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Semin, Theodore Help Caps End Home-Ice Slump

The Caps finally won on home ice tonight, snapping a four-game losing streak at Verizon Center by beating the 'Canes, 5-4, in a shootout.

But the overwhelming sentiment around here was that they were fortunate to get a pair of points on a night when they misfired on a five-on-one (yes, a five-on-one), took a penalty in overtime and suffered number of mental "meltdowns" that led to Carolina goals.

"We persevered," Boudreau said. "I'm not saying we had a bad game at all. I'm just saying we had some meltdowns. And when you have meltdowns against great players, you usually pay the price and we did."

That about sums tonight's events. On to the notes:

Theodore Stars Again
The reason the Caps managed to overcome all of that? Jose Theodore. He made 28 saves, including five on a four-on-three power play in overtime.

Theodore also poke checked shootout specialist Jussi Jokinen in penalty shots. He's now 13-4 all time in shootouts.

"It wasn't just [in overtime]. Jose was great all night," Boudreau said. "If he wasn't on top of his game, they would have six or seven. Easy, easy. I mean they had four breakaways in the second period."

Are You Serious?
Early in the second period, the Caps had a five-on-one break that ended when Mike Green was stuffed by 'Canes goalie Cam Ward. With all five Caps in the Carolina zone, defenseman Dennis Seidenberg fired a stretch pass off the wall that sprung Eric Staal and Ray Whitney on an odd-man rush the other way that Staal finished off with a shot between Theodore's pads.

So instead of the Caps taking a 4-1 lead, the 'Canes cut it to 3-2.

"It was like we had a five-on-one and they had a five-on-zero," Boudreau said. "It was like pond hockey. In the playoffs you have to be much more structured. We've got a short window of 10 or 12 games left to make sure our guys are aware of this. Five guys are too much. Three would have been fine."

Semin on a Streak
Alexander Semin had a goal and three assists and scored in the decisive goal in the shootout. But he was also on the ice for all four Carolina goals. Boudreau didn't need a reminder of that after the game.

"That's where the action was," Boudreau said. "Offensively, he was great."

Semin did, however, get the red hard hat after the game. He has 13 points in four games against the 'Canes this season and 34 in 23 games against the Southeast Division rival.

Green Ends Drought
The defenseman scored his first goal in eight games and second in 14 games in the first period. But Green, like Semin, was on the ice for all eight goals, too.

Power Surge
The Caps' power play entered last night's game ranked second in the league in efficiency (24.3) and then had a three-for-four night. The unit now has at least one goal in each of the past 22 games.

Ice Issues
Before the game, I mentioned how the Harlem Globetrotters game went long, leaving the Verizon Center staff little time to prepare the ice. Well, it was predictably bad, according to Dave Steckel, who would only say this while smirking: "It was what it usually [is after] an event that they had before."

Lead Grows
With the win, the Caps' lead in the Southeast Division has grown to 13 points with 12 games remaining.

Wale Was Here
Dan Steinberg broke the story.

The Caps are off on Sunday. But I'm on duty. So if any news breaks, I'll have it here.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  March 14, 2009; 11:59 PM ET
 
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Next: Pothier, Varlamov Rejoin Caps for Trip

Comments

Well, they hung on, but they had to hang on. Why can't we finish a team? Why do we let up?

Posted by: Greg S. | March 15, 2009 12:07 AM | Report abuse

Didn't know the Globetrotters were there this afternoon, but it does explain why it was so bloody hot inside Verizon tonight.

Abe, you suck. You continue to torture the Caps with your b.s. scheduling. You Sir, are a boil on the a@@ of Caps progress. How about getting some better food sold at the phone booth you #$@&.

Posted by: Steve_R | March 15, 2009 12:13 AM | Report abuse

TARIK

I know you saw me toast you during "Unleash the Fury"! Good win, wish we hadn't blown a 2 goal lead but it's ok. I'll take it.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | March 15, 2009 12:20 AM | Report abuse

Well, they hung on, but they had to hang on. Why can't we finish a team? Why do we let up?

Posted by: Greg S. | March 15, 2009 12:07 AM

no point asking why anymore, this is just how this team operates, and will continue to operate. Part of the blame definitely falls on the coach. He's pretty damn easy on em after a win where they make mistakes, he never really gets on them as long as they somehow pull out a win. That just allows bad habits to set in.

I've seen the caps do this time and time again. Nothing new. Its very very rare that they keep their foot on an opponent's throat after they get a lead. They're content to play a very passive game after taking a lead, especially a 2 goal lead.

From my viewpoint tonight, it was encouraging to see our defense play a better game overall. Green was a -3 but he really had only one bad play. And that was him being cutesy with the puck and losing it at the blueline. The best AND worst player on the ice tonight was probably Semin. He had terrible giveaways and some brilliant offensive plays.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 15, 2009 12:22 AM | Report abuse

And better beer too while I'm at it. Only one type of stout to buy? Come the he@@ on. Beer, food and better ice Abe, you can do it.

Posted by: Steve_R | March 15, 2009 12:23 AM | Report abuse

lol i read that they gave Semin the red hard hat after the game. How can you give a player that hat after ending up a -3 despite scoring 4 points? Doesn't that send the wrong message to your team? i.e we don't care what you defensively as long as you score points.

the caps gotta stop paying lip service to defense and bad penalties and actually take it seriously before the playoffs or they'll get a rude awakening. the margin of error you get in the regular season with sloppy defensive plays (from your forwards and D) is greatly reduced come playoff season.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 15, 2009 12:25 AM | Report abuse

cstanton, did you watch the game?

Posted by: Steve_R | March 15, 2009 12:27 AM | Report abuse

who would you have given the hard hat to?

Posted by: Steve_R | March 15, 2009 12:29 AM | Report abuse

too much shrimp, not enough grits.

Posted by: richmondphil | March 15, 2009 12:31 AM | Report abuse

Grits suck phil, need spuds.

Posted by: Steve_R | March 15, 2009 12:32 AM | Report abuse

hash?

shrimp hash?

Posted by: richmondphil | March 15, 2009 12:37 AM | Report abuse

I don't know, you can definitely put the blame on Erskine for the 1st goal, no reason that puck should have ever stayed in the zone whatsoever. The 2nd goal was a cluster from us not burying that chance at the other end. The guys looked shocked they had so much space and time that it wasn't the cleanest of executions.

Overall we didn't play bad tonight, we are just far too cute about clearing the puck. When a simple flip out would work 80% of the time we'd rather make some cute pass to a guy who WOULD have a clear lane to get the puck out 100% of the time but the pass is only going to work 50% of the time. Made up stats own.

Theo was as solid as you can be when giving up 4 goals tonight. When you think about how this team used to dread going into the shootout before we signed him it is one area where I have 100% confidence in him to grab us extra points all year.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | March 15, 2009 12:39 AM | Report abuse

Cstanton,
let me put it this way you and BB must have seen a different game or you both have something against Semin. If either one of you paid any attention, you would seen that 8, 19, 28, 26, 52 were on all goals except for the goal at the end of the second period when it was scored a few seconds after Semin got out of the penalty box. But, of course, that is enough to blame Semin for the poor play of others. By the way, on that 5 on 1 break out the only player that assumed some kind of defensive responsibility was Semin. Give that guy a break.

Posted by: opita1 | March 15, 2009 12:54 AM | Report abuse

Btw, something that I really think needs to be pointed out. Nick Backstrom is having a year that is very under the radar. Check out these comparisons...

Backstrom - 19 goals, 55 assists = 74 points
Joe Thorton - 20 goals, 54 assists = 74 pts
Marc Savard - 22 goals, 54 assists = 76 pts

Only centers at a higher clip than that are Datsyuk, Crosby, and Malkin.

Any time your top line center has numbers comparable with Joe Thorton and Marc Savard, you really can't complain at all.

Semin's 29 goals and 40 assists in 51 games is a little insane as well.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | March 15, 2009 12:56 AM | Report abuse

Steve_R.
You obviously have had too much beer tonight. It is because of Abe that we have hockey on this crummy sports town. Someone else posted that we should have some respect for that man, and I agree.

Posted by: opita1 | March 15, 2009 12:57 AM | Report abuse

Penguins are so good they are toying with teams. They are so good that they have failed to beat a team in regulation recently, but ask thier fans and they are stanley cup favorites.

Posted by: SA-Town | March 15, 2009 1:03 AM | Report abuse

I agree with opita. What is up with Boudreau singling out Semin? I don't get it.
And yes Mr. Pollin deserves recognition and respect for what he is done for Washington.

Posted by: hock1 | March 15, 2009 1:05 AM | Report abuse

Davethecapsfan.
Good point.

Posted by: hock1 | March 15, 2009 1:07 AM | Report abuse

The Pens have still been hot SA. Most teams wouldn't want to play them in the 1st round vs. say the Rangers? I still think Malkin will win the Hart if they make the playoffs although Ovie is only 8 points back with 3 games fewer played. It would have a little symmetry to it if the top 3 players in the league all win a Hart in back to back to back seasons.

Only question is who gets their name on a Cup first, and where does Semin fall into the argument when he plays a full (or nearly full) season and puts up points like he has all year this year.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | March 15, 2009 1:11 AM | Report abuse

I don't know how you can blame Erskine for the first goal. If anything, that was probably one that Theo would have liked to have back, the two Ds gave very little room to the shooter and theo had a good look at him, but it was a well placed shot to the far post. At least that is how I remembered it.

Posted by: opita1 | March 15, 2009 1:19 AM | Report abuse

Davethe...
I think you are right about Malkin getting the Hart, and I don't think OV is going to catch him on the points race. I think that Semin would fit right there with Malkin, OV, and Crosby if he was to play a full season, I would not be surprise when he is at top of the points list - maybe next year?

Posted by: opita1 | March 15, 2009 1:24 AM | Report abuse

Hello Caps Fans:
Just got back from a most joyous evening in DC!! :-) That place was on fire - on the ice and in the stands. Can't wait to see the Canes again next weekend!! Guess I have a lot of reading to catch up on ... and at this hour I am probably talking to myself, anyway, so sweet Caps dreams to you all!!

Posted by: --Boo-- | March 15, 2009 1:42 AM | Report abuse

I miss cheef

Posted by: Andoy | March 15, 2009 1:47 AM | Report abuse

Anyone else think that Stecks has turned into the Petti of last season?

Posted by: --Boo-- | March 15, 2009 2:14 AM | Report abuse

I heard the Globetrotters were signing autographs afterwards which went almost an hour past when they were supposed to be done so that was a big reason why things were so hectic to get started on time. The schedulers should have either made the Globetrotters game/event at noon or else pushed the Caps game back to 7:30 or 8pm.

Posted by: GAU8A | March 15, 2009 2:39 AM | Report abuse

The Young Guns rocked it tonight!!!

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | March 15, 2009 4:58 AM | Report abuse

John Carlson is killing it in the OHL.

He has 16 goals and 60 assists (3rd best in the league) in 59 games.

http://www.ontariohockeyleague.com/stats/statdisplay.php?type=records&subType=1&season_id=35&leagueId=1&lastActive=&singleSeason=&confId=0

He plays on a great team but that is still amazing for a rookie defenseman. For comparison, John Tavares has 46 assists in 56 games.

Carlson is only 19 but he's 6'3 and at least 210 lbs. Does anybody have a guess as to how long it'll be until he's up with the Caps? Will we see some of him next season?

Regardless, it looks like we have a nice foundation of young, talented blue liners between Green, Alzner and Carlson.

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 15, 2009 6:27 AM | Report abuse

That was a really, really entertaining game last night. ;) Go Caps!

Posted by: rachel216 | March 15, 2009 7:26 AM | Report abuse

@ tmac2yao

I've read that hockey experts consider John Carlson our best prospect. Probably in 1-2 years he will in NHL.

Posted by: Hazz | March 15, 2009 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Davethecapsfan,

Mike said you guys had a good time at the game last night. He also told me about Tarik acknowledging the salute. That's cool.

Good point about Backstrom. I'd just as soon he stay under the radar for the time being so that he can perhaps sneak up on the opposition once in a while.

Semin has just elevated his game over the last few weeks. He seems more calm and mature out there, still showing great puckhandling, but not being so fancy that he loses it as often as he was earlier in the season.

I liked the Nylander-Backstrom goal last night. Although Backs called it a tap-in during the interview with Al Koken, it was a good pass by Nyls. Hope he's going to get on track over the last dozen games. It would be great to have the Nyls from late last season back on the ice.

I thought Aucoin looked pretty good for the minutes he played. Guy's got speed and can pass well. Would have liked to see him sink one, though.

Overall -- great for the Caps to get a win at home, finally. However, Bruce needs to have them work on their 5-on-1 in practice. When you have everyone in, you'd better get that puck to the back of the net. :)

Posted by: Puckdawg69 | March 15, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

How did we end up with a 5 on 1 anyway? I don't remember... what were the Canes doing?

Posted by: rachel216 | March 15, 2009 8:37 AM | Report abuse

The 5 on 1 was a really stupid play. Why do you need all 5 guys crashing the net. The end result was entirely predictable.

Posted by: ouvan59 | March 15, 2009 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Oh yeah, Semin OWNS the Canes. :)

Posted by: rachel216 | March 15, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Without a doubt, Theo should have been given the hard-hat. He's gotta get some more love and more protection. He was a beast when we needed him to be, and will continue to rise to the occasion as long as we do. But a deserving Cup team can't rely solely on any goalie to protect its leads. That lack of teamwork and consistent effort will have us out before Round Two. We've still got some growing up to do. Just sayin'...

Posted by: mokentoff | March 15, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

On two 'canes goals, 28 was the first/only Cap to offer a real backcheck. 52 was the -third- guy back, behind 8 and 28, on one of those goals. The hardhat isn't for plus minus, it's for busting tail. Nobody on either team outworked Semin last night.
I want to see something from 14 and/or 16, and soon.
Carlson and Finley are a lot to look forward to on the Capitals' blueline.

Posted by: redlineblue | March 15, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

5 on 1? We shouldn't be asking why we didn't score on that, but why we allowed a 5 on 1. I can tell you why we didn't get a goal -- eventually too many cooks spoil the stew. And then there's no one to defend against the rebound.

I do have to say we haven't scored on our last three breakaways (2 on 1, 3 on 1) so there may be something else there too.

As for the two goal lead -- that's the hardest lead to keep. I would have rather led by one, but three would have put the game away.

Posted by: jgprentice | March 15, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Dave you stole my thunder about Semin.

51 games played
29 goals 40 assists
Semin has a 1.35ppg ratio. Only Malkin has a higher ratio at 1.38ppg. Ovi has a 1.32 and Crosby has a 1.33.

If Semin played in all 70 games thus far... His stats would look like this.

40 goals 55 assists +36

Posted by: JSchon | March 15, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Nobody gets to trash Abe and I don't care if they were playing in two inches of water. If Abe didn't fork out 200 million of his own money to build that arena the caps might be playing in another city. He has done too much for DC to catch any grief about something so small. Get some perspective my friend(s).

Posted by: nperazich | March 15, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Man. With fellow Caps fans like cstanton1, who needs Pens fans?

I'm surprised at the lack of love for Aucoin. Granted, you didn't see him much, but I don't think that line got a lot of ice time - the SOB line almost never left, he didn't take any penalties or do anything stupid, and he pretty much created an offensive play single-handed once in the third. Too bad his support didn't get there in time to finish.

We had too many cases where one guy was chasing the puck in their zone alone against two or three of theirs.

But oh man was that a fun game in the stands and especially in the streets and stations afterwards.

Posted by: kittypawz | March 15, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

jgprentice,

I agree with you about the 5-on-1. My comment about practicing it was only meant in jest. Such situations should never happen in games. I don't care if you suddenly get caught up in the moment, you still have to be responsible for your position and your part of the ice. When my kids were young and I coached youth sports, no matter what the sport, that was the one thing you had to keep reminding them -- play the position, not everyone has to go to the ball. BB needs to remind the Caps of that too. :)

Posted by: Puckdawg69 | March 15, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

@opita

Only reason I blame Erskine for the 1st goal is because that whole play started with the puck bouncing slightly just inside our blueline and Erskine had an easy, easy clear but he chipped it right up into an oncoming Canes player which kept the puck in the zone and the end result was the goal. Assuming I'm remembering it right hahaha

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | March 15, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

my buddy and I kept asking what they were thinking last night. One night they smother, the next they go to the wild west. 5on1 is unneccassary. But if you get one you better bury it

Posted by: oo7 | March 15, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

If anyone is interested on how the 3 stars are selected, check the following site for an explanation:

http://www.hockeydirt.com/2007/03/today_is_a_spec.html

I now wonder who is the person in charge of the selection for the Caps. Does anyone know?

In the final analysis, to me, the 3 stars selection on the arena and newspapers comes down to one or two people opinion and it has the same value if not less than mine or yours. I no longer care about it.

Posted by: opita1 | March 15, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

I actually did some research to see who was on the ice for the 5 on 1 play for the Caps. We had Semin, Ovi, Backstrom, Green, and (get this) Nylander. Why on Earth did we have 4 forwards on the ice during a even strength period? Essentially, it looks like a Power Play lineup. (And, note, Carolina burned us on shorties last week.) You would think we should have 2 D-Men on the ice.

From what I could see, Semin was the only one who ended up providing any kind of defense.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | March 15, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Nobody gets to trash Abe and I don't care if they were playing in two inches of water. If Abe didn't fork out 200 million of his own money to build that arena the caps might be playing in another city. He has done too much for DC to catch any grief about something so small. Get some perspective my friend(s).

Posted by: nperazich | March 15, 2009 10:26 AM

THANK YOU.

he saved the team .

Posted by: richmondphil | March 15, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

We were at the Globetrotters' show and they announced a postgame on-court autograph session that was to last 20 minutes (with the crowd ringing the outside of the court and the players remaining in place. One look at all the kids was enough to clarify that 20 minutes wasn't enough. I know it's important for an outfit like the Globetrotters to cater to the kids (who think it's actually a real basketball game...man, growing up takes away a major part of the Globetrotters experience), but at the same time, back at the Capital Centre when I was a kid they did the autograph session under the stands. Wouldn't have been too hard to route the crowd down through the opening by 118 that the ice resurfacers use so as to allow for hockey preparations to start.

Posted by: 1995hoo | March 15, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

For people who were there, how was the ice?

It did look bad, but it's looked worse this year.

Posted by: richmondphil | March 15, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

1995hoo,
how many people would you guess were there? i wonder how many they draw these days.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | March 15, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

The idiot commentators during intermission for the NBC Flyers-Rangers game just talked about Theo and how he's "inconsistent" and they don't know if he can get things done for the Caps. Then they showed a couple of vids of goals he gave up, but showed none of the amazing saves he's had recently. They also said that we have it all together -- offense, defense (!), and coaching -- but that Theo is the only weak link.

It's fine with me if people want to underestimate Theo's playing for the last few months. Just means teams won't be ready.

Posted by: BigMogilny | March 15, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Magic number is now 13.

On the Abe bashing. I relate it to this. Family with 2 kids adopts a third homeless kid. Then treats the adopted kid like... well... A red-headed stepchild.

Do you praise the family for taking in an orphan? Do you look past the physical abuse just because they are given food and shelter?

Sure, he MAY have saved the team from being moved to another city, but he's treated the team as a second-class citizen ever since. Then again, if WS&E hadn't treated the team so poorly over the past 10 years, we wouldn't be in the successful position we are in now.

Question I have for those supporting Abe. The Caps have not turned a profit in quite a few years. Much of this inability to turn a profit could be based on the poor quality of play surrounding the strike. But even now, when they are selling out games left and right, they are still not turning a profit. Ted NEEDS 2+ rounds in the playoffs to see a profit, and even then it will be minimal. Do we really think that is a healthy relationship in this economy? If we want to praise Abe for "saving" the team, we also have to look at the financial terms of the Caps as a Tennant vs. a stakeholder in the arena. As simple as giving the team the proceeds from the 7.50 beers and pizza at their own games would help make this team profitable. Couple that with gate revenue from suites and 200-level that are actually used for Caps games and cashflow wouldn't be a problem. If the financial situation the Caps are in doesn't change soon, we my still have to worry about the team relocating.

Ted has built a winner, a team with talent to last for years, and yet it would not shock me if it HAD to be moved for financial reasons. And it would be all WS&E + Abe's fault.

Posted by: FFSEnough | March 15, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

One more thing about the game last night. The result was everything we could have hoped for. We got our 2 points. Gave Carolina one. Lowered our magic number by 3 out of 4 points, TB gave Florida 1 but not 2. All this helps us keep our lead in the SE (Florida is still our primary concern with 2 games in hand and only 1 point behind CAR) and also helps make it harder for PIT, MON and NYR to make the dance.

Posted by: FFSEnough | March 15, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

I posted this over on Frozen Blog in regard to the NBC/NHL analysis of Theo's scrambling and down on his knee saves.

""seems to me there was a goalie named Hasek that spent a lot of time scrambling, on his knees, on his head, on his butt and anything that worked, He has three or four rings. Those guys on NBC/NHL always seem to find something wrong with us. eh?"""

We have a good team been in 4th thru 7th place in the league most of the year. Still need a part here and there, but WE HAVE A GOOD TEAM

Posted by: billd2 | March 15, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

richmondphil:
I don't recall the ice being particularly worse than usual, but my subconscious must have - I had a dream last night that it looked like a frozen "pond" that was very clear with blue water and very thin white/translucent ice, so much so that you could see big air bubbles underneath it (no joke!).

Posted by: --Boo-- | March 15, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

According to the AHL transactions page, Varlamov to Washington and Neuvirth to Hershey effective today:

http://stats.theahl.com/hm/transactions.php

Posted by: tess2201 | March 15, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Oops! Didn't see that Tarik had a new post!

Posted by: tess2201 | March 15, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Even though it worked out for us last night, I would like to see Backstrom in the shootouts instead of Ovechkin, who has a low success rate. Backstrom's last shootout attempt (he's only had a few) was a picture perfect goal. What do you guys think?

Posted by: chevychase10 | March 15, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

ffsenough,
Regarding your comment on Mr. Pollin.
if only life was as simplistic as you think it is. According to you all the caps problems are Abe's fault. You are either too young to know the history of Mr. Pollin on this town, or you are just plain blinded by the love for Ted because of the Caps winning season, either way, what you wrote is an absurd view of how a business is run.

Posted by: hock1 | March 15, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

If Abe hadnt done what he done, there wouldnt be any Washington Capitals. Including getting a certain GM to save hockey in this town...

so, lets just end our discussion about this.

Posted by: richmondphil | March 15, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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