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Saturday Morning Update (Update)

Here's the latest from KCI:

*Jose Theodore will indeed start tonight against a Rangers' team that has had five days off to rest. And they're no doubt still smarting from the Caps' five goal comeback at MSG on Dec. 23.

"We're expecting the Rangers' best because they've had a few days off and a few days to practice," Boudreau said. "They're hungry. Philadelphia overtook them for first place all year [in the Atlantic Division] last night. Whether it's revenge, or they felt they looked bad in their own building after having a 4-0 lead, I think there are a lot of things that are going to be motivating them. We're expecting one of the best efforts from one of the best teams in the league."

*It also looks like Alexander Semin will return from a six-game absence because of a back injury. He skated this morning and apparently feels good enough to give it a shot. Coach Bruce Boudreau said he's going to take the pre-game warmup before deciding for sure. Just in case, Boudreau told Alexandre Giroux to come off the ice. He was just about to start skating hard, the way scratches do on game days.

*Donald Brashear will return to the lineup tonight and Tomas Fleischmann is due back on Tuesday, which inevitably means, "We're probably due for a couple of injuries tonight," Boudreau cracked.

*Bengt Gustafsson, former Cap, dad of prospect Anton and head coach of Team Sweden, is here as a "guest coach". He's staying here for the week, Boudreau said and the two coaches will exchange notes.

"He's down here for the week," Boudreau said. "We showed some video and we're explaining to him what we do and how we do it. We're glad to have him. We're going to get some input from him; he was a great player for the Capitals."

*The Caps are seeking their fifth straight win over the Rangers. If they succeed, it will be their longest streak over the Blue Shirts since March 1987-Jan. 1988.

*By now, you've heard that Caps are virtually unbeatable at home, where they are 16-1-1 this season. From the team's stat gurus:

-They've outscored opponents 71-37, including 25-9 in the first period. Only Vancouver has allowed fewer goals at home (34).
-Alex Ovechkin has a seven game goal scoring streak at home and a 12-game point streak.
-If the team sells out tonight, they will have more sellouts than all of last year.

*Milan Jurcina was beaming with pride this morning after Team Slovakia's 5-3 win over Team USA in the world junior championships on Saturday.

"I looked at USA's roster, it was first round, first round, first round, second round," Jurcina said. "We had only three, four guys who were drafted. So I thought it was going to be a [butt] kick [ing] out there. But the goalie did a pretty good job."

Jurcina watched the game with Tomas Fleischmann.

"It was pretty intense," Jurcina added. "It's pretty big in Slovakia right now. It's the front of every newspaper. It's crazy beating the USA in North America."

*Karl Alzner, meantime, was walking around the dressing room with a Hockey Canada baseball hat on.

That's all for now. I'll post lineups before the game tonight.


By Tarik El-Bashir  |  January 3, 2009; 11:56 AM ET
 
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Next: Ovechkin Robbed in All-Star Balloting

Comments

Will Bengt Gustafsson be behind the bench during the game?

Posted by: NB19 | January 3, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Is that Regular Season sellouts or does that include the Play-offs?

Posted by: HeldenCaps | January 3, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

It's pretty much a guarantee to sellout tonite. Saturday night usually sells out, and a game against a team like the Rangers.

That's what winning does for a team.

Posted by: NB19 | January 3, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I hope the Rangers or the Flyers don't start running Semin, or if they do, that Brash and Clark are willing to collect a PIM or five or seven.

Boudreau, HOLD YOUR TONGUE :)

Posted by: kittypawz | January 3, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

I actually don't believe the Rangers have the type of team leadership to get angry about what happened last time. I expect them to come out flat.

Posted by: Leeguru | January 3, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Bit of catching up so please excuse the long post:

As marklee15 has already posted there was a dirty hit in the St. Louis/Carolina game last night with Strachan cross checking Whitney head first into the boards. I was flicking through a few live streams last night and found this game just before the hit happened so I watched it live.

Strachan got 5 mins for boarding and he was openly critised by the Hurricanes TV guys. They also compared that hit to Ovie's on Heward and said they were total opposites. I thought they might have wanted to stick the boot in on Ovie but they said his hit was legal and just an accident, unlike Strachen's. I have to agree.

Many have spoke about Rangers fans noise. That may be the case but when I watched the highlights of the recent Rangers/Caps game from MSG, I was surprised at how loud the noise was after Caps goals. Especially Ovie's goal to get it to 4-4. Seems there must have been a fair amount of travelling support there for the Caps. Was anyone there? Watch the highlights again and listen.

Not sure about keeping Giroux up over CBo but lets hope Semin plays and that a moot point.

Finally, I had a surprise package arrive this morning from an exellent friend which contained a Ovie Bobblehead. I'm off to find a home for him along side my Boudreau Bobblehead and my Redskins helmet. I have the makings of a DC shrine!

Posted by: DaveUKCapsFan | January 3, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I will lose the next 3 games, including Philly :( I'll ask some gentle soul to summarize them for me.

Let's hope Theo is on top of his game, and the boys keep bringing the "A" effort to VC.

Posted by: mauree | January 3, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Suit Bengt up and put him on a line with Ovie. I bet Gus could still get him the puck with the proficiency of Federov.

Posted by: diner99 | January 3, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Han Solo: "NEVER tell me the odds!"

I hope that Boudreau's quip is not prophetic... I'm very worried about Semin coming back tonight. The Rangers are hungry, and they are very likely mad as hell after last night. They're rested, and they're ready to rumble. We have got to be ready, and we have got to be loud. The boys will need that "7th man" effect tonight, particularly since it's a Saturday night, and New York is only four hours away!

As far as physical fouls are concerned, the Rangers play a very rough-and-tumble game.

* LW #34 Aaron Voros - 6'3", 215# - 9 fighting majors, 3 slashing, 1 high-sticking, 2 boarding, 1 misconduct (10 minutes), and 1 unsportsmanlike conduct

* RW #28 Colton Orr - 6'2", 222# - 8 fighting majors, 1 boarding, 1 cross-checking, 1 misconduct (10 minutes)

* C #17 Brandon Dubinsky - 6'1", 205# - 3 fighting majors, 1 charging, 1 slashing, 2 elbowing, 1 high-sticking

* D #27 Paul Mara - 6'4", 212# - 2 fighting majors, 1 slashing, 1 cross-checking

* RW #13 Nikolai Zherdev - 6'2", 203# - 1 fighting major, 1 charging, 2 slashing, 1 cross-checking

Posted by: irockthered | January 3, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I love how the guys start beaming with pride when their country does well in the World Juniors. Let's see, we've got:

Canada
Russia
Sweden
Slovokia
Czech Republic
U.S
all represented with the Caps, and, if you consider Lepisto and Osala with the Bears, add Finland to the mix.

Posted by: shotfromthepoint | January 3, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Between the Rangers and the Flyers, AO won't have time to let the Heward accident affect his play.

Posted by: miseaujeu | January 3, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

@miseaujeu - I hope you're right!!! We're going to need Ovi at his hitting best tonight against the Rangers... probably we'll need Brashear, too... this is going to be a very physical game, and I'm glad we're at home tonight and not in New York.

Posted by: irockthered | January 3, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

C'mon, Semin! We need ya!

Posted by: _jordan | January 3, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Completely off-topic, but... NASA's Spirit rover just celebrated the 5th anniversary of its landing on Mars today, and Opportunity will celebrate its 5th anniversary on the 25th. Considering they weren't supposed to last three months, I'm thinking they're doing really well. Go Rovers!!!

Posted by: irockthered | January 3, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Will Bengt be on the bench with the team or upstairs with communication ability with the Leach or Evason?

Posted by: mlewis31 | January 3, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

@ whoever added Finland to "have done well in the World Juniors" list. No, they really didn't.


And some Canadian psycho called David Ling and his 50 penalty minutes in one game aren't impressed by Rangers' statts

Posted by: sleza | January 3, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Completely off-topic, but... NASA's Spirit rover just celebrated the 5th anniversary of its landing on Mars today, and Opportunity will celebrate its 5th anniversary on the 25th. Considering they weren't supposed to last three months, I'm thinking they're doing really well. Go Rovers!!!

Posted by: irockthered | January 3, 2009 1:04 PM

you should change your name to irocktheredplanet...

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | January 3, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Totally off topic, but I have been watching the WJC and although our young American boys have been eliminated, it wasn't due to lack of effort. Goaltending was a little suspect the last two games but they're kids. Two things that disappoint me about the whole thing. First, I cannot believe how much the US is hated in Ottawa. They were actually booing our boys when they played Slovakia, I just don't understand that at all. I get it when our boys played the Canadians, but not when the US played another opponent. Slowly disliking Canada as a whole. I'm retired Navy and the fact that our ship was in a Halifax for a Port visit on Canada day in 2002 was booed at a club I was in while on liberty. Not sure why the Canadians have begun to hate us so much, but they are a weak country that depends on us for their security, they shouldn't forget that.

The second thing is the ignorant statement made by none other than Pierre McGuire who was the color guy for the Russian/Czech game. He had the nerve to call yesterday's Team Slovakia win over the US "Slovakia's 1980." Sure it was an upset, and the Amercans should have won, but it was boys against boys compared to our 1980 boys beating men. Anyone who wans to hear the ignorant statement and has the game recorded, it was said with just under 6:40 left in the first. McGuire tried to back pedal when the play by play guy disagreed, but his initial statement is clear and very foolish.

Posted by: fanohock1 | January 3, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Joke of the Day:

Panthers 4
Penguins 1 2nd per

Can you smell a coaching change?

Posted by: SA-Town | January 3, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Not that this is likely to be news, or a surprise to us, but http://www.icedaily.com/news/2100/4_Canadiens_elected_for_NHL_East_stars_in_Montreal

Posted by: miseaujeu | January 3, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

The all star game has lost all of it's luster/sense of accomplishment because of the way the vote was hijacked this season. Not sour grapes, but you mean to tell me the candiens and penguins have the best players in all 6 positions in the East?

Posted by: Leeguru | January 3, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

fanohock1,
While I understand that you have the right to be upset for the boo-birds coming out against your ship, when it comes to their hockey, Canadians have an extremely "Us against the World" mentality. They were cheering for Slovakia and booing the US simply because it was the US. If its Sweden vs Slovakia, they don't do it. If its Slovakia vs Russia, they do it. Who would the Canadians rather play--the Slovaks or the Americans? Americans may love hockey, but its a way of life for Canadians. That most NHL franchises are in the US really burns them. Its just how they are. (Disclaimer: I'm Canadian)
As for Pierre, well, he's an idiot in general, but when you consider the number of draftees on either team, its a little closer to the "boys beating men" you refer to.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | January 3, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Now 5-1 Panthers over Pens. Crosby has 0 SOG and 19 PIM with a misconduct penalty and fighting major. If Buffalo hangs on to beat Boston the Pens won't even be in a playoff slot!

Posted by: dcsportsfan13 | January 3, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Wait, that sissy Crosby got a fighting major? That means one of his slaps landed!

Posted by: Leeguru | January 3, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

The powder blue jersey just brings the beast out in Crosby.

Posted by: rvan641 | January 3, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't even call what Cindy did a fight. He jumped someone like a coward.
I think this might be the only time I will ever root for the Florida Panthers...

6-1 Panthers w/ 8 minutes left
Also, Bruins are down 4-2 against Buffalo.

Hope the Caps can start closing that gap! Let's go CAPS!

Posted by: tURBO8 | January 3, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Man, I wish I realized I got this game earlier. Seeing Crosby get into a fight might have been entertaining. BTW, 19 of Crosby's 21 PIMs came from the same incident--a fighting, a misconduct, an instigator, and an unsportsmanlike. He's a goon, I tell you, a goon!! Just downright dangerous! Beating up poor, defenseless Bret McLean. ;-P

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | January 3, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Bruins won...
LETS GO CAPS! 1st in the East in no time

Posted by: tURBO8 | January 3, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Just walked in the house and turned on the Pens game. 6-1. Wow! The Pittsburgh announcers sound like they're ready to jump off the ledge. What did Sid do to earn all the time in the box? Any guesses on how long Therrien keeps his job?

Posted by: tess2201 | January 3, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

tess2201, The Florida announcers said he jumped McLean, who came back up bewildered, after Sid previously put Campbell in a headlock, which led to a Talbot-Campbell fight. I think Sid is finally cracking.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | January 3, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

jmu_capsgirl: Back in 2002 my son went to Canada to play in a tounament, Barrie, ON. Our entire team, which was the only US team in the tournament was treated nicely. Recently the treatment has not been so nice when we go across the border. Not sure if too much French blood is flowing, but the Canadians as a whole do not care for US folks as much. I do believe it's due to our foreign policy, but it's too bad that it trickles down to U20 hockey and below.

Again, the 1980 win is not even in the same category as the Slovak win over our U20s. If the U20 Slovaks took the ice today and beat our beloved Washington Capitals THAT my fellow Caps fan would be comparable to the win our 1980 boys had against the Soviet Union.

Posted by: fanohock1 | January 3, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

@tURBO8
Bruins did what? :)

Posted by: yrb1 | January 3, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

fanohock1, Politics probably has a lot to do with it, unfortunately. I don't see it as much, since I can put my Canadian accent back on after a day or two up there and my family is about half and half.
Darn, lost the Florida feed right after the game. I guess I'll get to see highlights later.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | January 3, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

@yrb1,
My bad, got a bit too excited.
Bruins LOST!

Posted by: tURBO8 | January 3, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Now the Pens announcers are whining about injuries!! Dudes, you'll get no sympathy from the Caps.

Just saw the highlight of Sid's "fight". Isn't there a rule about fighting while wearing a visor? Is that why he got the 2-min Unsportsmanlike?

Posted by: tess2201 | January 3, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

tess, Yep! unsportsmanlike for fighting with a visor.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | January 3, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

crysby fighting?? closer to plain UnManLike.
did he try to punch the guy in the 'lower midsection' or was he just 'groping'?

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 3, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

They just interviewed Sid: "I challenged him and I guess he didn't think I was serious. I don't think what I did deserved 19 minutes."

Posted by: tess2201 | January 3, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

jmucapsgirl: You're not all bad eggs. I have a good group of Canadian friends, just sayin'. Headed to Verizon after my son's game. LETS GO CAPS!

Posted by: fanohock1 | January 3, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

tess, See, I read between the lines as "I have no idea how to challenge somebody, and this guy clearly has been told if he fights me, he gets kicked out of the league, but I've been called out by my coach, so I've got to at least look like I'm trying, so even though he didn't take me up on it, I fought him anyways." And by "I don't think what I did deserved 19 minutes", he clearly means, "How DARE that ref call me for that many minutes!?! Uncles Mario and Gary will have his HEAD!!!" :D

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | January 3, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I love how the state of Capitals fandom has changed over the past year.

Last year this time, all we wanted was to make the playoffs. Even the eighth seed would suffice.

This year, we not only are in line to make the playoffs, we now want to be number one in the East.

Second place?! I’ll be damned if we’re settling for that :)

Posted by: TheSkyIsntFalling | January 3, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Just watched the Crosby fight. More like he just jumped the guy once the puck dropped.

Posted by: TheSkyIsntFalling | January 3, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Assuming Semin plays, what do we think the forward lines will look like tonight? I'm thinking Bruce keeps the top line together and puts Semin on the second line. My best guess (which will be way off, I'm sure) is:

Ovechkin-Backstrom-Kozlov
Clark-Nylander-Semin
Laich-Steckel-Fehr
Brashear-Gordon-Bradley

Could also put Laich on the second line and bump Clark down to the third.

Posted by: jsaltman | January 3, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

@ fanohock1

I don't wanna start anything political, but if you don't understand why Canadians, just like the rest of the world, despises Americans right now and when that started you have not been paying any attention to world events over the past 8 years. You can say thanks to Bush and his foreign policy for that. Yes, the Canadians have cheered on every team that plays against the US.

While I'm very far from being a Pierre McGuirre fan your assertion that his statement about Slovakia's win being their 1980 Miracle on Ice was stupid is actually ignorant. Absolutely no one thought Slovakia had any chance of winning this game. In fact, it was expected to be a blowout. It doesn't matter that these were kids vs. kids. The balance of power was almost as uneven as in 1980. Slovakia was beaten 8-1 in round robin by not a particularly impressive Russian team. US is objectively a better team than Russia (and I'm Russian), so for them to lose this game is an unbelievable upset, which is why they celebrated as if they just won the whole tournament.

USA Hockey has spent millions on the program and the US team is loaded with top NHL prospects / draft picks while almost the entire Slovakian team is undrafted. It was obvious from even just watching the game just how much better the US is, but the Slovakian goalie had an incredible game, their forwards seemed to score on every chance they got and they played at 200% of their ability.

This WAS their Miracle on Ice and you disrespecting that is exactly the kind of attitude that causes people around the world to despise Americans. There's a reason why their whole country is celebrating this amazing win.

I'm also sure that the Canadians would like you even more after hearing assertions that they're a weak country that survives only thanks to the protection of the mighty USA.

Posted by: ranndino | January 3, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

@ fanohock1

Just saw your follow-up.

---

Again, the 1980 win is not even in the same category as the Slovak win over our U20s. If the U20 Slovaks took the ice today and beat our beloved Washington Capitals THAT my fellow Caps fan would be comparable to the win our 1980 boys had against the Soviet Union.

---

Absolutely not. This shows that you do not have a good understanding of either situation. Please check the population of Slovakia and the number of hockey players they have compared to the US. Then check how much money the Slovak hockey federation has compared to USA Hockey.

While the US team in 1980 was obviously a huge underdog these were the best American college players at the time and quite a few of them went on to play in the NHL. Also, a fact that Americans don't like talking about (because anything that you guys do always has to be the most amazing achievement ever) is that the USSR team absolutely killed you in a pre-Olympic tournament back then so took your team so lightly that they had a nice party the night before. They were all hungover and playing on next to no sleep. I don't mean to take away from your Miracle on Ice, but had that not happened your boys would have got annihilated. The point is that the USA team in this U20 tournament came into the game at full strength and still lost to a team that was completely outmatched.

Anyway, some of you guys believe that the Battle of Gettysburg was the greatest battle of all time (just because it happened in the US) or that you were first in space (no one has a clue here who Yuriy Gagarin was), so I'm not sure why I bother.

Posted by: ranndino | January 3, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

ranndino:
i agree with your assesment of how/why other countries view the US.
just remember that not all US citizens are as arrogant as our government can appear to be.

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 3, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

I really don't get the All Stars voting. Can someone explain? Even if we assume that, for some inexplicable reason, Crosby and Malkin are more "popular" than Ovechkin, what about the four Habs? There must be some reason that escapes me. Is it some kind of tradition? a nod to a team rather than players? politics? I am astounded that Ovechkin is not at the top but then they don't seem to go by stats.
-

Posted by: caraveli | January 3, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

any suggestions for a free stream tonight. thanks

Posted by: wjames1 | January 3, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

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