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Posted at 1:34 PM ET, 02/ 4/2011

Limiting Lightning's transition game a key for Capitals

By Katie Carrera

If there is one thing the Capitals know about tonight's game against Tampa Bay it's that they have to take care of the puck. They can't afford to be lackadaisical with their passes in the neutral zone or non-committal when they try to dump the puck in the offensive zone, because if they give the Lightning the opportunity they'll use every one of those errors to create an odd-man rush the other way.

Washington held a few longer-than-normal video sessions since its 3-2 shootout loss to Montreal to focus on many things, including how to make sure they make the right decisions to get the puck deep and limit Tampa's chances on the fly.

"They have a great transition game," David Steckel said. "They're going to wait for you to come through the middle, make a mistake and that's how they get their opportunities. Tonight it's important to make sure we get pucks deep and it's going to be a battle along the wall, we want to make sure we keep it there."

The players wouldn't call Tampa Bay's style a conventional trap but the Lightning clog up the neutral zone extremely well and if the Capitals don't show some determination in what will need to be a dump-and-chase type of game they won't get too many scoring chances on Dwayne Roloson, who has already shut Washington out twice since joining the Lightning.

In three games against the Capitals this season -- two with Tampa Bay and one with the Islanders -- Roloson has stopped 81 of 83 shots he's faced in 182 minutes of play.

"It's not because it's that team," Roloson said of his and the Lightning's recent success against Washington. "It's about going out and outplaying them and what I do every night. I go out and play and give our team a lot of credit, our defense and our forwards denying their quality chances against, which gives me an opportunity to make those saves."

There's been a lot more emphasis on the dump-and-chase for the Capitals recently as they've struggled to score and sometimes get set up in the offensive zone. Against teams that thrive off the transition like the Lightning, the necessity to make sure the puck is dumped in to the right place and pursued strongly comes from both the offense and defense. The attention to those details was a chief topic during Washington's meetings and video sessions.

"The biggest thing is you have to get where you're going with speed," Jason Chimera said. "If you're dumping it to yourself you have to go make sure you get it, we can't just let it sit there. Sometimes you dump it and you don't get it back because guys aren't going to the right places that's what we talked a lot about. That and keeping it out of the middle.

"They're like a lot of teams," Chimera continued about the Lightning. "They like to sit back and see what we do and wait for us to make a mistake and we've just got to get pucks deep and make sure we don't give them anything extra."

The Lightning wrote what Matt Bradley said about this contest being one of the most important of the season on a dry-erase board in their dressing room but even the Tampa Bay players acknowledged it wasn't a particularly inflammatory quote. Roloson said it was there as a reminder of the significance of the contest.

By Katie Carrera  | February 4, 2011; 1:34 PM ET
Categories:  Tampa Bay Lightning  
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Next: Open thread: Capitals at Lightning

Comments

Wow. There is so much off ice stuff going on and all we hear about is this "big game" tonight...??

Obviously we aren't in Canada...


Apparently it's not that big, if the BIG GUY didn't see it necessary to skate this morning with the rest of the team.

Posted by: SoaringCaps | February 4, 2011 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Wow. There is so much off ice stuff going on and all we hear about is this "big game" tonight...??

Obviously we aren't in Canada...


Apparently it's not that big, if the BIG GUY didn't see it necessary to skate this morning with the rest of the team.

Posted by: SoaringCaps | February 4, 2011 1:43 PM | Report abuse

hey this team drives me to drink. So why not the players.

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 4, 2011 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Ok, my prediction...

Caps come out get 4 shots in the first. 3 shots in the first half of the second...then pour it on to finish with 20 shots.

And no, they won't win, but it will be a close game because of Varly and the Defense (minus Potty, of course)

Posted by: SoaringCaps | February 4, 2011 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Wild theory. I just think Semin is sitting out so that he can completely heal. Practice is much different from game situation. Teammates (in theory) aren't trying to hurt you.

Despite the losing streak, the Caps are still in 5th place in the conference. The team needs a healthy Semin in April more than they need a gimpy one now.

Posted by: ablake70

I'm not saying any of this did happen, but there is something very odd going on.

Semin has been practicing fully, with no non-contact jersey now for a little while. That is not something you do with a groin or knee injury.

Those are not contact injuries like a shoulder, those are tears in the muscles or ligaments in areas that are not contacted but are aggravated by putting strain on them while skating and cutting. The fact that he has been a full participant in practice the past few days would say that he is not aggravating the injury. If he was he wouldn't have continued to practice.

Semin was practicing full before the Habs game, so the Caps have had time to see how Semin reacts the next day after a full practice. They continued to practice Semin fully on Wednesday or Thursday.

Then you add in the report of a divided locker room and GMGM storming out of the locker room on Tuesday and it all adds to something strange is likely happening.

Could it all be coincidence and nothing of any significance? Sure. I'm not dismissing anything.

But usually, where there's smoke there's fire.

Posted by: sgm3 | February 4, 2011 1:57 PM | Report abuse

While Semin has reportedly been practicing fully without a no contact jersey, there is no way practice speed compares with game speed. In all likelihood the concern is he comes back at fully game speed before he's 100% and re-injures himself, something that has happened to Semin on multiple occasions.

I also wouldn't be surprised if Semin has had more than just the groin injury and its been hidden by the Caps.

Posted by: StikSav | February 4, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

While Semin has reportedly been practicing fully without a no contact jersey
--------------------

I've heard he also wears a no contact jersey in games. And doesn't understand why some other teams don't respect that.

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 4, 2011 2:21 PM | Report abuse

btw, instead of the usual hooking and holding calls, this is what at least some Caps games should look like. Other teams have no problems letting their hair down. We keep ours in tight bun. (irony, 2 ex-Caps in those 1st pd fights)

1st Period 00:01BOSGregory Campbell : Fighting (maj) - 5 min 00:01DALSteve Ott : Fighting (maj) - 5 min 00:02BOSShawn Thornton : Fighting (maj) - 5 min 00:02DALKrystofer Barch : Fighting (maj) - 5 min 00:04BOSAdam McQuaid : Fighting (maj) - 5 min 00:04DALBrian Sutherby : Fighting (maj) - 5 min 03:51BOSAndrew Ference : Fighting (maj) - 5 min 03:51DALAdam Burish : Fighting (maj) - 5 min 06:30BOSBrad Marchand : Holding - 2 min 10:22DALRaymond Sawada : Too many men/ice - bench - 2 min 17:49DALStephane Robidas : Interference - 2 min 2nd Period 03:29DALSteve Ott : Misconduct (10 min) - 0 min 03:29BOSZdeno Chara : Misconduct (10 min) - 0 min 04:09BOSBlake Wheeler : Interference on goalkeeper - 2 min 11:21BOSDaniel Paille served by Tyler Seguin : [RTSSPENALTYCODES_81] - 5 min 11:21DALJamie Langenbrunner : Roughing - 2 min 11:21BOSJohnny Boychuk : Roughing - 2 min 11:21BOSDaniel Paille : Game misconduct - 0 min 19:36DALBrad Richards : Tripping - 2 min 3rd Period 08:21DALMatt Niskanen : Tripping - 2 min

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 4, 2011 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Katie-

Don't care about this fluff... What's wrong with the CAPs?

Posted by: festus75 | February 4, 2011 2:27 PM | Report abuse

http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/news/story?id=6089574&campaign=rss&source=ESPNHeadlines

great highlights!

boy did Sutherby get dropped. Ouch! Big hit by Paille. Got him a suspension due to today's new concussion awareness rules.

Posted by: cstanton1 | February 4, 2011 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I rather not know about the off ice stuff. Compared to the other teams in this town (Skins, Wiz specifically), it's best some things are kept behind closed doors.
Now if Katie wants more readership and "clicks", she could start reporting TMZ style.

Posted by: nicety251 | February 4, 2011 2:49 PM | Report abuse

the only way this team saves itself from utter, abject failure is by either bringing in a coach who isn't afraid to hold star players accountable...or by getting rid of all the dead wood on this team (semin, poti, schultz, etc.). Further - OV has no business as team captain. A REAL leader leads on and off the ice...and doesn't skip practices. He is showing himself as a prima donna...and is quickly losing my loyalty as a fan.

Posted by: dingram3 |

Agree with everything, but Poti is untradeable.


Posted by: underpants2 | February 4, 2011 2:52 PM | Report abuse

rather not know about the off ice stuff. Compared to the other teams in this town (Skins, Wiz specifically), it's best some things are kept behind closed doors.
Now if Katie wants more readership and "clicks", she could start reporting TMZ style.

Posted by: nicety251

I only want it if it is impacting who is being traded, signed or who is being dressed for games.

Posted by: sgm3 | February 4, 2011 2:52 PM | Report abuse

The Caps have a number of locker room issues and one of them is having Ovie as captain. Players look to their captain to help right the ship and he's missed a ton of practices. This isn't the norm in a lot of other place (Pittsburgh for one). I doubt any top coach except BB would continue to give maintenance days to Ovechkin unless he was legitimately injured. This can't be good for locker room chemistry especially with the team not playing that well.

As for Semin, the Caps have had the same situation with Poti and he continues to reinjure himself everytime he returns. Just because Semin is practicing, doesn't mean he isn't holding back a little or that he is ready for a game. I'm sure he would be back playing if he was 100% and the Caps know they need him for the playoffs. This is an important game but not one worth risking losing him for another 10-15 games to reinjury.

Posted by: wizfan89 | February 4, 2011 3:09 PM | Report abuse

The Caps have a number of locker room issues and one of them is having Ovie as captain. Players look to their captain to help right the ship and he's missed a ton of practices. This isn't the norm in a lot of other place (Pittsburgh for one). I doubt any top coach except BB would continue to give maintenance days to Ovechkin unless he was legitimately injured. This can't be good for locker room chemistry especially with the team not playing that well.

As for Semin, the Caps have had the same situation with Poti and he continues to reinjure himself everytime he returns. Just because Semin is practicing, doesn't mean he isn't holding back a little or that he is ready for a game. I'm sure he would be back playing if he was 100% and the Caps know they need him for the playoffs. This is an important game but not one worth risking losing him for another 10-15 games to reinjury.

Posted by: wizfan89 | February 4, 2011 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I realize Semin gets hurt an awful lot, but the Caps need him. There is no scoring right now, and in my opinion Semin gets an awful lot of the blame. I can't remember the last time he played with a regular center. I believe he has routinely played with at least 6 different centers in the last 1.5 seasons (Belanger, B Morrison, Flash, MP, Backstrom, Laich) and there are probanly more. It takes time to build chemistry, and to score 40 goals with a revolving door of linemates is impressive...8 and 19 have basically been together for the last few years...MP is not an NHL Center. He is good 1 out of 5 games...When Semin is out there with his usual linemates; it's like he's playing shorthanded...
He did not have a good playoffs last year, like many of the players, but against the Flyers a couple of years ago, he was probably one of the toughest players in that series. If you trade him, who is going to score, Laich? MP? Don't think so

Posted by: Unknown19 | February 4, 2011 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Boucher's system is an unconventional 1-3-1 system. Plain and simple.

From my perspective, it's a damn shame Martin is still with the Habs while he's bringing Tampa to the forefront of the league.

Posted by: slurpeesarecool | February 4, 2011 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Ah, I've put all the pieces together by reading the blogs today.

GMGM stormed out of the locker room after the Montreal game because nobody was doing anything about breaking the Scott Steven's spell.

BB pulled Ovie out of practice to ask him why did dared Semin to piss on Abe's grave.

Semin is ordered benched by Leonsis for a month.

Ovie explained that the team had fallen into the Scott Steven's curse and pissing on the grave would break the spell.

Haynesworth heard that someone in a yellow car had pissed on the owner's grave and proceeded to chase him down and give him a knuckle sandwich. Afterwards, Fat Albert realizes that his favorite owner is still alive and not 6 feet under.

Got it?

Posted by: puckman | February 4, 2011 3:35 PM | Report abuse

The start to the Bruins/Stars game was the stuff wet dreams are made of. Three fights in the first 4 seconds? Apparently, Ott and Campbell's beef goes back 2 years so that's why they went. THORNTON AND MCQUAID FOUGHT TO SUPPORT THE TEAM! Aside from the 2nd game of the season or thereabouts, against the Devils, when else did anyone on the Caps follow-up a fight with a fight? Again, too bad BB's clueless as to use DJK to tap into that dynamic THAT UNQUESTIONABLY PRODUCES TEAM SPIRIT, UNITY, AND COHESION. Whatever is "dividing" the locker room now is just symptomatic of a problem I believe has been brewing over a long period of time.

Anyway, the Bruins won 3 of the 4 fights, with McQuaid and Ference demolishing Sutherby and Burish, respectively. Thornton got the the better of Barch (the hunchback of Notre Dame when he squares up), and I thought Campbell held his own against Ott, though his nose bleeding profusely gives the nod to Ott on visual appeal.

Don't know why I didn't watch the game last night, probably just as well because I'm sure Jack Edwards needed medical attention after hyperventilating and it would've compromised the broadcast.

MAKE A STATEMENT TONITE #4...5 WEEKS IS TOO LONG BETWEEN TILTS!!

Posted by: vermontcaps | February 4, 2011 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Here's a repost of something from last night because, well, it's just so good Wiley_1:

Thinking of the Bruins/Stars game and those who fought (Campbell, Thornton, McQuaid, Ference against Ott, Barch, Sutherby, Burish) made me think of the Caps.
When Poti returns, Erskine will be banished and we won't have anyone on the backline willing to drop the mitts regardless of the situation. (Ok, maybe Green)
When Semin/Fehr return that means no more DJK and soon enough, BB will realize that Hendricks/Bradley aren't Gordon/Steckel and so one of them will have to sit.
We'll be down to one willing fighter in the lineup on a nightly basis...that is unless BB wants to pretend the Caps can hang with tough teams like the Pens or Bruins in which case there might be an Erskine sighting.
Any chance BB will sit Steckel against the Pens in an attempt to mute any kind of hostilities?
Posted by: vermontcaps | February 3, 2011 10:39 PM | Report abuse


Any thoughts?

Posted by: vermontcaps | February 4, 2011 3:48 PM | Report abuse

I'M CALLING KATIE OUT!!! WHY DOESN'T SHE ASK ABOUT OVIE NEVER PRACTICING??!??!?!?!?

Posted by: Albright4Snapper | February 4, 2011 3:51 PM | Report abuse

@Albright4snapper

they always ask...and they get told its a maintenance day or its optional morning skate. So quit picking on Katie, she's doing her job.

Posted by: ThePat | February 4, 2011 3:55 PM | Report abuse

some still don't understand the difference between practice and a game day morning skate

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | February 4, 2011 4:02 PM | Report abuse

The morning skate makes most players feel better on a game day...Ovie, doesnt, so he doesnt skate...get over it.

Posted by: SA-Town | February 4, 2011 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Optional or not, the team Captain should be there even if he just watches and talks to the trainers. This game tonight has an unpleasant feel to it, hope I'm wrong...

Posted by: kcbrichmond | February 4, 2011 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Ovie is in the locker room every morning skate working on things with his trainer. He is not sleeping in.

Posted by: SA-Town | February 4, 2011 4:26 PM | Report abuse

lets be honest here...this team is a total mess.

Posted by: doughless | February 4, 2011 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Optional or not, the team Captain should be there even if he just watches and talks to the trainers. This game tonight has an unpleasant feel to it, hope I'm wrong...

Posted by: kcbrichmond | February 4, 2011 4:15 PM

unless he's in the locker room with an ice bag on his head to help get over a bender from the night before - i couldn't care less if he does a morning skate. anybody that averages 20+ minutes a game could skip it if they wanted to IMO. the pre-game skate will warmup the hamstrings and calfs

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | February 4, 2011 4:31 PM | Report abuse

morning skate interferes with recovery time after Russia House.

Posted by: doughless | February 4, 2011 4:31 PM | Report abuse

@ vermontcaps. Not to interrupt your wet dream, but if the fighting Bruins are eliminated in the 1st round of the playoffs, are they bums like the Caps or do they get a pass because of their willingness to drop the mits ?

Posted by: MadCap1 | February 4, 2011 4:33 PM | Report abuse

doughless is a total mess...go back to the Penguins board.....I didnt see any banners raised in Consol Energy this year, so get back to the drawing board...

Posted by: SA-Town | February 4, 2011 4:33 PM | Report abuse

@ vermontcaps. Not to interrupt your wet dream, but if the fighting Bruins are eliminated in the 1st round of the playoffs, are they bums like the Caps or do they get a pass because of their willingness to drop the mits ?

Posted by: MadCap1 | February 4, 2011 4:34 PM | Report abuse

SA-Town,

just like a soap opera.

Posted by: doughless | February 4, 2011 4:39 PM | Report abuse

My point is the Captain should at least be on premises. SA-Town says he is, so ok. It wouldn't help team morale for the Captain to be sleeping in or watching Cinemax, while they're together.
If GMGM waits until the deadline to pull the trigger on a move, it may be too late considering how this team reacted to the trades of Clark and Fleischmann... Something needs to be done asap!

Posted by: kcbrichmond | February 4, 2011 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Caps fall three goals down - wake up after 1st or 2nd period...by then it is too late...Tampa 4-2

Posted by: lylewimbledon | February 4, 2011 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Caps fall three goals down - wake up after 1st or 2nd period...by then it is too late...Tampa 4-2

Posted by: lylewimbledon | February 4, 2011 4:42 PM | Report abuse

the Young Guns are looking like the Young Chumps these days. Those guys are making bank and all they can do is repeat the same old "we have to play 60 minutes" crap.

Posted by: doughless | February 4, 2011 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Everyone jumps on Ovie every time he misses anything and it still boggles my mind. Crosby missed a game to spend time with his parents. I know he can't play because of his head but if Ovechkin missed a game when he was suspended or hurt everyone on this board would jump all over him but 90% probably didn't even know about Crosby missing a game. I can't remember a player under as big of a microscope for stuff not in the actual game since Allen Iverson.

Posted by: icehammer97 | February 4, 2011 4:50 PM | Report abuse

My point is the Captain should at least be on premises. SA-Town says he is, so ok. It wouldn't help team morale for the Captain to be sleeping in or watching Cinemax, while they're together.
If GMGM waits until the deadline to pull the trigger on a move, it may be too late considering how this team reacted to the trades of Clark and Fleischmann... Something needs to be done asap!

Posted by: kcbrichmond |

Ovie was there today. There was the report of him and BB having a private conversation before the morning skate happened.

Posted by: sgm3 | February 4, 2011 4:52 PM | Report abuse

OV is not an innocent here. he does everything he can to draw attention to himself. why make excuses for him. dude is making $123 million. where is your hot stick, OV???

Posted by: doughless | February 4, 2011 4:58 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3

Can you post the link to the report that BB pulled OV aside? Everyone is mentioning it and I haven't read about it yet.
We seem to read the same things at times.

Posted by: nicety251 | February 4, 2011 5:27 PM | Report abuse

I'll tell you who else is absent at Caps optional and game day skates, all the people who complain about our players missing them, specifically comments about Ovie. ANYONE WHO EVER GOES TO MORNING SKATES/OPTIONAL PRACTICES KNOWS JUST BECAUSE THE PLAYERS AREN'T SKATING DOESN'T MEAN THEY AREN'T AT THE FACILITY!!! idiots!!!!!!! so shut up already

Posted by: capsfan387 | February 4, 2011 5:31 PM | Report abuse

@nicety251

It is in one of the tweets on here, scroll down a few.

http://twitter.com/erlendssontrib

Posted by: sgm3 | February 4, 2011 5:31 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3

Thanks.
They could have been talking about anything.
Gotta love Twitter.

Posted by: nicety251 | February 4, 2011 5:42 PM | Report abuse

@ vermontcaps. Not to interrupt your wet dream, but if the fighting Bruins are eliminated in the 1st round of the playoffs, are they bums like the Caps or do they get a pass because of their willingness to drop the mits ?

Posted by: MadCap1 | February 4, 2011 4:34 PM | Report abuse

They'd be bums, ENTERTAINING BUMS, but bums nonetheless. But if they were to lose in the first round, it would be more painful than if we do the same because Bruins fans BELIEVE WITH ALL THEIR HEARTS that their team is a legitimate contender. Anything less than an ECF appearance and their season is disappointing.

Posted by: vermontcaps | February 4, 2011 6:48 PM | Report abuse

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