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Rangers 3, Caps 2

Coach Bruce Boudreau was pleased with his team's overall effort in tonight's 3-2 loss to the Rangers at MSG, which he said was the Caps' fastest and most intense game of the preseason. But he was less pleased about the two defensive breakdowns that led to goals and a poor performance by the power play.

"It was the closest to a regular-season game that we've had for the tempo and intensity," Boudreau said. "So it was a real good test for us. For our second [game] in two nights, the guys had a pretty good effort."

Some notes from preseason Game No. 5:

*The first Caps breakdown came on an egregious errant giveaway by defenseman John Erskine that sprung Marian Gaborik (two goals) on a short-handed breakaway midway through the second period. Asked what Erskine was thinking on the play, Boudreau cracked, "Nobody knows."

The second breakdown came on the game-winner and involved forward Matt Bradley. Bradley went to hit Brandon Dubinsky along the boards but missed, allowing Dubinsky to get the puck in front. Dubinsky got nailed by defenseman Milan Jurcina, but the puck went to Christopher Higgins, who redirected it through David Steckel and Jose Theodore.

"I didn't play him properly," Bradley said. "I should have played the angle better."

*For the second straight night, Boudreau went with Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-Alexander Semin on the top line. They were great on Wednesday, but not so much tonight. The trio was on the ice for three goals; however, two were scored by the Rangers, including the shorty.

"They were good and bad," Boudreau said. "They were playing cute a little bit."

*Keith Aucoin (goal) and Quintin Laing (three hits and a blocked shot) played well and helped their arguments to stick with the Big Club.

"I thought that was Aucoin's best game," Boudreau said. "You're going to see the same thing from Quintin every night."

*Alexandre Giroux, however, did not help his cause. He had three shots on goal, but misfired on a good scoring chance late.

"With Alexandre, he's got the puck on his stick in the slot, and he's paid to do those kinds of things, he's got to somehow find out how to do it here," Boudreau said. "Those are the things he has to do to stay here."

*One night after the power play went 3 for 6, it sputtered tonight, going 0 for 5.

"It was not very good tonight," Boudreau said. "It's preseason. They came at us differently than Chicago did. We still haven't practiced."

*Theodore was very solid (but not spectacular) in making 21 saves.

"I thought he was really into it," Boudreau said. "I'm pretty good at knowing when Jose is on top of his game, and I thought he was on top of his game."

*Well, we found out exactly why Brandon Sugden has lasted so long in camp. He got into two fights with former Caps enforcer Donald Brashear, who was facing his old team for the first time since leaving in July. Brashear slipped in the first fight, then gained the upper hand late in the second (which lasted about 90 seconds).

"I thought Brandon held his own pretty good against arguably the heavyweight of the league," Boudreau said.

Seems Brashear hasn't exactly been welcomed with open arms by all of the Garden faithful, who are apparently still upset about his devastating hit on former Ranger Blair Betts in last year's playoffs. Brashear was booed after each of his two minor penalties. But he's not mad at them.

"Maybe they are [still upset]," Brashear said with a smile. "Seems like a tough crowd now, but I'll find a way to win their hearts."

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  September 24, 2009; 11:25 PM ET
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Next: Morning Links: Letdown in the Big Apple


when is knuble going to get back on that first line?

Posted by: cotelloer | September 24, 2009 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Also, given that the top line is ovechkin/backstrom/knuble
should boudreau be trying to work out a center and winger to play with we even have a 2nd line center?

Posted by: cotelloer | September 24, 2009 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Knuble played almost the entire previous game on the top line.

He wasn't in the lineup tonight.

I'm still assuming Morrison will be the 2nd line center to start the season if he's healthy. His absence for several games now is a concern but Boudreau seems to think he'll be OK.

Posted by: tmac2yao | September 24, 2009 11:45 PM | Report abuse

how many times THIS season are we going to hear about the Alex's playing too cute from Bruce.

Posted by: rh71 | September 25, 2009 12:14 AM | Report abuse

maybe someone oughta tell Bruce that the reason they play cute is because thats they're freakin style! if you don't like Bruce, don't play Semin on the top line. Thx

Juice had a monster game tonight. Picked up right where he left off in the playoffs, pasting forwards. If he keeps his game simple he's quite an asset to have back there. Does all the dirty work.

Posted by: cstanton1 | September 25, 2009 12:24 AM | Report abuse


On finding a line for Semin:

Our second line is pretty much in disarray right now, since it's our second line cast of characters out with injuries. Flash, Morrison. And Fehr has spent time on the second line.

Who is our second line right now? (Okay, I'm being sarcastic.) Aucoin has been our second line center.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | September 25, 2009 12:32 AM | Report abuse

Knuble's absence was keenly felt. We need him back to calm down the kids. (This is true regardless of what line he's on.)

Without Knuble, the PP isn't right. And the kids kept parading to the Penalty Box.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | September 25, 2009 12:35 AM | Report abuse


Morrison was supposed to be the 2nd line center but he's injured.


Last night, I thought Knuble was on the 2nd line. (Although from the stats, it was hard to tell.) He was on the power play. And both he and the kids were looking great.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | September 25, 2009 12:38 AM | Report abuse

As far as I am concerned, the jury is still out for BB. He doesn't seem to understand European style of play, re. Nyls, and the alexes, not that I can blame him, he never played it and it appears to be a foreign concept to him. Europeans like the technical game, what BB considers and annoyingly keeps referring as "cute" - aped by many fans, they don't shoot for the sake of shooting when they feel there is a better play available, it drives people like BB crazy because their mentality is that if shoot even when there is not opportunity to score there might be a lucky bounce or rebound for a score.
BB has great players now, lets wait and see what happens when they are not around.

Posted by: hock1 | September 25, 2009 12:51 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and Semin seem destined for another rough season by never having a constant line, BB is going to drive Semin down if he continues switching his linemates.

Posted by: hock1 | September 25, 2009 12:54 AM | Report abuse

@ CapsFan75

I may be mixing up games in my head. One of the past two games, I believe Knuble played almost exclusively on the top line with Ovechkin and Backstrom.

As far as saying that Knuble's absence on the PP was keenly felt and the PP doesn't look right without him, that's crazy talk.

We had a top 2 PP last season without Knuble and while his presence should be a bonus, we would have been fine this season on the PP without him. Ideally, he just makes a great PP even greater.

The reason you saw a difference tonight was probably the different opponent we were facing and the fact that we played a back-to-back while the Rangers did not. It's a new season with some changes to the roster but NY was an elite PK team last season. Plus, they were playing at home and didn't have to travel.

None of this even touches on the fact that sometimes the PP just isn't as productive on certain nights for random reasons. It's too small of a sample size.

Posted by: tmac2yao | September 25, 2009 12:56 AM | Report abuse

These Ranger fans booing Brashear are mostly racists. I've talked to a few of them, and that's clearly where they're coming from.

Posted by: Hatfield223 | September 25, 2009 1:57 AM | Report abuse

Also, Boudreau, stop playing the SOB line. 9 out of 10 games last year, it was the exact same line -- "They were too cute". So separate them!

Posted by: Hatfield223 | September 25, 2009 2:00 AM | Report abuse

You've "talked to a few of them" so you're able to determine that they are all racists.

Ridiculous generalization.

Even if there are a few fans booing him for that reason, my guess is the majority are booing him because of his hit on Betts last season.

Posted by: tmac2yao | September 25, 2009 4:43 AM | Report abuse

I want #22 back, we need a little grit to counter balance the "cute"!

Posted by: NatyBG | September 25, 2009 6:44 AM | Report abuse

rh71, I completely agree. Semin and Ovechkin are rediculously talented but I don't think they "mesh" well together on the same line. We saw it last year, they play to cute together and are to passive. I know Knuble didn't play tonight but it seems to me that Knuble-Ovie-Backstrom works best as our top line. I think we'll see them be our top line come Oct 1st. I can't wait!

Posted by: DCSportsFan28 | September 25, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

when you shoot 3 things can happen:
1-goal good
2-rebound good
3-saved-offensive zone face-off good


good things happen when you shoot, when you pass half the time bad things happen. I think BB understands the European style of keeping the puck and passing-he just htinks it sux and doesn't win in the NHL

Posted by: cadlecreek1 | September 25, 2009 8:05 AM | Report abuse

The Ovie Backstrom Semin line was very effective Wed. night against Chicago. Knuble was on the second line that night-- also very effective. Can't generalize about lines. BB is experimenting--that's why it's called preseason. Last night different combo on second line.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | September 25, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Aucoin & Laing stay, Borque & Giroux go.

Posted by: doughless | September 25, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Hatfield, you must be joking me right? the Rangers have had several African-American/Canadian players, such as Nigel Dawes, Kevin Weekes, Anson Carter and Tony McKegney in the 80s. The crowd never booed any of them, and in fact quite liked Dawes and Weekes when they were on the team over the past few years.
Do you think maybe it had to do with the hit on Betts in the playoffs last year when he was suspended for 6 games? Nah....those villainous Rangers fans must be racist. It makes total sense.

Posted by: JK111 | September 25, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

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