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Sloan Questionable Tonight

Defenseman Tyler Sloan (bruised foot) is questionable for tonight's game at Air Canada Centre. If he can't play, Sean Collins, who was recalled this morning from Hershey, will make his NHL debut.

Should Collins suit up, he would be the 11th defenseman to play in Washington this season. Yep. It's that bad.

Some other notes and quotes from the morning skate:

*Brent Johnson will make his second consecutive start and third in four games.

"At this point he's winning, and he played solid [on Thursday], so why not," Boudreau said of the decision to start Johnson over Jose Theodore. "I haven't made a decision on tomorrow's goalie. But if Brent wins again tonight, we might just keep running with him until we get more consistency."

*Collins, as you might imagine, is geeked about the prospect of making his NHL debut on Hockey Night in Canada.

"It was a good surprise," Collins said. "I'm going to take warmups, and if Sloan is okay, then he'll play. But if he's not okay, then I'll play. I want to play, but even if I don't, just coming to Toronto, to Air Canada Centre, it's awesome."

"I'm nervous," he added. "But from what I've heard, once you get out there, it's just hockey. It's all I've been doing for the past 22 years."

*Based on the morning skate, the forward lines will be the same as they were in Thursday's win over the Islanders, meaning Michael Nylander once again will be the right wing on the first line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.

*Karl Alzner also will make his Canadian debut against the team he grew up cheering. Alzner is from British Columbia, but he was huge Leafs fan as a kid, and his favorite NHL player behind Scott Niedermayer was Doug Gilmour.

"My dad lived in Toronto for a bit, so that's where I got it," Alzner said. "It's going to be special. It's big. I have to try not to think about it. I've played in games that were shown all across Canada before, but this is a whole different level."

*Ovechkin has 11 goals in 12 career games against the Leafs, including four last season. Overall, Alex has 29 points in his last 15 games (12 goals, 17 assists.)

*Semin has been placed on LTIR, but he is eligible to come off on Tuesday. Erskine was placed on IR.

"It's just a lingering thing," Boudreau said of Semin, who will miss his 11th game tonight with an upper torso strain. "If we get him back by next weekend, we'll be happy."

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  December 6, 2008; 12:17 PM ET
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Next: Sloan Not Warming Up



Any update on Green? Possible for tomorrow?

Posted by: mshwedick | December 6, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

First half of my 8 major thoughts during this injury deluge. Second half in post immediately following. Curious what folks think:

1) We're a better team without Chris Clark at this point. He wasn't part of last season's magical run, he hasn't played at an NHL level this season, and yet he remains our captain because Bruce understands the loyalties to Clark's efforts in the lean years. I appreciate what Clarkie has meant for the Caps, but he's no longer the true captain of this team and we don't need his skill-set. With health, I think all this (except the captaincy bit) directly applies to Nylander as well.

2) Jurcina is far better when not on a line with Erskine. I know people will probably disagree with me here, but I've seen him take the body and play the puck better while paired with the controlled and S@H style of Alzner. I believe Erskine is the weakest link on our backline -- making his contract all the more baffling

3) Fehr is a Cap to watch. Much like Fleischmann last year, Fehr is starting to show flashes of NHL readiness as a scorer. His goal Thursday night was John LeClair-esque...super soft hands on a big frame. In addition, Fehr simply outworks people to get the puck. Mark my words, if we give him the ice time to develop he will be a gifted and major impact player for us -- he's a potential playoff warrior. We need to remind ourselves that this represents his first healthy season playing on the big squad.

4) Ovechkin is a pure warrior. He's hurt. He's got nagging injuries. We all know it. We all saw it last season through the playoffs. But, he is toughness personified. If he were alive during the era of the Visigoths and Mongols, he'd have been a Russian warrior on the front lines...a legend whom Russians would still be telling stories about around the camp fire. He would have battled and turned away the original Greek Alexander the Great!

Posted by: MTB7 | December 6, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Second half of my 8 major points during the injury deluge:

5) The Caps are incredibly deep. We are playing FOUR defensemen right now who weren't up with the team on opening night: Sloan/Collins(?), Alzner, Lepisto, Helmer. We've cycled in Borque, Mink, and Aucoin on the forward lines. Meanwhile, despite their absences from Hershey, the Bears continue to dominate -- starting with the increasingly stellar play of netminder prospect Simeon Varlamov

6) Bruce hates losing.

7) The Caps don't have a #1 goalie right now. Theo gets a shutout but sits the following night to watch Johnny and the caps lose to a woeful Blue Jackets team. Johnny wins Thurs night and yet who goes against Toronto was up in the air until this morning. This doesn't bode well for long-term success...does it? I think it was a tactical error not to go with Theo after his shutout. How can you say you're going with Johnny cuz he's "winning" if you weren't willing to go back to Theo when he won against Montreal?

8) The player we still miss and have missed for a number of seasons now is a stud physical veteran defenseman. We talk a lot on these boards about various Caps D-men not being ready or just being plain bad. How many of them are over the age of 27 though? We all know it takes far longer for defensemen to develop in this league and yet we consistently ask our young 20-something corps to know when to be physical, know when to pinch and know when to fall back and shut things down. All three of those skills are learned on the backline over time and with experience. Some many never learn but I think we ask too much from our young guys w/out a veteran to lead the corps. Anytime Poti is considered your veteran D leader, you've got a problem. I like him and he's important, but he's just not that player.

Posted by: MTB7 | December 6, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

None of the injured players traveled with the team. So it doesn't look like they'll play tomorrow, either.

Posted by: el_bashir | December 6, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

@ MTB7

#1- The injury Clark acquired early this season have most likely impacted the way he has played so far. Well to me anyway, it has explained his ineffective play. I want Nyls to stay as well. He was a liability earlier this season, but recently, he's picked up his play. He's more of a threat offensively and his defensive play is somewhat improving.

#2- I am one who agrees. I, too, have seen him more solid, more physical, lately.

#7- Tarik's update answered that:

*Brent Johnson will make his second consecutive start and third in four games.

"At this point he's winning, and he played solid [on Thursday], so why not," Boudreau said of the decision to start Johnson over Jose Theodore. "I haven't made a decision on tomorrow's goalie. But if Brent wins again tonight, we might just keep running with him until we get more consistency."

#8- I agree. The core of defenseman is fairly young, and since last year I've been saying that the team needs a solid, proven, veteran defenseman. Someone to help the young core mature, and develop.

Posted by: elicea | December 6, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse


your point #1: the problem is he still wears the C. I agree he's not adding value to the team right now. You take away his C though and we'll have to trade him.

#3, #4: couldn't agree more.

#7: the goalies can share the load but we do need a clear #1 for the playoffs. Who's it gonna be?

#8: Amen. We need an Adam Foote-type D-man (when Foote was younger). Chara spurned the Caps offer and I still miss Scott Stevens. I agree that's the missing piece for this team.

Posted by: CAP-lanta | December 6, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse


You make some good points. But I think that if we are to move Clark or Nylander, we should wait until everyone is healthy first. We see how injuries have decimated the blueline. Having a few extra bodies around is good, and we should wait until Semin and Fedorov return before we unload anybody up front.

IMO, Alzner has played awsome. The best part about him is that he has the same "team first" mentality that Ovie has. I was really impressed that he went to Boudreau after the Florida game to admit he didn't play great. What a leader he will be!

Posted by: peppycap | December 6, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Alex Semin meet Shaun Springs, Shaun Springs meet Alex Semin. Both have the unique talent of being "a few days away" for months at a time

Posted by: cbulow99 | December 6, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

The only game Alzner has played "great" was the Isles game. The others he has looked like a rookie who's not quite ready. Probably nerves and I hope he can build on his recent play.

If we can come home form this weekend healthy, I'll be pleased. Points or no points.

Posted by: FFSEnough | December 6, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

this is a total freakin disaster

Posted by: ahbest3 | December 6, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse


I agree with almost everything you said, though I'm not a huge fan of Jeff "Gentle Giant" Shultz. Erskine, for his faults, at least tries to be "rugged." Other than him, we don't have any physical presence on defense.

Totally agree re: Clark and Nylander. The good news is that $8m in salary, once off the payroll, will be used for the raises Backstrom and Semin will be due, and then for defense.

I have to wonder about all of these injuries. If it were the playoffs, I imagine Mike Green (who said he was at 85 or 90%) would be playing, and possibly others. We can afford to ease them back at a slow pace because the division is so bad and our chief threat, Carolina, is playing terrible.

Posted by: wahoo_Mike | December 6, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Good Shawn springs analogy - that guy is always injured. Maybe he can join Smootie and Rock at the next Caps game!

Posted by: CAP-lanta | December 6, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

As long as they remain on top of the SE, who cares when these guys come back. Granted, they are not tearing it up right now, but they are still in 1st place in the SE, which, when all is said and done, will take us into the playoffs with the healthiest, most rested, Stanley Cup winner ever!

Let 'em rest....

Flyers Suck!

Posted by: kkd76 | December 6, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

If we start losing games and we don't get some D men back we may end up having to give up a Fleischmann, a Gordon or a Bradley for a top 4 defenseman.

I wonder what that Eminger guy is going for these days... (j/k)

He's #7 in scoring on the Lightning. But then the Lightning is sure glad Atlanta is in our division right now...

Posted by: austinsteve | December 6, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

austinsteve-no way fleischman is going anywhere...and even if we were to move gordon or bradley, they will not fetch you a top 4 dman in return.

Posted by: ph0082 | December 6, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

I care who's playing now because I have season tickets!!!! (ha ha) No, in all seriousness I see your point. As long as we don't have complete lackluster efforts like we did against Florida or get completely outmanned like we did out West, I'm ok with taking time bringing people back.

In my opinion, we can live without Semin for a while - but we need Green or Federov back ASAP.

Posted by: joe47 | December 6, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse


You're most likely correct, but...

Eh, a lot can happen, maybe learning a little more team D wouldn't hurt us. And we should get some bodies back soon.

Posted by: austinsteve | December 6, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

OK. Eliminate the Divisions' rankings and where would the Caps be?
Conference: 5th
League: 8th (tie)
Not bad for a team with so many injuries, don't you agree?

Posted by: opita | December 6, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I would guess Semin and Feds are out until after Christmas. This is just too long to be a day-2-day thing.

Im also worried that Green will crumble as soon as he gets hit on that shoulder again. We could be the Hershey Capitals for another month IMO.

Posted by: SA-Town | December 6, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse


I appreciate your energy. BTW, The original "Alexander the Great" was Macedonian.

Posted by: Dave28 | December 6, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse


Lots of comments for you. Tarik should hire you on his days off. One missed point. You noted that Johnson got the start vs. Columbus after Theodore's shutout and BJ played less than super great. The change is questionable, but two goalies in 2 days (Columbus was Sat, Montreal Fri) is how it's usually done for back to backs. What you missed was that Theodore played Tuesday vs. FLA (in response to BJ's performance) and was equally not especially great. That's why BJ played Thursday vs. NY. Maybe 1 day rest is the norm.

Both are well loved. BJ get's the nodd in our house, but only because he's been around longer and has signed more autographs after practice. One thing about BJ is that on his off nights he seems to let in goals from average shots that make it clearly through a good screen. Vs. Montreal Theodore was often in position to block blind shots and did so even though he didn't see them. In BJ's losses, I've seen goals go in while he was looking around a defenseman or opponent trying to follow the puck and then end up missing the shot all together (miss seeing it and saving it).

Special thanks to Eric Fehr for tossing my son a puck in Thursday's warmups. The goal near the end of the game was a great way to Cap off a nice win and a nice full circle for my son's first full NHL game.

Posted by: fehrrocks | December 6, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse


"@ Steve R.
It just occurred to me that you're the jerk who criticized me on two occasions for praising Oscar Osala six ( 6 ) or seven ( 7 ) months ago"

You have me confused with some other jerk. Please go back and try to find my comments where I criticized you for your Oskar praise. I can actually remember agreeing with you a couple months ago that Oskar was going to be a keeper.

I did ask you where Dovgan was though.

Posted by: Steve_R | December 6, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Guys, chill.

We need to just fight extra hard to get one game out of this next two.

And then Greenie will be back on Tuesday, and Feds by end of next week. We will be fine.

Posted by: DannyBoy1975 | December 6, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

MTB7 -

Good reporting, some excellent observations. Fehr, if the Caps are smart enough to keep him, will be an impact player not later than next year. He's like Flash; take some time to get better.

Posted by: Dougeb | December 6, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse


"The Caps don't have a #1 goalie right now. Theo gets a shutout but sits the following night to watch Johnny and the caps lose to a woeful Blue Jackets team. Johnny wins Thurs night and yet who goes against Toronto was up in the air until this morning. This doesn't bode well for long-term success...does it?"

Enjoyed reading your comments...this was the only one I have time to respond to right now, and it's a rough comparison at best...but look at last year's Red Wings...granted Osgood and Hasek played on a higher level, but just an example of how this format can succeed...

/go caps!
//don't forget to look for the sombrero.

Posted by: Yoshietree | December 6, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

It should not matter whose on defense tonight. We should crush Toronto. They give up alot of goals. Go Caps.

Posted by: ergoroc | December 6, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Game is scheduled for 7PM on CSN-HD, although the telecast is not scheduled to be HD this evening. Hopefully we get widescreen at least, but maybe we'll get an HD surprise (doubtful).

I'm kinda hoping these college football games are "over" by then... but I'm switching to the Caps at 7 no matter what! :)

And I think my back injury is finally over with, after missing Friday vs Montreal, limping through Tuesday vs Florida, and then missing Thursday vs NYI. Woo!

Any votes on beer of choice for the drop of the puck? The options are Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome, Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot Ale 2008, Troegs' Mad Elf, Dogfish Head's 90 Minute Imperial Pale Ale, Brooklyn's Black Chocolate Stout, and Yuengling's Lager. (In case anyone was curious, yesterday was the 75th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition... there's no finer time to keep a well-stocked fridge!)

Posted by: GregAnnapolis | December 6, 2008 5:04 PM | Report abuse

And a viewing note for those outside of CSN territory... you can pick up the game on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, or for US viewers, the simulcast of HNIC will be on NHL Network. No need for Center Ice tonight.

Those inside the CSN viewing market (like myself) must use CSN like any other game.

Posted by: GregAnnapolis | December 6, 2008 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Caps haven't played a good game on the road once this season. Every game they've played on the road, it's been ugly. Let's hope that changes tonight. This game better not be like the Blue Jackets game, where the Caps are clearly the better team, but don't show it at all.

Posted by: rachel216 | December 6, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

I beg to differ rachel.

Nov 12- WSH 5-1 CAR

Posted by: elicea | December 6, 2008 5:21 PM | Report abuse

rachel, what about Caps @ Pens. We showed them who the better team was.

Posted by: GregAnnapolis | December 6, 2008 5:21 PM | Report abuse

elicea: And that.

Posted by: GregAnnapolis | December 6, 2008 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Collins is plenty capable. Hopefully he gets to show what he can do for a few games in a row. He's probably better than half our regular defensemen believe it or not. He takes care of business in his end and we need that right now with guys like Poti out

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 6, 2008 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Hey Tarik,

With all these injuries to the D, any chance we'll see John Carlson? I believe he could get 10 games(?) and still be able to head back to juniors. Obviously we singed him a few weeks back, could be nice to see him in Caps sweater.

Posted by: rsl22 | December 6, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

I just got one of those cryptic email error messages. I think the Post has been hacked or something.

Posted by: Leeguru | December 6, 2008 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Leeguru, I got one too. It looks a lot more like a misconfigured server, nothing malicious. It does provide some interesting insight into the inner workings of the Capitals Insider, though.

BTW, nobody has voted on the beer for the puck drop. See above for choices. :)

Posted by: GregAnnapolis | December 6, 2008 6:28 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: ergoroc | December 6, 2008 6:36 PM | Report abuse

I choose cold beer. Beyond that it's on you!

I am outta here!

Posted by: Leeguru | December 6, 2008 6:37 PM | Report abuse

New thread. Will repost TV and beer info. :P

Posted by: GregAnnapolis | December 6, 2008 6:40 PM | Report abuse

GregAnnapolis: Yes, the HNIC is on now. I like this because as a kid I watched HNIC (snowy B&W) on Ch 9 Windsor, Ontario. This means we should get the Leafs announcers, and I really enjoy the out-of-town perspective.

Daughter just went and got Guinness for herself. I have Robert Mondavi Venetta. Having red wine while they're wearing white is chancing it.

We will miss Sloan - he has been mistake free since a lousy pass on the first West Coast trip (I think it was in Phoenix, the bad pass).

Posted by: tominfl1 | December 6, 2008 6:51 PM | Report abuse

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