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Caps' Power Play Might, You Know, Score

I'm working on a story for tomorrow's Post about the Caps' new power play units. I probably don't need to remind you how pathetic the power play was last season. But just in case you've forgotten, it ranked 24th with a 16.4-percent effectiveness rate and also gave up 14 shorties, second most in the league.

But, for obvious reasons, the Caps figure to actually have an advantage this season when up a man or two.

Here's what I've got for the forward lines who will skate on the power play during the regular season:

Ovechkin-Kozlov-Clark

And ...

Semin-Nylander-Backstrom

Poti will man the point when Ovechkin's line is out there, but his partner hasn't been determined. (Ovechkin will work the halfboards, Clark will cause havoc in front and Kozlov will be positioned on the goal line.)

The pointmen on Semin's line haven't been determined yet. (I'm not sure about the alignment of this group, but I imagine it will feature lots of nice passing.)

Defensemen Boumedienne, Green, Pothier and Pollock are all fighting for playing time at the moment.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  September 24, 2007; 4:14 PM ET
 
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Next: Tonight's Lineup

Comments

I wonder how many more games the Caps would have won if they scored, lets say, 15 more power goals.......

Posted by: dave | September 24, 2007 4:35 PM | Report abuse

it'd be a shame not to get jurcina's shot out there on the left point on one of the units. he's got a b-.

as much as i hate to remind myself of gonchar, maybe we'll see some of poti sneaking down from the point for the back-door tap in gonch was so famous for (the other thing for which he was famous being coughing up the puck at wicked bad times).

Posted by: pgreene | September 24, 2007 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Can we infer these may be the one two lines at 5 on 5?

Posted by: King Inference | September 24, 2007 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Semin-Nylander-Backstrom are going to be a line at 5 on 5.

Posted by: Tarik | September 24, 2007 5:05 PM | Report abuse

I'd say the Semin line will be better than the Ovie line on the PP. They also may be better even strength as well. Hmmm.

Posted by: jwh37 | September 24, 2007 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Semin's line looks better. Flash does not belong on the 1st line

Posted by: Blank | September 24, 2007 5:38 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to think that in situations where we need a goal desperately we would stack the PP. Ovechkin, Semin, Nylander, Clark, and Poti could prove to be a lethal combination in the final minutes of games.

Posted by: mark | September 24, 2007 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Tarik;

Boomer, Green, Pothier and Pollock - I don't get it about the "fighting for playing time" Green has led all defensemen the first three exhibition games so far, and would have again against the Bolts had not been banged up in the 2nd.

No mention of Emminger or Schultz? Are these guys "locked" in the lineup already? If so, I am really puzzled with Pothier's name in the mix, and not Schultzie, since he is also on a two-way contract.

Perhaps your work for tomorrow will be a tad more revealing . . .

Posted by: DogDaze | September 24, 2007 5:59 PM | Report abuse

DogDaze -- I'm only talking about D-men fighting for playing time on the PP. Eminger and Schultz aren't PP guys.

Posted by: Tarik | September 24, 2007 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Tarik - As anxious as everyone is to get the season underway, these are important decisions and the chemistry of the players in each PP squad is important. It's be an interestig read in the morning as you share more of your thoughts from an insider to those of us on the outside.

Any sneak peeks at tomorow's lineup?

Posted by: dogdaze | September 24, 2007 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Is it because AO is on the verge of signing a new contract? Sorry to be too paranoid here, but clearly Kozlov is not as good at center as Nylander.

What's going on?

Posted by: alexovetjkin | September 24, 2007 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Tarik-is hanlon moving Backstrom from center to wing because he thinks he's not ready to be a first line center? because from what i've seen he's much better at faceoffs than Kozlov and would do more good for him and the team to be playing on the first line instead of Flash. it doesn't make any sence for Kozlov and Backstrom to be playing off posision when the don't have to be.

Posted by: dcfury | September 24, 2007 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Kolzlov is a deft passer and defensively responsible. He'll be able to get the puck to Ovechkin through traffic reasonably well, of that I'm sure. They've been developing chemistry together all summer in Russia, anticipating the season. Kozlov just has to be dominant, at LEAST 50-50, in the faceoff circle. If Nylander and Semin are clicking, great. Semin thinnks pass rather than shoot so having Nylander dishing him the puck will be great. Backstrom can move between the two lines if all goes well, and by the sounds of it, all is well. The question mark is who gets to be on the 1st line with the two Russians? WIll Flash be able to face up against the dominant checking lines that will be coming against Ovie? Will he be able to play against Brind'amour, et al, or will he be neutralized and knocked off the puck, creamed in the corners? Thats what remains to be seen. Actually, it all remains to be seen. Man, this season can't get started soon enough!!!

Posted by: 007 | September 24, 2007 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Amend that, I meant "Semin thinks Shoot rather than Pass". I wish there was an edit button.

Posted by: 007 | September 24, 2007 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Tarik,
Any idea who's going to be playing in tomorrow nights game?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 24, 2007 9:16 PM | Report abuse

I'm itching to see some of Flash come regular season. I'm not counting him out until he's up against top competition - he's been impressive so far preseason. It's more that I desperately want to see the Petty Gordo Clark 3rd line and putting Clark on first line w/ the Russians just doesn't seem ideal to me.

100% agree with the Semin Nylander Backstrom line. Nylander and Semin seem to have clicked and Backstrom is going to feed Semin so many points. If the chemistry is there, then find a RW to put w/ Ovie and Kozlov (Flash for now) and put the team on the ice. OV doesn't need a right wing :-P

007: I was thinking "I must've read that wrong..." Started to question whether we'd been watching the same team.

Posted by: Raber | September 24, 2007 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Raber- yeah, sometimes my brain goes faster than my fingers and it all gets muddled up. Its like that with guitar too. I get a lot of quizzical looks that say "step away from the instrument". My guitar is way nicer than what I should be playing, thats for sure.

Posted by: 007 | September 24, 2007 10:42 PM | Report abuse

Kozlov played a wing with Yashin centering them during Olympics.

Developing a chemistry jogging is not the same as playing hockey together.

If Hanlon won't put Nylander with Ovechkin at some point, it would be a waste. Backstrom should play center since it is his natural position. As much as we heard about him being next Peter Forsberg, he should be able to handle it. Hey, Larionov was 18 playing center when CCCP team beat Gretzky and Mario 8 to 1.

Posted by: alexovetjkin | September 24, 2007 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Forsberg played effectively on the wing and at center. No need to make Backstrom do too much in the first few weeks of the season when you can play him on maybe the best second line in the league (Semin-Nylander-Backstrom). Fleischman has averaged over a point a game in Hershey, so why not give him an opportunity with OV....at least until Fehr gets healthy?

Posted by: CapsFan | September 24, 2007 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Larionov is a completely different type of player from backstrom. Backstrom is kind of one-dimensional at this point (compared to NHLers) and is almost completely absorbed offensively. Larionov was more of a 2-way player, with not quite as much offensive potential as a Backstrom.

Kozlov centered Bure, aka the last time a player scored 50+ goals in 2 seaons before Heatley, so to write him off is silly.

Also, having Nylander center with Backstrom on the wing is quite creative. When the ref waves Nylander from the circle due to faceoff violations, Backstrom will be able to take the draw. Also it means they can be interchanged more easily throughout the game, keeping opponents guessing. It also doesnt hurt to have 2 Russians and 2 Swedes on their respective lines.

If Flash works out, which I think he can, we're going to have a good offensive season.

Posted by: Czechsmix | September 24, 2007 11:49 PM | Report abuse

The real interesting thing on the team is that it seems like we have a 1a line and a 1b line. Ovechkin and practically anybody (Kozlov can only help) make a 1st line, and the Nylander/Semin combo (Backstrom, again, can only help) make another first line. On paper, we have two extremely dangerous offensive lines.

And then having Clark with Gordon (who apparently is quite a good face-off taker) sounds like a lethal 3 lines that this team has.

But i'm interested to see how Fleischman, I assume, handles the pressure of playing with Ovechkin. However, this is where my 1a and 1b theory comes into play. If for some reason the Ovie line is getting shut down, they can have Nylander/Semin come right on in and play against that same line, without much let down.

I'm excited.

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | September 25, 2007 12:11 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and I forgot, is Backstrom finally a lock, now?

No more speculation as to his being Hershey/Sweden bound?

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | September 25, 2007 12:13 AM | Report abuse

@DrinkingPartner: Backstrom isn't going anywhere without the rest of the team - to send him away would imply that one of Bradley/Clymer/Borque has more scoring potential...

@CapsFan: So out of curiosity, who is the best line in the league? Your point about Fehr is a good one. I'm glad we're deep enough to talk about possibly replacing Flash, who I think will put up some good numbers for us this year.

@everyone: I haven't talked about it much yet, though I've heard plenty of discussions of trade possibilities. Here's my two cents:

One of Clymer, Laich, Bradley, and Eminger need to go while we can still get (some) value for them. We currently don't have room for extra players, but I'm thinking we off one for another R/LW prospect or a draft pick in either the 08 or 09 to use as collateral for trades if we're in the mix come February.

I see the move primarily as an opportunity to grab something for a player that can play at the NHL level but won't make the team. If we're hovering around the 6/7/8 spot in the East, we trade the pick for a reliable, stay at home D and push for a good playoff seed.

My big suggestion is to avoid blockbuster trades this year. No Olie and prospects for Nabokov. Deals like that would break the team dynamic and guys would have to learn to play together again.

Don't mess with the core team for a shot this year.

Posted by: Raber | September 25, 2007 12:54 AM | Report abuse

Completely random comment, but I just realized while surfing a bit that Zubrus signed with the Devils for 3.4 mil/year... That's like .5 mil less than what we were talking about with him right? I know we were talking about a shorter deal at the time (on the order of 4 years) but that still seems like a significant pay cut for only 2 more years of guaranteed pay.

Speaking only to disgruntle the board, how hot would Zubie look on the OV Kozlov line? I know he under-produced, but he was out of position and really had too much responsibility put on him.

Just for kicks, 2 weeks into the season our first two lines would probably be:

OV Backstrom Kozlov
Semin Nylander Zubrus

Now THAT is hot...

Posted by: Raber | September 25, 2007 1:07 AM | Report abuse

Tarik, I'm a bit confused... Morrisonn, Jurcina, Poti, and Pothier are locks. According to your report, Morrisonn and Jurcina won't be on the power play. Given that there are four point spots, it would appear that Poti and Pothier have two of them, and the other two are left to the two other guys to make the team. You mentioned Boumedienne, Green, and Pollock in the running for those two spots. If so, does that effectively mean that Eminger, Schultz, and Erskine aren't expected to start the season in the active lineup?

Posted by: Bret | September 25, 2007 1:16 AM | Report abuse

Hi, Tarik--

Decent piece; however, a point that needs to be made is that if the PP *continues* to underform this season despite two skill-filled offensive units (including at least one decent point shot), a finger needs to be pointed at the coaching staff--especially if the PP still can't even consistently carry the puck into the offensive zone and set up shop, rather than dumping, chasing, and chasing back into their own zone after the puck is effortlessly cleared.

Posted by: Jim | September 25, 2007 1:50 AM | Report abuse

--there is no connection between the line Ovechkin is playing on and his contract situation.

--Backstrom is a lock to make the team. that was never really in doubt. he'll play the wing, and eventually move to center when he's ready, much the way Malkin did with the Pens last season.

--As for the defense situation, all we can say for sure is this: Poti, Jurcina, Morrisonn and Pothier are locks. Poti will be on the PP. everyone is fighting for a job, although I think Boumedienne has pretty much secured a spot.

Posted by: Tarik | September 25, 2007 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Tarik, when do you begin your weekly chats, or will the Post simply relegate your chatting responsibilities to these blogs?

Posted by: Jarrod | September 25, 2007 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Raber, I would assume that if Zubrus is still here, either Kozlov or Nylander aren't (I guess Nylander).

Posted by: tallbear | September 25, 2007 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Tarik, I was worried a bit about the contract situation, but it has no grounds to worry.

I still think Ovie will be better off with Nylander, ideally Nylander cetering him and Kozzie, but I am pretty sure sooner or later we'll see this combination.

Posted by: alexovetjkin | September 25, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

tallbearer, agree, but im thinking it would be kozlov we never would have signed. overall, the caps made the right decision with zubie

Posted by: Anonymous | September 25, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Raber: The best line is probably either in Ottawa (heatley, alfy and spezza) or in NY with Jagr and Gomez and whoever. But I was talking about the best Second line - as in Nylander, Semin and Backstrom aren't a first line, but as far as second lines go, they are very good.

Also, trading all those marginal guys for picks in the 08, 09 or 10 drafts would be great. I really hope the Caps don't turn into the Redskins and abandon the draft.

Posted by: CapsFan | September 25, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

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