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Posted at 5:30 PM ET, 01/ 4/2011

Open thread: Capitals vs. Lightning

By Lindsay Applebaum

logologoThe Washington Capitals (23-12-5) are hoping some of the momentum from a Winter Classic victory carries over tonight against Steven Stamkos and the surging Tampa Bay Lightning (23-11-5).

Tampa Bay has been bulking up for what could be its first playoff appearance since 2006-07, trading for veteran goaltender Dwayne Roloson on Saturday and reportedly signing free agent defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron today to a one-year deal, according to ESPN's Pierre Lebrun.

The teams are tied atop the Southeast Division with 51 points apiece, and a Capitals victory tonight at Verizon Center would go a long way toward helping Washington reclaim its dominance. "We want to be the best," Coach Bruce Boudreau said this morning. "To be the best, obviously, you have to beat Tampa now."

Faceoff: 7 p.m.; TV: CSN; Radio: 1500 AM

Update, 6:39 p.m.
Based on warmup, here's what the Caps' lineup should look like:

Forwards
Ovechkin-Backstrom-Knuble
Laich-Perreault-Semin
Chimera-Johansson-Fehr
Hendricks-Steckel-Beagle

Defense
Hannan-Green
Alzner-Carlson
Schultz-Poti

Goal
Varlamov
Neuvirth

Scratches: John Erskine and Tyler Sloan.

By Lindsay Applebaum  | January 4, 2011; 5:30 PM ET
Categories:  Lineups, Tampa Bay Lightning  
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Next: Capitals fall, 1-0, in overtime to Lightning

Comments

Lindsay,
should this be the surging Tampa Bay Lightnings - jk

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 4, 2011 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Please, please, get rid of the Pen's logo at the top left side.

Go Caps!

Posted by: guer_j | January 4, 2011 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Ha, it's gone now!
wow, surprised of my influence around here :P

Posted by: guer_j | January 4, 2011 6:07 PM | Report abuse

That pens logo really bothered you, eh?

Posted by: LloydChristmas | January 4, 2011 6:36 PM | Report abuse

If we had blogs covering World War 2, would having the Nazi logo up bother you? :D

Little extreme example, but they are the enemy

Posted by: dimagus | January 4, 2011 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Let's do this. No letdowns. Let's stay "bought in" and keep it simple. Big game tonight...

Posted by: sca187 | January 4, 2011 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Would like to see Semin, Backie and/or OV break out tonight while continuing to be "bought in" to the system. Stay out of the box, no turnovers and get it deep. Forecheck and cycle. Play hockey in Tampa's zone.

Posted by: sca187 | January 4, 2011 6:57 PM | Report abuse

The road to the playoffs is shaping up to be RADICALLY different than last year.


GOOOOD!

EARN IT!!!!

...and appreciate it more when you get there.

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | January 4, 2011 7:08 PM | Report abuse

being outhit after 1 minute 1-0. at this rate they'll be outhit 60-0 - WHERE IS ERSKINE WHEN YOU NEED HIM!!

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 4, 2011 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Semin
Gamblin'
Again

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | January 4, 2011 7:16 PM | Report abuse

So can someone help me out here. If Sloan and Erskine are "the scratches," what is King? Inactive? IR still (I thought he came off IR for the Boston game)?

Is he hurt and they aren't disclosing it? Ankle? Hand?

Posted by: Matt252 | January 4, 2011 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Need a physical presence out there. That's all there is to it...

Posted by: sca187 | January 4, 2011 7:25 PM | Report abuse

poti clearing the crease with a little crosscheck

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 4, 2011 7:26 PM | Report abuse

If DJK hurt his hand, it wasn't from fighting... J*ckinitis maybe...

Posted by: sca187 | January 4, 2011 7:28 PM | Report abuse

So close MaJo

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | January 4, 2011 7:33 PM | Report abuse

I've been so high off the Winter Classic that I forgot how much our PP HAS SUCKED!

That last session wasnt so bad, a bit of a change in philosophy.

They were trying really hard to get something in tight, vs. the "perfect play" technique.

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | January 4, 2011 7:39 PM | Report abuse

BB needs to start the next PP with the second PP line. We're STILL trying to be too cute. Get traffic in front and shots from the point. KEEP IT SIMPLE!

Posted by: sca187 | January 4, 2011 7:42 PM | Report abuse

TB was the far more tenacious team in that period. They had us on our heels for the most part. The Caps need to raise their intensity another notch.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 4, 2011 7:46 PM | Report abuse

I feel very fortunate to NOT be down after that period.

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | January 4, 2011 7:53 PM | Report abuse

WTH Semin. I'm pulling for you but you do something like that. Ugh!

Posted by: nicety251 | January 4, 2011 8:33 PM | Report abuse

maybe Feinstein was right... maybe they should have traded for Roloson just so they wouldn't have to face him ever again.

Posted by: joek443 | January 4, 2011 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Much better effort from the Caps in that period.

They need to continue proving that they can win these types of games with defense and goaltending.

It's frustrating that we haven't scored but that's how TB feels as well.

Which team is going to get better defense and goaltending in the final period?

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 4, 2011 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Much better 2nd period, less the dumb Semin penalty. When that guy is hot, he is meltdown hot; when he is cold, he could freeze the wet ice in Pissburgh.

If Ellis or Smith was in goal, not Roloson, the Caps would probably be up a couple. Good trade for Tampa, and MAB is a very smart move, too. Yzerman is a good gm so far.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | January 4, 2011 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Which team is going to get better defense and goaltending in the final period?

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 4, 2011 8:41 PM


the caps!?!?

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 4, 2011 8:48 PM | Report abuse

And we need to be sharper as a team exiting our own end.

I think it was Fehr that made that awful giveaway when he had plenty of time and space to make a better play. That wasn't the only example either. That's an area in general that we still need to improve upon to get it where it needs to be, forwards and defensemen alike.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 4, 2011 8:50 PM | Report abuse

I miss the old Caps power play. You know, the one that could actually score occasionally.

Posted by: zmega | January 4, 2011 8:53 PM | Report abuse

zmega:
but i'll take the new PK and D at the expense of a little PP

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 4, 2011 8:58 PM | Report abuse

The Caps look flat so far and the Bolts are fired up

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | January 4, 2011 8:59 PM | Report abuse

But then MP's line just looked good, go figure

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | January 4, 2011 9:00 PM | Report abuse

right now it looks like TB wants this game a little more than the caps do

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 4, 2011 9:00 PM | Report abuse

but i'll take the new PK and D at the expense of a little PP
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So would I but one really has nothing to do with the other.

Posted by: joek443 | January 4, 2011 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Man MP is a great little pest on the forecheck

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | January 4, 2011 9:04 PM | Report abuse

So would I but one really has nothing to do with the other.

Posted by: joek443 | January 4, 2011 9:02 PM

except for what they spend their practice time on

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 4, 2011 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Green has made a number of sketchy plays in this game. He doesn't look sharp.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 4, 2011 9:05 PM | Report abuse

This period has looked a lot like the first for several moments so far.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 4, 2011 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Great pk

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | January 4, 2011 9:10 PM | Report abuse

And Carlson/Alzner look like vets out there

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | January 4, 2011 9:14 PM | Report abuse

So far Yzermann looks like a genius for getting Roloson... if they lose this game, I bet Feinstein will write another column on his favorite goalie.

Posted by: joek443 | January 4, 2011 9:14 PM | Report abuse

that headhunter ad was really disturbing

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | January 4, 2011 9:18 PM | Report abuse

So far Yzermann looks like a genius for getting Roloson... if they lose this game, I bet Feinstein will write another column on his favorite goalie.

Posted by: joek443 | January 4, 2011 9:14 PM

you beat joeb with the genius comment

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 4, 2011 9:20 PM | Report abuse

@JIMALL
I thought it was funny, but I have a sick sense of humor.

Posted by: nicety251 | January 4, 2011 9:21 PM | Report abuse

***Begin Butthead voice***

"Dwayne Roloson is the greatest goaltender that I have ever seen in all of my life. Uh huhuh."

***End Butthead voice***

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | January 4, 2011 9:22 PM | Report abuse

yes, nicety, yes, you do.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | January 4, 2011 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Poti tries to force it in front to Schultz. You could hear the entire crowd groan because it was such a brutal pass. Play develops and five seconds later it's in the net. But yeah, he should play over Erskine for sure.

Posted by: Aldred15 | January 4, 2011 9:33 PM | Report abuse

How's that all D and no O going for you now, Capt. Kirk?

Posted by: zmega | January 4, 2011 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Poti... sigh.

Aside from that, a lot of good to take away from this one.

Alzner and Johansson were both outstanding in this game and the Caps as a team did a lot of really good things.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 4, 2011 9:35 PM | Report abuse

Boy, am I glad that BB sat Erskine for Poti, who just stood there. Can't wait to hear the rage from the Green Mountain State.

And why St. Louis, I hate that guy. He always whines for calls and dives more than Greg Louganis.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | January 4, 2011 9:35 PM | Report abuse

Disappointing...what a let down after a great Winter Classic win....Varly can't do it all by himself :(

Posted by: JCB9 | January 4, 2011 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Nice BB. Bench Ersk for sloppy hand Poti who costs us the game.

Posted by: jakopz | January 4, 2011 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Poti for 2 years, does not look so good so far this year. Think anyone would be dumb enough to trade a veteran center or tuff defender for him? Doubt it

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | January 4, 2011 9:38 PM | Report abuse

if players are getting jerseys based on merit there is NO REASON for tom poti to have a sweater. he hasn't deserved it for a long time. i just feel better with ersk in because he's been very responsible this year.

Posted by: natresgroup | January 4, 2011 9:40 PM | Report abuse

On the plus side, we hung in there with the best team in the division for 3 periods and half of OT. If we keep up the good work, I think we could really contend in the SE!

Posted by: VTDuffman | January 4, 2011 9:40 PM | Report abuse

I'm loving the way they are trying to learn to play. This is exactly what they need to learn how to do to take the next step forward.

They need to be more committed to playing the right way, with forwards not trying to cheat so much, instead supporting the defensemen until it's time to go the other way.

Yea, it'd be even better if they were finishing at the other end on the PP and at even strength but to see this group playing this tight defensively is a great thing.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 4, 2011 9:40 PM | Report abuse

How's that all D and no O going for you now, Capt. Kirk?

Posted by: zmega | January 4, 2011 9:34 PM

it really wasn't all D if they let one in - the no o s*cked. if they continue to play d like this - they'll win a lot more than they'll lose

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 4, 2011 9:43 PM | Report abuse

This game was ripe for a letdown and I thought they played quite well. I think the key is that it's 8 straight with points. Keep doing that and they'll be fine. Give me more of Varly doing this and I'll be happy.

Posted by: DreamOutLoud | January 4, 2011 9:43 PM | Report abuse

@VTDuff
What? Contend in the SE. We are contenders; we want to be the one and only Leader.

Posted by: nicety251 | January 4, 2011 9:43 PM | Report abuse

The things that BB and the Caps are finally trying to do are the things that will benefit them most in the long run. That was the best thing to come out of the losing streak. The high-risk, run 'n gun crap does lead to more offense but it's at the expense of playing the right way in their own end and the neutral zone and it puts too much pressure on our defensemen.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 4, 2011 9:45 PM | Report abuse

And why St. Louis, I hate that guy. He always whines for calls and dives more than Greg Louganis.
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Actually I love guys who play bigger than their size like St. Louis, it's guys who play smaller than their size that I can't stand... like Steckel and Schultz

Posted by: joek443 | January 4, 2011 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Glad the "slavic slacker" forwards missed the optional practice today. They had so much left in the tank in OT!

Posted by: dull | January 4, 2011 9:46 PM | Report abuse

I think this team is not constructed to win 2-1 and 1-0 games on a regular basis. Certainly, improving the PK and the defensive responsibility were necessary. The way they played smart with the lead in Pittsburgh was very encouraging. I may be the only one here who thinks this, but I don't see them going very far unless they can get the offense, and particularly the PP, on track.

Posted by: zmega | January 4, 2011 9:47 PM | Report abuse

My biggest fear right now is that BB gets frustrated with the lack of scoring and reverts back to some of that high-risk crap that doesn't work as well against better teams in a playoff environment.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 4, 2011 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Poti sucks.. he's standing around as usual on the goal - he's a poke-check artist at best. Never takes anyone out of the play - frankly as big as Shultz is - he never hits anyone either. #23 is starting to look much better, at least he knows how to play defense using his body. Semin was terrible tonight too - how many times did he turn it over in the offensive zone. They were hungover from the WC.

Posted by: rskinsfan | January 4, 2011 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Glad the "slavic slacker" forwards missed the optional practice today. They had so much left in the tank in OT!

Posted by: dull | January 4, 2011 9:46 PM

there are no practices on game days - it was an optional skate

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 4, 2011 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Poti's a hack

Posted by: chrisclarksucks | January 4, 2011 9:52 PM | Report abuse

I had the feeling we would go to a shootout, then lose.

Ho hum.

When will our best players be our best players again?

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | January 4, 2011 9:53 PM | Report abuse

POSTGAME THOUGHTS:
The growing and maturation of this team defensively continues on. Yes TB got the extra point off a lucky rebound but what a great showing of a committed defensive effort. They won't win all games but hey they keep getting points and keep on going.

ROLOSON: He made some good saves and so did Varly. I'm not worried about Roloson. He plays alot of teams tough - it's not just the Caps and they've beaten so they know they can do it.

POWERPLAY: Boudreau continues to do nothing differently. Get it through your head Haagan Daas that Ovie on the point IS NOT WORKING. You need to put him in front or on the half wall. Get a damn clue. When something stinks you don't just continue to do the same damn thing - get away from it a little then go back to sthe same thing. This powerplay is beyond putrid. They need to set it up to most teams being aggressive against their powerplay. It seems like that rattles them.

ERSKINE: As much as I dog him for his lack of speed - Boudreau was dead wrong for sitting him and putting Poti back in. Erskine deserved a jersey for his efforts. I would've scratched Poti until Saturday against Florida.

SEMIN: He needs to stop trying to be pretty all the damn time and skatingthru people. Like the powerplay - it's not working. Just dump and go get it. You must make the effort.

I'm proud of this team and the defensive effort they continue to put forth. Another step in the right and winning direction.

I'll take the point. We've got TB three more times. Bring them and Roloson on.

ICE BREAKERS GOAL SHAKERS.

Posted by: Jonathan6 | January 4, 2011 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Best thing out of tonight - Varly is playing like he did a couple of years ago. Let's hope he can keep it up.

Posted by: rskinsfan | January 4, 2011 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Things aren't whre they need to be yet overall. You want to see the offense and defense having success in the long run.

But the far weaker area has been defense for a long time. I'd much rather be struggling on the PP and offensively than vice versa because we've seen this group having more than enough success when it comes to scoring, including on the PP.

If they continue trying to do the right things defensively, my guess it that the offense will come along at some point.

I think the worst thing that could happen is giving up on trying to play the way they're playing right now just to kick start the offense. This group needs to learn how to play the right way in all 3 zones and it needs to be defense first which hasn't been the case in a long time.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 4, 2011 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Get ready for a "I told you so" column from Feinstein.

It's time for BB to tell his PP guys to put up or shut up... unless they start producing real soon, they won't get to play on the PP anymore.

Posted by: joek443 | January 4, 2011 10:01 PM | Report abuse

@tmac

What's it going to take for them to Play like they have a damn clue how to play in front of the net? In theory, it's the easiest place to get a goal, but it just seems like they never know where the puck is or how to stick it in the net?

Do we need to bring someone in? Is this that difficult? Is BB capable of cOaching a team on how to score "dirty goals?"

Agree about the defensive effort. I would rather lose the right way than win the wrong way.

Posted by: VTDuffman | January 4, 2011 10:04 PM | Report abuse

The way the Caps have been playing over the past couple of years, they were very much fated to be the Phoenix Suns of the NHL - simply not committed enough on a team level to the defensive end... talented and exciting to watch but doomed to postseason failure where teams that win championships are almost always good to very good at both ends.

I understand that defense wasn't the stand out issue against MTL but that doesn't change the fact that the Caps were not playing a style of hockey and developing the right habits in all 3 zones. Why couldn't we be the team to win Game 7 2-1? And even if we beat MTL, odds are that one of the more balanced teams we faced down the line would've exploited our defense while doing enough to limit our offense. The Caps need to continue in this direction to make themselves more legit contenders and avoid a similar fate as the imbalanced Phoenix Suns.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 4, 2011 10:08 PM | Report abuse

Why did the Caps fail against Montreal last year? Three reasons -
1) No traffic in front of the opposing goalie.
2) Weak, passive PK.
3) Ineffective PP.

They needed to fix these things, not to try to become something they aren't. As far as I'm concerned, the practices should be devoted entirely to the PP until it shows some signs of life.

Posted by: zmega | January 4, 2011 10:08 PM | Report abuse

the PP is costing us games right now. I have no idea what it would take to fix it but I would start with taking OVI off the point. he's on his off side any way which makes it harder to pull the puck off the wall and he fumbles the puck way too many times to be at the point.

keep him down on the half wall and let him fire away and get some bodies out front to pick up the garbage.

Posted by: natresgroup | January 4, 2011 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Also being able to play tighter defensively is all good but at some point, they have to start winning some of these 1-0 games.

It doesn't go you any good if you still end up losing the majority of these tight games.

Posted by: joek443 | January 4, 2011 10:12 PM | Report abuse

1) Please, if this is the type of hockey we are going to be playing from now on, turn off the OvechCam. Highlight of the night - Ovie hit someone into the boards!!! Wow! Time was, the OvechCam started with a couple of hits and ended with a couple of goals. Turn it off.

2) Please, I'd rather read some Dickens than watch this style of hockey. Who do we think we are, the Devils of the last 15 years? Yeah, they won 3 Cups, and you know what? I didn't watch. I read Dickens.

Posted by: hockeypuck1 | January 4, 2011 10:18 PM | Report abuse

It doesn't do you any good to be the Caps of the past couple years either.

Focusing on what has been their weaknesses is the right thing to do. You don't start winning these kinds of games consistently over night. It takes times to learn to play the right way in all 3 zones and get everything clicking the way a team like Chicago had things going last season. They had proven themselves able to win with defense and offense consistently.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 4, 2011 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Don't get me wrong... I'm not saying that everything is great right now. I thought I made that clear in an earlier post.

All I'm saying is that they need to continue being committed to some of the things they've been doing recently while trying to get the offense going. As long as BB and the team remains committed to developing these good habits while trying to get the PP and offense going, it's all good.

Just don't abandon these habits that take time to really get ingrained in the players in order to kick start the offense. Don't start encouragin forwards to fly the zone before we have possession just to trigger scoring chances. Don't push defensemen to get more offensive minded to the point that they are getting out of position and making mistakes defensively. As long as they keep trying to do the right things on a team defense level, I absolutely agree that they need to find a way to score more goals. I'd just rather see this particular grup playing good defense and struggling offensively than vice versa.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 4, 2011 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Maybe so, tmac, but I was totally bored tonight. Even Alan May said this game was boring. In fact, the producer of Caps postgame probably yelled at him for planting that type of seed in fans minds. Ted will not be happy.

On the bright side, I did not waste a C Note tonight and sit through this sludge in person.

Posted by: hockeypuck1 | January 4, 2011 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Ideally, by the end of the season, we make the playoffs and are playing a more balanced and responsible brand of hockey where we can truly expect to rely upon and win with our offense or defense, or both, on any given night. That hasn't been the case... really ever.

That still wouldn't guarantee success. Nothing does. But it would make us better equipped to match up with a variety of playoff opponents.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 4, 2011 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Please, I'd rather read some Dickens than watch this style of hockey. Who do we think we are, the Devils of the last 15 years? Yeah, they won 3 Cups, and you know what? I didn't watch. I read Dickens.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

I don't know if the Caps have the personnel and will to play this new defense-first style of hockey and have success in the playoffs.

However they have to try to play this style because EVERYONE in the hockey world knows that other high-flying style will NEVER work.

Guess that means you will be reading Dickens.

Posted by: joek443 | January 4, 2011 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Right, high flying didn't work for the Pens two years ago. Or for Gretsky and Oilers. Did it.

Posted by: hockeypuck1 | January 4, 2011 10:37 PM | Report abuse

I notive everyone picking on Semin. OVI looks dreadful. An occasional good play the rest of the time circling aroung. Most of the year Semin has looked better than Ovi including this evening. Semin actually forechecks and moves his feet. OVI is probably the laziest Capital. Great talent but no work ethic. He also is 20 pounds over the weight he should be playing at. He has to be over 240. Also benching Erskine seemed stupid. I like Poti but he looked dreadful on that last play. Where were the Capitals forwards? Backs looked pretty bad on that play also. I guess they were looking for that ever elusive break away. The Caps D has looked great all year. The O stinks. Bench the whole first line for a game or two.

Posted by: pkme | January 4, 2011 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Right, high flying didn't work for the Pens two years ago. Or for Gretsky and Oilers. Did it.
----------------------------------------------------

The difference is they could play either style and still win. The Oilers didn't win every game 7-5, neither did the Pens.

They won their share of 2-1 and 3-2 type games in the playoffs... go look them up.

Posted by: joek443 | January 4, 2011 10:40 PM | Report abuse

notive everyone picking on Semin. OVI looks dreadful. An occasional good play the rest of the time circling aroung. Most of the year Semin has looked better than Ovi including this evening. Semin actually forechecks and moves his feet. OVI is probably the laziest Capital. Great talent but no work ethic. He also is 20 pounds over the weight he should be playing at. He has to be over 240.
__________________________________________
Right on the money. And the announcers won't say squat about Ovi. He has more give aways than shots on goal. Hence my suggestion to deep six the Ovechcam.

Posted by: hockeypuck1 | January 4, 2011 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Most playoff series becomes more and more low scoring as the series goes 5, 6 and 7 games.

If you never become comfortable playing those 2-1 type games, you will never go anywhere in the playoffs.

Posted by: joek443 | January 4, 2011 10:49 PM | Report abuse

It's time to trade Semin or put him in 1st line. He looks totally lost with Laich out there. BB will be fired after 1st round play-offs in April. Too bad Islanders didn't want to trade for Semin, it would give us some cap space room

Posted by: beforeitstoolate | January 4, 2011 10:52 PM | Report abuse

ovi - 8 shots (8 more missed) & 1 giveaway (1 takeaway)

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 4, 2011 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Look at the style of play of every single championship team over the last few decades instead of picking two outliers.

And just because a couple of teams were able to have success playing a certain way doesn't mean we can, too. This version of the Caps has won a single playoff series by the slimmest of margins. It hasn't even come close to working when it matters.

I'd rather try to become a more balanced team at this point. If we hadn't been knocked out early the last 3 years and didn't regress in the previous postseason, maybe I'd buy into the Caps trying to be another one of those outliers.

And look at the Penguins this season. They're playing much better defense after getting knocked out early themselves last year. They're ranked 2nd in goals against and on the PK, and ranked 5th in goals for per game.

In other words, they aren't sacrificing defense for offense which has very much been the trademark of the Caps during BB's tenure.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 4, 2011 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Possibly Joe.

But I say focus on doing what we do best: score goals. Trust me, one of these years it'll work in the playoffs. And will be ten times more fun to watch.

In the meantime, A Tale of Two Cities beckons. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."

Posted by: hockeypuck1 | January 4, 2011 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Locker dug into Semin tonight about his team play. How about OVI taking all those low percentage shots or trying to shoot through a wall of players. He ripped into Semin but what about OVI. It seems to me when the offense does not perform people start blaming Green and Semin. Locker is famous for this. OVI has what three goals in 21 games. if we break that down on the money situation that would not be good. 1 million per goal if we go another sixty games. Maybe OVI needs his roids. Folks this is more than a slump.

Posted by: pkme | January 4, 2011 10:55 PM | Report abuse

We have the 3rd ranked PK in the NHL halfway through the season.

I never would've believed that would happen before the season.

We're 7th in goals against.

Wouldn't have believe that either.

11th in goals for per game.

12th on the PP.

So still above average offensively.

I don't know if they'll sustain those defensive numbers down the stretch but I'd like our odds a lot better in the playoffs with that kind of relative balance.

Ideally, the offense and the PP improves - and I expect they will to some degree - but those things happen without much of a drop off defensively.

I'm cautiously optimistic because of some of things that we've seen since the losing streak. Time will tell if they can sustain those good things while jump starting the PP and offense in general.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 4, 2011 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Elliot Friedman speculated that BB switched to the trap because guys like Schultz, Hannan, and Erskine have a problem with gap control. I think this is a bad idea. Teams need to score goals in the playoffs. The belief that all playoff games are 1-0 is a myth; teams score goals and lots of them in the playoffs.

Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Semin are not paid big money to trap. They are the playmakers/snipers teams need to win the Cup. As GMGM says, I'm an idiot who doesn't work in the NHL, but IMO the top 6 forwards should be encouraged to use creative passing plays in order to draw the opposing D away from the net. Just demand the forwards support on D and have the faster D high. The Caps usually get in trouble when the offensive D man is deep in the attacking zone.

Posted by: ablake70 | January 4, 2011 11:00 PM | Report abuse

OVI needs his roids.
_______________________________

This is something I have been telling people. Just a thought, but he ain't been the same since the Olympics, which is when they do REAL drug testing. And around the time the quack got busted for supplying to Caps. Allegedly.

Only food for thought.

Posted by: hockeypuck1 | January 4, 2011 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Semin can actually play special teams and defense. Other than score what the heck does OVI do. He is in the top four in hits in the league. You can get a hitter for 1 million per year. Last time I checked OVI is supposed to be a goal scorer and he can not do that anymore. Tell you what I would trade OVI for Carter and Mike Richards and their money would equal OVi. I would even give a first rounder up. It seems like they should demote OVI to the third line until he learns to score. Jay Beagle looks better than OVI. BB is scared to do anything to OVI so he punishs and abuses Semin.

Posted by: pkme | January 4, 2011 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Maybe OVI needs his roids. Folks this is more than a slump.
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No he needs to adjust and come up with NEW moves. Everyone in the league knows his favorite move. Well they've figured him out now, they're not letting him cut across the middle of the ice.

Tarik says the coaches have asked him to go outside and so far he's been reluctant. Tonight I saw him make that outside move a couple time but he's still not doing that often enough.

Posted by: joek443 | January 4, 2011 11:02 PM | Report abuse

The belief that all playoff games are 1-0 is a myth; teams score goals and lots of them in the playoffs.
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Who the heck is saying that?

In 2009 finals the Pens lost Game Five 5-0 and went town in the series 3 games to 2.

Then they tightened up and won the next two games by the same score, 2-1 and won the Cup.

Is that a MYTH???

Posted by: joek443 | January 4, 2011 11:07 PM | Report abuse

Semin's got to start making plays faster, much faster on the powerplay. He gets the puck in the corner and slowly skates around with it. By the time he moves the puck guys are on him it he often just coughs it up. I remember him being a lot faster at moving the puck last season. This year he looks confused about what to do.

Posted by: Stu_c | January 4, 2011 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Guys who play for their national teams are tested randomly by the international federation. Ovi has played for Team Russia since before he was drafted. If he ever used steroids, he would have been caught a long time ago.

Posted by: ablake70 | January 4, 2011 11:09 PM | Report abuse

I totally agree with you about Ovechkin, pkme. I've been saying it for a while now. He needs to buy in to doing the little things and playing harder and smarter in all 3 zones, esp. when he's not scoring.

Even tonight, I saw him drifting around in the neutral zone watch TB players skate right by him without even pretending to apply any pressure. I also saw him on the wrong side of his mark more than once, including on one backcheck that nearly could've cost us a goal - a breakaway at a minimum - if the guy on the right wing made a slightly better pass.

That was the point I was making about Knuble a while back. Even when he's not scoring, he consistently wins battles along the boards, forechecks effectively, is usually in good position defensively, and is suprisingly effective on the PK despite his age and lack of speed.

When Ovechkin's loose, irresponsible style of play isn't leading to goals, he is actually hurting the team in most cases because he seems to have no sense of responsibility to consistently do the little things in all 3 zones.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 4, 2011 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Ovi is too heavy - doesn't have the same quickness he has had, at least that seems what is partly wrong. Who knows, he could be the next Pavel Bure - 5 good years and then Done. Hope not.. either way this first line has sucked for weeks on end now. They aren't even creating good chances...

BB needs to stop this %&$*$# around with the lines Sh*& he always does and get more consistency.

Posted by: rskinsfan | January 4, 2011 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Vermontcaps

I am on the Erskine bandwagon just so you know. Have been for awhile but enter me in your fan club anyway.

Hockeypuck
The problem is his weight and he does the same thing over and over and expects to score doing the same thing over and over. When he skates up the ice as a fan I know what move he is going to do. I can imagine that defenseman who know more than I do know what he will do also. Now we have the excuse police out there saying everyone is covering him. Baloney because folks have been all over him for years. His shot is off, his speed is less and he now pulls a Nylander and becomes an observer on the ice. Not to mention that Backs does not seem to be passing as well. Roids may help but would that help his hockey IQ.

Posted by: pkme | January 4, 2011 11:13 PM | Report abuse

Maybe OVI is not coachable and is not willing to put in the work to become a complete player.

Posted by: pkme | January 4, 2011 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Agreed again, pkme. Most people think I like dogging #8 but I'm just calling it like I see it. I particularly agree about the fallacy that teams are treating him differently in any significant way in the past... just like I completely did not buy into the "he's improved his passing" based on a small sample size and really simply the fact that he wasn't scoring goals and they were looking to prop him up. It's just a sample size thing. He's always made the occasional very good pass but he has also always made multiple ill-advised high-risk passing attempts through bodies and sticks between those good passes in pretty much every single game, including tonight. They often lead to quick transitions the other way for opponents.

Much like with his defense and positional issues, it seems like he doesn't feel any accountability or responsibility to make smarter and often simpler plays with the puck. He has free reign to play how he wants to which is why I completely disagreed with the notion that some people throughout that he doesn't like BB. He loves him and probably knows in the back of his mind that any other coach would likely hold him more accountable for certain things that he currently consistently gets away with.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 4, 2011 11:24 PM | Report abuse

On the plus side, we hung in there with the best team in the division for 3 periods and half of OT. If we keep up the good work, I think we could really contend in the SE!
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Do I detect a hint of sarcasm here?

Posted by: FloridaCapsFan | January 4, 2011 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Isn’t it ironic, or dare I say POETIC JUSTICE, that it took a Vermonter (well not really, but since he played at UVM they consider him one) to expose BB’s mistake of benching Johnny E. in favor of Poti? I believe the Hockey Gods have made clear their displeasure with BB once again.

There were three moments that stick-out in my mind about the game. First, the singing of the national anthem; that guy could sing his a@@ off, one of the best renditions I’ve heard so far this year. (I wish the Caps would always televise the anthem, the Bruins do.) Second, there was a guy sitting in the front-row behind one of the goals wearing a #4 jersey. Third, midway thru the second period my oldest son informed me that if we got NHL ’11 for Santa’s xbox gift, I could actually play Erskine in the game…something about the kinetic motion-sensor and actually throwing punches instead of pushing buttons. I don’t know, it sounds too good to be true but you know I’ll be checking it out.

I’m sure many will excuse the loss, citing the emotional drain of the build-up and playing of the Winter Classic. Maybe there’s some merit to the notion. All I know is, we were playing a division foe for first place (division) at home. No offense from the playmakers and snipers, again. The pp did generate a nice breakaway chance…oh wait, that was for the Bolts. I don’t recall much of a forecheck, and I’m curious to see how many hits the backline registered. Hendricks (again) tried to do his part, very nice to see Downie ICING HIS FACE. I also loved the verbal back-and-forth between the two while in the sinbin…loved seeing him point-out to Downie that he caught him good, but it was also good that the fight ended when it did. Where did Brooks Laich go, I haven’t seen him in ages. Did we trade him?

Posted by: vermontcaps | January 4, 2011 11:27 PM | Report abuse

Yeah Semin's awesome. This team problem is not enough players like Alex Semin.

Some of you guys are hilarious.

Posted by: VTDuffman | January 4, 2011 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Maybe OVI is not coachable and is not willing to put in the work to become a complete player.
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Whatever happened to the robotic Russian athletes of the past?

Sometimes Ovi and Semin seem more like "give me the dang ball" NBA players or NFL WRs.

Posted by: joek443 | January 4, 2011 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Why is Ovi always on the point during the PP? He never has any good scoring chances from the point. Seems like a waste to me. Not many goals are scored from that far out unless they are deflected. Carlson could play that point just as well. Get Ovi on the half-boards or in front of the net.

Can't believe BB sat Erskine for Poti. That's complete crap. Poti is always hurt and hasn't done anything this year. BB still sucks as a coach, but we're stuck with him.

Posted by: CAPSHOCKEY2 | January 4, 2011 11:30 PM | Report abuse

And people also see him throw those occasional bone-crushing hits and assume that he's a dominating physical presence.

Finishing your checks and delivering those hits without taking yourself out of the play are great but they don't excuse him from not working harder along the boards or using his strength to keep the puck on his stick longer at times.

Give me a forward that grinds hard and wins board battles consistently over a player that delivers a few big hits a game only to completely ignore the other physically demanding parts of playing the position.

I'd actually call both Backstrom and Knuble far more physical players than Ovechkin even though they don't deliver those big hits nearly as often. Both Backstrom and Knuble take tons of punishment along the walls which to me is a lot more physically demanding than deliver a few hits and giving a half-assed effort at winning puck battles and taking punishment along the boards. Both Backstrom and Knuble are also a lot tougher to knock off the puck as well. Backstrom often makes it look easy but it takes a lot more strength and physicality than running an unsuspecting player.

Ideally, players are good at both finishing their checks and the other areas I mentioned above but I'll take the latter if I can only get one out of a guy since the latter adds a lot more value over the course of a game.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 4, 2011 11:33 PM | Report abuse

joek-2-1 is still more than 1-0, right? And game 6 of last years SC final was 4-3.

The Caps top-6 forwards' primary concern should be to score goals. The problem with the run and gun system is that the Dmen were always pinching. That works when facing a team with little talent, but when facing skill guys the D has to be ready to transition. Hard to do below the goal line. And forwards covering are not the same as guys trained to play defense. My suggestion would be to have the D hang back when the playoffs start.

This team isn't going to trap it's way to a Cup.

Posted by: ablake70 | January 4, 2011 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Any bets on who will be the Caps top goal scorer this year? I would love it if a someone other than OVI like a Jay Beagle or Erskine.

Posted by: pkme | January 4, 2011 11:36 PM | Report abuse

I'd actually call both Backstrom and Knuble far more physical players than Ovechkin even though they don't deliver those big hits nearly as often. Both Backstrom and Knuble take tons of punishment along the walls which to me is a lot more physically demanding than deliver a few hits and giving a half-assed effort at winning puck battles and taking punishment along the boards.
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hey capscoach, wherever you are

you hear that? it's NOT Backs who's not carrying his weight on that line, it's your precious Ovi!!!

If he didn't have to cover for Ovi on those "little" things then he would have more time to set him up.

Posted by: joek443 | January 4, 2011 11:39 PM | Report abuse

I don't think we should be worrying about the likes of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Boston etc. I think we should be worrying about Tampa and Atlanta. Both of those teams have pretty much caught up with the Capitals. Oh well, it was a nice run.

Posted by: FloridaCapsFan | January 4, 2011 11:39 PM | Report abuse

I have been saying for years I thought the two best players on the team was Backs and Green and third Semin. These guys can play two way hockey. OVi is going the other direction. He suffers from buying into his own press syndrome. Maybe breakup the Backs and OVI combo. Demote OVi to the 2nd line. Do something different on the 1st line.

Posted by: pkme | January 4, 2011 11:43 PM | Report abuse

The problem with the run and gun system is that the Dmen were always pinching.

Posted by: ablake70 | January 4, 2011 11:35 PM

Actually, it's far, far more than that. I'd actually rank that as the lesser of the major problems.

The bigger issue is forwards cheating and flying the zone before we truly have possession of the puck or hanging up high instead of coming back to support the play and create easier outlet passes.

The defensive play of our forwards has been as much if not more of an issue that the play of our defensemen and that's largely been a systemic issue. In the past, even if we had the best 6 defensemen in the NHL, there would be issues defensively because of BB's systems that aren't nearly as effective at this level as in the AHL where you can get away with cheating a lot more easily because teams aren't as equipped to exploit it.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 4, 2011 11:46 PM | Report abuse

joe443

You are spot on about Backs. It is time to break these guys up. Does OVI really need to be on for the whole PP. I do question this.

Posted by: pkme | January 4, 2011 11:46 PM | Report abuse

When are they going to do something...ANYTHING...to attempt to fix this dreadful power play? It's the exact same setup that lost the Montreal series for them. 7 or 8 months later and we're seeing the same futility. Something is clearly not working.

Posted by: Hatfield223 | January 4, 2011 11:47 PM | Report abuse

Demote OVi to the 2nd line.
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Hmmmn, not sure that will work. Might make him even more of an individualist.

Posted by: FloridaCapsFan | January 4, 2011 11:48 PM | Report abuse

hey ablake70,

NOBODY is saying you have to be able to win sixteen 1-0 games in the playoffs.

I'm saying you have to have a team that CAN win 1-0 as well as 5-4.

It's not one or the other, you need to be able to do BOTH.

Posted by: joek443 | January 4, 2011 11:48 PM | Report abuse

Ovi may not be the best defensive forward, but he is the best player on this team. He is not only a scoring threat, but he also opens up the ice for his teammates. There is a reason opposing teams throw 3 guys on him.

Posted by: ablake70 | January 4, 2011 11:48 PM | Report abuse

When are they going to do something...ANYTHING...to attempt to fix this dreadful power play? It's the exact same setup that lost the Montreal series for them. 7 or 8 months later and we're seeing the same futility. Something is clearly not working.

Posted by: Hatfield223 | January 4, 2011 11:48 PM | Report abuse

you know what is not working on the pp. ovi on it for all two minutes.

Posted by: pkme | January 4, 2011 11:51 PM | Report abuse

You've been saying for years that the two best players on the team were *not* the player who was consistently leading the team and league in points and goals? Now that hes in a slump, you're using that to justify years of an opinion obviously at odds with reality?

I try not to insult here, so I will just disagree.

Your praise of Semin's alleged forechecking, defense, and team play I feel are particularly telling. It like you're watching a completely different game than me. He strikes me a the same selfish, lazy, turnove machine who is good for at least one bad stick penalty a game that he's always been.

Posted by: VTDuffman | January 4, 2011 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Our backline really put a hurt to TB's forwards.....Alzner, Carlson, Hannan, Poti, and Shultz combined for a whopping 2 hits the entire game. That's intensity!

Posted by: vermontcaps | January 4, 2011 11:56 PM | Report abuse

Put Semin on forthe whole pp since he's so awesome. The several pigs he had tonight are evidence of that.

Posted by: VTDuffman | January 4, 2011 11:56 PM | Report abuse

pkme, I'm not sure why I haven't noticed your posts in the past but we definitely see eye-to-eye on some things. Agreed again with you.

Ovechkin is going to drag this team down eventually with all the cap space he's taking up if he doesn't start learning to play a more complete game.

I've said that I don't think BB has the stones to consistenly demand or get more out of him. A lot of players innately have higher hockey IQ, Backstrom being a perfect example. Other players need to be taught to make smarter decisions and do the little things that contribute to winning. Ovechkin, for all his superstar power, falls in the latter category. He plays a very weak overall game and it sends the wrong message to the rest of the team.

There is no other player in the league that gets away with the loose play and positional issues that he gets away with on a nightly basis. While a guy like Crosby and many other "star" players are learning the finer points of the game and fully buying into the right concepts, Ovechkin is actually regressing by not doing the same things. He's stagnated in his development and it's going to become even more of an issue in a few years when his athleticism declines even further that it already has.

Players like Backstrom and probably even Semin could thrive playing for a team like Detroit because of their natural hockey IQ. I think that even Semin would go to another level in that kind of system. Ovechkin would barely get ice time until he committed to certain things that a guy like Zetterberg does on a nightly basis that don't have to do with scoring goals.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 4, 2011 11:58 PM | Report abuse

Ovechkin is a passionate player as the media so often reminds us... but until he directs that passion toward making smarter plays and doing the right things in all 3 zones, he'll continue to fall behind the curve of the elite players in this league.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 5, 2011 12:00 AM | Report abuse

tmac2yao -

I've always thought the problem with the Caps in the D zone is that they abandon their assignments. A few forwards play too high for my liking, but IMO the bigger problem is the guys that leave their assignments to chase the puck. When the puck becomes dislodged it's like a PP for the opposing team because so many Caps are out of position.

Posted by: ablake70 | January 5, 2011 12:01 AM | Report abuse

Ovi's shortcomings have always been there. You don't notice them as much or they don't become a big issue when he scores 50-60 goals/year.

They become much more of an issue when he's on pace to score ONLY 29.

Posted by: joek443 | January 5, 2011 12:02 AM | Report abuse

Oh, I agree that there are positional issues with the d-men as well. I just feel like the bigger issue is with the forwards, at least in terms of what BB has been getting them to do in the past.

Sine the big L streak, they've been a lot tighter and responsible as a whole but it takes a while to make those habits second nature, esp. for a guy like #8 who still doesn't seem to be fully buying in.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 5, 2011 12:07 AM | Report abuse

OV isn't going anywhere. If BB isn't the guy, it would be in the tem's best interest to get a coach with the stones to demand a more smokers game out of him sooner rather than later.

Posted by: VTDuffman | January 5, 2011 12:08 AM | Report abuse

joek443-The Caps won low scoring games last year, so they've shown they can do it. They don't need to abandon the offense to do it.

Also, I agree with capscoach. Backstrom is not pulling his weight this season. Backstrom is an elite center who should be able to produce despite Ovechkin. He is an above average PKer and leads the team in takeaways, but he received a long term contract because of his 33 goals, 104pts season. With a $6.7 million cap hit he should be expected to generate offense on his own. As it stands now, he trails Ovi in points.

Posted by: ablake70 | January 5, 2011 12:10 AM | Report abuse

If you had the chance to watch a lot of the Blackhawks last season or the Detroit teams in recent years that were dominant offensively and defensively, it would certainly shock you how different their forwards, wings and centermen, played defensively. They were far more committed to playing a total game, being in good position, using their sticks and winning battles along the boards in all 3 zones.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 5, 2011 12:12 AM | Report abuse

when they won few low scoring games before this year it was purely by accident or because of their goalie standing on his head.

I remember when they beat Detroit 2-1 last year, Theo had to make like 50 saves... by far his best game as a Cap.

This current stretch after that 7-0 beatdown in NY is more by design which was never the case before.

Posted by: joek443 | January 5, 2011 12:19 AM | Report abuse

if you don't like the style they're playing now, are you saying they should open up even more and win 8-7??

It may be "boring" to some but in case you haven't noticed, it's working if you look at their record since that beat-down.

Posted by: joek443 | January 5, 2011 12:25 AM | Report abuse

joek443-The problem with this current system is that it relies too much on the other team making a mistake. The Devils aren't making the playoffs. The Sens and Hurricanes probably won't make the playoffs. I'm pretty sure the Caps won't play the Pens in the rain come April. The Caps will have to be proactive. They have to figure out a way to play good defense AND utilize their offensive weapons.

Everyone is in love with the grinders, but it's the skill guys that get the ball rolling. Buff had eight playoff goals last year, but it was the offensive talents of Kane and Toews that made it happen.

The Habs were extremely lucky last season to draw two teams frustrated by their system. How often do you think that is going to happen?

Posted by: ablake70 | January 5, 2011 12:35 AM | Report abuse

All they have to do is stay the course and do something about the PP, that's all.

Working to improve the PP shouldn't affect their defense and PK at all.

Posted by: joek443 | January 5, 2011 12:35 AM | Report abuse

@pkme

I doubt if the Caps leading goal scorer will be Beagle since I assume he's subject to waivers if the Caps keep him more than 10 games before any send downs to Hershey.

Likely guy to be the Caps leading scorer -- Knuble

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 5, 2011 12:42 AM | Report abuse

Everyone is in love with the grinders, but it's the skill guys that get the ball rolling. Buff had eight playoff goals last year, but it was the offensive talents of Kane and Toews that made it happen.
------------------------------------

How are the Hawks doing this year without all those grinders they had to let go??

AGAIN it's not grinders vs. skill players... I'm saying you need BOTH!!!

Posted by: joek443 | January 5, 2011 12:44 AM | Report abuse

@joek443

Improving our PP would go a long way to improve our team's situation. It's frankly been a disaster this season. A new system in that department is needed. For starters, Ovi should not be on the point for the entire two minutes.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 5, 2011 12:47 AM | Report abuse

joek- Never said grinders aren't need. In fact, I've preached the opposite. But teams need skill players.

I've read a lot of fans proposing to jettison all the skill guys and go with an all grind team like the old days. How well do you think Hendricks-Steckel-Beagle would fair against the Flyers top 4?

Posted by: ablake70 | January 5, 2011 12:50 AM | Report abuse

How well do you think Hendricks-Steckel-Beagle would fair against the Flyers top 4?
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they would fair just fine. If you replace Steckel with a healthy Bradley, they would do even better.

What you're looking for is not necessarily scoring from those guys, you want them to keep going after their top D-men and make them work a little harder so your skill forwards can take advantage.

Posted by: joek443 | January 5, 2011 12:55 AM | Report abuse

It seems like the Caps have essentially turned into the Buffalo Sabres, a team who needs hot goal tending to have any chance of winning.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 5, 2011 12:55 AM | Report abuse

joek-Not arguing because I think we agree. A team need both grinders and skill players to win the Cup. Hendricks-Beagle-Bradley may be a good defensive line, but their not scoring many goals against the Flyers top 4 dmen come April.

Posted by: ablake70 | January 5, 2011 1:01 AM | Report abuse

Those same guys did great against the Pens D the other night, the best line all night I thought.

And the Pens are number one or two in team defense right now.

Posted by: joek443 | January 5, 2011 1:02 AM | Report abuse

ABlake.

There is no doubt that OVI's body of work he would be considered one of the best in the NHL until the Olympic break last year. Since then he is slightly above average. Even when he plays awful they give him more ice time. We all know there are a different set of rules for top producers and BB of course subscribes to this. but OVI is not producing at this point.

Posted by: pkme | January 5, 2011 6:47 AM | Report abuse

VTDuffman

I know what you are saying about OVI. I am a huge fan of OVI until the Olympic break. I watch him and he seems more lazy than Semin this year. Both Semin and OVI have more natural ability than anybody in the sport. Would you rather have Zetterberg, Mike Richards, Datsuk or Towes over OVI or Semin. My answer would be yes for what they do on both sides on the ice. Did you hear Gretsky call Zetterberg the best two way player in the league? OVI is a great player who now is becoming an above average player. Semin I think is improving on his game and is becoming a better two way forward. The question we all need to ask is what has oVI done for the team today not last year or the year before.

Posted by: pkme | January 5, 2011 7:17 AM | Report abuse

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