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Quote Of The Day

With another road trip looming, the Caps, who woke up this morning in 14th place in the Eastern Conference, are off today. So I'm not expecting much in the way of news.

I was replaying some of the post-game interviews in my head last night on the drive home, searching for something that captured the mood in the dressing room following their 3-2 loss to Flyers, the eighth defeat in 10 games.

As usual, Olie Kolzig delivered:

"Nothing needed to be said. We've talked enough the last few three or four games. Everybody knows. We're going to take a day off and reflect."

Much of this quote from the veteran goalie did make the newspaper, but I think it's worth repeating:

"Everybody, to a man, has to look in the mirror and ask, 'What could I have done better, did I give everything I could tonight? If the answer is yes, then you've got nothing to hang your head about. If the answer is no, you figure out what you need to do extra to get us over the hump."

Practice tomorrow is at 10:30. The injured players -- Chris Clark, Alexander Semin and Tom Poti -- are scheduled to be evaluated. But I would be suprised if any of the three are ready for Monday's contest in Carolina. Chack back tomorrow for an update on their status.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  November 3, 2007; 10:44 AM ET
 
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Comments

Last two games were disappointing. I know this gets discussed, but how can we not have seen Eminger in place of Erskine? I like Erskine's toughness, but we have plenty of guys willing to drop the gloves (Brashear, Pettinger, Bradly, and even Laich). More to the point, although Erskine's +1, he's taken _9_ minor penalties in 10 games (and no majors for fighting). Aside from the -0.2 we could give him for each of those penalties (assuming 20% chance of other team scoring on their PP), it's just a huge momentum killer that we've seen time and time again. Of course it's not just him taking penalties at bad times, but taking 1 fewer penaltiew per game would sure be nice. Plus you gotta like Eminger's upside on offense more than Erskine's, and that's what the team is struggling with.

Posted by: TripDonkeys | November 3, 2007 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I agree. It's time for Eminger to get in.

Posted by: Tarik | November 3, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

As much as I'd love to see Eminger in, if you put him in then which righty do you move to the left? Eminger is terrible on the left, and so is Pothier. Green could maybe handle it, but I'm not sure we'd want to put him in that situation. I have no doubt Juice would be fine there, but then we'd have to split him up with Mo which is counterproductive. So even though Eminger certainly isn't worse then Erskine, Eminger (or Pothier, or Green) playing on the left might be.

Posted by: Brad | November 3, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse

don't mess with green if he's clicking.

eminger takes bad penalties too.

gmgm's job to balance drafting, player development so as not have a glut in certain positions and no depth at others.

Posted by: jim | November 3, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I hate to say this... but it's time for the organization to take a serious look behind the bench. Roger the injuries and lack of balance, but there are basic hockey mistakes being made. This along, with a questionable, inconsistent effort, is quickly leading this season to look remarkably like last years... with a higher payroll and inflated expectations. Any Stanley Cup winning coaches available that know the SE division? Hmmm?

Posted by: Dave in DC | November 3, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Tarik, thanks for the post!
Penalties have killed us the last 2 games. I keep looking for Hanlon to just go nuts, but he seems to take everthing in stride. (and I've always questioned whether an ex-goalie can motivate & inspire skaters, so.... )
I would not swap Emmminger for Erskine, as Eminger takes penalties too, and is not nearly as steady in the Dzone.

Posted by: Hattrick23 | November 3, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

we're cycling the puck with three guys in the corner, d staying back, for long periods and I guess that's good because we have the puck. BUT, all the shots are from the half wall and points , not good % shots. Lots of low % shots but no goals eh?

Posted by: billd | November 3, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Dave,

You aren't asking for Bob hartley recently fired from the THrashers, to come here are you? How would that be an upgrade? What success did the Thrashers have during his tenur that would warrant hiring him?

If we make a change, it needs to be an ESTABLISHED winner. Now, I have no idea who is out there. but it would have to be someone with a good offensive mind.

Posted by: Lee | November 3, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, but I'm not ready to start questioning Hanlon. This is the first year he's had a team with NHL talent, and, moreover, he's had well-below-average talent for much of the season. If you look across the team the last few games, how many players do we have on the ice that are established, above-average players in the league (by established, I mean that they have been above-average for more than a year or two)? I'd count Ovechkin, Nylander, Kozlov, Kolzig. Yeah, we have other good players but they're all young and still learning how to win. Unless we're well below .500 all season, I'd give Hanlon at least until the end of the season.

And I'd take this all back if there were rumblings by players in the locker room about Hanlon... Tarik, have you heard anything?

Posted by: TripDonkeys | November 3, 2007 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Gee, so this is the first time we've heard this look in the mirror stuff? Face it, they are a mediocre team at best, injuries or no injuries. Hanlon has to go, and will if this keeps up. McPhee doesn't look like much of an off-season genius right now does he? If the Caps end up this season as last, why would Ovie want to even stay with the Caps? He deserves to be with a winning organization top to bottom, day in and day out. He puts it all on the line every game. At least if the team is out of contention, which I feel they will be by new year's, we won't have to keep yapping about this subject ad nauseum. It sure does get old.

Posted by: kenhockey | November 3, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

I'm on the fence about Hanlon; he seems like a nice guy, and I'd bet the players enjoy playing for him, but sometimes a fire needs to be lit, so to speak.
Any flyers loss is tough,especially for those of us who grew up having our team beat'n on, by those bullies!-Long Live Dale Hunter!

Posted by: Hattrick23 | November 3, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

At the end of last season Mcphee said he would improve the team mainly through trades. When is that going to happen?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 3, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

I think that Hanlon has until mid-November before letting him go. Eminger should be in not Erksine because Eminger has offensive upside (led team in assists on defense last year). Losing 8 out of 10 is inexcusable. Hartley would be a huge improvement; he got Atlanta with no history to play some good hockey the last two years with less defensive and goalie talent than the Caps (much better forwards). The Caps can do better than Hanlon and GMGM who hasn't developed many draft picks into NHLers who were not blue-chip picks (OV & Semin).

Posted by: Jim | November 3, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

i still want to spit

Posted by: f bomb | November 3, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Well, there seems to be a glut of available coaches and GMs ready to take the Caps to the Stanley Cup. Maybe, the problem is that Ted hasn't discovered this blog; certainly, he would find them here blogging away.

Just in case Ted is lurking around, here is what I think.
The best line the caps put in the ice is the 2nd line. OV is a great individual player, but this is a team sport and he needs to learn that, once he does, the first line will be dynamite. Ollie, I have always liked you, but it is time to get a new young goalie in front of the net, at the very least, start playing Johnson more often so that Ollie can rejuvenate.

And, Ted, as much as I want the job, I still believe that Hanlon and GMGM will be better than me.

Posted by: Opita | November 3, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

How can you say that Ovie is not being a team player? That's ridiculous. He goes out there every game and he's playing offensively and defensively. Ovie is not the problem. Part of his problem is Kozlov who doesn't seem to click with him. The second line may be good but lets face it they are not scoring or taking as many shots as they should be. Having two puck handlers on one line with no real good scorer on that line (until Semin gets back) makes no sense. Not only that but I'm tired of hearing the whole "Stay the course line"...give me a break Hanlon, it's not working...it's time to take a new course....

Posted by: K | November 3, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

The Caps have been sucking so bad that they get a day off? How long until McPhee and Hanlon are gone? They need to go ASAP. The GM has had 10 years, and nothing to show for it. That was Poile's team that made the finals in 98. Hanlon was ok when it was expected that the Caps would lose, but he can't coach a skilled player to save his life. What an abysmal last 10 games, yet no moves are made. Talk about injuries all you want, but then look at Ottawa and see how you're supposed to overcome them. This team is stuck in reverse, and there's no getting out of it. I hear that Vegas wants a team, why not move them?

Posted by: n..n | November 3, 2007 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Why not put Eminger in for Pothier? Pothier has taken bad penalties and ruined our powerplay.....

Posted by: Anonymous | November 3, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Anyone know what started the Laich fight last night?

This team does not shoot enough. I was sitting 7 rows up right on the goaline last night...and when we cycle from behind the net we give up good shooting lanes in order to cycle back behind the net. We are looking for the perfect pass to the man wide open on a post somewhere. Just shoot the puck, a rebound is more likely to get to him then a pass across the zone in front of a crowded net. The two guys who seem to be guilt of it the most often are Nylander and Kozlov. JUST SHOOT THE PUCK! GET UGLY!

Posted by: Pat | November 3, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

1. Eminger is in a nearly irretrievable position. He stays where he is until there is a reason to make a roster change.
If you want Eminger instead of Erskine, it means Erskine is cut, not scratched.

Understand that. He is on IR not because he is injured but because his camp injury allowed for him to be put there. Once he is activated he can't go back there and somebody else must go.

By the way...they are not losing for lack of defense and goaltending. Their GAA is down significantly. Complain about the defense if you wish, but they are not scoring enough. Look at the scores they have won by and the goals against in those games. 1, 0, 1, 3, 1. They have lost 5 games where the winner scored 3 or fewer goals.

The problem is offense and you can look as far as this. Semin, Backstrom, Poti have zero goals. Clark started to score immediately upon being put back on the first line then got hurt and is out.

Any of that Hanlon's fault?

Posted by: rob | November 3, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

You want to put Eminger in, then it better be Eminger for Schultz. Stop talking about Eminger for Erskine. Erskine has been playing a #2 defenseman on this team - better than Pothier & Schultz. He also HITS people.

Posted by: Raber | November 3, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Kenhockey,

GMGM picked up Nylander (4g, 9a), Kozlov (2,5) and Poti (team leader in ice time), addressing the Caps biggest needs with quality players. For the money and given the realistic options I think he did a pretty good job. Obviously the Capitals should have picked up another right wing though, either via trade or free agency.

Jim,

I don't think it's fair to say GMGM can only draft blue-chip players. Semin was picked 13th overall so it's not like he was a consensus slam-dunk pick. I also think he's made other good picks, namely Gordon, Green and Pettinger.

Posted by: DMG | November 3, 2007 4:23 PM | Report abuse

some good points being made here and some stupid ones too.

Hanlon is doing alright, I'd put more blame on GM due to our lack of depth - not the coach's fault - we need some upgrades immediately in order to truly compete - the team has been vastly upgraded in the offseason, but clearly not enough to deal with injuries.

It is strange that Hanlon wont put OV and Nylander together - if for no other reason than to shut up some on this and other blogs - Tarik said it was disastrous in the preseason when they were together - prove it to us, Glen - we don't believe you.

We need help and GM needs to do it - or I think it's his job on the line and not coach's - yet, anyway.

OV not being a team player is simply ridiculous - he has been one of the best players in the league this year, so that is just silly.

Posted by: capsfan-still | November 3, 2007 4:31 PM | Report abuse

one last point - Pothier has been one of our weakest links this year - not Erskine. He has had an excellent front row view of many of the opponent's goals this year, unfortunately, he's not a spectator. He is tiny, he doesn't hit, he has taken stupid penalties at crucial times - he did score against the pens, but seriously, his 4th goal since becoming a cap? He should get benched.

Posted by: capsfan-still | November 3, 2007 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone see that on his goal, Briere skated harder to the net then Pouthier and Schultz. That made me sick. Neither guy busted his butt to tie Biere up. If Emminger goes in - Pouthier or Schultz can sit. Talk about constant STUPID Penalties - Nice 4 minute penalty Pouthier took. Keep your friggid stick down! The biggest problem is getting the puck in the net. They need quick passes and shots. Too much thinking is going on in the offensive zone when it comes to taking "Quality" shots. Boy I hope things change soon!

Posted by: Trying 2 B Patient | November 3, 2007 4:43 PM | Report abuse

I don't think that Hanlon has instilled the discipline in this team that it needs to get anywhere. Ovie is a phenom, but he does not seem to make the players around him better-- great players do that. And that often comes from a disciplined coach.

Ovie is getting double-teamed all the time, yet he persists in going it alone. I can't figure out if his mates can't keep up, or they just want to watch too. But getting the puck to an open man just doesn't seem to be an option.

Just my observation, I may have ny head up my ..., this team should have at least 2 more wins then they have now.

Posted by: Clarendon | November 3, 2007 4:45 PM | Report abuse

My observations, which may differ slightly from the same tireless rants after every game...

Kozlov, since game 3, has been just plain bad. Put him line 3 as a winger until he learns how to not loaf up and down the ice.

How can you not love Boyd Gordon? What a great little scrapper.

Backstrom and Nylander need to be split up. Two guys playing the same type of game on the same line does not work. And if someone will pass to Ovie maybe he'll stop trying to do it all himself half the time.

Sutherby should be playing in every single game. He's been darn good since getting back on the ice. In fact, he should get all Brashear's minutes. Love Donald but this has to be his last season as a Cap. Suts plays the same game with more speed, more skill and a crappy right hook. Fighting doesn't win games.

Green is going to be a really good player. Growing pains, but his skill is clearly evident. Schultz...um, not so sure.

Our D at the point, PP or not, need to learn that one-timers are indeed legal.

Bradley and Laich may be career scrubs, but they're Good Scrubs.

Nylander is an unbelievable gem of a player. He was great in his first stint and even better now.

Flash - I get the feeling he'll muddle his way through this season and be gone. Maybe at the deadline for a legit winger if we're in the mix.

Despite what Ted said we are still rebuilding. The D is very young (though GA has been very good) and we still need another top-6 guy. Maybe two if Kozlov doesn't wake from his coma any time soon.

Posted by: Shmoo | November 3, 2007 4:50 PM | Report abuse

there are multiple jims on this site but i agree with other jim that there is a gm problem.

Posted by: jim | November 3, 2007 4:50 PM | Report abuse

you can't blame GM. it's more ted's fault. He'll spend a small fortune on a practice facility...but cut corners on the roster. go figure. so that half-arsed players will be happy in their new digs...but unable to do diddly on the ice.

i'm very close to turning in my season tix to the caps ticket donation program for the tax right-off. At least something will then make me happy in April.

Posted by: silver spring | November 3, 2007 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Clarendon, see my post above. We are in full agreement about Ovie. It seems Alex plays well within the system and should be commended for that. The later the game goes with us trailing and nobody joining him in a rush, the more he tends to do his 1-on-3 stuff. But at least he's trying and I can't blame him.

Maybe he needs to tell Hanlon "hey I got McPhee to bring Kozlov over but it has dawned on me he actually stinks on ice, so can I please borrow Nylander or Backstrom for a while?"

Posted by: Shmoo | November 3, 2007 4:53 PM | Report abuse

I guess I hit some nerves when I said "OV is a great individual player, but this is a team sport and he needs to learn that, once he does, the first line will be dynamite."

I stand by my statement. Notice I did not say he was NOT a great player or that he does NOT play hard or that he does NOT give his all. Of course he does. The problem is that a big percent (NOT ALL) of the time he is not involving his partners, for whatever reasons - I think he might be going to hard to fast to notice. He is all over the ice, like hurricane ready to destroy, the consequence is that his partners don't know what to expect from him and they tend to stop and wait. That is what I mean by learning to be a team player, learning to play with others.
For those of you who might follow soccer, this is a phenomenon seen through out most of Latin America teams, great individual play but not team work.
Of course, that is just my opinion.

Posted by: Opita | November 3, 2007 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Opita (and others), I think your point about Ovie not making others around him better is completely devoid of merit (read: dumb). Zubrus in 148 games in seasons before and after his years with Ovie: 76 points (0.5 average). Zubrus in 131 games with Ovie: 109 points (>0.83 average). So you're talking a third of a point per game better. And that's not just an improvement in assists... it's basically the same improvement ration in goals. So Zubrus was more than 50% better in terms of point generation with Ovie than without. I would do the same analysis with Clark but it's harder to do and the results are obvious... Clark was a career 3rd liner with never more than 10 goals a season. So... in what ways does Ovie not make the players around him better??? I get that Ovie's first move is to carry and shoot instead of pass, but that's a goal scorers style of play. And judging by the stats, that style of play is working pretty darn well.

Posted by: TripDonkeys | November 3, 2007 5:50 PM | Report abuse

There is a coaching problem. If the Caps come out and play a decent first period -- like last night -- one can almost guarantee the second period will be a nose holder replete with penalties, odd-man breaks and lengthy periods of dysfunctional, shotless "play". It has happened so frequently this season, one can literally feel it coming.

Even in Toronto when they outscored the Leafs 2-0, they were outshot 16-6 and outplayed almost as thoroughly. That said, I think we should be thankful we do not have Toronto's defense and goaltending. Wow would we be in the Schaszbat then.

This three game road trip -- if it were happening to a serious franchise, would ordinarly tell a lot about Hanlon's future or at least it should. Get manhandled three times and I think we should reasonably be able to hear the sound of cracking ice. Even then, it is strange that the people who fired Ron Wilson cannot bring themselves to say goodbye to Glen.

Posted by: Old Bob | November 3, 2007 6:02 PM | Report abuse

I said this all training camp....Eminger is a good player and it is ridiculous that he gets benched for players like Erskine and Shultz. He just turned 24 and has a lot of potential to be a good offensive defenseman. The caps are on pace to score about 208 goals this year and that is just not going to get it done.

No team is going to make the playoffs with less than 250 goals, and that right now absolutely includes caps.

If you look at the shots on goal and hits, the caps always play tough close games, but we just don't have the skill to score. A player who can move the puck from the back will help.

GMGM's dream is that every player on his team is the size of an NBA power forward, but the big guys just are not producing at all for them.

Posted by: Rob | November 3, 2007 7:26 PM | Report abuse

The other thing is Pothier. He has not played nearly as bad as some of the other defenseman. Morrisson and Jurcina are good solid defenseman, but they make mistakes and no one ever says anything. Pothier makes a mistake and everyone is all over him. I think he has played solid, not all-star quality, but better than Erskine/Shultz by a huge margin. Shultz plays like a mite who isn't allowed to hit yet.

And as for coach/gm questions from above...GMGM is worthless. We have a highlite real RW in our system who will never get a chance because at 6'0 he is too small for McPhee's style(Bouchard), and passed up on Sam Gagner (ahead of backstrom for rookie scoring so far) for another non-offensive defenseman (alzner), who we didn't even give a legit shot to make the team. Plus, we skipped on another scoring RW Jakub Voráček (who, by the way, because he is European would at least be able to play in the AHL.) We had an AHL champ two years ago and runner up last year, and what do we have to show for any of that? Bourque is too small for mcphee to move up, and Fehr is injured.

Get ready for another "safe" lottery pick next summer folks. I feel like being a caps fan is starting to be like a pre-2004 red sox fan. There's always next year.

Posted by: Rob | November 3, 2007 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Old Bob has it exactly correct a few posts up. The Capitals can't string together two good periods in a row and it's been that way ever since Hanlon took over. It's his job behind the bench and between periods to keep his team focused and to make adjustments, and either he's not doing it or the players aren't listening to him. Something's going to have to change, because this team isn't good enough to make up this kind of deficit and make the playoffs.

Posted by: zamboni | November 3, 2007 7:56 PM | Report abuse

And if you want to tell me I'm wrong about Pothier, he leads the team in +/-, leads defenseman in scoring, and is tied 3rd overall in scoring on the team.

And unlike other players on the point, he has actually been getting his shots on goal. He doesn't have a 100mph shot, but he at least gets the shot through (yes he does lead defenseman with 27 SOG), and isn't contributing to 30 blocked shots a game teams seem to be averaging against us.

Posted by: Rob | November 3, 2007 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Well, well, well...
The B.O.D. is gaining in both membership and converts. After 10 years, is it not obbvious??? Let me re-state the following:
1. After making the Cup Finals in 1998, the Caps have either not made the play-off's or been eliminated in Round 1 every year since. (ie Cup run = fluke)
2. Coaching decisions have been disastrous - it was fine to let Wilson go - he was having difficutly with the team, but Cassidy was about 5 steps backwards and they've been paying ever since. THINK about Cassidy's tenure - it included: Ciernek, Doig, Gruden, Kwiatkowski..ie - TRAGIC!
3. Leonsis / McPhail - there I said it - McPhail. He's done CRAP since he's been with the Caps. I'm sorry for the juvenille name calling, but it's true. It's high time Ted took the high ground and just canned his Axx. He was supposed to re-build the farm system when he took over, and he never did it until about two years ago... and now we're trying to plug those depth players into the line-up today.

If McPhail was REAL General Manager - he would have sat Ted down, explained the challenges with the farm system, convinced him they needed to really stock draft picks and prospects and start to build an organization.

Instead, Caps are left with a hodge/podge of talent and prospects and no results. Fehr - bust, Emminger - BUST, Oulette - BUST, big defenseman - BUST, Pothier - BUST, Brent Johnson - BUST, Beech - BUST, Jagr pick-up - BUST, Cassidy - BUST,

I could go on and on and on... McPhee needs to be fired, and Hanlon put on notice. A new GM can pick up the pieces and salvage something out of this mess called the Caps and keep Ovechkin from leaving before it's too late.

Sorry for the language Tarik.

Posted by: BoD | November 3, 2007 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Sorry - but something else to add: Semin, despite being very talented, will be an absolute anchor to this team and anyone else he plays for. He's all about himself, and plays for the money, lifestyle, he could give an "S" about the team.

Go ahead and call me names/a joke or whatever, but I guarantee you it's the truth, and the Caps will completely regret the two year extension

Posted by: the prognosticator | November 3, 2007 8:36 PM | Report abuse

BoD....I agree with some of what you say (I still have high hopes for Fehr and Eminger), but I think the idea of a winning AHL team is way overrated.

I think the AHL should be used to make good players better. When we upgraded our AHL team and started winning, that was great, but we have nothing to show from it. Fleischman was great in the AHL, but that didn't make him an NHLer. I like Flash and think there is a lot of talent there, but being in hershey sure didn't make him an NHL scorer. Everyone except Green is in the same boat. They did well, but who actually has made the jump to the NHL successfully?

So they want to make the bears a winner, but they sacrafice giving players like Neuvirth a chance because of it. They sent Neuvirth to a bad team to get better and carry a team....um, he could have done that with the bears, no? Not only that, HE IS SPLITTING TIME IN THE OHL! What good is that? Splitting time because Cassivi can win games (Cassivi is 32 and will NEVER be an NHLer. His numbers this year 3.43 GAA and 0.881 Save %) But the Caps keep him on board so they can win in the AHL. Ridiculous.

Posted by: Rob | November 3, 2007 9:15 PM | Report abuse

the prognosticator...

you are a joke. he is fantastic and to make a statement like that is ludicrous. I'd love to know about the in-depth conversations you've had with him and the team to come to such a illuminating conculsion.

You can take shots at anything I've written, and yes I've spent way too much time commenting, but at least when I write something it is about how they perform on the ice, not about a locker room atmosphere I know nothing about (and am 100% confident you don't know anything about either).

Posted by: Rob | November 3, 2007 9:33 PM | Report abuse

I dont wanna say too much, but I will say this: Ovechkin is the best thing to ever happen to the Caps. Any impression that he's out on his own can only be attributed to his out of the ordinary performances. The guy catches up to break away foe's while on the powerplay and lays them out. Other players just dont do that. Its rare.
The problem here is complex. But much of it is also painfully obvious. There is a pattern here: players are put onto lines that they simply dont belong on. And then everyone gets mad that the Caps aren't scoring. Ovie is the new Bondra, the only guy on the team that can consistently score. Plain and simple, there is no 1st line center; Kozlov has had two 20 goal seasons in 10 years and one was last year. He's not a 1st line player. Clark actually takes off on the 1st line. fancy that. THat's a good thing. With a 1st line center, you have a 1st line stellar left wing and Clark putting in 25-30 goals on the RW. Simple in theory, getting the parts is hard. Backstrom is meant to be that center (he was drafted instead of Staal for a reason). Nylander is instructing well, where to be, when to be there, how to cycle, how to corkscrew into the bedrock below. When the times right, he'll be centering the future.
The measure of a goal scorer is his shots. If the pucks go straight into the goalie everytime, he has no shot.
Anyway, the problem is the way the lineup is assembled. They plug in minor leaguer's and take chances on the waiver wire. Its never worked. Philly did a nice job of rebuilding, whether we like it or not. We can blame the coach all we want, you assemble the puzzle withthe pieces your given. Clark works, Semin works, Nylander, Backstrom, Gordon, Green, Morrisson. Everyone else is suspect.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 3, 2007 10:12 PM | Report abuse

I had the "pleasure" of watching Glen Hanlon play in goal during the NHL Networks vintage game between the Islanders and Rangers from 1984. Let me just say this, Hanlon was just in bad in goal as he is behind the bench. I rest my case!

Posted by: Mitch | November 3, 2007 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Mitch...

I saw hanlon on the NHL network too. Ha, he was atrocious. He looked as lost in net as does coming up with line combos.

As for the post before that...I definitely agree with the everyone else is suspect. Kozlov is basically this years signing of Pothier. He had a career year and was rewarded big time by the caps. At least Pothier is putting up some better numbers now, but it really does show how much talent the caps DON'T have and how terrible they are at signing FA's. Thankfully Nylanders wife liked Bethesda, or we'd be really pathetic.

You missed Pettinger though, I think he is pretty solid. As good a 3rd a liner as we could hope for.

Posted by: Rob | November 3, 2007 10:42 PM | Report abuse

staal was picked before backstrom

Posted by: fashi13 | November 3, 2007 11:27 PM | Report abuse

I'll just say a few things in response to other comments:

-Ovie not being a team player.
Okay, so, after reading the first post, i was confused, but I read the second post from Opita, and it was clear what he/she meant. Opita said that Ovechkin needs to learn to play with his teammates. Okay. Let me tell you why that is completely and utterly wrong, as politely as I can. Ovechkin is world class. Kolzig at one point was, but is no longer, and Semin, when he is in top form, is certainly close to world class, but the main point here is that there are 2 definite world class, and one iffy world class players on this team: Ovechkin, Nylander, and Semin.
Ovechkin would have to play DOWN to be able to play with anyone else. That's ridiculous. Everyone else should be learning how to play UP to his level. Ovie should fly around the ice exactly as he does, it's everyone else who should adjust to his style. And that's what they say they're doing (Kozlov, Clark, and Gordon all said pretty much verbatim "Give him the puck, and get out of his way.") Now, this is the right way to look at it, but the wrong way to approach, if that makes sense. They need to immediately sprint towards the net WHENEVER Ovie has it because, more often than not, he's about to rocket the puck on net. They should be there for the screen and the rebound. They should learn to play with him, not him with them.

-McPhee's drafting.
Ovie, Semin, Gordon, Pettinger, and Green have all come through McPhee. Green and Semin were the two amazing finds (I think Pettinger came in the same draft as Hossa, but was picked earlier). Looking back on Green, I'm sure everyone else in the NHL is pissed off they didn't get him. And Semin, too. Green was even less of a high probability pick than Semin, too. Fehr's not a bust, yet, he needs to play more than 20 games in a row, first. Perrault and Bouchard look like they might turn out to be amazing players someday, maybe even as early as next year. Same with Alzner.
Not only drafting (i realize i'm branching out), but he DID bring in Clark, Nylander, Morrisonn, and Jurcina (though Jurcina looks to me like he's been struggling lately). Nylander needs to learn when to freaking shoot, but he's been good this year, so far. Clark I don't need to say anything about. Morrisonn's been good, but not fantastic. Same with Jurcina. But, frankly, excepting Green, they're our two best D-men.
McPhee has not been TERRIBLE. I just wish the Caps had been competitive before the lock-out, so that we might have kept Gonchar, Grier, and Bondra (we obviously got Nylander back). But, then again, had that not all happened, we wouldn't have gotten Ovechkin. So, all in all, probably a good thing.

-Nylander and Ovie together.
I agree. I'd at least like to see the experiment go sour with my own eyes before giving it up. They're two world class players, they should be able to make something happen.
i also agree that Kozlov should be given a game or two on the 2nd or 3rd line. It's obvious that the best RW for Ovie is Clark. They compliment each other very well. Frankly, I have no idea who should be Ovie's center. Backstrom looks like he'll be wonderful eventually, but he's not there, yet (though, i think he's progressing faster in these past few games than I originally thought -- he had a few really nice end-to-end rushes that got him deep in the zone, where he--)

- Cycling and Dumping the puck.
Good Christ, I am sick of seeing this crap. The Caps have no idea how to utilize either one, but they keep playing both systems. When cycling, you drop the puck ONCE or TWICE, and then either shoot yourself or hand off to the D so that they can shoot. You don't dump the puck back into the corner unless you're about to be mauled -- that puck should be on net faster than the goalie can see that you've even dropped the puck back to the D. And since you're already circling towards the net, you're right in the lane for a rebound. That's cycling.
And for dumping the puck. you don't dump it so that it lays still in the corner for anyone to get. you dump it hard around the boards to whichever wing is fastest/closest, so that they can pick it up and go towards the net with it.
The Caps don't/can't do either of these things with the puck. I don't understand why the hell Hanlon is trying to beat it into their heads so hard. IT DOESN'T WORK, STOP FORCING IT.

I'm sorry my post is so long.

Tarik, if you get this far, why don't you relay this to Hanlon the next time you see him, okay? I like him, but he's got fans to appease. If we at least see him try something different, and it still fails, we'll at least know that it's not entirely his fault, like we seem to think it is.

I refuse to believe that Ovechkin can't go out and score every night if he's playing in a good system. And I mean that. If he can ever find a sweet spot system that allows him to run and gun, but have support from his inferior linemates, i don't see why he couldn't be the one to hit 93, or, like he says in his new commercial, "[the next to 50 goals] in 36?"

Let's see some improvement. We're improving shot totals. Let's see scoring chances improve, next.

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | November 4, 2007 12:16 AM | Report abuse

Tarik--

I have a good question. Have you ever specifically asked Hanlon what he likes about his systems and why he uses them?

I'd like to hear that response. Or, is you, or anyone else, can answer my question for me, that'd also be welcome.

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | November 4, 2007 12:18 AM | Report abuse

DrinkingPartner....you make some nice points, but all the guys except pettinger (second round) were first rounders. Can't we expect more from a first rounder than good solid checker (Sutherby, Gordon, Pettinger)?

And Green wasn't that big a stretch, he put up great numbers in juniors but was a big risk because he played on a miserable saskatoon team and was like a -98 his draft year (might be an exageration, but his D play was a big concern for everyone that drafted ahead of the caps that year).

It shouldn't be hard to draft some decent first rounders, the real question is what we got in return for all of the guys that we have given up over the years at the deadline and why we never find a player that makes the squad past the second round. We unloaded Bondra, Jagr, Lang, Nylander, Gonchar, Grier, Konowalchuk, Carter, Zubrus and Witt and have VERY little to show for that.

I'll admit that perhaps the frustration of watching another losing season makes me want GMGM to lose his job maybe more than he deserves, but I just have this thought that perhaps he is just a really mediocre GM and I really haven't seen anything from him (or Hanlon) that makes me think they do a better job than I could.

If I were GM and hit the lottery pick in 2004, I think I could have made the tough choice of drafting OV. If I were the GM in 2005, I think I would agree with getting Pokoluk but instead takin him in the 6th round where he should have gone .If I were GM in 2006, I think I could have taken Backstrom and in 2007 I might have gone with either Alzner, Voracek or Gagner. Real amazing job he has done.

Sorry for the long post.

Posted by: Rob | November 4, 2007 1:00 AM | Report abuse

Rob--

Well, like I said, both Perrault and Bouchard look like they could be explosive when they mature, and they're both 2nd rounders. (I actually didn't realize Pettinger was 2nd round, i thought he was a 1st like the others.)

And, honestly, aside from Crosby, Pokulok, and Finley, I don't even remember who else was in that draft. Did Kopitar come out in 05? I'd have taken him, certainly. Or was he '06? I can't remember.

But, basically, I was simply arguing that McPhee isn't as horrible as everyone says. Kono went for Johansson, who i'm not even sure is still playing, Lang for Flash, Bondra for Laich, Nylander and Gonchar for Morissonn and a pick, Jagr for nothing, Grier for Klepis, I don't remember what we got for Carter, Novotny for Zubrus, and I can't remember what we got for Witt, either, off the top of my head.

Johansson, Flash, and Klepis were all supposed to be explosive forwards. And they were. In Juniors. I don't particularly fault McPhee for that, he was taken in like everyone else. If anything, I fault our scouts for that -- they should have seen how they play.

Morissonn, Jurcina, and Laich were all good pick-ups. Laich is essentially filling in for what Bondra could have done at his age, with a few less goals.

It was a pretty awful-turning-out for those prospects, but I'm not sure what else they would have done. The only reason they got rid of everyone was so that they would have some money to play around with in the salary cap. Obviously, almost none of it has been played around with, but the fact remains that they achieved the goal they set.

Any of us might have made the same prospect mistakes GMGM did. So, i don't fault him for it.

But, I do have a problem with the fact that we didn't get a D other than Poti. I think Markov would have been a great addition. I also wonder what the hell happened in the Timmonen/Hartnell trade. Why did Philly only have to give up a 2nd rounder for both of them (or something ridiculously low like that)? I would have given up a 2nd rounder any day of the year for a pair of players like that. Why weren't we in the mix for that?
And Rafalski. He's another D I would have stalked to his own living room for a contract. I just don't see the die-hard tendencies that I think we need in the organization right now.

But I don't hate McPhee, regardless of how this sounds. But it is time for things to start going right for us, otherwise both he and Hanlon are going to pay for it.

If Leonsis is willing to take winning to heart, that is.

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | November 4, 2007 2:14 AM | Report abuse

I did NOT (READ NOT, AGAIN) said OV is not a great player, nor I said he was selfish, nor I said he wasn't a team player. What I said, is that he has to learn to play with his line-mates, hockey, as far as I know, still a team sport, and no matter how great individual skill you have, you are not going to have a wining combination until you play as a team. I think OV is trying too hard to do it all by himself, and that, in my opinion, is bad.
As for the guy calling me dumb and then throwing useless statistics to support this type of argument, well, I respect your opinion and lets leave it at that.

Posted by: opita | November 4, 2007 3:25 AM | Report abuse

This team is in a very tough spot. A couple of more losses, and they'll need a minor miracle to get into playoffs. Too many injuries, not enough chemistry, no bounces, and neither the goalies nor the PP can bail us out. Hard to really blame the players, since they are working hard. Hanlon has not been able to come up with anything to stem the tide, so whether or not it's fair, his seat should be getting hot. I'm sure they are going to wait and see if he can get something going once he has a full lineup, though - let's hope it won't be too late.. but frankly, I doubt that there are any good short-term solutions, be it line-combos or even firing the coach (although I don't think that Hanlon is the right guy for the job). But right now, pretty much like Kolzig said, this team needs improvement in every single area, and some luck to regain the confidence.

Regarding Ovechkin, I agree with those who say that AO can do a better job involving his teammates -- I think it's pretty obvious. I'm a huge Ovechkin homer, but it's clear that for now he still lacks the patience on the puck that some other great players have. He tries to force almost every play, while sometimes you need to curl away and wait for an open man.

I do think that he will "get it" within a couple of years, and it will happen faster with a good coach.

Posted by: Vlad | November 4, 2007 4:28 AM | Report abuse

I am not convinced that it's time to ring Hanlon up yet. I think we've all seen things that make us scratch our heads, but the simple fact is that the Caps are still third from the bottom of the league in terms of current player salary. Some decisions were made to keep younger (read cheaper) players in the hope that they would develop into consistent NHL'ers (read Flash) and that hasn't happened. As a result, this team is still so thin in terms of scoring lines that Hanlon is forced to make decisions he may very well not make if he had some depth. As to the D, overall there has been significant improvement and some of the young guys look like they'll be solid on the blueline for a very long time, but I am very puzzled about Eminger's status because his current situation does nothing but diminish his value to the Caps and to any potential trade partner. In any case, what I'm questioning are largely front office decisions. It's hard to say whether it's Ted or GMGM who is making them, but I think the issue remains what it has been for several years: where the team is on the profitability curve and how far Ted is willing to go into the red to bring in more talent in the hope that it will put fannies in the seats. The Caps spent money this year, but only enough to make a run at the playoffs realistic if things broke their way in terms of player development, and if nobody got hurt. Unfortunately, it hasn't worked out the way we hoped, and now I'm afraid we're paying the price. As to "the rebuild is over", I thought the goal was to bring the Cup here. When it arrives, the rebuild is over. Until then, nobody should pretend that they are satisfied.

Posted by: Fred | November 4, 2007 9:02 AM | Report abuse

After sleeping on it, I still disagree with the Ovie assessment.

In no way should his style of play be compromised for his teammates. His rookie year, he destroyed people all by himself. Zubrus and Clark tried hard to keep up, and they were rewarded with career years.

Like I said before, they need people who can play up to Ovechkin, they don't need Ovechkin to play down to linemates. Otherwise, his potential is simply wasted.

And no, this does not mean he should give up his newly found defensive play. I'm talking solely in the offensive zone. I think he'll better be able to employ linemates once he's got some linemates who are actually up in the play with him, not some 30 feet behind him, desperately trying to catch up.

That's why Clark has been so successful -- he's got the speed to keep up. Just imagine if Clark were a 2-way Center.

I still wonder about Nylander and Ovie together...

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | November 4, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Capitals Hockey ~ the cruel alternative....

Posted by: sadcapsfan | November 4, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

i think some bounces have been going the caps way and that's why the games were as close as they were. a few late game rushes to make it a 1 goal game when it could easily have been a multigoal loss.

Posted by: jim | November 4, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

@Opita -

Clark scored 30 goals last season because of AO. Clark hadn't scored this year (7 games) until he was put on the line with AO. He had, ZERO points up to that point. He goes on the first line for 2 games with AO and he suddently has 2 goals and 2 assists.

Players have to play up to the level that AO does. He makes them do that, because when they do, they'll score. He also finds a way to get open. His off-puck skills are enormous. His defensive play is remarkable for a marquee player. You'd never see Jagr or Crosby do that. He is totally a rounded skater and a team player.

We are 3rd in the league...from the bottom. Phoenix is ahead of us for cryin' out loud! What POSSIBLE defensive argument can be left for Hanlon and McPhail?

Posted by: Greg S. | November 4, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I'm just going to buck up and say this:

All of you people claiming you could make better draft picks than GMGM are out of your minds. You're talking about players who you have no clue what kind of seasons they were having in Juniors and no clue whether they were going to make it in the NHL until AFTER THEY ARE SUCCESSFUL.

Talking about how you would've drafted Kopitar when GMGM didn't is not only unproductive, but isn't even verifiable.

Posted by: Raber | November 4, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Raber--

I never said that. I simply made a comment to the effect of "who else would we have picked instead of Pokulok/Finley?" I was making clear my ignorance of the depth of the '05 draft.

What's with the hostility? Were my posts hostile?

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | November 4, 2007 6:47 PM | Report abuse

the caps really aren't that good this year.

Posted by: mike bossy | November 5, 2007 10:43 PM | Report abuse

i'm confused.

Posted by: is the blog working? | November 5, 2007 10:44 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad that Olie's quotes paid off with such inspired play last night. They looked great against the CANES and it is apparent that Hanlon and the boys will right the ship.

Seriously, this team is in trouble and if it were the Redskins or Wizards, the sports writers & reporters would be calling for the coach's head. I don't understand why they is not more blame being placed on GMGM and Hanlon right now by the media.

Posted by: CAPSFAN=Ulcers | November 6, 2007 11:23 AM | Report abuse

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