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Sens 2, Caps 1 (OT)

I've got a 6 a.m. flight out of Ottawa, so I'm going to be brief tonight.

As I wrote in my gamer, I thought the intensity level was higher than Saturday's loss in Buffalo. The effort was better. And so was the goaltending.

But it wasn't enough to overcome a solid performance from Sens' goalie Alex Auld, or a multitude of missed opportunities by the Caps, who have dropped two in a row and scored exactly one goal in the process.

"It was a better effort, a better first period, which is something we wanted to impress," Brooks Laich said. "We had great goaltending from Brent Johnson. But right now we're just not getting the breaks offensively. But you create those breaks."

A few additional notes and quotes from Scotiabank:

*Brent Johnson was outstanding in making 42 saves, the most a Caps' goalie has faced this season. But Coach Bruce Boudreau stopped short of naming him the starter over Jose Theodore for Thursday's game against Carolina.

"He's earned another start," Boudreau said of Johnson. "I just don't know when it's going to be."

Johnson was getting treatment after the game, and I had earlier than usual deadlines because of that other event happening tonight. So I'll have to catch up with him after practice tomorrow.

*Boudreau said the ice at Scotiabank place was terrible tonight.

"I'm amazed that here in Canada that that ice could be as bad as it was," Boudreau said. "That was the worst ice I've seen guys skate on in many, many moons. It was embarrassing."

The locals said the ice might have been bad because of the figure skating event held here over the weekend.

*Alex Ovechkin returned from a two game absence and took four shots. But he still has scored in only one game this season. Boudreau said he thought Alex looked a bit tired late in the game.

*Is discipline becoming a problem for the Caps? Boudreau argued that it's not, but it just seems to me they're in the box more than their opponents. In fact, by my count, they've been assessed more or the same number of penalties as their opponent in 10 of 11 games.

Tonight, the Senators were only assessed one penalty to the Capitals' five.

A couple could have really hurt the Caps. Laich was given a hooking penalty while the Caps were already on the PK, giving the Sens a 5-on-3 for 1:57. And Sergei Fedorov was whistled for hooking, then given an additional two minutes for flipping the puck off the boards in anger.

"It's hard to not have more when you get one against you," Boudreau. "If we keep it to four or five minors per game, that's okay."

*Captain Chris Clark, demoted to the fourth line, skated only 7:58 tonight. He took no shots, but was credited with three hits.

*I'm guessing we're going to see a lot of the Tomas Fleischmann-Michael Nylander-Alexander Semin line. All three were pretty good tonight, and seemed to have a lot of chemistry from the get-go.

*The penalty kill was 5 for 5. It had been perfect twice before this season, but it was especially good tonight.

*Twice tonight, the Senators put the electoral vote count on the jumpbotron above center ice, showing Barack Obama with a huge lead. The crowd burst into cheers both times.

That's it for now. I'll check in from KCI in the morning.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  November 4, 2008; 11:16 PM ET
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Tarik, I saw at least three more penalties committed by the Senators, two of them tripping, that were not called. For the last two periods, the refs weren't much more than pylons with whistles. I think at least some if it was the ref'ing, and I know you can't say that, but let's call a spade a spade.

Posted by: kittypawz | November 4, 2008 11:57 PM | Report abuse

Yeah some calls were questionable to say the least. But I think Tarik's post is too optimistic... or rather I'm too pessimistic in saying that this game was terrible.

The way we played tonight: not a SC contender.

Posted by: mauree | November 5, 2008 12:01 AM | Report abuse

Sneak peak at the Ovechkin bobblehead being given away in Dec.

Posted by: SombreroGuy | November 5, 2008 12:23 AM | Report abuse

It is actually remarkable that the Caps are doing this well with 0 goals from Nicky, 0 goals from Clark, 1 goal from Kozy, 2 goals from Ovie, and some very average/below average net minding. If any of these guys start producing at even 50% of last seasons averages, we will be a very good team indeed.

Posted by: ChrisAm | November 5, 2008 12:33 AM | Report abuse

if that was higher intensity and more effort than saturday's game, then i'm even happier that i didn't catch it. i thought it was kind of a yawner tonight.

Posted by: smaksimo | November 5, 2008 12:59 AM | Report abuse

Take the point and sprint to the plane ASAP. We had no business being in that game without Johnson's solid play. How Auld got the number 2 star and Johnny the number three was homerism at it's finest. Every team needs a goaltender to steal some points over the course of a season like BJ did tonight. That was great to see. We were also a bit fortunate with the bounces in our own end tonight which saved us a few goals against. Better effort and a bit more hitting but still lacking if you ask me. If we don't get some scoring soon from someone not named Nylander, Semin or Flash, we are going to be fighting an uphill battle to string a few wins together. The penality kill was outstanding but fortunate as well. We have a lot of work ahead to fine tune our game. Still too loose in out own end and too many penalities. Entertaing game to watch.
Get raeady for the "Canes, fellas!

Posted by: Riddler1 | November 5, 2008 1:11 AM | Report abuse

Remind me again, which player is playing for a contract ?

Maybe BB should scratch the worst players instead of trying to make room for Clark.
It's an insult to the 2 guys that sat out tonight.

Posted by: Cheef | November 5, 2008 1:46 AM | Report abuse

oh boy... this game... I caught the last 1/2 of it, between glances at CNN. what I saw...we had a few chances, but Johnny is the one who kept us in the game. Federov's double minor was undisciplined and had the potential to really put us in the crapper, but the PK held out, thankfully. I *did* see things that were not called, especially in OT... I caught at least 4 penalties that should have been called that weren't. but either way, this game is over, need to focus on the 'Canes and move on. maybe Bruce should find a more effective way to light some fire under their little hineys...

Posted by: mcmags1128 | November 5, 2008 2:38 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure what the controversy over the goaltending is, unless Johnnie is still nursing something. He's sharper, he's consistent, and he deserved a better team last night. BB needs to face it. Johnnie deserves a start until he proves otherwise.

As for the rest of their problems, Schultz is a giant weight on their blueline. I've actually lost count of how many times that I've seen guys just blow by him like he isn't there. He doesn't play his size, gets very few hits, he's slow, he leaves his goalie like a sitting duck, and has displayed little talent. Maybe Sloan and Alzner aren't the answer, but from what I've seen, they could hardly cost us more than he has.

Of course, then there's the poor puck handling... .

Posted by: FedsFan | November 5, 2008 5:54 AM | Report abuse

Brent played well, but face it, if the Sens converted even a couple of those wide-open net shots, the Caps get blown out. The immediate problem is that defense always seems to be out of position. Both goalies are facing way too many odd man rushes.

Posted by: koalatek | November 5, 2008 7:40 AM | Report abuse

Agreed on Johnny, if he is healthy then they need to ride the hot goalie until he cools off....hopefully by that time JT will be ready to compete....Johnny kept them in this game, they had no business going into overtime if it weren't for him...

Posted by: PhilR | November 5, 2008 7:42 AM | Report abuse

This is showing shades of how the offense was early last season. In every game we play, we make the opposing goalie look better than he's supposed to be.

They can't all be having career nights against us...

Where're the dirty goals? No one is crashing that f'ing net.

Posted by: keeef | November 5, 2008 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Well, another one bites the dust. At least we got a point, and the PK and Johnny were awesome. Now if those two stay steady and the other things improve, we'll be golden. Feels a bit like baby steps, but I'll take it. As long as each game is an improvement over the last, I won't panic ... yet. We've certainly crawled out of deeper holes (remember - they're the cardiac kids!). Let's hope that being on home ice makes a difference on Thursday. I can't wait! :-)

Posted by: Boo- | November 5, 2008 7:49 AM | Report abuse


That is why I was surprised they let Cooke go....big boy that can park himself in the crease......someone needs to take that job...Clark, Fehr, Bradley.....someone needs to step up......put Fehr in already!!

Posted by: PhilR | November 5, 2008 7:49 AM | Report abuse


Yeah, i couldn't believe it last night when Joe B said there are only two other teams in the league who have played more road games than the Caps.....maybe they just need a little home cooking!!

Posted by: PhilR | November 5, 2008 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Best Caps last night: Johnson, Fleischmann, Semin and Federov.

Johnson was simply outstanding. He deserves to be #1. Fleischmann is showing a lot of poise and creativity out there. Semin has taken his game to a whole new level. He is so much better this year when operating in tight spaces. He is stronger on the puck. He is willing to grind on the boards. Federov is very calm, smooth, and intelligent. He needs to hold a clinic for the rest of the D.

Posted by: KlayKey | November 5, 2008 8:02 AM | Report abuse

Caps weaknesses last night: They were not effective at keeping the puck in the offensive zone after the initial rush. The D would often successfully trap the puck on the boards at the blueline. But then they would succumb to the Sens pressure, rather than quickly moving the puck away from the boards.

Offensively, we need more threats at the blue line. Jurcina has a great shot, but the puck-handling poise is not there.

Ovechkin is really pressing. He is taking shots when there is no shot. He is crunching guys to energize himself and then not picking up the loose puck. He needs to watch some tape of Alfredsonn. Alfie does lateral, stalling moves with the puck - attracts two or three players to him and then finds the open man.

Posted by: KlayKey | November 5, 2008 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, plus I think they are playing better at home. BTW, Clark is usually good about planting himself in front of the net - that's why he got hurt so much last season (he was on the receiving end of more than one puck). Maybe he's gun-shy? Hopefully he's just not in his groove YET. I liked Cooke, too, they just didn't have room for him. :-(

Posted by: Boo- | November 5, 2008 8:26 AM | Report abuse

To me it seems that the Caps just can't create any kind of sustained pressure with their scoring lines. I think it might be karma for Semin's slight on the dump and chase.

Posted by: superpaqman | November 5, 2008 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Ignoring the current play of the roster as a whole and individually as there is plenty of room for expected improvement, I feel there is one type of player that would be the most benificial as a roster upgrade from what I have seen so far this year. The team needs a veteran defensemen in the mold of a Kimmo Timonen or Calle Johansson. Someone who can be a big minute man, play in all situations and provide leadership. I have no illusions that we will trade for Timonen but I'd like to see GMGM bring in someone similiar. I think Pothier was supposed to be able to provide this sort of play. He's not lived up to expectations with his play prior to being injured. He's not been specifically replaced yet other then all the current defenseman below him on the depth get to move up notch. I know there are a lot of obstacles in replacing him like the salary cap and his uncertain recovery from the head injury he suffered.
This sort of trade would have a calming influence on the entire "D". It would put some of the lower level Dmen in roles they are more suited for while easing the load on Green and Poti which should make them more effective as well. I just think after Poti and Green there exists too big of a dropoff in talent and it's hurting the team bigtime. Make it happen, GMGM!

Posted by: Riddler1 | November 5, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Backstrom has played nothing short of awful, and Ovechkin does not look comfortable with him. I think Backstrom needs a few games on the third or fourth line, away from the other teams' top checkers.

Posted by: DrAdamson | November 5, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

You all true fans. I did not even know there was a game on last night. I was distracted by a little matter of history.

Here is a new slogan for CAPs fans-YES WE CAN!!

Posted by: adhardwick | November 5, 2008 6:23 PM | Report abuse

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