to make a well constructed argument than a "correct" one.

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 23, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

hard fought game - I hate shoot-outs

Posted by: ebolean1 | December 23, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

It sucks that they lost, but if the WC is anything like tonight (hopefully it doesn't turn out like the much anticipated Game 7 of the 08-09 playoffs), it's gonna be a fun game to watch.

Posted by: sabredc | December 23, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Good game.

Posted by: Dizruption | December 23, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Caps got a loser point out of this, gift-wrapped for you by the Pens. Pens dominate Caps for much of the game, even though they played last night in the Pitt.

No-show-OV keeps on rolling while Crosby keeps his point streak alive.

Nice to see the Caps show up though, minus a few of their stars. Knubs has probably more heart than the rest of the team combined. Good game, see you on the 1st.

Posted by: BigGameSid | December 23, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse

VTDuffman, the sample size is a few years of BB. His system sparkles with this much offensive talent in the middle of a long season. Come the playoffs and tight games with a playoff feel (like tonight), they do not have much possession. The system is built on low-percentage strech passes, pushing the action up ice, not waiting for trailers and establishing possession. It's been very exposed this year. Other teams patiently wait for the Caps to make glaring mistakes by over committing to offense. BB is a minor league lifer as a player and coach. Pissburgh plays the game correctly for the playoffs, and it kills me as a long time Caps fan. Knubs and Laich and a few others are gutting it out, but that top line is playing terrible and BB does not take away their time, but rewards them with double and longer shifts and PP time. The guy is a joke, he wins because of the talent on the team much more so than a system.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | December 23, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse

i guess nobody was paying attention to where Ovi scored - go hi boys - come on - meh

Posted by: ebolean1 | December 23, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Another heartbreaker ... I just can't see this team beating Pitt this year. Their system is better, & they match up really well with us.

VT: I agree about the chicken-egg thing, but I'm aggravated! All I know is, this team as currently made up will NOT be successful in the playoffs. And I think the Caps themselves believe this to be true, too. The swagger from last year just isn't there this year. GMGM has to do something about the blue line & the net. Truthfully, not sure what; hey, that's why GMGM gets the big money!
Go Caps!

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | December 23, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Caps 5, Pens 2 huh! Wishful thinking fellas. And remember the Pens were playing the second game of a back-to-back. Well done Caps for getting a point.

Posted by: FloridaCapsFan | December 23, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

The better team won again, unfortunately. Looks like the Caps will be meat fodder for the Penguins and the Flyers once again. After a two game hiatus, they are back to being the same losing Caps. Yeah, sure you can say they tried hard. They lost and that's the bottom line. Bruce can't make this team into anything more than an also run. The superioritiy of Cosby over Ovechkin grows every day. One is a superstar, and one is a pretender. Too bad. For a while we were fooled.

Posted by: Almazar80 | December 23, 2010 10:12 PM | Report abuse

The better team won again, unfortunately. Looks like the Caps will be meat fodder for the Penguins and the Flyers once again. After a two game hiatus, they are back to being the same losing Caps. Yeah, sure you can say they tried hard. They lost and that's the bottom line. Bruce can't make this team into anything more than an also run. The superioritiy of Cosby over Ovechkin grows every day. One is a superstar, and one is a pretender. Too bad. For a while we were fooled.

Posted by: Almazar80 | December 23, 2010 10:12 PM | Report abuse

He was wide open right at the net, how could someone have *not* made a mistake?

Posted by: VTDuffman

Crosby was standing at the goal line(feet startling the line) about 8 feet from the net. He was not "right at the net". For the love of god do people on here complain a lot. Every goal is not a horrible mistake.

The best defensive team in the league still let up more than 200 goals a year, but it seems after every goal scored against the Caps some people just complain about the system and the coach.

How about the Pens giving up a PK goal with 5 minutes to go in the 3rd period with a 1-goal lead? Horrible system and horrible coaching, correct? Because that would be the conclusion if that happened to the Caps, wouldn't it?

Posted by: sgm3 | December 23, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Why on earth was Backstrom out there during the OT? He was next to useless.

Posted by: FloridaCapsFan | December 23, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse

The BB criticism is getting old.

He's not the main problem.

How can you blame the guy behind the bench that has given EVERY opportunity for his stars to succeed, and they come up empty time and time again.

System play is overrated. Even with a great system if the players don't perform, produce, and execute no system is going to work. If it was as simple as fixing the system you wouldn't be talking about all those scoring slumps that the Caps are having.

Posted by: BigGameSid | December 23, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse

"Pens dominate Caps for much of the game, even though they played last night in the Pitt."

---

Did you watch the same game I did? Let's be real here, the Caps Dominated the first 40 minutes and couldn't convert, the Pens "Dominated" the period they had all their make-up calls and still could only score on a rush while catching the Caps sleeping in the first 15 seconds of the 3rd.

Seriously, 12 SOG in the first 2 periods against a team that doesn't play defense very well. Some "domination."

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 23, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Even if we won that game in a shootout, I'd have chalked that up as a victory for Pittsburgh.

Why?

That's about the most you'll see us tilt the ice against them anytime soon. They were on a back-to-back on the road and we were rested at home.

More importantly, they won the battle of defense and goaltending which is something the Caps so rarely do.

That was very much a game where we should've been able to win 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1. Both of their goals were the result of bad defense or poor goaltending or both.

They are a team that can genuinely beat you any night with offense, defense, goaltending, or a combination of those things.

In other words, they have a real potential to be elite in all of those areas.

And, of course, they also do the little things better than us.

And their top talent is collectively better than our's...

Crosby/Malkin/Staal/Fleury > Backstrom/Ovechkin/Semin/Green

We may beat them next time we face them but I doubt we'll tilt the ice like we did in the first 2 periods of this game.

Just wait til we face them when they're rested and Staal is back in the mix and in game shape.

And I couldn't care less about win streaks and losing streaks...

It always seems like it's the Caps who have more breakdowns in their own end in big games. That's been a trend for the past few years.

We need to be able to be the team capable of winning 1-0 and 2-1 playoff games and relying on our defense when we can't score for whatever reason. We're not there yet and I have doubts that we'll get there anytime soon.

Posted by: tmac2yao | December 23, 2010 10:17 PM | Report abuse

caps have 45 games left - if they play like they did tonight - how many do they win? 30-15 maybe? pit is hot and just took the overall league lead in pts.

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | December 23, 2010 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Like it or not, the Caps are still not burying their chances. If an "offensive" team scores 1 or 2 goals a game, they are going to lose games...

Posted by: kcbrichmond | December 23, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

You'll see a lot more of what we saw in the 3rd period in most of our future games against the Penguins.

They weren't close to their normal selves in terms of pressuring with their forecheck and dominating puck possession.

But guess what?

They were rock solid on defense and in net. They can legitimately count on winning games that way when necessary. We aren't there yet.

Posted by: tmac2yao | December 23, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Okay...first. Good game. Wanted the win but at least the Caps weren't blown out of the building like I was fearing.

Couple of things:

It looks to me like Backie and Green just aren't right. I wonder if they are playing hurt. Backie has looked terrible this year. Mike Green I would guess is hurting cause he for a defensemen, he sure does take a lot of hits.

Nice goal by Ovie in the Shootout...but what the hell was that from Semin? How about Backie? After Ovie, the only one who had a chance at a goal was Green. Everyone else looked like they had just picked up a hockey stick for the first time! Just terrible!

Posted by: ekbinion68 | December 23, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Caps are cold and falling once again. Hey, for all the promise that the talent in the team brings, the inability to win crucial games just shows you how unprepared this team is. The players just don't respond to the same tired, ineffective, uncreative BB system.

Posted by: Almazar80 | December 23, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

@BGS, well said. You take a lot of heat on here, but you're 100%. The players are the ones who whiff on shots, not BB. The players are the ones who play too cute. The players themselves have even said many, many times "If we play like Bruce tells us, we win. When we stop listening to him and try to be cute and fancy, we lose."

I disagree with your statement that the Pens dominated the game though. I think the Pens played better in the 3rd when they were on the PP the entire time (which, mind you, got shut down 0-6 and missed a penalty shot), but overall, the Caps - by far - outplayed the Pens in just about every facet of the game. The only area that the Pens really outdid the Caps was in faceoffs (37 to 34).

Overall though, I thought that both teams played a great game.

Posted by: sabredc | December 23, 2010 10:25 PM | Report abuse

They should have traded Semin when he was hot last month, would have been able to get a couple good players in return.

Now he's back to being a "passenger".

Posted by: joek443 | December 23, 2010 10:25 PM | Report abuse

@tmac2yao

If that Green shot goes in in OT are you singing a different tune?

The Caps, as a team overall, played solid. Their PK was great, their D was very solid too. I agree that the problem was the offense and the PP.

Semin looked horrible. He did nothing. I really am curious if he is still hurt because he does not look anything like he did a few months ago.

Backstrom played a very solid defensive game. He was on the ice a lot when Crosby was(not when Crosby scored his goal though). He was playing a lot of defense. He needs to get his offensive game going more and start shooting the puck more, but at least he is playing well defensively.

Green looked better and was creating offensively and doing a good job of pinching in. I think all of the Caps defensemen played solidly overall.

The 2nd goal for the Pens was a little flukey because Carlson ran into Neuvy to open up the 5-hole.

Ovie played pretty well and created chances.

I thought Beagle had a strong game.

I didn't see AGordon really doing anything. Fehr didn't do too much either.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 23, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

I don't care how talented and elusive Crosby is... he shouldn't be parked by the net that wide open and even if he is, Neuvirth needs to hug the post on that play and come up with a big save like Fleury did so many times up to that point.

Then he skates through like 4 Caps and flicks the puck on net before chaos ensues and we give up another bad goal.

I know it's only 1 game but that's the kind of stuff that tends to happen to the Caps more than other elite teams that are stronger and more consistent in their own end.

This very much was a game where a tired and depleted Pitt didn't play well outside of their zone and in terms of puck possession for 2 periods and was only able to score due to us making more mistakes than them in our own end.

We need to become the team that has less of those defensive breakdowns than our opponents on most nights but we just can't do that consistently enough at this point.

No team is flawless defensively and in net or when it comes to execution and details but the teams that go deep in the playoffs are usually teams that make less mistakes during the course of the game. That's often the nature of playoff hockey in addition to the increased physicality and energy levels.

Posted by: tmac2yao | December 23, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

First off crosby was less risk at the side of the net than the man in front of the net. Your a man down and you cant cover everyone when you are down a man.. Second, great game by both teams. The Caps lost in a shot out its a 82 game season season we cant win them all. All you haters need to get back on the wagon that you banded to and stop hating on this team.. This town is has such a coach haunting mentality..

Posted by: vaporboy12 | December 23, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

My god, what domination by the Penguins, they absolutely destroyed the Capitals! Yeah, dream on Pen fans, the teams are a lot closer than you think and the Big Four on the Capitals are not even clicking yet. Gee, no surprise to see Sidney figure on both goals and just about 60% of their goals since he IS the Penguins. Crosby's role is like when Ovechkin was the Capitals in his MVP years. Which begs the question, what happens when he finally gets hurt, especially after a couple of more whack on his face in three more Capital games. Love Ovechkin's statement hit right at the beginning of the game, hope he direct more of those at Crosby instead of Malkin next time. The more you make Crosby whine and cry, the more you distract him from his game. Lastly, why is Crosby always allow to set at the right of the Goalie unattended? Isn't that why we got Hanan and extended Erskine? Always put a body on Crosby and let Neuvirth have a clear sight to the shooter from the point. Simple, right?!?!

Posted by: JohnWWW | December 23, 2010 10:28 PM | Report abuse

@Almazar80
"OMG the Caps lost in a 7-round shootout to one of the top teams in the league. Fire Boudreau!"

It's really starting to get old. What part of Bruce's tired, ineffective system is failing? Better yet, what part of Bruce's tired, ineffective system calls for Ovie to whiff on every shot?

Posted by: sabredc | December 23, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

That was a really bad call on Ovi when the guy fell off his skates into the boards. The moronic zebra thought Ovi must have done something to cause it so he gave him a penalty without really seeing anything. Hopefully he won't be reff'ing any playoff games.

Posted by: FloridaCapsFan | December 23, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

This is turning out to be a banner year for DC sports teams! Lol

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | December 23, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

"This very much was a game where a tired and depleted Pitt didn't play well outside of their zone and in terms of puck possession for 2 periods and was only able to score due to us making more mistakes than them in our own end."

---

Come on bro, I'm as goats-bloodie as they get here, but even I know that you wouldn't let the "back to back game" excuse fly if someone tried to use it to excuse a Caps performance.

They played pretty well tonight against the best team in the league, and lost in a skills competition when Pascal DuPuis buried one when Mike Green couldn't.

I know, you want BB and GMGM gone, I want them gone too. This isn't the game to make the case for that, you are taking a pre-defined narrative and attempting to shoehorn the game into that rather than developing your argument off of what actually happened.

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 23, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

87 > 8

Posted by: de1234 | December 23, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

"I don't care how talented and elusive Crosby is... he shouldn't be parked by the net that wide open and even if he is, Neuvirth needs to hug the post on that play and come up with a big save like Fleury did so many times up to that point."

@tmac2yao

So you are suggesting that when the puck is being shot from the point, that the goalie should be hugging the post closest to where Crosby is standing instead of being square to the shooter? That may be the dumbest suggestion I have ever seen on this board.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 23, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3 "That may be the dumbest suggestion I have ever seen on this board."

Well, we now know why tmac2yao spends his nights on here and not coaching an NHL team.

It makes me wonder why the Devils would rather take a washed up coach like Lemaire rather than some of the top minds from places like here. With all this hockey knowledge and know-it-all comments, I'd figure that the Devs would look here first for their next coach.

Posted by: sabredc | December 23, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Semin is a clown on skates.

Posted by: de1234 | December 23, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

"It makes me wonder why the Devils would rather take a washed up coach like Lemaire rather than some of the top minds from places like here. With all this hockey knowledge and know-it-all comments, I'd figure that the Devs would look here first for their next coach."

---

Do you never criticze anything that you don't personally earn some sort of salary in?

I mean, have you never criticized a meal, a movie, a song, or a television show? Never a bad word about "Gigli," "Cavemen," or "Party in the USA?"

Seriously, that whole "If you knew anything, why aren't you doing this professionally" shtick is so tired.

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 23, 2010 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Seriously if Poile were still here and had no neck Trotz as the coach of this team, we would be doing a lot better.

Probably would have won a Cup by now.

Posted by: joek443 | December 23, 2010 10:41 PM | Report abuse

POSTGAME THOUGHTS:
Another grudge match by both teams. Yes the point will be taken but Pittsburgh can have the shootout win. I hate shootouts anyway. Entertainment purposes - blah. Piss on that. I could care less.

EARLIER POSTS: Alot of great posts on here tonight. I'm curious about Boudreau's lines tonight breaking up OV and Backstrom completely when they've been struggling anyway. I doubt you'll see this same lineup at the end of the year.

Agree with the posts that this team does need to get tougher. They need guys that will knock guys' teeth out. It still gets pushed around too much.

System play: Pittsburgh executes better than the Caps do but that's on the Caps players for hustlling at times. Take note in OT - the Pens got shots - the Caps a shot here or there. You have to drive drive drive.

Green: Absolute machine out there - too bad he didn't finish it in OT. By far one of his best games on both sides of the ice.

GOALTENDING IS NOT THE PROBLEM - I swear those of you who keep saying that need to wake the hell up. That first goal was a masterpeice by a superior player. The second goal - there isn't much he can do when THREE OF OUR GUYS all watch and chase Crosby behind the net leaving Kunitz alone in front. If that's how Bob Woods is coaching them - he should be fired. This team has a problem in the D zone at times where EVERYONE seems to want to chase the puck carrier and forget THAT IS NOT THEIR MAN TO COVER.

I thought for the most part in their D zone they kept it in check and get alot of Pitts play to the perimeter but yea they had some chances. It happens every game with everyone.

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES: The PP just plain sucks. Ovie needs to be on the half wall or in front and not on the point. An earlier poster talked about having 2 units playing 40-45 seconds - spot on post. Oh and of course Eric Fehr - all allone in the slot - nobody around him - fumbles a pass and instead of settling it down for a shot he just pushed it at the net. YOU CAN'T MISS THOSE KIND OF CHANCES IN A GAME LIKE THAT. With all due respect to him returning after the death of a loved one - he still is the same missed opportunity out there.

STARS: Great tone to set at the start of the game with the hit by OV - but not much after that. Someone put an APB out for the stars. These guys are still missing but Boudreau needs to get back to the lines that worked. This line juggling is beyond stupid and DOES NOT work. If Boudreau can't see it then I'm sorry but I may start to slide over to the "he must go" side eventually. Hopefully it gets better. We shall see.

A one point night. I think the Caps are like 8-0-2 against Pitt in the last 10 regular season games. Nice stat but still - it doesn't mean squat. Time to get back at it in Carolina on Sunday.

ICE BREAKERS GOAL SHAKERS

Posted by: Jonathan6 | December 23, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

i just don't think you can underscore the fact that the Pens played last night.

the table was set for us to beat them tonight...and we just couldnt do it.

that's dissappointing...it doesn't mean we won't get better, and doesn't mean we can't beat them in general.

but it makes me think we are going to get throttled at the Winter Classic...and get throttled when we play them when both teams are rested.

Hope I'm wrong

Posted by: capitalsfan47802 | December 23, 2010 10:47 PM | Report abuse

@VT "I mean, have you never criticized a meal, a movie, a song, or a television show? Never a bad word about "Gigli," "Cavemen," or "Party in the USA?""

No, actually I've never seen Gigli, Cavemen, or Party in the USA. In fact, I never even heard of those last two.

I have criticized a meal after I've eaten it because, well, I ate it. Did you play in this game?

I'm not going after simple criticism. I'm going after people who actually make suggestions like "Neuvirth needs to hug the post on that play". There is a difference between observations like "The defense broke down and cost us the goal" or "Ovie is playing like crap." versus suggestions like "So-and-so needs to do such-and-such to succeed". If people know the right thing to suggest, they should be coaching.

I have no problems with people who make observations about factual events but when people insist they know better, then they should back it up.

Posted by: sabredc | December 23, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

if they continue to play like they did tonight - they will win many more than they will lose. they'll also be infinitely more prepared for the playoffs than they were last year.

@VTDuffman - it is nice to see a 'dark sider' post what they actually saw during a game instead of insisting on a firing because of a loss.

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | December 23, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

"I have criticized a meal after I've eaten it because, well, I ate it. Did you play in this game?"

---

Eating something is an observation, we all observed this game. According to your terrible point, unless you've ever worked in the culinary industry, you should never be able to make a judgement on food that you eat.

You can never say "This soup was too salty," if you can say something like that then why aren't you running a restaurant?

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 23, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

"@VTDuffman - it is nice to see a 'dark sider' post what they actually saw during a game instead of insisting on a firing because of a loss."

---

I'm not just a darksider, I'm a proud darksider. I maintain that you can have convictions and still be intellectually honest at the same time.

The fact that i find myself picking fights with both koolaiders and goatsblooders tonight only solidifes my notion that I was accurately observign what happened tonight :)

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 23, 2010 10:56 PM | Report abuse

The Caps did a lot of good things in this game. The compete level was there for the most part.

But playing hard is just half the battle when you're talking about getting where you want to be as a legitimate cup contending team.

You need to play hard no matter how much talent you have but you also have to play smart as individuals as a team, execute better than your opponents on most nights, and that includes being the team that makes less costly mistakes in your own end.

Nobody here can honestly say that they expect the Caps, assuming they make the playoffs, to be one of the better playoff teams when it comes to defense, goaltending and attention to detail.

No matter what McPhee is able to do in terms of roster changes going forward, or what Boudreau tries to tweak, I just don't see us getting to where we need to be in terms of our play in our own end and our attention to detail in general.

Not this season at the least.

You need the personnel but you also need time to learn to do those things habitually.

I still see us as a team, regardless of what happens between now and the end of the season, that will get bounced in the early rounds due to facing a team with a superior combination of defense/goaltending that plays smarter with a greater attention to detail and the little things (little things meaning everything from clearing the crease to finishing checks to winning battles along the boards to taking away time and space defensively to making good decisions with and without the puck - particularly in terms of positioning - and on and on...

Again, that's assuming we make the playoffs which while likely is not a certainty in this cap era where there is so much more parity than ever before.

Posted by: tmac2yao | December 23, 2010 10:57 PM | Report abuse

I didn't like BB's decision to put Knuble as the 4th SO shooter and Laich as the 5th. I think he should've went with the younger skilled guys(MP, AGordon, MJ, or even Carlson) or Green. I know MP and Green ended up missing, but I didn't like the percentages BB was playing. I'm guessing it was done as a reward to Knuble and Laich for playing well, but I didn't like that move.

Also, AGordon didn't do anything. Did he get hurt or something or did he just not play much due to the massive amount of PPs for both teams?

IMO, the Caps missed not having Bradley and/or Hendricks. People talk about playing tougher and with energy, well those two guys do both of those. I thought Beagle played well but AGordon not so much. Having Bradley or Hendricks there would have helped.

Their 4th line didn't do much. Neither did the 3rd line.

Semin really needs to find his game. If he is hurt, he should be rested until he is fully healthy. It does not seem he plays well when he plays through an injury.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 23, 2010 11:05 PM | Report abuse

The tired ineffective system of not instilling discipline in the lines and letting the individual become more important than team play. If BB was so hot, and if the talent here is as good as people say, don't you think they'd go further than the second round in the last three playoff series. In fact, last year they regressed and that regrssion continues. If that's not attributable, at least in part, to the coaching, then you can keep looking at the moral victories. Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and maybe even Atlanta will hoist the cap before these BB led Caps do, if they even manage to get to a Cup final. Tehy do not have the hallmarks of a champion.

Posted by: Almazar80 | December 23, 2010 11:06 PM | Report abuse

GOALTENDING IS NOT THE PROBLEM - I swear those of you who keep saying that need to wake the hell up. That first goal was a masterpeice by a superior player.

Posted by: Jonathan6 | December 23, 2010 10:43 PM

Correction: ...a masterpiece by an "unguarded superior player "at even strength."

And Neuvirth had as much time to make a big save there as did Fleury on countless occasions.

The two breakdowns that they scored on were worse than the combination of the Penguins worst 2 breakdowns. And the Penguisn played last night and our just as injury depleted if not more than us. Staal alone is better than our best missing player.

Just 1 game?

True but it's not the first game that I've watched the Caps play this season... or the Pens... or countless other "contending" teams.

And few if any of those teams are as prone to breakdowns in their own end as us due to a combination of factors, including personnel and team defense (forwards included).

We weren't even that bad tonight but Pitt showed once again that they can genuinely win a variety of games under a variety of conditions.

Sure, every team wins in a variety of ways over the course of a season but it's all a matter of degree.

The Caps just aren't good enough in certain areas, particularly when it comes to team defense and attention to detail, to be considered a real contender this season.

You can't just flick a switch and fix those things overnight. That takes the right personnel, the right coaching and lost of time to learn those good habits.

Posted by: tmac2yao | December 23, 2010 11:07 PM | Report abuse

Despite the scoring slump over the past several weeks, the Caps only area that they can consider themselve truly elite in is offense. Better yet, that's the only area where they even have the potential as is to be considerably above average.

That just ain't gonna cut it if and when they make the playoffs.

They aren't going to run 'n gun their way to 4 series victories in the playoffs as we know all too well.

Much more often than not, the real contenders have a real ability to win in a number of ways whether it's offense, defense, goaltending or a combination of those things.

Yea, we might win occasionally with our defense and goaltending but we are highly unlikely to be at the level of consistency we need to be at in those areas to win series on those strengths... no matter how Boudreau tries to tweak his run 'n gun system to a more balanced one. That ain't happening with this personnel this late into a season under this coaching staff.

If we get a favorable matchup, maybe we win a playoff series but it's unlikely that we don't face a more balanced team before the conference finals that preys on on one of our relative weaknesses over 7 games.

Posted by: tmac2yao | December 23, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

"And Neuvirth had as much time to make a big save there as did Fleury on countless occasions."

And he did, they both let in the same amount of goals.

"And the Penguisn played last night and our just as injury depleted if not more than us."

Again, stop. There's no chance that you let back to back games or injuries excuse a Caps loss, so stop.

"We weren't even that bad tonight but Pitt showed once again that they can genuinely win a variety of games under a variety of conditions."

They didn't win this game, though. They tied this game. They won a skills competition. Come on, before Bettman ruined the NHL, this game ends in a tie and both teams skate away with a point as it should be. You're acting like they won this game in regulation, they beat a team that's won 2 of their last 10 in a shootout that went down to the 7th shooter.

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 23, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

I think we are one piece away from being playoff ready. I think New jersey will bleed off some talent at the deadline with us grabbing a dee man that is a shot blocking monster. Just a though maybe a wish but mark my words now. I am no gm or a coach but I have played th game for about 20 years and that crosby goal was a masterpiece. there was no letdown or bad goaltending. He is a good player he know where to be to expose a penalty kill. You cant cover him on a play like that.

Posted by: vaporboy12 | December 23, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

@tmac2yao - Correction: ...a masterpiece by an "unguarded superior player "at even strength." - I'll give you that.

"And Neuvirth had as much time to make a big save there as did Fleury on countless occasions."

You try at full speed staying with the puck on a deflection like that. Neuvirth made big saves and so too did Fleury and where were they at the end of it all tonight before they went into that joke of a shootout. 2-2. Even.

We can agree to disagree. But for now I say they don't need to add a vet. It's more about defensive zone play and the rest of your post though - SPOT on. You can't flick a switch. It'll be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

Posted by: Jonathan6 | December 23, 2010 11:14 PM | Report abuse

"am no gm or a coach but I have played th game for about 20 years and that crosby goal was a masterpiece"

---
A masterpiece? Really?

Crosby sat in that same area right in front of the net that he always sits in, the same place that Mario spent his entire career sitting in, and he redirected a pass into the net.

Don't get me wrong, I wish we could do it (and I wonder why we don't try), but it wasn't exactly a "masterpiece," it was basic hockey -- play flows t oone side of the ice, camp a guy in front of the net on the other side to either re-direct a pass in or poke a rebound in.

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 23, 2010 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Crosby sat in that same area right in front of the net that he always sits in, the same place that Mario spent his entire career sitting in, and he redirected a pass into the net.

Don't get me wrong, I wish we could do it (and I wonder why we don't try), but it wasn't exactly a "masterpiece," it was basic hockey -- play flows t oone side of the ice, camp a guy in front of the net on the other side to either re-direct a pass in or poke a rebound in.

Posted by: VTDuffman

What is your definition of "in front of the net"?

If it is 8 feet away from the net with one foot behind the goal line then I guess, by your definition, Crosby was in front of the net. By a person who uses the common of definition of "in front" then Crosby was not in front of the net. He was to the SIDE of the net and made a great tip through an incredibly small window. If that play is done 10 times in, that situation, I bet he only puts it where here did once. At most.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 23, 2010 11:27 PM | Report abuse

Geez. Great game. Caps played well. Pittsburgh had three good chances. But suddenly the freaking world is ending again. If the caps put that type of effort out every game, they'll win the division by at least 15 points. I know Pitt was on their second game in 2 nights, but we dominated their butts for the most part.

Posted by: Dizruption | December 23, 2010 11:33 PM | Report abuse

I do think that they need another 2nd line forward. Ideally a center.

Even though he doesn't fit the exact needs of the Caps, I think Jaime Langenbrunner could be a huge addition for the Caps(he would provide veteran leadership and cup expereince too). He will be available at the deadline.

Then maybe they could try to peddle a winger(and whoever else) for a center, depending on who is available. It will be easier to see who is available once it gets closer to the trade deadline. Jason Arnott would be a possibility.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 23, 2010 11:34 PM | Report abuse

And it's a good thing we didn't sit Knuble like someone suggested the other day. Otherwise, it was probably a big fat regulation 'L' to an injury-depleted team playing the backend of a b2b on the road.

Knuble does a lot of little things well and provides value to this team even when he's not scoring. That was also the case early in the season when he was in a severe scoring slump.

Honestly, I'd sit any other wing on this team right now before Knuble if my goal is to win hockey games.

There is a lot more to the game of hockey than racking up points. Maybe Ovechkin will fully buy into that some day. He was pretty solid tonight and his jump and compete level were there but generally speaking, he doesn't provide a whole lot of value to this hockey team when he isn't scoring or using his physicality in a smart way. He certainly isn't where he needs to be yet as an overall player who takes up that much cap space.

Knuble engages in and wins board battles regularly, is usually in good position on the ice and despite his age and lack of speed, is pretty effective on the PK.

Posted by: tmac2yao | December 23, 2010 11:37 PM | Report abuse

Also, I know it will never happen, but somehow acquiring Jarome Iginla would be amazing.

Again, he doesn't fit the center role, but then all of a sudden the lines up top look complete. Then the Caps could let go Semin in the offseason, if they choose.

I know there is no chance of it happening so no one needs to bring that up. But I'm just bring up a hypothetical that I would like to see. Hey, it's Christmas, maybe Santa will listen.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 23, 2010 11:38 PM | Report abuse

@tmac2yao

No one suggested sitting Knuble this game. It was only suggested that BB sit Knuble periodically to rest him for the playoffs(he is 38). It would only be done to get the best out of him for the playoffs. Not because of his effectiveness.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 23, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget we only had 5 dmen tonight. Granted it was poti who was out, but the rest of the d had to eat up his ice time.

Posted by: Dizruption | December 23, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse

"There is a lot more to the game of hockey than racking up points. Maybe Ovechkin will fully buy into that some day. He was pretty solid tonight and his jump and compete level were there but generally speaking, he doesn't provide a whole lot of value to this hockey team when he isn't scoring or using his physicality in a smart way. He certainly isn't where he needs to be yet as an overall player who takes up that much cap space."

---

It's funny, you literally cannot deviate from your pre-defined narrative. I've never seen someone contradict themselves so much.

OV was fine tonight. He's consistently the least of this team's problems. Right now Backstrom is a much bigger problem, seriously wha happen to that guy?

If I were a more callous person, I would accuse him of taking the money and running, because that guy hasn't been the same since his new contract.

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 23, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse

"Granted it was poti who was out"

---

Interestingly, one of our best defensive efforts of the season IMHO.

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 23, 2010 11:50 PM | Report abuse

I can't belive some of the hypocrites that post on here, the Caps could have won by 6 or 7 goals and the same people would have posted "well it doesn't matter until the playoffs" yada yada yada. I really wish you people would just stop being "fans" and never watch/show up for a Caps game again, because your constant negativity doesn't help any of us.

We played a good game and showed we are still right in the mix to come out of the Eastern Conference in the playoffs. The way we played the second period it could have easily been 4-1 after that frame in favor of the good guys. We just need to find that "scoring touch" that we had in the regular season last year. But hey though, no need to peak now, we learned that lesson last year, right hypocritical Caps fans?

I think we win the WC in a similar closly fought game like we saw tonight. OV can't be held quiet forever...

Posted by: rademaar | December 23, 2010 11:50 PM | Report abuse

@VTDuffman

I agree that Backstrom is a problem offensively, but he was at least solid defensively. I watched the Pens broadcast and the Pens announcers were crediting Backstrom for his defensive play a lot.

But he definitely has to get better offensively for the Caps to do anything this season. The Caps need more offense from the centers.

But Semin, IMO, is the biggest worry. I'm hoping it's an injury because if it isn't then I'm worried about his play.

I'm usually not a person on here complaining about the Caps players being intimidated, but Semin looked intimidated. Especially by Orpik.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 23, 2010 11:54 PM | Report abuse

"We played a good game and showed we are still right in the mix to come out of the Eastern Conference in the playoffs."

----

While I agree with the theme of your post, I disagree with this. We proved nothing about the playoffs tonight. We proved we can hang with one of the best teams in the NHL for one game. Considering the 8 game streak, that's a huge statement. Considering the playoffs, it's relatively meaningless. Hence, the "regular season is meaningless" notion. Of course it's not completely meaningless, it just only means so much.

The reality is that the only way to truly prove playoff competitiveness is in the playoffs, every time we get a chance to do that we get bounced in the 1st or 2nd round. Until that *doesn't* happen, it remains a valid criticism.

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 23, 2010 11:56 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3

I guess you must have missed the news. Semin is probably still bothered by the "lower body injury" that kept him out this weekend and last week's game against the Ducks. I could see him get some good breakaways, even if no goal but other times not skating as much. He still doesn't look 100% healthy. (Probably the only reason he played in the NJ game was because Hendricks was sick and Fehr was off for his grandfather's funeral.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 24, 2010 12:00 AM | Report abuse

@rademaar

Would be nice if the Caps could win the Winter Classic. After losing tonight, I want a win then even more fervently.

Was it just my imagination or did the Caps have an awful lot of shots bouncing off posts?

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 24, 2010 12:02 AM | Report abuse

After watching many of the the Penguins fans in my section after the game tonight and reading the comments on this blog from BigGameSid and his cronies, I am really convinced the problem isn't with the people but it's with the Pittsburgh culture. Whether they still live in Pittsburgh or have moved here, there is an aura of arrogance, ill manners, and a general sense of poor education that represents that city. Many act like they carry a huge chip on their shoulder. I suppose it is like the old expression "you can take the person out of the trailer park but you can't take the trailer park out of the person". Maybe we should substitute Pittsburgh for trailer park.

Posted by: AADCDERM | December 24, 2010 12:09 AM | Report abuse

"The guy [Knuble] has looked tired and slow all year to me, maybe a game or two off would put a little skip back in his skates."

That sounds like a little more than saying he's been playing well but could use a little extra rest to keep him at that level.

Knuble is slow... and old... and sure, he could use extra rest in the future if that is doable based on the schedule and standings.

My point was that he hasn't looked tired and slow all year. He's looked like Knuble and that's been a lot better and more valuable than what some of our other wings have looked like for long stretches this season.

Once again, sit Ovechkin if you want to sit a guy who's looked "slow and tired all season"... not Knuble who provides plenty of value even when he's not scoring.


Posted by: tmac2yao | December 24, 2010 12:17 AM | Report abuse

"The guy [Knuble] has looked tired and slow all year to me, maybe a game or two off would put a little skip back in his skates."

That sounds like a little more than saying he's been playing well but could use a little extra rest to keep him at that level.

Knuble is slow... and old... and sure, he could use extra rest in the future if that is doable based on the schedule and standings.

My point was that he hasn't looked tired and slow all year. He's looked like Knuble and that's been a lot better and more valuable than what some of our other wings have looked like for long stretches this season.

Once again, sit Ovechkin if you want to sit a guy who's looked "slow and tired all season"... not Knuble who provides plenty of value even when he's not scoring.


Posted by: tmac2yao | December 24, 2010 12:18 AM | Report abuse

And no, I didn't literally mean "all season" about Ovechkin just like I'm sure the other dude didn't mean "all season" when talking about Knuble but you should get the point... I think.

Posted by: tmac2yao | December 24, 2010 12:19 AM | Report abuse

@tmac2yao

In all honesty, I would be fine with sitting Ovie for a game or two in February and March(assuming the Caps are not fighting for a playoff spot) to help rest him some and keep him fresher.

The reason that will never happen is because of the fans desire to see Ovie play, at home and on the road. The NHL would not be happy with that.

But from a hockey preparation standpoint for the playoffs, I think Ovie, given his style, could use an occasional game off later in the season.

Posted by: sgm3 | December 24, 2010 12:36 AM | Report abuse

THAT was a good game tonight by both teams. I'll be honest with you Cap fans -- you are WAY TOO hard on your team. True fans stay the course through thick and thin. As BB says, "So life's not (bleeping)fair. Don't just give the (bleep) up". Caps will find their way just lay off them a bit. I blame the Caps organization for what's going on. Simply put, there's too much pressure on winning the cup and too much attention paid to what the Penguins have done and are doing. The Caps just need to play (bleeping) old time hockey and (Bleep) the rest of the NHL.

Later,
HS

Posted by: HansonSister | December 24, 2010 12:53 AM | Report abuse

Great game. I was hoping the Caps would get up for this one. They remind me of early Pens, just need a little more experience in big games. They need to learn what Philly has yet to learn, that you don't get Crosby or Malkin mad, or you are going to pay the price. As soon as Alex tried to run Geno, I knew the game was over. It ended up closer than I thought it would be, but I honestly felt sure the Pens would win, which I did not feel before the game. If the Flyers' and Caps' fans really want to win, and not just try satisfy their blood lust, they would stage a love-in with Sid: he wouldn't know what to do. Fortunately, the Caps and Flyers fans are not very smart, and all us Pens' fans thank you for that.

Posted by: rbjwashpost | December 24, 2010 1:21 AM | Report abuse

When is playing hard but losing acceptable? It's still losing. Last time I checked, losing eventually leads to an early end of the season. Then again, since BB hasn't lead this so called collection of talent past the second round, losing valiantly (another funny misnomer) should be a familiar refrain.

Posted by: Almazar80 | December 24, 2010 2:12 AM | Report abuse

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