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Semyon Varlamov off first, likely to start against Bruins

Semyon Varlamov was the first goaltender off the ice for the Capitals this morning at TD Garden in Boston and it appears he will get the start in this rematch against the Bruins. He will probably face Tuukka Rask, who is expected to get his first start of the season in the Bruins' home opener.

Here are some other notes from this morning's skate:
--The forward lines were the same as Wednesday's practice, with Marcus Johansson and Tomas Fleischmann switching spots and lines from where they've typically been this season. We'll see how long this lasts in the game tonight. Particularly for Fleischmann, the transition is an easy one because he played with Jason Chimera and Eric Fehr a handful of times last season as well.

--By virtue of the last change, Boston Coach Claude Julien can take his pick of defense and forward lines he can match up against the Capitals' top trio of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Knuble.

It will be interesting to see if he tries anything different from the Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk pairing or the Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton line that did so well against the group Tuesday.

"That's up to Claude today but [the Capitals' top line] guys have got to be able to do it," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "They've got to sit there and say: 'Hey listen, we're going to be better.' They know teams like to play strength-against-strength against them and we have to just be better at that and take more pride in that, I think."

--Michal Neuvirth remained out on the ice with the assistant coaches long after most of his teammates were on their way out of the building. Probably a good sign for his health, and Boudreau added that the goalie was feeling better.

--Mike Green (upper-body), Boyd Gordon (undisclosed) and Matt Bradley (lower-body), who was placed on injured reserve retroactive Oct. 12 prior to the Nashville game and can be reactivated at any time, did not make the trip to Boston.

--John Carlson played here in the preseason but this will be the rookie's first regular-season contest in one of his hometowns -- he lived in Natick, Mass. for seven years before moving to New Jersey -- with plenty of family members in the stands.

"It will be pretty electric in here tonight with the home opener, and my family's going to come out. It's going to be fun," Carlson said. "They might get ragged on a little bit for wearing Capitals jerseys, but it's pretty cool. I'm pretty excited."

--If you haven't heard, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler is singing the National Anthem for the game to go along with all of the other home-opening festivities here. Probably safe to say the start time will be a little late.

By Katie Carrera  | October 21, 2010; 12:57 PM ET
Categories:  Alex Ovechkin, Boston Bruins, John Carlson, Semyon Varlamov  
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Next: Boudreau: Caps' top line is 'slightly missing'

Comments

I know there's been talk of us getting a 2C or D. IMO if we do pickup a C during the season it's going to be an expiring contract. Think about our C situation. We've got Backy, and now MJ is developing. Next yr we'll probably add Kuznetsov to that equation. Kuzy is ready to play in the NHL now. This is very unlike our D situation in that we already brought up the 2 prospects so there isn't anybody coming up in the next yr or 2 that can help from within. D will be the target and can't say that I disagree. In other words we will not be targeting Spezza who has 4yrs left.

Posted by: pokerface1208 | October 21, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

The Cap hit is different from his salary...isn't he making over 8 mil the next few years?

Posted by: capscoach |

I think he actually sees upwards of 10 mil/yr, salary-wise. Vinny makes that much, as does Heatley. Luongo's contract is pretty front-loaded as well, if I recall.

Honestly, a 6.66 mil/yr cap hit for Kovy is an absolute steal. Not sure if he'll be worth that much when he's 38, but for right now, it's one of the best bargains in the league, if not the best. (ELCs, and "redeemers" signing for cheap not included)

Posted by: richmondphil2 |

Posted by: richmondphil2 | October 21, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I have never actually played hockey (planning on living vicariously through my future children though) so can someone explain how last changes work and why it is difficult for the away team to get away from them.

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Honestly, a 6.66 mil/yr cap hit for Kovy is an absolute steal. Not sure if he'll be worth that much when he's 38, but for right now, it's one of the best bargains in the league, if not the best. (ELCs, and "redeemers" signing for cheap not included)

Posted by: richmondphil2 | October 21, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Thats my point as to why I don't like him...he is getting WAY overpaid...or is Ovie getting underpaid (i don't think so) This cap circumvention stuff is rediculous.

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Is it me or is Katie a little slower at getting this stuff out?

Just feels like we have had this info alot quicker in the past.

Posted by: bqts | October 21, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

@bqts

u r right, but she is new so I am going to give her time...I also think TEB spoiled us with the 10 updates before a game. I do wish she got more player quotes and info on practices like what they were working on.

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

He's not close to overpaid right now..how is a 6.66 cap hit for the second most prolific scorer in hockey since the lockout overpaid? Unless you mean when he's 38, where his cap hit will be the same, but will his on-ice production be worth that? Probably not. In that, I agree with you. :)

I still love Kovy. Still one of my favorite players to watch in the NHL.

Posted by: richmondphil2 | October 21, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

capscoach: The home team gets to put his line out last. So, if the Bs have a line on the ice and Ovi and company come pouring over the boards the Bs can change their personnel. The Caps however, cannot do an about face.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 21, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

@capscoach,

The home team gets final option of players on the ice so they can match any way they please. If the faceoff is in the Caps defensive end they first have to clear the puck likely all the way to the opposing teams offensive end in order to make a change that is more to their liking. If faceoff is in the offensive end, even though you don't have the match up you want you aren't willing to give up the offensive zone simply to match up better. The easiest option is when the faceoff is in the neutral zone or center ice simply because the players are closer to their benches to make changes. This is how it was always explained to me when I was playing.....hope that helps and didn't sound like Greek to you!

Posted by: PhilR | October 21, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

@capscoach

the cap hit is the average salary they make. Ovi's is 9.6...so on average he makes $3M more a year than Kovy. so Kovalchuk is underpaid if anything. I don't understand why you think he isn't a top player in the league.

Posted by: ThePat | October 21, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

@richmondphil

It is not the salary cap hit that really bothers me...he gets paid 10mil this year! that is not right...he is not worth his salary...he is very much worth the cap hit...which the league should not have let slide!

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Well, Vinny Lecavalier gets paid 10 mil/yr. As does Heatley, and probably a few others.

I'd take Kovy, who has a smaller cap hit and is a better player and is younger, then both Vinny or Heatley.

Posted by: richmondphil2 | October 21, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

capscoach: My explanation is of course based on the face-off. That is the only time the home team has the advantage, which is still important. It isn't uncommon for the road team to get their guys off right after the face-off if they don't like the matchup and the home team will usually do the same. Really becomes a chess match in a tight game.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 21, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

@capscoach & bqts

She is slow to post on CI, but from what I can tell she Tweets a lot first. She is hip to society's way of rapid information posting...but seems a lot of us on here arent. Hence I rely on ablake and my co-worker to keep me up to tweet.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | October 21, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I dont mean to toot my own horn here people, but I just want to point out that in the first week of my ESPN fantasy league, I traded Erik Johnson(blues) and JVR(flyers) for Dustin Brown and John Carlson.

Talk about a lop-sided trade, probably a big reason I'm in first. It was right before Carlson's big 3-pt night too.

Posted by: richmondphil2 | October 21, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Tweet is blocked at my workplace which really stinks. I rely on others as well, ThePat is really good about keeping everyone informed.

Posted by: PhilR | October 21, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the explanation people!

As for Kovy...I am not completely stupid...I know he is a top player. The cap circumvention really bothers me though! And I think 10 mil is just too much for him (Vinny and Heatly 2)I realize they pay 6.6mil I just hate that he gets 10. End of that rant.

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

caps don't need diff. players...need to work some basic skills.

1) Win faceoffs...they have been down right brutal esp. in their defensive zone. No bright spots here, yet.

2) Puck possession. This is why other teams seems to be coming at the Caps faster, and countering better...because they always have the puck or a player in front of the pass. The Caps are trying too many indirect plays, touch passes to nobody, and no-look options that end up backfiring...possess the puck. Skate with the puck...opens the passing lanes and THEN pass...the "spread and rush" offense worked for a while, but teams have adapted and can defend the Caps well now...

3) Preparation. Opposing teams make game plans specifically to play against WSH. Bruce puts out the same game plan and refuses to change his tactics for anyone...doesn't matter who we play...same battle plan...I love BB. I think he is a good coach, but he has to become willing to adapt...simple.

4) The only personnel issues are: Tyler Sloan...he does not have the skill-set of an NHL defensman. Who doesn't think Finley is ready to this spot..? I honestly thought Brian Helmer was better than Sloan.

Posted by: netminder71 | October 21, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

@netminder71

Finley is not ready, quite a bit aways imo.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | October 21, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

@capscoach

All good, I am just a big fan of Kovy (obviously) and it seems like he gets some harsh words on CI a lot of the time. Which is sort of weird, since he doesn't play for us and never has, haha. It seems his defense likes to be pointed out a lot, while there's guys like him on every team. A big knock on Brad Richards since he came into the league was his defensive play. I don't watch a lot of Stars hockey, so I can't comment for his play this year though. Heatley doesn't like to do it very much either.

Just for reference, guys who I feel is the elite crust of two-way forwards would be guys like Hossa, Z-berg, Datsyuk, Parise, and even Backstrom could slide in there somewhere.

Posted by: richmondphil2 | October 21, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

That is why we need to go get a defender...when we have D injuries now, we don't have Carlson or Alzner to call up anymore.

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

@ richmondphil2

You obviously missed the Ovi hate. Kovy hate is no shock. Every Russian is a headcase.

I disagree in your assessment of BB's and GMGM's level of responsibility. Those two have more control over the team's success or failure than any individual player. At this level, you can't just depend on talent to win. Every team has talented players, which is why systems are so important. As the head coach, it is BB's job to devise a system that works for his core players. He also has to come up with Plan B in case the team can't "play their game". For the past three years, BB has complained about guys relying on skill not playing the system, yet whenever the team is down, he sends Ovi, Backs, Semin, Green out for extended shifts. When does it become his fault?

As for GMGM, it's his job is to find the right guys to play the system. If guys aren't working out, he needs to find suitable replacements. And he definitely should have had the D and C vacancies filled long before the season began. Throwing rookies into the fire at the start of a make or break season isn't the answer.

I agree, the players bare some responsibility for the playoff failures. After three years though, you'd think BB would start benching guys or GMGM would make trades if guys truly aren't playing the system. Yet every year, the same guys come back and their ice time remains roughly the same.

Posted by: ablake70 | October 21, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

I still think we should try to get Bieksa from Vancouver.

Posted by: Rhino40 | October 21, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Preparation. Opposing teams make game plans specifically to play against WSH. Bruce puts out the same game plan and refuses to change his tactics for anyone...doesn't matter who we play...same battle plan...I love BB. I think he is a good coach, but he has to become willing to adapt...simple.

_____________________

Could not agree anymore. These back to back games are helpful in gauging if BB is able to make the necessary adjustments needed in the playoffs.

Posted by: richmondphil2 | October 21, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

"That is why we need to go get a defender..." - capscoach

In order to get the D, we need a triumphant video...to make the triumphant video we need Eddie Van Halen. Ergo we need Eddie Van Halen.....EXCELLENT (plays air guitar).

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | October 21, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

@semin

wait...i don't get it

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

@ capscoach

Kovy is worth as much as someone is willing to pay him. Salary is about marketability as much as skill. Kovy has the flashy moves to put butts in seats.

Posted by: ablake70 | October 21, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I believe that would be a Wayne's World reference capscoach. Not sure though, been years since I saw that movie!

Posted by: PhilR | October 21, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Or maybe Bill and Ted???

Posted by: PhilR | October 21, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

@ablake

you are correct...but I think NJD will regret signing him. The only reason it might help them is that he is exciting to watch and the NJD style is boring as all get up.

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

@capscoach
Go rent some of Keanu Reeves best hits and you will see.

FYI, it wasnt a serious post, meant purely for humorous reasons. The way you worded something reminded me of a movie quote...well almost.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | October 21, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

@semin

i see now! But does Keanu actually have some "best hits"?

Posted by: capscoach | October 21, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

@ capscoach

The Caps could regret signing Ovi and Backstrom to long term contracts. There is no way to know now. Kovy could end up being a freak of nature like Teemu Selanne. I will never understand how a guy that age is still so fast.

Posted by: ablake70 | October 21, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

@ablake

I think you are misinterpreting what I meant in that comment. I don't think you would hear an argument from me or anyone else in stating BB and GMGM share responsibility for the on-ice product. I was one of many who called for major shifts in management, and even went as far as to say that it's time to find a new GM, during the summer. I also placed heavy criticism on BB, acknowledging his lack of adapting as games flowed on, lack of holding players accountable, etc. However, I did not call for BB to ever be displaced. What I meant in the comment was two-fold. 1) I don't see anything inherently wrong with BB's system, nor do I see some giant discrepancy in BB's system in comparison to other systems. 2) Whether or not the system is the problem, it does not change the fact that I, with my physical eyeballs, see individual mistakes, which have led to almost every single goal this season. Furthermore, I ask what does changing the system have to do with Alzner, or any other defender, stepping up on a play to make a hit, thus throwing himself completely out of position and a 2 on 1 back the other way? What does changing the system have to do with losing puck battles behind the net and along the boards in general? What does changing the system have to do with guys making no-look passes to no one? From there, I beg the question what difference does it make to critique the system now, when individual mistakes would happen regardless of the system?
What pragmatic solutions come about by demonizing the system and GMGM's lack of moves? I don't see any..the season has started, the time for macro criticism is over. We aren't floundering like the Sabres or Devils. Now, what pragmatic solutions come about by critiquing the actual play of players? I see many, and as the season starts, it's time to wipe the slate clean for every player, including Flash, and focus more on the micro criticism of the team. Criticism which matters right now.

Posted by: richmondphil2 | October 21, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

@PhilR
2nd time was the charm. ;)

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | October 21, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

@capscoach

The Matrix & Point Break...nuff said. :P

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | October 21, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

@ richmondphil2

I agree about the system. I don't think this team is built to play a more defensive or physical style. As far as players making mistakes, I blame the coach. The board work and passes have been a problem since the BB era began. Does he work on these aspects of the game in practice? According to Mike Green, BB just "kinda lets their skill take over" when devising the PP. If this is the case, why am I to believe the guy works on passing in practice?. Let's say he does spend practice going over details and the players still don't improve, why doesn't he ask GMGM to stop resigning these guys. This summer, the Caps had a chance to cut ties with 7 guys on the current roster, instead they were all resigned. Whether that is GMGM or Bruce, I don't know. What I will place at the feet of BB are the bad pinches by the D. Do you honestly think guys like Erskine and Alzner who ever pinch if BB hadn't made it a requirement? These guys know their ice time depends on their offensive contribution.

BB is a great motivator, but I think he has taken the team as far as he can. They are regressing. It might be too early (or too late) to talk about replacing GMGM, but its not too early to evaluate BB.

Posted by: ablake70 | October 21, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Over/under on the # of games Varly will play before getting injured? Probably around 10. Just another soft, overrated, heartless Russian on the team.

Posted by: BigGameSid | October 21, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Just another soft, overrated, heartless Russian on the team.
--------------

Ah, another helpful comment from you, BigGameSid - tell me again, who won the Conn Smythe two years ago in the playoffs, when your namesake pulled a disappearing act in the finals? And how's that PP working out for ya, with Gonchar gone - you still luvin' Goligoski? Really? Talk to us come playoffs, buddy. Can't wait to see you guys get bounced.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | October 21, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Just another useless comment from gutlessCheapshotSid:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wqR17KrLKw

This has to be one of the most gutless plays I've ever seen in hockey - it is hard to watch. What a gutless puke.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | October 21, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

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