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Slight Changes Up Front (Updated)

In the wake of Thursday's 4-3 loss to the Rangers, Coach Bruce Boudreau has tweaked his third and fourth forward combos -- two lines he openly complained about after the game.

The top two lines remain unchanged, but Eric Fehr is skating on the third line with Steckel and Chris Clark and Quintin Laing has been dropped to the fourth line with Boyd Gordon and Matt Bradley.

Fehr was about to be assigned to Hershey this morning -- the team even announced the move --but apparently Boudreau and McPhee have had a change of heart. Tyler Sloan, meantime, has been switched back to defense.

It's unclear if Fehr (summer surgery on both shoulders) will make his season debut tomorrow in Detroit, but he took the warmup before the Rangers game and has been taken off IR.

Stay tuned.

Updated:One other note to pass along: Boudreau isn't on the ice for practice. He watched a bit from outside of the glass. Unusual indeed.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  October 9, 2009; 11:09 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Morning Roundup: Caps Waste Late Lead
Next: Fehr Makes U-Turn in Frederick


Now just go back to the defensive pairings from Games 1 and 2...

Posted by: CapsChick | October 9, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

I love October.

Posted by: Section117 | October 9, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I have serious concerns about this team. They play with a sense of entitlement--they take for granted that the possibility that they are not invincible. I hate watching them squander games they should easily win. They play to dazzle, not to win. They take far too many penalties, allow far too many weak goals. The power play is anemic and Green has been atrocious. I love Ovie, Backstrom and Semin together, but with that arrangement, we get absolutely no offense from the other lines.

Ultimately though, what scares me is that I think this team expects too much to win. They don't play with an urgency--with a sense that they could lose, they winning the Cup isn't a forgone conclusion.

Posted by: inlifschitz | October 9, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

As much as all the hype lately has been about the SOB line. I really think they need to break it up. It seems as if after the first line comes off the ice we really dont have the type of balanced scoring we had last year where we could ice two very dangerous lines.

I'm all for SOB to come out for shifts in which they need a quick goal but keeping them together lets the other team focus their best defensive efforts against that top line.

Posted by: Dizzy1205 | October 9, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Sounds like Bruce is Pi$$ed!

Posted by: | October 9, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

In my own personal opinion (yea I know, just by the start of this, it's not going to be good for anyone) it seems as though this team is having a hard time adaptiong to having teams gunning for them. Back in the days when we were lower in the standings and could sneak up on teams who expected to walk all over this team, or would play their back up goalies and such. This isn't a luxury this team is afforded much, if at all, anymore especially with the offensive reputation we've been picking up. I think this is why we see the one game up, one game down kind of perfomances that are way too common for the Caps the past couple years.

Now I don't know how one would go about fixing something like that and won't try since I'm not nearly qualified. I'm just going to sit back and enjoy some hockey.

Posted by: superpaqman | October 9, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

makes me wonder if Alzner is more hype than substance if he can't seem to crack our team's top 6. not exactly looking to unseat scott stevens or chris pronger. don't get GM and BB's infatuation with our current D, just because they all were on the team last year

Posted by: fnkyniedls | October 9, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

CapsChick WIN! d-pairs back to winning combo plz thx...

Posted by: sargeantmofo | October 9, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Alzner played in 30 games last year. If he was all hype, he would have played zilch up here. Wasn't it a salary cap issue with him being sent down? I thought it was indirectly mentioned.

Posted by: MNMNT | October 9, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

fnkyniedls - Alzner/Carlson aren't up because cap concerns. With 12k available we have no room for anyone else.

Posted by: superpaqman | October 9, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse


Couldn't agree more with you.

And having 2 net-crashers in the same line with Laich and Knuble doesn't make much sense. We need 2 powerful lines, and definitely need a crasher on the first.

Posted by: CapsKH | October 9, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Fnkyniedls, have you heard of the salary cap? That's the only thing keeping Alzner and Carlson from playing with the Caps right now.

Posted by: VegasCapsFan | October 9, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

The Caps were undefeated until Jeff Schultz suited up. I know its only been a few games, however look at the team. They got rid of Bourque because Nylander wont leave. They wont play Nylander. They sent Alzner back to Hershey. Alzner, replaced by Schultz?

Posted by: capsfan55 | October 9, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

salary cap or not, BB said that Alzner was outplayed in training camp. sloan outplayed him. same goes with infatuation with fehr/fleishman. if someone is as good as advertised, you make room for him. waiving an average defenseman to make room for him wouldn't be killer. other nhl teams have done it since the salary cap has started.

Posted by: fnkyniedls | October 9, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

People gotta relax. We're 2-1-1 -- which extrapolates to over 100 points for the season. Did the Pens' sorry-a$$ shutout loss to the Coyotes knock them out of cup contention or expose them as bottom-dwellers? Step away from the keyboard and take a breath.

Green had a bad game. Schultz, BTW, did not. He played very respectably and stole some good pucks from the Rags at key times -- did you see him rob Gaborik to spring Ovi on that would-have-been-a-goal-but-for-just-3-more-seconds-on-the-clock play to close the first period?

I'll lay money we will not see last night's style of play Saturday night. Anyone want to take a bet?

Posted by: Sonyask | October 9, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse


Normally I would agree with you. It isn't the record that bothers me. Its how we are loosing.

And while I'm not screaming fire, I do think that the D needs to be dealt with. I agree with you 55 had a decent game. Green on the other hand hasn't played a single shift very well so far this year. Poti has looked downright horrible, Brian got caught looking a couple times last night but for the most part did OK, and the lumberjack is just being himself.

Posted by: Dizzy1205 | October 9, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Alzner's not in because of the cap - BB said so before start of the season.

Another way of getting more offense out of Morrison might be to play Giroux with him and Knuble. Laich could center third line with Fehr and Clark, fourth line could be Stecks, Gordon, Bradley. Assuming cap thing works...

Posted by: RedLitYogi | October 9, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I agree with CapsChick... go back to the first pairs until they lose us a game... this is about winning, not making all the Defensemen happy with even playing time. That's why you have a 1-8 ranking!

Posted by: FrankM73 | October 9, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Three games people, Three games, cant emphasize enoungh- Three (3) games.

Posted by: adhardwick | October 9, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I cannot believe what I am reading regarding Green. Go to the link I provided. He is THE top defensman on our team. I know, some of you hockey experts (I am being sarcastic) will say that stats don't mean anything, but you are dead wrong. Statements like he loses the puck EVERY time he carries it up is a blatant lie. He carried the puck several times last night and gained the red line and dumped it into the offensive zone. At that point it is the O's turn to do something with it. Stat wise Erskine needs to go. You can love his hits but based on +/- and his PIMs he is a liability. He has played 36 minutes less of hockey than Green this season and has 3 more PIMs. Maybe the Erskine project vice the Schultz project should end.

I don't know why I let fly by night Caps fans get under my skin. I know that 8 years from now when the Caps are having some down years most of you that complain about the Caps won't be anywhere near Verizon, well, unless the Wizards are good then you'll be rocking the blue gold and white.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 9, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse


I dont think people are saying he sucks he just hasnt taken a good "greenesque" shift so far this year.

And for the record stating he is the best defensmen on our team really isn't saying a whole lot at the moment.

Posted by: Dizzy1205 | October 9, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

if i was out on the ice most of the time with guys Green is out there with, i would have a better +/- than Lumberjack. lets see Lambo-Greenie drop the mits with ANYBODY that Erskine dukes it out with.

Posted by: doughless | October 9, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

from what i can tell, no one on this blog watches M-TV cribs. maybe Mikie has forgotten that most of the guys he faces probably don't give a crap either.

Posted by: doughless | October 9, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Yeah and Erskine would have scored like Gretzky if he played with Messier or Kuri. I wouldn't even consider scrapping with some of the players Erskine does, even on the street, so I respect Erskine big time. My point is if anyone is going to be singled out defensively it should be the one with the most PIMs per minutes played and worst =/- at minus-2. The 2nd worst =/- on D is even.

Dizzy: I beg to differ with your opinion regarding what people are saying about Mike Green. A lot are saying he was over-rated and now that he's not scoring his lack of defensive prowess is evident. Sorry, he's the best on the team.

Go ahead and belittle that fact by throwing the entire defensive corps under the bus so called fans.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 9, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Am I throwing them under the bus? I believe my statement was "at the moment" I believe in this team. But the D corps needs to freakin play better. I dont think anyone is going to "beg to differ" on that point.

Posted by: Dizzy1205 | October 9, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

if erskine was out with those 3 guys he would have a hell of a better +/-. the Caps D was and is not playin well. Green is not playing particularly well. why is PIMs the only stat that matters?? for that matter, why is +/-. you might call it a cliche, but the stats dont always tell the full story (see Green's play & stats so far this year).

Posted by: doughless | October 9, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

It looks like Green worked out a lot over the summer and worked on his D prowess. But man, it seemed like every single shot he took was wicked high last night.... at least 3 I remember seeing. Don't tell me it's the ungoing "Easton stick issue".

Posted by: Chad8 | October 9, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I really wish they would swap Knuble and Semin. That top pairing is pretty but when you're going east-west that much especially high in the offensive zone you're going to get burned on a regular basis. Having watched a whole lot of Knuble with the B's and Flyers when he's on the ice the play tends to be far more north-south. Pucks go to the net more often because of his presence. IMO the swap would not only generate more balanced lines but would generate more pucks on net for both lines and less defensively risky cross ice passing high in the zone. Having watched how Laich, Kozlov, and now Knuble are used I have to wonder if Gabby just doesn't like to use that element with his "skill" guys.

Posted by: CrashTheNet | October 9, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Couldna put it better dizzy1205.
Fanohock,Green is the 2nd or 3rd highest paid player on team, and last night he was playing like he was on automatic pilot. His pathetic play in the playoffs last year (yah I know, injury)is carrying over. Maybe you have to see the game in person rather than look at stats, which dont tell whole story- he plays PP with OBS line so of course +/- will be fine. but I'm seeing lazy passes and rookie mistakes, and just being able to snipe a few goals wont make up for it.

Posted by: peabody2 | October 9, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Maybe you have to see the game in person rather than look at stats, which dont tell whole story- he plays PP with OBS line so of course +/- will be fine.

Power play scoring doesn't figure into +/- which counts even strength scoring. Just saying.

Posted by: Section117 | October 9, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Several things going on last night.

From the opening face-off, we were skating at about 60%. I don't know why, but I suspect it had something to do with losing a heartbuster to Philly. It takes something out of you to give 110% for 65 odd minutes and walk away with only 1 point.

I also saw our offence outmanouvered by the Rangers' D. They didn't allow us any passing lanes, left, right or centre. For this I think the credit goes to Tortorella who's had many chances to see how we operate and figure out how to shut us down. They even had the PP figured out: did anyone see Ovie shoot from anywhere except from on the blue line? (plus off to the side at an angle even he can't score from). Their D shut us down good. They even shut us down 5 on 3. I think that as soon as our coaching staff saw how effectively they were shutting us down, they should have come up with another type of attack, instead of trying the same old for two more periods. IMHO.

Also, remember what we did to the Rangers last year? Don't you think they were really hungry last night to prove a point?

The stuff about our D is probably true as well. But D has never been our strong point, and we don't win games at our end. But shut us down at the other end, and it's game over.

I think BB is right to be watching off ice. He needs to do some serious strategy re-think.

Posted by: RedRocker1 | October 9, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

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