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Pothier Back; Gordon Close; Clark Still Out

Just arrived at Kettler for the morning skate and there are a couple of interesting developments:

Defenseman Brian Pothier, who had been listed as week-to-week with a broken thumb, is on the ice and particpating fully in drills. He's paired with Jeff Schultz and appears to be ready to return tonight against the similarly struggling Tampa Bay Lightning after missing only a game and a half.

Checking line center Boyd Gordon, who has missed 11 games with broken right hand, has been assigned to a line, but he's skating with Donald Brashear, Brooks Laich and Matt Pettinger. I haven't spoken to Interim Coach Bruce Boudreau yet, but I'm guessing Gordon is close but won't be ready to play tonight.

Right wing Chris Clark, though, isn't out there. That's concerning, to say the least. He's missed a month and still isn't practicing, despite having a three day break. I'll try to get more.

Update: Pothier will play tonight. Gordon likely won't, but could be back tomorrow in Pittsburgh. I'm supposed to talking to Clark when he's done with his off-ice workout.

Here are the lines:

Ovechkin-Nylander-Kozlov
Fleischmann-Backstrom-Semin
Laing-Steckel-Bradley
Brashear-Laich-Pettinger (Gordon)

The 'D' pairings:

Morrisonn-Green
Poti-Jurcina
Schultz-Pothier

Looks like Kolzig will start in net, while Gordon, Erskine and Eminger will be the scratches.

Midway through the skate, Boudreau called the team over to the far boards at Kettler and gave the players a pep talk. I couldn't make out everything that was said, but he told the group that the "second half of the season" begins tonight. He also addressed the weak offensive showing on Long Island saying, "That's never going to happen again. We're going to play our systems to a 't', work hard every night, crash the net and have fun. And it begins tonight."

More later.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  December 26, 2007; 10:19 AM ET
 
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Next: Interim Tag Dropped From Boudreau's title

Comments

Jeez

Clarkie must have really pulled that groin bad. Any feeling that there might be a cover-up Tarik?
Maybe an abdominal injury or something instead?
You know how "forthcoming" the team can be about injuries.

Posted by: pmoravek | December 26, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

eminger must've made a pass at ted leonsis's wife. there is no other explanations.

any word on what might happen to laing after gordon returns?

i'd hate to see somebody with as much heart as he has head bak to the minors.

Posted by: jamebow | December 26, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, baring a trade, Laing's probably going back to Hershey once Gordon and/or Clark comes back.

Pothier is coming back already? From a broken thumb? Must not have bene a bad break, or they've figured out some way for him to play with it. I just hope he doesn't injure it anymore. You know every team knows he has a somewhat bum hand right now.

Posted by: EricS | December 26, 2007 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Let's go Caps! The Stanley Cup will be ours!

Posted by: Anonymous | December 26, 2007 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Given Pothier's usual play, the thought of him playing with a broken thumb is downright scary. And surely won't help boost Olie's confidence any...

Nice pep talk from Gabby. Hope it's effective, since this is one of those "4-point games" and we're 3 pts. behind the Bolts.

Posted by: Jill | December 26, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Gee, I wonder if the STH's can get any rebate on the 1st half of this lousy season?

Posted by: kenhockey | December 26, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Tonight we need the 2 points! Tampa is struggling and with their bum goalies we should turn our "O" around.

Tommorrow, I hope we KILL the Pens, and I hope OV drops Crosby like a bad habit. The Pens are without Fleury, and Sabourin and Conklin are far from spectacular. There is NO reason why we shouldn't sweep both games of this Back-to-back set!

Go Caps Go!!!!!

Posted by: Matt | December 26, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

As long as Kolzig continues to start, the Caps aren't going anywhere.

Posted by: CLIFF | December 26, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Well, Pothier has saved Schultz's posterior so far. He'll have to continue that his posterior needs saving is up to the O.

Posted by: Greg S. | December 26, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

The best thing about BB's pep talk - his comment HAVE FUN! If it's not fun for the players they won't win. If they win, it will be fun.

Posted by: Dezlboy | December 26, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Clark probably still has post-concussion type symptoms from Ovie launching a slapshot at his head and tearing off his ear.

Posted by: chris | December 26, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I think STH should donate their tickets to me. The Caps haven't lost a game in regulation I went to since October of last season. I am 9-0-2.

Posted by: Sombrero Guy | December 26, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Tarik - any word on who is starting in net for Tampa?

Posted by: Boo! | December 26, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I'm right on .750 for games I go to.

My largely un-proffesional and entirely unsolicited thoughts on the lines:

Ovechkin-Nylander-Kozlov

Looks good to me. Ovie doesn't need much help, and having these two dead spots on the roster skating with him should improve their +/- and assists; hopefully, that'll make them more viable for a trade.

Fleischmann-Backstrom-Semin

Is this line in any specific order? Why is Semin on the right? (And if Semin's can play well on the right, why not put him with Ovie?) But Backstrom and Semin together should play pretty well, and I hope it fires up Fleischmann.

Laing-Steckel-Bradley

That looks like a great crash/energy line. I've got high hopes for solid checking and scrappy goals here.

Brashear-Laich-Pettinger (Gordon)

Oh, Brash. Great guy, but you're taking up Gordon's/Motzko's spot.

Defense:

Morrrrrisonnnnn-Green

That looks like a pair that's just begging to let goals in.

Poti-Jurcina

Same as above, but worse.

Schultz-Pothier

Same, but even worse than that.

Posted by: MikeZ | December 26, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

so:

1) Broken Thumb Pothier > Eminger ? wow...

2) Laing vs Gordon. They are equal defensively in my eyes. Just a matter of who has more offensive upside.

3) Glad to see Petty off the top 2 lines. He wasn't proving he belonged there.

4) Our goalies are as soft as Tamba Bay's. Olie makes some brilliant saves, yes, but lets in a bunch that have no right making it past him.

Posted by: ns | December 26, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Why is Kolzig starting again!!!! This team is so frustrating...
At least we have a chance of winning tonight!

Posted by: K | December 26, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

MikeZ, I would say Laich is taking Gordon's spot since those two are centers, Brash is a winger. And Semin on the right seems to be a carryover from Hanlon's tinkering.

And Flash, you're playing in the system that made you an AHL star, you've got no more excuses.

As for my attendence winning percentage, up til college when I was going to maybe 2-3 games a year, I was clicking at a .700 pace. Since the lockout, I've gone into a major sub-.300 slump. Oh why do the Caps seem to play so lousy on friday nights?

Posted by: tallbear | December 26, 2007 1:38 PM | Report abuse

@ Jill,

Right on. I was thinking the same thing.

Pothier is already Captain Limp Wrist enough as it is. Now the previously incredibly unlikely event of him hitting someone can probably be re-classified to the same category as a Yeti or unicorn sighting.

And he already doesn't know what to do with the puck half the time. What's he going to do with a hand that isn't 100%? I shudder to think and weep for the future.

Krap, put Eminger in there. Put me in there. Anybody but Pothier.

Posted by: Fire Hanlon | December 26, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Tallbear, centers can play on the wings. And both Laich and Gordo, quite frankly, are better players than Brash.

Posted by: MikeZ | December 26, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Boo! ramo starts in net for tampa tonight

Posted by: zonk | December 26, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

What do you cap fans reckon ? The line for tonight's game has Washington at -125 favorites and the goal line at 6. So, do you think the caps will win and will there be more or less than 6 goals ???

Posted by: zonk | December 26, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Congrats Gabby!

Posted by: PIM | December 26, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

yeah, tarik, you can officially edit out 'interim' above (though i'm assuming you put it in there tongue in cheek).

Posted by: pgreene | December 26, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

zonk - hard to say - a lot of "ifs" going into tonight ... we can win if:

olie is on his game

we post decent shots on goal

ramo's very brief but decent record collapses

Posted by: Boo! | December 26, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

zonk, Gambling is illegal at Bushwood.

Take the Caps and the under....

Posted by: Judge Smails | December 26, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Gabby is no longer the interim coach. Saw it on espn.com.

Congratulations, Bruce!

Posted by: Mike | December 26, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

It's on WashCaps.com, too - congrats, BB!

Posted by: Boo! | December 26, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

and nhl.com

Posted by: jim* | December 26, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

MikeZ,

Kozlov and Nylander aren't going to be trade bait because of their ages, performance and most importantly, contracts.

Kozlov's isn't huge or that long but it's significant enough to created problems. Nylander has 3 years left at something like 5.25, 5.25, and 3.5 (nhlnumber.com has the exact amounts...)

Posted by: dmg | December 26, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Tarik, when did Gabby find out about his permanent status? Glad to hear this, he deserves it!!!

Posted by: Ffx, VA | December 26, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

It may just still be the after the holidays hangover, but I actually have a really good feeling about tonight.

My instincts tell me we will get a surprise goal from someone. I would say Kozlov, but that would be very wishful thinking. Wouldn't it be something if Pothier scored? Actually, I am bringing an old hat to throw out there when Nicky B scores his first NHL hattrick.

Posted by: kim | December 26, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I have to comment to those who are knocking Olie. First of all, Olie's performance has certainly dropped off from the glory days, but there is no other option. What do you propose the Caps do if they are going to bench Olie? Is Johnson or Cassivi a step up, no way. It's not like we have a great young prospect in Hershey chomping at the bit for his chance, our prospects are a year or two away. I guess my point is that there's absolutley nothing (short of a trade, but who would you give/get?) the Caps can do about it so quit whining.

Posted by: cglaus | December 26, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Kim:

Glad to hear you are going to be there - I will, too. Anyone else?!?

LET'S GO CAPS!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Boo! | December 26, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Wow only a game an a half this is gonna earn Pothier some serious points in my book.

Posted by: DC FURY | December 26, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Schultz must have some incriminating pics of Boudreau, McPhee, and Leonsis to still be in the lineup.

Posted by: ButterSchultz | December 26, 2007 5:44 PM | Report abuse

cglaus:

To expand on what you said - neither Neuvirth or Varlamov are ready, you are exactly right,; in fact Neuvirth isn't even under contract with the Capitals.

I think it's fair for fans to complain about Kolzig's play though, because it has been horrible as of late and while Johnson would probably not be better on a game-to-game basis he probably wouldn't allow a soft goal each game (like Kolzig has recently).

I think when you look at the fact that Kolzig is 37, the style he plays and how the game goes in the post-lockout NHL you can fault management for not claiming Ilya Bryzgalov off waivers.

Posted by: dmg | December 26, 2007 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Bryzgalov-Schmryzgalov. YAAAAAAWN. Get over it, dmg :3

Anywho, Caps played good tonight. Still upset Pothier got a sweater? I'm just upset he doesn't shoot more.

If any defenseman needs a night off, it's Schultz. And Eminger isn't the guy to fill the role. I don't know why you guys insist on talking about how great he would be, but he's not great. If he was, he'd playing. Put Erskine out there more. He may not be fast, but he knows where to be, and protects his players.

Morrisonn Green is the best defensive pairing I've seen the Caps have in a long time. Watching Green is like watching a young Nicklas Lidstrom, and his offense is great. His defense tonight was superb - if he doesn't stop BOTH of those two on ones in that power play, things end so much differently.

Also, BB, please never break up Steck and Laing. Please. Please?

Posted by: Whiter Mage | December 27, 2007 1:14 AM | Report abuse

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