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Practice Update From Glendale (Updated)

Practice started around 1:30, and after a brief warm-up and some systems drills, Coach Bruce Boudreau and his players went to work on the team's biggest problem: the power play, which, before tonight's games, ranked 16th (5 for 32).

What was obvious from the stands was that Boudreau put more emphasis on creating traffic in front of opposing goalies today. At one point, Boudreau stopped the drills, went to the crease himself and showed Chris Clark and the other net crashers how he wanted it done. He told them not to stand off the to side, but to instead back up right into the goalie (like "Holmstrom in Detroit", he said).

Also, defenseman John Erskine, who suffered what is believed to be bruised calf late in last night's game, left practice after about 30 minutes. He had a pretty prounced limp when he exited.

Tom Poti (groin) and Viktor Kozlov (knee) also skated on their own. But it doesn't look like either will be ready to play tomorrow,

Updated:Some other news and notes from practice:

*Poti and Kozlov won't play.

*Erskine's status is unclear. If he can't play, Boudreau said Sergei Fedorov will move to defense. But Boudreau is hopeful Erskine will be okay tomorrow.

*Jose Theodore will start in goal and oppose Mikael Tellqvist, the Coyotes' backup goalie, who will be making his first start of the season in place of Ilya Bryzgalov.

*I asked Ovechkin about returning to the site of "The Goal". He said: "It's always a good memory. It's always fun to come back and remember all the fans and what everybody say about this goal. But it was a long time ago."

Then he cracked, "I just want to do the same thing tomorrow."

Considering that he's only scored in one of six games, he would probably take any goal at this point.

*As for the power play, Boudreau said he refrained from shaking things up too much from a personnel and the strategy standpoint, explaining, "I've given them crap, now I want them to show me they're going to do better."

*I also asked Brooks Laich about the power play struggles, and he came off with another memorable soundbite. Not quite as good as the "You want goals, you go to the net" quote from last year, but still worth repeating:

"You're going to see more hustle," Laich said. "We're going to move our legs and not reach as much. We're going to surround the puck. If they have two guys on it, we're going to have three. If they have three, we're going to have four."

*Wayne Gretzky's Coyotes, meantime, started out with a pair of wins, but have since lost three straight to Chicago, Calgary and Montreal.

I would keep going, but after my wretched day of travel from Calgary to Phoenix (there was a medical emergency on my flight) I need to unplug for a bit. I'll check in from the morning skate.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  October 22, 2008; 5:03 PM ET
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I win.

Posted by: billie.b | October 22, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: BamaFan | October 22, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

I remember when Heward played after getting half his face slashed off and stiched back on. We need someone on this team to set an example about playing with a little BooBoo (with apologies to our own Boo).

Posted by: Bob | October 22, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Fedorov back on D please.

Posted by: Steve R | October 22, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Is it bad that I'm not sad to hear that Erskine might be injured? that means that Feds will be playing D if Erskine can't play.

Posted by: Meg | October 22, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

@ Meg

I feel the same way :)

Posted by: Kristi | October 22, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Wait...the Caps have net crashers?

Posted by: Jill | October 22, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm with Jill. When did we call them up? Who are they?

Posted by: Greg S. | October 22, 2008 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Net crashing? What a novel idea!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 22, 2008 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Who can forget Brooks Laich's quote from the playoffs (I think it was the playoffs) "If you want money - go to the bank, if you want bread - go to the bakery, if you want goals - go to the net". I will say brooks has been one of the few caps who has remembered the net, though so far it hasn't resulted in any goals.

Posted by: Meg | October 22, 2008 5:59 PM | Report abuse

If Feds goes back on D, who's going to fill the gap up front?

Posted by: Danny | October 22, 2008 6:03 PM | Report abuse

The Net Crashers? I saw that movie. It has Vince Vaughn and one of the Wilson brothers, right?

Posted by: old time hockey | October 22, 2008 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Huzzah. Practice makes perfect.

But yes, please, Fedorov belongs on the blue line. He plays SO well there!!!

With Brashear back in the lineup, we can shuffle him there and scratch Erskine!

Posted by: i rock the red | October 22, 2008 6:09 PM | Report abuse

As much as he might be vilified here and around the league, maybe the best way for them to learn how to 'crash' is to go back and watch SEAN AVERY films from last year. Yeah, the NHL stopped his antics but there are lots of good things to be learned from an in-your-face player.

Posted by: New Here | October 22, 2008 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Maybe they should call me up.

Posted by: Karl Alzner | October 22, 2008 6:20 PM | Report abuse


most likely nylander on 2nd line Backy on 1st,gordo on 3rd centering fehr and flash

Posted by: capsfan98 | October 22, 2008 6:29 PM | Report abuse

You couldn't score on NINE minute Powerplay?
Don't make me come over there and whip you young whippersnappers into shape!

Posted by: Dale Hunter | October 22, 2008 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone know why Tueday night's game isn't on TV anywhere?

Posted by: Phil C. | October 22, 2008 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Tired of reading the same blogs over and over. Well good news. A new one has just launched!

For a great blog on the caps. Check out:
It just launched and is looking for readers and supporters. Thanks for any support and go Caps. I

Posted by: bagasome | October 22, 2008 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Phil C. : Its some sort of exclusivity clause with the versus network. No idea why. Maybe they are also trying to get more fans to come out to a tuesday night game against the predators.

Posted by: Meg | October 22, 2008 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Oh god, don't put Fedorov on defence AGAIN! He just started looking good with Ovechkin last game. Erskine is terrible, replacing him with Sloan again will be an upgrade if anything.

Just go with 5 D please.

Posted by: CapsCast | October 22, 2008 6:55 PM | Report abuse

The Caps schedule doesn't even show that it is on VS though. Is it like an alternate game for them that night? Or does VS have exclusive rights to broadcast NHL games on Tuesday nights?

Posted by: Phil C. | October 22, 2008 6:55 PM | Report abuse

I think the best candidate for Holmstrom's job is Fehr. He's big and has a quick shot too.

BB is right about insisting on this, it was and still is one of our biggest flaw.

I'll repeat myself but I'm convinced that BB also needs to work on the Killer Instinct mentality. Indeed the Caps are extremely skilled and can overcome a 3-0 score... but that's no excuse of letting go of the accelerator when leading the score.

I have the right to be pissed when I see at times our team LOOKING like being on a man advantage while 5 on 5, that's how dominant we are... but then when actually BEING 5 on 4 we relax.

One more thing: the 5 on 3 needs work too. Being 5 on 3 for one minute or more should GUARANTEE a goal every time.

Posted by: mauree | October 22, 2008 6:55 PM | Report abuse

I just went to VS and you are definitely right. Apparently they must have some sort of straglehold on Tuesdays. And I already got rid of my tickets for that night... grr.

Posted by: Phil C. | October 22, 2008 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Is it us or do we remember Boudreau doing something like this last year?

Posted by: Caps Nut | October 22, 2008 7:14 PM | Report abuse

VS has some sort of "exclusive" deal with the NHL for certain game. My understanding is VS gets to pick the three most attractive match-ups on a given night, and then later on decides what will be aired. If your team ends up SOL when the final decision is made (like the Caps on Tuesday), well, too bad. Local TV cannot broadcast, because VS has the exclusive rights to that game, even if they don't broadcast it.

Posted by: Birdie | October 22, 2008 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Based on looking at the guy in uniform, Fehr would be your crease crasher. But after you watch him play a bit, he is as crease crasher and Schultz a crease clearer.

If Fehr is going to play, he has to score. He doesn't. I prefer to work through the problem with players that have proven they can score from there. Clark and Laich.

Posted by: Rob | October 22, 2008 7:22 PM | Report abuse

he is as crease crasher and Schultz a crease clearer.

Lol that's funny :) But I saw Fehr battling it up in the corners, he's not doing bad. And he's a big guy. Should at least trying him there.

I agree, Clark and Laich can score better but they are more easily pushed aside.

Posted by: mauree | October 22, 2008 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Phil C. -bummer about giving your tickets away already. You could probably get some more from scalpers or whatever I doubt tuesday night will be a hot ticket. I'm thinking that they may show the game on the caps website like they did with the preseason games (its basically a screenshot of the jumbotron). At least it would be smart if they did. After all, that's not a broadcast its just an internet feed.

Posted by: Meg | October 22, 2008 7:43 PM | Report abuse

@ Birdie. That's close but not quite it. It's NBC that gets to have a "flex schedule" and choose what games it wants to show a couple of weeks in advnce. Then the games that don't get picked are free to be shown on local telecasts. Versus has an exclusive timeslot, which is on Tuesdays during footbll season and Mondays when the NFL season is over. No other US games are allowed to be telecast in the US during that timeslot. This doesn't apply to games telecast in Canada, so those still appear on Center Ice. It also doesn't apply to games on that night but outside the timeslot, which is why it didn't affect the Caps game last night.

The NHL is the only league too stupid, or too uncaring about its fans, to figure out that the proper way to grant a broadcaster an exclusive window is not to schedule other games during that timeslot.

Posted by: norske | October 22, 2008 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Tarik or any one else,
I am in town for tomorrow's game and I thought I'd catch practice if I can find out what time it starts.

Posted by: OldFan | October 22, 2008 8:22 PM | Report abuse

For the record, I have not posted in days.

My last post was (believe it or not) positive after they beat the Pens, all other posts with name are not me.
To those that believe I post under AKA, you obviouly have no clue.

For now, I think they are "going through the motions", while receiving FAT pay checks. Good luck with that BB.

Posted by: Chief | October 22, 2008 8:32 PM | Report abuse

The game was on Yahoo! Sports

Posted by: Anonymous | October 22, 2008 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the updates Tarik

Posted by: Sombrero Guy | October 22, 2008 10:06 PM | Report abuse

So, Tarik, can u tell who is on the main PP line?

Posted by: CapsFan | October 22, 2008 10:09 PM | Report abuse

the units are: 28-21-19-8-52 and 14-17-92-55-91.

Posted by: Tarik | October 22, 2008 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Is Ovie off the PK? And what on earth happened with the medical emergency? It wasn't you, was it? That WOULD be the makings of a "wretched day"!! ;-)

I just love it that I get a nod every time anyone here uses a sentence with the word "boo" in it!! ;-) Thanks so much but no apologies necessary! :-)

Posted by: Boo! | October 22, 2008 11:21 PM | Report abuse

I find it so amusing all the people that want Feds back on D. when Bruce first introduced the forward to playing defense most al of you said "why are we paying 4 mil for a slow frwd who now is getting put on defense" good to know I wasn;tthe only one who was priud we shelled out that much money for him, in fact we got him at a steal. he does rock on D, lets see some more of that

Posted by: GoOVcaps | October 22, 2008 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Why is AO on the point on the PP? He belongs down low, hanging off the faceoff circle to feed the slot or blast onetimers. This is his "office;" this is where he fills the net.

Posted by: CAP-lanta | October 23, 2008 12:07 AM | Report abuse

I have a huge crush on GMGM. I hate to admit it. But I do.

Posted by: Chief | October 23, 2008 12:11 AM | Report abuse

I think the first step towards getting Ovie out of his slump is to take him off the regular PK shift. Those minutes can wear a guy out, especially someone like Ovechkin, whose bread and butter is that extra little jump he has in his step.

Posted by: jak | October 23, 2008 12:24 AM | Report abuse

Identity Crisis, me me have. GMGM save me!

Posted by: Ken Shearer Jr | October 23, 2008 1:52 AM | Report abuse

I agree Ovie should not be moonlighting on special teams other then PP. He's tough but it does wear him down during the course of the game.

Also, if Erskine is out, I'd like to see Alzner get the call and keep Feds up front. We need scoring production, which WILL take care of our defense!

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | October 23, 2008 4:05 AM | Report abuse

I like that Feds is having to go back on D. It gets Fehr back in the lineup and gives us more stability back there.

I'd pair:
Mo - Green
Juice - Schultz
Feds - Sloan

Sloan gets a steadying influence for his fledgling NHL career and as the third line should get about 12 minutes, I'd also use Feds on the PK and PP 1st unit to ensure he gets over 20 minutes on the ice.

Utd did win, easily, on Tuesday night. Rooney is on fire, 9 goals in his last 7 games! Just wish OV was in as hot a streak, it will come though.

Posted by: Dave UK Caps Fan | October 23, 2008 6:14 AM | Report abuse

From the previous post @alanb1

Hey thanks for that update about NHL network. I have been waiting awhile for them to pick it up.

Posted by: Tim | October 23, 2008 7:00 AM | Report abuse

I agree about Ovie on the PK. While a lot of people have expressed concern about him getting injured, not many have expressed concern about him just getting plain worn out - that is a huge concern. It may be contributing to him losing his mojo this season. Frankly, I think everything has been too mixed up this season (maybe BB is getting too cute for a change?). They need to go back to the way it was when we were on a winning streak. The team is basically the same as it was, so no changes are 'necessary' ... as far as I'm concened, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Yes, I got the whole scoop last night ... there is one happy camper in my house! :-) At least someone is rockin' the red ... :-/ Can you please ask Rooney to share the wealth and send some of that 'on fire' juice Ovie's way? Once he get's it, he will surely be back to his old self. Surelt he will snap out of it soon - the question is when, not if. Hopefully tonight is the night!


Posted by: Boo! | October 23, 2008 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Surelt = surely
2 "surely"s in a row = I'm too tired to form a decent sentence
Surely staying tonight will not help that
Especially since I have a very early today tomorrow
Surely that will not stop me from staying up, anyway!

Posted by: Boo! | October 23, 2008 7:53 AM | Report abuse

@GoOVcaps - You aren't the only one. :) I thought it was a good move. Yes, Fedorov is a bit slow as a forward, but he's STILL faster than the average bear on the blueline! :) $4m was a steal for him. :)

Posted by: i rock the red | October 23, 2008 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Good morning sunshine! It's Caps night at the desert! You know what that means.

Posted by: 401K-boom Party | October 23, 2008 8:16 AM | Report abuse

LOL!!! I just read my follow up post which is also full of typos. (It reads like some of the posts that we love to hate!) Like I said, sleep deprived - sorry! Hopefully my posts will not be that frightening all day ... and the Caps will play better than I post!! :-D LET'S GO CAPS!!!!

Posted by: Boo! | October 23, 2008 8:16 AM | Report abuse

"Surely" the Caps can't play any worse than that last couple of posts Boo! Good luck staying up late.

I agree with sitting OV on the PK, esp if he is looking for the homerun on every shift. I'd like to see Bradders/Gordo get PK time.

Posted by: Dave UK Caps Fan | October 23, 2008 8:26 AM | Report abuse

I'm good with Feds on D, especially paired with Sloan. From what I've seen, Juice's game has taken a huge jump since they paired Feds with him. If he can do the same for Sloan, I'll be happy.

And no, I won't cry if Erskine isn't on the ice, either.

I'm in the "get Ovi off the PK squad" group. He does great things, but sit him a little longer and see if he gets that extra jump.

Posted by: this space for rent | October 23, 2008 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Dale Hunter wouldnt say whipper snappers.... Does he look like Uncle Jeese?

Posted by: JSchon | October 23, 2008 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Ovie on the PK squad might not be so bad if we were not on the PK so much.

I agree with letting Brads and Gordo get more PK time and save Ovie's bursts for 5 on 5 and the PP.

Posted by: Kim | October 23, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

I agree with pretty much everyone else. I don't like to see Ovie's minutes wasted on the PK. Let him rest on the PK get more minutes at even or on the PP. And Erskine in the press box isn't going to have me all misty eyed either. Let's hope the guys learned a lesson from their last performance and come out with some passion and teamwork tonight. GO CAPS!

Posted by: BearsWoooo | October 23, 2008 8:42 AM | Report abuse

"Does he look like Uncle Jeese?"

Ha, ha. No, but give him a dirty old hat and greesy overalls and he could pass for Cooter!

Posted by: BearsWoooo | October 23, 2008 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Sleep deprivation hits here too. Hit send before I was done.

It seems to me that we are trying too hard to get shorties on PK rather than just killing the penalty.

As far as highlight goals on the PP are concerned...Holmstrom has quite a few highlight goals from just grinding at the net. I am just saying.

Posted by: Kim | October 23, 2008 8:45 AM | Report abuse

The other thing I'd want to say to them is that the guy in the white sweater who made the highlight reels on Tuesday night did so through no planning or intention of his own. (But my God was that hit a thing of beauty.) That's how you make the highlight reels - play your hockey and let it happen. Stop trying so hard.

Posted by: this space for rent | October 23, 2008 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Arh, arh, arh! Hey, if being the butt of jokes gets the Caps a win, sign me up! :-P

Posted by: Boo! | October 23, 2008 8:46 AM | Report abuse

What a terrible arena name:

Arizona's Arena

Posted by: AM Capsfan | October 23, 2008 8:47 AM | Report abuse


You're right, the cute goals are fine, but the garbage goals go up on the board just the same. And guess what, come playoff time, it's all about the garbage goals.

Posted by: BearsWoooo | October 23, 2008 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: tess | October 23, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

In the Sharks SO win over Philly last night every one of the Sharks goals was scored in close crashing the net. Philly had about half of theirs in close.

Something for the Caps to ponder. Traffic in front. Cleaning up the debris. Grinding it out.

Posted by: Greg S. | October 23, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Tess!

I think its good. Neuvirth is happy & he gets to play, hopefully a lot.

Lets hope Varmalov's injury heals quickly.

Posted by: uncatim | October 23, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Now you know I only use 3 letters for my ID. Guess you can't win all the battles.

Greg S. - I would just recommend putting the biscuit in the basket.

Posted by: _828 | October 23, 2008 9:44 AM | Report abuse

"the units are: 28-21-19-8-52 and 14-17-92-55-91"

Looks like lotto numbers to me. Except the 90s - just reverse the 91 and the 29!

Posted by: _828 | October 23, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

How did you get away with using only 3 letters?

Posted by: _828 | October 23, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Maaan! I guess me and you can be the underscore brigade, 828. Some genius already registered "jordan" Grr!

Posted by: _jordan | October 23, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

As long as we can use it in style, I am fine with that. I should have thought about it a bit... the # sign would have been cool.

Tarik - thanks for the register thing! Hopefully, it will clean up some of the trash here.

Posted by: _828 | October 23, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

I hope the registration will help. It was pretty fast and easy to sign up though.

Posted by: _Tim | October 23, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I agree with taking Ovie of the PK, he is showing visible signs of fatigue, such as not being able to chase down/keep up with the other teams PKers when we are on the PP, he played the full 2 minutes on the PP after playing on the PK and was clearly burnt out. He has only 1 speed, full-throttle, unlike Semin who knows when to coast and conserve energy(as much as that drives us nuts)

Posted by: fashi13 | October 23, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Must be some other Jills in WaPo land.

Posted by: JillC | October 23, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Oy. I guess I don't get to keep this space for rent at all. Oh well. Signup asks some damn nosy requestions, most of which I refuse to answer. So be it.

Posted by: kittypawz | October 23, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

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