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Q&A with Brooks Laich



I caught up with Brooks Laich today after he completed a grueling hour-long workout here at KCI that had many campers looking on in awe. Here's what the Caps forward had to say:

Q: Why are you here again? [He's come to summer development camp the past three seasons.]
A: I like coming back and meeting the kids. I think it really helps them to bridge the gap between the veteran group and the rookie group, to have somebody that they can talk to and see that we've been through the same things and that we're still just human beings.

Q: When do you talk to the prospects? I heard you went on a team building trip yesterday to a paintball field.
A: I don't give a big rah, rah speech and say, 'Hey, this is what you have to do to be an NHL player.' You're not going to learn much from just a speech like that. When I went through what they're going through [in the Ottawa organization], Mike Fisher was around and Wade Redden was around. You've seen these guys on TV and then you meet them, and it's, 'Wow, he's a nice guy and wow, he works hard.'"

The paintball was awesome. I have my own gun. But it's in Regina. The [prospects] open up a lot more on the paintball course than they do here, especially the kids I just met for the first time. Today, everyone seems a little more at ease around me.

Q: Are you surprised at all that the Caps haven't made any significant moves this offseason? On July 3rd, did you look around and wonder what's going on?
A: It's out of my control. I don't worry about it too much. Obviously, I have a vested interest in it. But I didn't think we were a long ways off last year. It wasn't like at the trade deadline or after we lost [to Montreal] we were saying, 'Geez, I wish we would have more of this or more of that.' That wasn't the case. I think or team is right on the cusp. I know we've said this for a couple of years, but it takes time to learn how to win. I'm sure the young guys coming up are going to come in and do a fantastic job, and it's going to push the older guys a little bit more. I'm not worried one ounce about the lack of movement with our team in free agency."

Q: Did you expect that management would have been more proactive via free agency or trade?
A: I feel like this group has unfinished business, personally. I'm [annoyed] with the way the year ended last year. I thought our team was on the verge last year. Now you add in a year of frustration and disappointment, that should fuel guys even more. Add a year of experience. Look at the career years guys had last year [Eric Fehr] and [Tomas Fleischmann] and [Jeff Schultz], guys are improving. Our goaltenders have experience, they're going to be better. I think throughout our lineup, everybody has taken the next step. That should be enough to propel us over the edge. I'm not worried about free agency and not adding a lot of guys.

Q: Do the players take that lack of movement as a vote of confidence maybe?
A: Until you said that, I never thought, 'Oh, they're really putting a lot of faith in us.' I just thought they knew about this group before. As a team, we enjoy playing together. Sometimes you can bring in a couple of personalities that shake that up and drag the group down. We finished first in the league in the regular season. We did a lot of good things. It all just came to an abrupt end in the playoffs. I don't think it was anything worth a major overhaul. But if you can improve you team a little bit here or there, I'm sure we'll do it.

Q: This is the last year of your contract and then you're a free agent. Your next contract figures to be your big contract. Have you started thinking about that?
A: I have a contract [for this season]. I don't lose sleep at night because my salary is X amount of dollars when I think it should be Y amount of dollars. I lose sleep at night because I've been in the league five years and we still haven't won a championship. I wake up in the middle night frustrated because we lost out in the first round and I want to see our players hoist the Stanley Cup. That's why I lose sleep. I don't worry about 13 months from now not having a paycheck. That's a long time from now.

Q: Do you hope to engage in contract extension talks during the season?
A: Doesn't go through me. Anything that happens with a contract with me goes through my agent. He calls me and says this is what's going on. I don't have anything to do with it. I would be way too emotional, anyway.

Q: There's a question mark at second-line center and you came up through the ranks as a center and played there a bit over the years. Is that something you would be interested in doing?
A: How do you know we don't have one? I don't know what they're thinking. My second and third year here, I worried about where I was going to play. Am I going to play center? Am I going to play left wing? Am I going to play on the third line? Dean Evason told me, 'It's out of your control. You're going play X amount of minutes, play those minutes as hard as you can.' So that's what I do. I'm comfortable [at wing or center]. As of right now, I'm assuming things are going to be the way they were last season [with Laich on the wing].

Q: Changed any tires lately?
[Before answering, he joked about how he and his father had trouble changing their own flat tire recently in Wawota, Sask.]
A: There have been who have sent me gifts or offers, and a lot of people who have wrote me or sent cards saying thanks for doing that. I just wanted to say thanks to all the people who have [reached out] to me.

Note: Everyone participated in today's practice sessions (with the exception of Zach Miskovic, who is out with a sprained knee). Camp concludes tomorrow with a 10 a.m. scrimmage at KCI.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  July 16, 2010; 2:50 PM ET
 
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Comments

great stuff!

Posted by: casser | July 16, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

great stuff!

Posted by: casser | July 16, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Nice to see Laich speak his mind. Hopefully the Caps can get a 'Hometeam Discount' next year. He is one the great young players in the league. I can't wait for opening night!

Posted by: robostop10 | July 16, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

So fans, you hear it straight from Laich. No panic button pushed in the way of picking up new players. They are hungry and have unfinished business. I think the ingredients are in the organization already... just need a little more stirring now and then.

Posted by: gonchpup | July 16, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

So fans, you hear it straight from Laich. No panic button pushed in the way of picking up new players. They are hungry and have unfinished business. I think the ingredients are in the organization already... just need a little more stirring now and then.

Posted by: gonchpup

What do you expect him to say?

Posted by: underpants2 | July 16, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

"Add a year of experience. Look at the career years guys had last year [Eric Fehr] and [Tomas Fleischmann] and [Jeff Schultz], guys are improving."

It's funny because I, and other on this board, have been saying the same thing. But a certain group of people on this board basically called this idea blasphemous.

Posted by: sgm3 | July 16, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

"Add a year of experience. Look at the career years guys had last year [Eric Fehr] and [Tomas Fleischmann] and [Jeff Schultz], guys are improving."

It's funny because I, and other on this board, have been saying the same thing. But a certain group of people on this board basically called this idea blasphemous.

Posted by: sgm3

Look at the wonderful playoff performance they all had.

Posted by: underpants2 | July 16, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

So fans, you hear it straight from Laich. No panic button pushed in the way of picking up new players.
--------------

lol, the flip side to this of course is, what the heck do you expect him to say? This is the favorite argument of so many on this board anytime McPhee's moves get questioned so I'd like to use it as well.

Did you expect him to say "this team really needs to get better via FA because we don't have the pieces here" ? maybe he should've said "i'm definitely not a 2nd line center so i hope we bring in a real center for once instead of trying to use me when everyone knows I'm mostly suited for 3rd line play and occasional PP duty!"

Posted by: cstanton1 | July 16, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Look at the wonderful playoff performance they all had.

Posted by: underpants2 | July 16, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

playoffs are meaningless, didn't you know that?

Posted by: cstanton1 | July 16, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Awesome, I like Alex but these are the actions and words of a true captain and leader. The Great 8 should be taking notes as actions like changing a tire and going to play paint ball with kids that have a ways to come yet are what make true fan favorite. Hopefully we will see a new "A" this coming season. Thanks Brooks you a true hockey player with the highest of standards for yourself.

Posted by: bqts | July 16, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

@underpants...yawn...your spew is getting old.

Posted by: nimrodrsp | July 16, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

speaking of mike fisher, would love to see him here.

Posted by: cstanton1 | July 16, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

@underpants2

The comment is said towards the fact that they improved so much from the '08-'09 season to the '09-'10 season and that they will continue to improve. So they will be better players next year.

And Fehr played well in the playoffs.

Posted by: sgm3 | July 16, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

The comment is said towards the fact that they improved so much from the '08-'09 season to the '09-'10 season and that they will continue to improve. So they will be better players next year.
------------------------

how is this different from EVERY other nhl team?

Posted by: cstanton1 | July 16, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

The Caps have more players who play big minutes who are 26 and younger on their team.

Their 2 goalies
D: Schultz/Green/Alzner/Carlson
F's:Ovie/Backstrom/Fehr/Flash/Semin/B Gordon/MP/MaJo/(Laich is 27 so he is just outside)

That is a pretty important component of the team as it is basically both goalies, the top 4 defesemen and top 3 lines of the Caps.

Posted by: sgm3 | July 16, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Brooks = class act

a guy who cares enough about the team - and about the sport - to actually want to help people that might be competing with him for ice time one day. That's the kind of person you want in the organization after he hangs up the skates. And building a great team means great coaches (not just the head coach), great scouts, etc etc.

back in the early 90s a friend of mine was roommates with the girlfriend of a Caps winger. I was over at their house having a beer and the Caps had just signed Haworth. The winger was not as enthused as I was. "Why should I be happy they've got a guy that's going to take away my ice time?" is what he said. Winning be damned...

Posted by: RedLitYogi | July 16, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Nice to see Brooks not panicking over last year's 3-game losing streak. Accept it for what it was - a bad week of hockey against a hot goaltender. Accept that it's unfinished business, and not that you're fatally flawed or something. And go get it done.

I like his attitude a lot.

Posted by: EricinReston | July 16, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

how is this different from EVERY other nhl team?

Posted by: cstanton1 | July 16, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse
A lot of other NHL teams have older players who are getting worse every year and have maybe one or two more good year left in them. Why do you think NJ wants Kovy so bad if getting him is most likely going to cost them Prise next year? Because they know Marty has very few good years left and wants to win one more Cup. Look at the Red Wings they too are getting older and guys like Lidstrom are going year by year. Other teams are losing big pieces like Pittsburgh who lost the PP point man and had to replace him with defensive guys who can't play the PP as well putting even more pressure on Crosby and Malkin to keep their PP for being one of the worst in the league. Also look at the Hawks and Sharks. Both lost big pieces of their great teams last year. The Caps have not lost much at all and are going to be giving Alzner and Carlson the whole year to get used to the NHL and their new partners should they decide to split them up. Yes we could still use one or two pieces but there is not a team in the NHL that has the perfect personel every team has some weakness and for all we know one of the young guys could come in and make all of the naysayers eat their words about needing a second line center. Is the Caps going with a rookie at second line center any more crazy then Chicago losing their best in front of the next physical forward or SJ going from Nabby who plays 60-70 games a year to Antero Niittymäki who has only played 58 games in a season at most and has a grand total of 72 minutes in the playoffs in 05-06.

Posted by: icehammer97 | July 16, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

I am with bqts, put an A on his sweater. Also, I hope they get him resigned during the season (if not this summer).

This is Ovi's team to lead on the ice but Brooks shows them how to be professionals.

Posted by: pkendrick | July 16, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton:
you just want to see her hotness (Carrie Fisher) in the audience don't you? lol

on a different topic:
never ceases to amazing me that people use this sentence and that sentence for and against the success/failure of last year and towards GMGM and the off-season's failure/patience.

Regardless of your view, I am absolutely thrilled for a full season of Alzner and Carlson and the team continuing to grow...

have a great Friday people

TGIF!

Posted by: FrankM73 | July 16, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

you just want to see her hotness (Carrie Fisher) in the audience don't you? lol

Posted by: FrankM73

Wouldn't you?

Posted by: pkendrick | July 16, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

@FrankM73

I'm assuming you mean Underwood and not Princess Leia.

Posted by: sgm3 | July 16, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Laich: "I lose sleep at night because I've been in the league five years and we still haven't won a championship. I wake up in the middle night frustrated because we lost out in the first round and I want to see our players hoist the Stanley Cup."

This is the significant part of that interview--his hunger and drive--and the feeling that the Caps have unfinished business, a feeling that is shared by the rest of the team.

Ovi said recently that he and Backstrom talk constantly about what they need to do to win the championship and bring it to Washington.

On the NHL Live Gretzky said of Ovi and the Capitals that it takes losing to understand how to win, that he and the Caps have to go through the painful process to gain that invaluable experience, a process he said he learned first-hand himself.

So yeah--I think Brooks is passionate, speaks his mind, and isn't going to give canned answers to the media. He's not going to lay out in public what he thinks the team needs or doesn't need, or even whether he has an opinion about it. Rather he chose to give a clever non-answer to the media.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | July 16, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

sorry icehammer, let me rephrase

"how is our situation different from approx 20+ other teams in the league?"

and lets not mention Chicago. Their near future is probably compromised but that was an acceptable tradeoff I would guess for winning a Cup. But I appreciate your well-written post.

Posted by: cstanton1 | July 16, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

The Caps have more players than almost every team who play big minutes(goalies, top 4 d-men, top 3 lines) that are 26 and younger. That is why the young players learning and improving has a larger effect than on other teams.

G: Varly/Neuvy
D: Schultz/Green/Alzner/Carlson
F's:Ovie/Backstrom/Fehr/Flash/Semin/B Gordon/MP/MaJo/(Laich is 27 so he is just outside)

Posted by: sgm3 | July 16, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

@bqts

i agree, i was predicting and hoping for brooks to wear the C after clark left. ovie is obviously a great player and a great teammate and should make a better captain as he gets more leadership experience, especially in the playoffs. even if he isnt the captain, brooks is the kind of guy who can lead the team in lots of situations, whether its on the pp, pk, game 7s, or in the locker room. an A for his sweater would be a good step.

@cstanton1

yeah, i can see us in 1-3 years in the same place as chicago is now. lots of great young players who all deserve more money than the team can give them after their breakout seasons. screwed in terms of the cap and having to let a couple young guys go, but then again, those young guys could be wearing new cup rings... we've got the prospects and the leaders to help them along

Posted by: abroun21 | July 16, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

the problem isn't the core -- we do have a good core (maybe we're missing a piece here or there but the talent is there). The problem is twofold - will the right complementary players be added and can/will Bruce adjust his system to give his team more of a playoff-look. You see time and time again many teams going deeper in the playoffs although on "paper" the Caps have much more talent. Its not really the talent that holds this team back.

Posted by: cstanton1 | July 16, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

"This is the significant part of that interview--his hunger and drive--and the feeling that the Caps have unfinished business, a feeling that is shared by the rest of the team. "

carbon copy of the comments they made last yr and to an extent the yr before that when they lost to the Flyers.

Posted by: cstanton1 | July 16, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

True, the Caps do need to get the right complimentary players and I am for acquiring another D-man(I'd like a veteran there), a defensive minded center who is good on the pk(for the 3rd line, a veteran there would be nice too), and maybe a better 4th line winger(ideally from Hershey).

But I think it is very good for the team that almost it's entire core(goalies, top 4 d-men, and top 3 lines), because of its young age, are reasonably expected to improve as players going into next year, with some players improving significantly.

Posted by: sgm3 | July 16, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

maybe he should've said "i'm definitely not a 2nd line center so i hope we bring in a real center for once instead of trying to use me when everyone knows I'm mostly suited for 3rd line play and occasional PP duty!"

Posted by: cstanton1 |

Alright, now that was pretty funny.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | July 16, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

the question isn't if you or i know what the right complementary players are - its whether our GM knows that. His track record proves to me he doesn't get it. Which is why some of the simpler holes to fill haven't been filled to the degree they need to be filled or just plain ignored. And I don't see Boudreau tweaking his system much either to adjust for playoff hockey. Not enough to get past the real challenging teams.

Posted by: cstanton1 | July 16, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

GMGM may or may not acquire those players. We will see. He did get Knuble last year though, so that leaves me with a good taste. But we will see.

As for BB and adjusting the system (if it needs to be adjusted). Again, we will see.

You are predicting he will not change it and the system will fail. That may be true.

I'm not sure if the system needs to be changed, I just think there has to be better execution and BB needs to hold guys more accountable for their defensive lapses. I'm hoping the young players maturing will help some with this(usually more experienced players become more defensively responsible and make less dumb mistakes. Even Semin made a lot less dumb mistakes last year than in previous years)

But again, we will see what happens.

Posted by: sgm3 | July 16, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

@bqts and others

With the leadership skills Brooks has shown, I feel he should have gotten the 'A' rather than Backstrom. I was fine with Ovi getting the C, with Brooks as my second choice.

I consider Backstrom a great player and the Caps desperately need his skills, plus he's a great guy. But I would choose Brooks ahead of either Backstrom or Green when it comes to appointing an alternate Captain.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | July 16, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

I've said it before, and I will continue to say it....

100% Class Act!!!

I hope we'll have Brooks here in Washington for many more years to come!

Posted by: j3rockstar | July 16, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1: One thing that many people don't talk about is they guys who are coming up from Hershey or other rookies. I know they do not have the experience that a FA would have but whoever they use as our second line center could turn out to be just as good or better then any of the FA centers that were out there. As for BB and changing his style I am not as sure as everyone else that it needs to be changed. Look at the best defensive teams in the league, NJ, Boston, Phoenix, Buffalo, and Calgry who were the top 5 in GA this year and look how they did in the playoffs. First round out, second round out, first round out, first round out, and did not make it. Now look at the top 5 in goals for: Caps, Vancouver, Chicago, SJ, and Pittsburgh and in the playoffs 1st round out, 2nd round out, Cup champions, 3rd round out, and 2nd round out. The Caps biggest downfall of the playoffs was actually their PP going colder then cold. They were actually better then either final team in 5 on 5 goal for/ goal against ratio. PP is very important in the playoffs. 6 of the 8 first round outs were in the bottom 7 in PP% in the playoffs with three of those teams at under 4%. The other two first round outs were actually the highest PP teams in the playoffs but were horrible 5 on 5 LA (.41 GF/GA) and OTT (.75). The only real adjustmet I think the team needed to make in the playoffs was on their PP and they didn't 5 on 5 I think we played well and would have won the series easy with even half of our regular season PP%.

Posted by: icehammer97 | July 16, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

if you look at the personnel GMGM has put together in recent years and had no recollection of him as a player, you would think he was some hot-shot offensive player which he definitely wasn't...

he seems to go outta his way NOT to pick the kinda of players that he was.

Posted by: joek443 | July 16, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Tarik- Have you ever asked/mention to GMGM or Ted the fact that now the Pens and Blackhawks have both gone on to win the cup and the Caps have one but just one playoff series? If so what was there company line?
Both the above mention teams were doing the rebuild right in line w/ the Caps yet both have been leaps and bounds better then the Caps and have obtain their goals.
Here we are heading into another season and being ask to give it time and that it takes time and so on and so on.
Just wondering your take on it.

Posted by: jotay131 | July 16, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

if you look at the personnel GMGM has put together in recent years and had no recollection of him as a player, you would think he was some hot-shot offensive player which he definitely wasn't...

he seems to go outta his way NOT to pick the kinda of players that he was.

Posted by: joek443 | July 16, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

and guys with small peckers buy flashy cars. I'm not implying anything or speaking from personal experience, just saying...

Posted by: cstanton1 | July 16, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

PP teams in the playoffs but were horrible 5 on 5 LA (.41 GF/GA) and OTT (.75). The only real adjustmet I think the team needed to make in the playoffs was on their PP and they didn't 5 on 5 I think we played well and would have won the series easy with even half of our regular season PP%.
---------------------------

but just because their PP played a part in their loss, it doesn't mean other holes wouldn't have been exposed against different teams. Had we played the Flyers in the 1st round we could've been talking about a different problem right now. Or we could still be talking about the PP and how Bruce didn't make necessary adjustments or how the personnel isn't willing to adjust their style for playoff hockey etc.

Posted by: cstanton1 | July 16, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

True, if the Caps PP didn't fail and the Caps faced Philly we could be talking about a different problem. On the other hand we also could be talking about how the Caps beat Philly(who did lose to the only offensively competent team they faced). Either way, that is just mere speculation.

Posted by: sgm3 | July 16, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Considering he is Captain, perhaps Alex should have flown in for camp this week. Brooks is a class guy for doing so.

Posted by: kcbrichmond | July 16, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

@underpants...yawn...your spew is getting old.

Posted by: nimrodrsp

I'll tell you what is getting old, annual playoff collapses.

Posted by: underpants2 | July 16, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

@kcbrichmond

Except that Ovi now has a new off season job -- with the KHL, specifically with the team that Moscow Dynamo merged with.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | July 16, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

It isn't that the PP failed, it's that the Caps didn't adjust was the problem. Three straight games, Caps took maybe 100+ shots between, SOB, misses and blocks. The Habs just clogged up the slot, just like Hershey's opponent did, and Hershey adapted and won.

The defense wasn't tested against Montreal because the Habs didn't play an offensive game. How many play ping-pong? The Caps were like the player slamming repeatedly, every shot, while the Habs were the player way far back who would defensively spin the ball back. Usually the slammer will win, from when I played, but sometimes the cutter style could force enough mistakes to take the game.

You never win in almost any sport by just forcefully employing the same style in a repeatative fashion. Again, another sport, volleyball, you spike and spike and then sometimes score on a dink.

I think cstanton says the Caps could win with the players they have if the coach had adjusted on the fly, and he also implies even with better players they might not win due to coach's style.

Until the Caps hoist the Cup, the lingering questions will surround McPhee, BB and the players. Winning is winning and everything else is just losing.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | July 16, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Let's list all the reasons why the Caps lost or why they might have lost to Montreal and examine:
A) McPhee failed to acquire the right pieces.
B) BB was outcoached.
C) Montreal outplayed Wash although they had inferior skill. This includes Caps PP efficiency.
D) Bad bonces.
E) Hot goaltender.
F) Immaturity on Caps.

Now, rate each in your mind until they add to 100%.

A) McPhee had cap space, finally, and brought in Belanger, Walker and Corvo. They didn't do much. In fairness, we must give credit here for Knuble.
B) Martin, when backed against the wall, told his troops to stay in the trenches and don't retreat all all costs. BB told his charges to keep launching bomb after bomb. BTW, who won the Battle of Britain, the offensive machine or stout defense?
C) The Habs players followed their orders to a "T." Maybe the Caps did, too, we don't know. Habs won, though, so they played better.
D) There was no problem with the refs in this series on penalties. The no goal in game 7 - well, you can be on the fence on that. It was either the right call or maybe a possible series changing mistake. OTOH, even allowing the goal doesn't say Caps win.
E) Halak was, in fact, fantastic the last three games.
F) Caps were overconfident, witness Green comments before the series, "Every team that wins usually has a sweep along the way." Also, we've heard from Gretzy that you need to learn how to win, and one can in fact look at the Oilers track record for the few years before they won to see how they underachieved.

Now, for percentages:
A) McPhee 15%
B) Boudreau v Martin 25%
C) Caps v Habs 20% (PP woes)
D) Halak 20%
E) Bounces 0-5%
F) Immaturity 15-20%

I believe the single most compelling factor was BB's being outcoached. Martin turned his team into defensive pillars and the Caps bombed away. BB forgot the Germans defeated France in 1940 not by going through Maginot Line, but around it. BB, as has been posted here by others, is a superior motivator. Is he a superior tactician. No. Not until he outcoaches the guy on the other bench in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In four Playoff rounds, he has three "draws" and one "got outcoached." And that's only because Torts had him on the ropes but let him off by getting suspended and by sitting Avery. Nobody won that forgettable coaching match-up.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | July 16, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

@tominsocal1

I do agree that BB was outcoached, but I watched a few of the games on replay a couple weeks ago when they were on the NHL Network, and the chances the players had on the PP were glorious.

The Caps DID adjust on the PP by passing less to Ovie (who was basically manned up). They put Ovie out a little wider and he drew a defender that left the slot wide open. They set up Semin and Knuble with so many glorious chances from directly centered from the goalie and about 8 feet out. The problem was that on almost everyone of those chances Knuble and Semin seemed to miss the goal. So no goal and no rebound. The few times they did get a shot on goal Halak made a nice sace.

After watcing the replay of the games I no longer believe the Caps were outcoached when they were on the PP. The problem was that they just didn't execute. You can't ask for much more than wide open shots, directly in the center of the ice and 8 feet away.

I do think BB was outcoahced in the 5 on 5 matchups. He could have done a much better job of trying to get Ovie out there to face the 3rd pairing D.

Posted by: sgm3 | July 16, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse

@sgm -

Thanks for the recap, the thought of watching any of those games brings back too many painful memories, so kudos for being a better man than I.

I love BB and the life he's breathed into the phone booth from the Glen Hanlon dead-puck era, so I will admit that hearing he was outcoached is not music to my ears, but I'm especially interested to hear that the PP was not quite the disaster the stats would have us believe.

Question: as North American hockey players, it is drilled into us from the time we are mites "shots shots shots" and that "there's no such thing as a bad shot on goal." While there is truth to these mantras, it is also true that, in any of the following situations: when you have the D on the run, and/or completely gassed [I'm not sure why it's so much more tiring to be chasing the puck than playing give and go with your linemates, but it for damn sure is], when you have the goalie moving side to side, when you have a teammate wide open for a one-timer on the far crease; when the goalie has a clear view, with no traffic in front - in those situations, I felt that the Caps excelled all year long, by being patient, and waiting for the truly open guy, rather than just blindly firing pucks from anywhere, no matter what.

Question: did you see the same patience on the PP, that the Caps exhibited all year? Because from where I was sitting it seemed like they got away from what they were so successful at all year long, and blindly just firing pucks [at a world-class goalie, no less] from anywhere and everywhere, no matter what else was going on, who else was open and whether it was truly a good scoring opp.


Posted by: govtimbo | July 16, 2010 10:59 PM | Report abuse

@govtimbo

It seemed that as the series moved on the Caps shot selection on the PP became worse and worse. By that I mean pretty much exactly what you said, they fired shots at the first opportunity no matter the quality. A lot of them would get blocked or were easy to save.

I think they got frusturated and were hoping for deflections or rebounds instead of going for what worked all year and what presented them with glorious opportunities earlier in the series. Given their skill they shouldn't have settled for those poor shots but sometimes frusturation sets in.

However, even when their shot selection became worse, they still had some amazing opportunities on the PP with many of them just ending up with the poor execution of a shot.

Posted by: sgm3 | July 16, 2010 11:18 PM | Report abuse

sgm: I put in my matrix the six causes of the Caps' demise. I believe each fan will put a different relative weighting to each of the six (see govtimbo reducing blame on BB), but these were the six reasons we lost.

Now, I agree 100% on your above how it got worse and worse. What you are saying, in so many words, is that the Caps panicked.

Ah-ha. Immaturity is a cause for that. But, also, that's when the coach needs to step in with a guiding hand to fix things. Did he? Ahem. No.

I remember long ago I read a story where it was Sather maybe coaching the Oilers when they were far superior and they had a rule - "No shot on goal until each player had touched the puck in the attack zone." Does anyone else remember that? And why would a coach do that? Well? You force an anxious player to stop thinking, "Shoot! Shoot! I must shoot!" to, "I must get my teammate involved."

Slats has his faults, like all of us, including even me (I know, you are thinking, "Tominsocal1, surely not!"), but in that case he made the players think about finding the open man.

5 on 4...someone must be open. But, no, as you said, the Caps just fired away from the outside. What nees to happen, in that circumstance, is that someone (Backie) needs to corral the puck (think Lemieux) and dangle it and get the PKers out of position and then whip a pass to the man with the open net.

What Lemieux excelled at (among many other things, besides having a huge basement) was a cross between the "pretty play" that the Caps get accused of and the hardworking play that everyone says wins in the Playoffs. Gretzky did this the way he'd bring the puck in and circle (I know we hate circling) but then he'd make time stand still as it were and find Coffey trailing for a blistering slapper into the open corner of the net. The secret both with Gretz and Lemieux IMHO was the ability to put the other team off balance. The Caps did not do that. Nicky is the one who must learn. As great as he is, he isn't there on that skill. I know he does it sometimes. Last year or the year before he held the puck as time expired and fed Ovechkin to score with one second left and force overtime. And, in BB's first game as coach, it was Nick who held the puck against the Flyers and scored the OT winner with the goalie down and out.

This falls under #6 - maturity. If only I had some of that. I coulda been a contender.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | July 16, 2010 11:52 PM | Report abuse

"Awesome, I like Alex but these are the actions and words of a true captain and leader. The Great 8 should be taking notes as actions like changing a tire and going to play paint ball with kids that have a ways to come yet are what make true fan favorite. Hopefully we will see a new "A" this coming season. Thanks Brooks you a true hockey player with the highest of standards for yourself."

Nicely said. I always thought Brooks should be wearing a letter anyway and too bad BB and crew are overlooking that. We are not in the locker room I know, but Knuble and Laich wearing the "A" would be my choice.

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | July 17, 2010 12:43 AM | Report abuse

Awesome! Watching Oilers/Islanders in Gm 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals from '84. Don't wanna spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it, or doesn't know the history, so just put on NHL Network right now, crack a brew (or 3), check out Gretzky, Messier, Anderson, Moog, Lafontaine, Trottier, Bossy, Smith and the rest, and enjoy! Cheers!

Posted by: YouAreABigWhiner | July 17, 2010 1:29 AM | Report abuse

@underpanties...I agree with the playoff failures, but it is better than missing the playoffs by the trade deadline. This is a good team (not up to yours or cstanton levels). Maybe next year will have more disappointments, I don't know, but this team is fun to watch.

Posted by: nimrodrsp | July 17, 2010 6:39 AM | Report abuse

@BernieWolfeFan

While I felt Ovi was the logical choice to be the new captain of the Caps, I agree with your choices for the alternates. Feel Knuble and Laich should get the A's. For the record, I feel Laich should have gotten the A before Backstrom.

If Knuble were a long term Cap, I would have probably favored him for a C.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | July 17, 2010 7:05 AM | Report abuse

Laich is a class act and true leader. He might be the nicest guy in the NHL. We're very lucky to have him in D.C.

Posted by: LloydChristmas | July 17, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

@sgm3 - Ah that is kinda what I suspected; thanks for watching so I don't have to. Painful memories, like I said!

I will just note though, that many times it seemed like Halak was able to square up to the shooter; it is tough to beat many NHL goalies once they set their feet and if they can see the puck, never mind a great one playing at the top of his game.

Posted by: govtimbo | July 17, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Did anybody catch the scrimmage this morning? I tried to convince my g/f last night but somehow she didn't seem quite as excited as I to see all of the org's prospects going head-to-head one last time and we stayed out a bit late - and now I'm kicking myself in my giant @ss!

Posted by: govtimbo | July 17, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

We did. It was great--there was a lot of promising talent displayed that we should see at Hershey and on the Caps in the future, plus just lots of hard, gritty and combative play. Even two fights back to back in the 2nd period. Went to OT for 5 minutes but still tied 2 to 2. White won the SO.

But it was a madhouse. I missed a period just standing in line to get my son's jersey signed by Laich. The person in front of me said he'd been going to development camp faithfully for years and he had never seen it like this.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | July 17, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I hate to be critical but it seems weird that our team capt is coaching other players in Moscow while laich is here instead? No diss on bl but it irks me a bit.. Maybe bl would be a better choice? I hope ovi had at least had some interest..
I hate typing on this iPad

Posted by: kmr2r | July 17, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

I am continually impressed with Brooks' total professionalism, his dedication to hockey and his all around nice-guy attitude. I think it's great that he showed up at camp, talked to these guys and really gave them some some insight as to what it's like being a Capitals hockey player. He's a true leader and I think he deserves the C. But hey, Ovi's the face of the Caps. I guess the quieter guys sometimes get overlooked.

Posted by: miche4572 | July 17, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

I was at the scrimmage today. It was a very tight-checking game, so I thought it was hard for anyone to stand out. With respect to Johansson, I was reasonably impressed. He's not the second coming of Nick Backstrom, but he looked like he has all the raw materials to me. He has very good acceleration, which is one of Backstrom's real strengths. I thought he also looked like he has very good hands, and he was pretty aggressive about going to the goal on a few occasions. The thing that most impressed me was that the other team hit him HARD about 3-4 times (almost like he was marked), and every time he took the hit well without falling or fading out of the play. That, to me, was the best sign that he could potentially play in the NHL soon. Whether he will be ready this fall or not is another question that is yet to be answered until after we see more at training camp. It is obviously unrealistic to think that he will be the immediate answer at second line center. However, it might be possible that he could play third line, and if he comes along anywhere nearly as quickly as Backstrom did in his first year, then you could imagine him moving up toward the end of the year. Probably not a great bet, but possible. In the meantime, if I were GMGM, I would sign Bellanger again if they could get him in a reasonable two-year contract. Even if Johansson, Eakin, and/or Kuznetsov come along within the next two years, Bellanger would still be useful on the team--at the least as an upgrade for Steckle, who faded badly last year in both the regular season and the playoffs.

Kuznetsov looks to have terrifiic talent and potential, but clearly needs to mature, both physically and emotionally (probably two years) before he's ready for the NHL.

I would say that Eakin looks to be the next most NHL-ready guy after Johansson, at this point.

Posted by: hockeybob | July 17, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse

WHAT A GREAT GUY. ONCE CANT HELLP BUT THINK OF THE LETTER C ON THIS GUYS CHEST WHEN YOU HEAR HIM SPEAK AND HEAR ABOUT ALL THE GREAT THINGS HE DOES, ESPECIALLY FOR THIS TEAM. HE BETTER BE WEARING AN A THIS YEAR!!

Posted by: CalleJoFan | July 18, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

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