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Scouting the Senators

The Caps will be going for a season sweep of the Eastern Conference leading Senators tonight at Verizon Center. Yeah, those Senators, the ones with 11 regulation losses (three to you-know-who) and a conference-best 155 goals.

Ottawa won't have all-star Dany Heatley (separated shoulder), but it does look like the Sens will dress center Jason Soezza (general body soreness ...seriously) and right wing Patrick Eaves, who is set to return from a 24-game layoff due to a shoulder injury.

Spezza (15 goals, 38 points) says he won't be 100 percent after getting drilled Sunday by Islanders defenseman Freddy Meyer.

According to this report in the Ottawa Sun, Ray Emery will start in goal since Martin Gerber has surrendered 10 goals in the last 66 minutes vs. the Caps.

If the Caps win, it will complete their first sweep of the Sens since 1995-96, Ottawa's fourth year in the league. But here's your stat of the day: Since the start of the 2005-06 season, the Caps lead the series 6-5-0, despite trailing Ottawa by 99 points in the standings (75-102-31 to 129-57-22).

Speaking of the Caps, it will be interesting to see which goaltender Bruce Boudreau starts. He hinted on Monday that he was leaning toward Brent Johnson, who was solid in relief of Olie Kolzig in Sunday's 6-4 loss to Philadelphia.

The other thing to keep an eye on is whether Chris Clark tries to play after tweaking his balky groin muscle against the Flyers. Boudreau called Clark "questionable", but I would be surprised to see him tonight.

The big question, though, is which Caps team will show up tonight? The one that knocked off the Sens twice in a three day span earlier this month, or the mistake-prone squad that went down too easily to the Flyers two days ago?

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  January 15, 2008; 9:56 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Clark Out; Ovechkin and Nylander Not Practicing
Next: Nylander's Season Done


Tarik, any word from Mcgratton again about wanting to fight Brash? You know it's going to happen.

Posted by: FFX, VA | January 15, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Who will show up tonight for the Caps?

Semin had better be one of them.

Posted by: Pothier's Thumb | January 15, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Tarik, please check on Nyles' status. The report on the message board is depressing.

Posted by: Tom | January 15, 2008 10:17 AM | Report abuse

I just hope if they do fight, it's better than the last one.

As for Nylander, I was told yesterday that he's going to keep playing through pain. So I'm assuming that means tonight. I'll check, though.

Posted by: Tarik | January 15, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

i dont know whay but im still hugely pissed about that game, it was just too important and thy just gave it away. they flyers didnt score a SINGLE legitimate goal(not total bull$#@!)and they won anyway. COME ON CAPS!!! THIS IS THE SEASON!!

Posted by: WIN | January 15, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Hopefully OV has nother 4 goal game lol....he needs one if he wants to catch kovulchuk

Posted by: capshockey98 | January 15, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

POINTS OF INTEREST: Senators W Patrick Eaves will return to the lineup tonight wearing a Fu Manchu moustache. "I just thought I'd switch it up a little," he said of his appearance ...

Posted by: SA-Town | January 15, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

For Tom:

Take everything you read on you-know-who's blog with an extra-large grain of salt. It's clear that he is not above making things up, so it is logical to assume that those who work for him also do the same...

When Tarik tells me Nylander is out, I'll believe it. Until then, it's just internet games to increase webhits.

Posted by: stepguybrian | January 15, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

I give Nyles props for being a tough dude.
Speaking of tough guys, Clarkie's done well against the Sens but I'd rather not see him hurt again. Dude should wait till he's healed completely. We saw what happened when Semin tried to come back too soon from his ankle injury.

Posted by: captnclark | January 15, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse

I like Nyl a lot lately. If he's playing with pain, I admire him even more.

@GregS (from the previous post): let me rephrase it.. if the Caps go .500 the rest of the season, it will mean no playoffs, but I'll still be mostly happy - but a little disappointed as I think they can do better THIS season.

Anyway, today's going to be so tough - the Sens must be furious. And if they miss some player, the rest of the team will play at their best to compensate for it. Arg!


Posted by: mauree | January 15, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

What if Peter Bondra were a gangster rapper?

Posted by: Bryan | January 15, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

I've got my broom ready! LET'S GO CAPS!!!

Posted by: Jill | January 15, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse


Even if we revert back to .500 I'd call it a success considering how p1$$ poor they played at the first quarter. My point being that I expect inconsistency due to the age of the team. They'll be prone to making mistakes.

As for the game tonight. I think this will be a barn burner offensive shoot-out a la the game before New Years. 8-6 for example.

Posted by: Greg S. | January 15, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Of course McGrattan is going to try and fight Brash - the dude needs to justify his own existence in the NHL. Brian McGrattan sees 2:31 of ice time per game and spends 1:18 per game in the penalty box. McGrattan has as many games with four or more minutes of ice time as with less than one minute (six), including a season low of six seconds against Buffalo on January 4th. And no, that's not a typo.

I'd start Johnson. Even with the days off, Kolzig has started 11 in a row and I think he needs a break.

Posted by: dmg | January 15, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

It's gonna be a fire-wagon style of game tonite!

Posted by: pmoravek | January 15, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Alot of people complain about Nylander's skating, his +/-, his unwillingness to shoot the puck. Those people need to shuttie. The man is playing every night thru a lot of pain...most of us stay home from work with a runny nose...he deserves all the credit in the world for playing like he is with a bum shoulder. THAT is heart.
McGratton is in line for another beat-down from Brash...some of the Sens thought he won the last fight...losing your footing and falling on top of your opponent is not a 'win'...Stay tuned for part III tonite.

Posted by: Lay Off #92 | January 15, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Lay Off #92

Not sure I agree with you. I'm one of the biggest complainers in terms of 92's +/- and his play of late. Over the last few games I believe he looks a lot better, but I'm not going to give someone a reprieve because he's playing through pain. If you can't perform at the needed level, then don't play. The team as a whole looked phenominal in the games he missed earlier this year.

Not saying he should sit, his play has somehow improved over the last couple of weeks, even with all of the pain. Just pointing out that pain/injuries are not an excuse at the NHL level.

Posted by: Yosh | January 15, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Tarik... Please stop saying "balky groin".


Posted by: Mark T | January 15, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

I think the timing was off for Caps vs. Flyers because of a long break.

In all the garbage goals scored by Flyers they were a fraction of second faster than Caps D.

It shouldn't be an issue tonight. One thing is clear, they will try to shut down Ovechkin like in the previous game. In the game where he scored 4, he had way too much space.

So the game again will be decided by other lines though I hope Alex will get one.

Where's Papa Schultz's half slap shot when you need it? :-)

Posted by: alexovetjkin | January 15, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Tarik..What time is the morning skate? I'd imagine its around now? Is he there?

Posted by: John | January 15, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

1) Its a guarentee that McGrattan and 'The Donald' will tangle once again. Look for it early on.
2) As for playoff aspirations: The past few years its taken 92 poits to qualify in the East. With 38 games left the Caps would need to go like 24-11-3 the rest of the way or a .632 winning %. Possible, yes, likely, no.

Posted by: Faux Rumors | January 15, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse


on the other hand the Capitals are seven points out of the division lead with three games in hand and have clearly been the best team in the Southeast (low hurdle) since Dec 1

Posted by: dmg | January 15, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Lord, let us pray that it's the Capitals team that drilled Ottawa twice earlier this month that shows up tonight vs. the Capitals team we saw on Sunday vs. Philadelphia.


Posted by: Mitch | January 15, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse


Yup, but... When we have a chance to move up we falter. Like 2 nights ago when Carolina lost, we lost to Philly.

I hate losing to Philly. That goes with my general dislike of all things Philly.

I hate P1$$burgh, too. Used to be said that if the world ever needed an enema, they'd stick the nozzel in Pittsburgh.

Posted by: Greg S. | January 15, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse


Yeah, but the hole they digged in under Hanlon is maybe too deep.

After all, Larry Brooks was correct about Nyls shoulder. :-)

Hopefully Ted Kulfan, who said "Will Boudreau help Caps to get into playoffs? Probably not" was not right.

Posted by: alexovetjkin | January 15, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Morning Skate was at 10am @ Kettler.

Posted by: Morning Skate | January 15, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

" they flyers didnt score a SINGLE legitimate goal(not total bull$#@!)and they won anyway. COME ON CAPS!!! THIS IS THE SEASON!!"

Typical angry Caps fan. So I guess you dont call crashing the net digging out rebounds legit? Of course, if Semin or OV did it we would be saying..'thats the way you are supposed to play.'

Get off it..Philly is the better team. If you want to split hairs..the Caps barely score a legit goal in that game.

OV's went off Hatcher Semin's was through a screen

Caps will lose tonight..doesnt matter which goalie is in, who fights who..they all suck.

Posted by: Caps Suck | January 15, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Well I think it would be easy to dispell the Nyls rumors if he was on the ice practicing with his line? Don't see an update on that.

Posted by: Joe | January 15, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Casey Stengel said of former pitcher Jim Coates of the Yankees that he had, "A million dollar arm and a ten cent brain."

I think Semin has a million dollar shot... You fill in the rest...

Posted by: Muddapucker | January 15, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Adding a defenseman at the trade deadline?

Posted by: 121 K | January 15, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Caps Suck,

Why do you post on this blog? Honestly, I dont think anyone cares what you have to say. Semin's goal was legit, Nylander's goal was legit.

Who are you and what's your purpose? Go back to France...

Posted by: 828 | January 15, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

"Well I think it would be easy to dispell the Nyls rumors if he was on the ice practicing with his line? Don't see an update on that."

Morning skates are optional and 99% of the time, Nyles is not on the ice for these. Ergo, Tarik has to catch up with him and chat since it cannot be observed just by watching who steps onto the ice.

Posted by: Tom | January 15, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Why do you post on this blog? All I have seen is that nobody cares what you have to say.

Actually, I think everyone groups your comments into those with those of Puckguru's.

Go back to France? First, that makes absolutely no sense. Second, I take that as a personal

Posted by: Caps Suck | January 15, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Do you think they will let me into the Verizon Center with a broom?

I see people carrying hockey sticks all the time - what's the difference?

Posted by: 828 | January 15, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Please do not feed the trolls.

Thank you.

Posted by: Jill | January 15, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Report away... think everyone would agree that you are personally attacking the Caps.

Posted by: 828 | January 15, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Not using it as an excuse...I'm just saying that it's not easy to play with a tear in your rotator cuff...ever tried it? I have, and it is excrutiating pain. Nylander is gritting it out for the team, and he deserves props--that's all I'm saying. Everybody complained for the last several years that we didn't have a quality center for OV, Semin, etc. Well, now we do, and he gets crucified for his play...probably the sqme people who think Kozlov is an upgrade over Zubrus. Would you rather still have Kris Beech as one of our top-2 centers???

Posted by: Lay Off #92 | January 15, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Not really, just stating my opinion.
Ive never said anything racially or ethnically you did.

Posted by: Caps Suck | January 15, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

My previous post was directed at Yosh...

Posted by: Lay Off #92 | January 15, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

@ 828

Do not let idiots affect your life. You will be a lot happier if you just ignore them.

Their rants speak for themselves. Most tend to be adolescent males with inferiority complexes that live vicariously throught their idols. In this case, of course its the Flyers.

I have know many Flyer fans that are great guys and quite intelligent. The kind you would like to drink a beer with. This not about Flyer fans but rather about pubesence involving a single individual.

Posted by: Muddapucker | January 15, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

4.25 M for Kaberle? I don't know about that one. He's another Green-type player. Is that what we want? Or a solid "stay at home" guy?

Posted by: Greg S. | January 15, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

@Caps Suck
Actually, I think everyone groups your comments into those with those of Puckguru's.

Nope. But I will group yours into those from now on.

Man I wish that happens dude (the sweep) :)


Posted by: mauree | January 15, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

As hard as it is, just try to ignore "Caps Suck".

Posted by: Greg S. | January 15, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Haha, I will try and ignore her. I just can't believe a non-Caps fan would waste their time going into other teams blogs. That's like us going into the Ottawa blogs and talking smack. It's just sad.

Jill, you still hate me? ;)

Posted by: 828 | January 15, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Simmer down now. We know the Caps aren't doing well but last I checked this was on the internet, anyone has the right to post an opinion on here. If you dont agree with it, ignore it.

What the Caps need:

A YOUNG scorer to compliment the ones they have..not old men past their prime

Goaltending..not a prospect thats playing in Russia either. A proven goaltender who has a few years in the NHL under his belt.

Defense...another veteran D man to lead the team on the blueline. Again, not a washed up old D least 5 yrs of proven service in the league. Green is great but someone said the other day they should consider him playing on a wing..BB should try that before the end of the season, see how it works out.

Extras -- A few role playing guys who are going to go out there and give 100% every shift and put at least 10 pucks in the back of the net each year.

Posted by: JamesD | January 15, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

First - I hate Brashear - last game in Ottawa, McGrattan challenged him, and he wimped out...instead grabbing Chris Neil (middle weight) and pummeling him. Yeah - you're a tough guy Brashear.

Now - McGrattan challenges him, and once Brashear knows he's losing, he drops to the ice - don't believe me - re-watch his fight w/ Laraque...everytime he starts to lose, he drops to the ice.

I hope McGrattan absolutely freaking pummels him tonight.

Despite the Sens being injured a bit, (like us) I believe they will win tonight. Sorry - just my opinion.

PS - I hate Brashear.

Posted by: Jaymagz | January 15, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

clown from philly, the caps were the better team that game and you can lie to yourself all you want, their goals were GARBAGE and you were LUCKY to win. its all good though, i would be worried about the caps in the near future too if i were a flyers fan, that is why youre here right, you worried?. that might be the last game you win aganinst us in a long time. typical scumbag loud angry philly fan who says a lot but has nothing to say. go punch or eat something, isnt that what you do?

Posted by: go away | January 15, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Wow, so much for showing class Caps fans.

Congrats 'go away' you just proved all those who dislike Caps fans correct.

now you..go away.

Posted by: JamesD | January 15, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

If I recall, last year the Caps swept the Flyers.

Posted by: 828 | January 15, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

If the Sens take the time finally to look at the tapes they're going to start off playing overly defensively and try for some rushes when we pull fwd.

When they've come out hard before (they being so great, us being so "terrible") the result was we were well up in the 1st. When they hold the puck back in their zone we have over-committed.

Hopefully we don't get pulled out of position too much tonight.

Posted by: austinsteve | January 15, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I don't care if the goals are garbage or not. They count. The ugly ones are the ones you have to fight to get. That means you're in front of the net, banging and crashing and getting all gnarly. That's the attitude that the Flyers bring to each game and the kind of attitude that is lacking in the Caps without Clark. Brashear seems to be the only one willing to park his happy butt in front of the goalie and take the hits.

Posted by: Greg S. | January 15, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

hey jamesD how about you go away youre making all caps fans look like a bunch of wimps, the only person you speak for is yourself.

Posted by: good job | January 15, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse


Agree with comments although I think what they need the most is a goalie. Isn't Pothier one of those D men that had proven himself up in Ottawa for a couple of years? Isn't Alzer one of those stay home guys? Not sure, that's why I'm asking. He's young, but he seemed to do really well as the Jr. Canadian team Captain - that shows leadership.

No matter who we have, I think we need to get better goaltending. Last year, we have just about 30+ shots every game, this year, we are allowing a lot less. So, that tells me that the D is getting better - or, Laing wasn't on the team last year (which he wasn't). But, the D is improving and we def have scoring power... just need to be consistant. And yes, this includes Semin.

Posted by: 828 | January 15, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

nylander is having surgery, maaaan

Posted by: sheesh | January 15, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse


The reason I said they need a proven vet on the blue line is because, although Pothier is good, I dont feel like he has had someone to show him the way. He can be a leader and he can be that stay at home guy that will be consistent, but I think they need someone who has been in these positions before to show the players how to remain focused and play consistent D each and every night.

Did you notice during the last 2 Philly games how a guy like Jason Smith (although much older than what I think the Caps should go after) was always on the blue line with the youngest defense man they have.

I'd like to amend my post after read Greg S's post. They need a guy who will park in front. Not necessarily a tough guy but someone willing to pay the price on the PP and just sit there and not be afraid to take a hit. That only comes with instinct and experience.

Posted by: JamesD | January 15, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Apparently Corey is reporting that Clark will be out tonight and Johnny will be in net. I don't read his blog but a friend passed that info along.

Posted by: Jill | January 15, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse


Makes sense, however, it's hard to get that guy. The only ones I can really think of is Chara and Markov but those come with a paycheck. Pronger and Hatcher are too old.

Posted by: 828 | January 15, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Yep and Vogel's reporting that Nylander's out for a significant amount of time as well.

Posted by: keef | January 15, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

The caps are just going to have to dig into their pockets and pay the guys they need to win a excuses next year

Posted by: JamesD | January 15, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I'm counting down for when Jay comes through to rub all of the naysayer's noses in this news. :)

Posted by: keef | January 15, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

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