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Theodore Expected to Start Against Sharks

Coach Bruce Boudreau said the Caps have a couple of players who are "banged up" and that's why the team recalled Keith Aucoin from Hershey today. Whether Aucoin will suit up tonight as the Caps attempt to snap an 11-game losing streak vs. the Sharks, however, remains to be seen.

"It was more precaution than anything else," Boudreau said.

When asked which players were ailing, Boudreau said, "You don't need to know," before adding, "There's a good chance both of them will play."

One of the hurting players is believed to be Boyd Gordon, who has battled a bad back the past couple of years.

Anyway, it sounds like Aucoin probably won't play. And if he doesn't, the lines are expected to look similar to yesterday's.

Some other notes from KCI:

*The Caps last beat the Sharks on Feb. 20, 1999 at Verizon Center. It's Washington's longest current losing streak against any team and second longest streak of futility all-time (the Caps dropped their first 23 games to the Canadiens.)

The Caps have also never defeated goalie Evgeni Nabokov, who is 8-0-0 against them with a 1.98 goals against average.

"They have a tremendous offense," Boudreau said. "That's why they won the President's Trophy last year as the best team in the league. It's going to be a huge test. We'll have to have everyone going well. We can't just have 16 players or 17 players. We're going to have to have 20 guys playing well."

*Jose Theodore, who has a .930 save percentage in his past four starts, is expected to get the nod tonight. Theodore is 6-6-0 with a 2.56 goals against average and .919 save percentage all-time against San Jose.

Meantime, while Boudreau said Semyon Varlamov "is going to play sooner than later," adding later that he'll get a start in the next three games.

"But [Jose] is playing really well and I want to get him some confidence and get a win under his best [while] playing this well," Boudreau said. "If he's going to continue playing like this, he's going to continue to play."

*Boudreau on Anton Gustafsson being loaned out: "The Bears have a pretty good team. He is only 19 and I'm not 100-percent sure, but I think he played Division II last year in Sweden. That's quite a jump. Some guys need to be 20 or 21. Some guys make it as an 18 year old, but there's not a lot of them that make it every year."

*Boudreau on the reconfigured top-6, which is expected to make its debut tonight. "I hope these guys go great for five games and if they lose what ever they lose, we'll move them back tomorrow and change it up. That was one of the great things about our team last year and made it difficult to defend our team because they didn't know what combinations they were seeing."

*Following in the footsteps of Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green, Nicklas Backstrom launched a new web site, www.backstrom19.com today.

"It's good for the fans to follow the site," Backstrom said. "It's a little bit about my history and when I grow up and everything and news and video clips. It's good for people who like me."

*Alex Ovechkin and Joe Thornton have the most points since the lockout with 432 and 431, respectively.

*Aucoin won't need to clear waivers when he is sent down (unless he plays 10 games or spends 30 days in Washington, which appears extremely unlikely at this point).

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  October 15, 2009; 11:36 AM ET
 
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Next: Tonight's Lineup: Sharks at Caps

Comments

from prev post:

@zmega

That is not the point. The point is everytime we recall someone it counts against the salary cap that we are up against. And honestly if we play him and he gets hurt then he goes on LTIR and frees up cap space so that wouldn't be a problem at all. This is strictly a salary cap issue for me. Has nothing to do with Nylander being better than Aucoin. BB can choose who he plays I dont care. The fact is we aren't gonna have any flexibility come the trade deadline and that screwed us last year.

Posted by: ThePat | October 15, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

what is the point of breaking up lines after 1 game?? isnt it equally valid that moving lines all of the time prevents maximizing their potential?

Posted by: doughless | October 15, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

ohh waivers - that's not good.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | October 15, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

@doughless

Completely agree. We need to be especially cautious tonight. Separating Ovie and Backs is a big mistake in my opinion. This will be like most games when we see the new lines fail, and S.O.B. end up together again in the second period.

People need to chill out with the cap and bringing up Aucoin. If it was such a big concern, they wouldn't have done it. BB didn't seem very concerned. They just want some legs in case the injury bug creeps in before the game. They know better than we do.

Posted by: JD09 | October 15, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

not sure if anyone already posted this but for those that don't live in the area or don't have the center ice package, ESPN.com will have Caps vs. Sharks as the game of the week. I assume that means they will show it for free online.

Posted by: Moose33 | October 15, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Why don't you all chill.
The coach knows a little more than we do.
Trust him.

Posted by: jmy999 | October 15, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

backstrom's own site doesn't even have updated stats for him? hah.

Posted by: squidello | October 15, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

War Room was right: Caps fans whine as much as Crosby.

Posted by: mattbuckley80 | October 15, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

@JD09

reconfiguring lines is pretty normal. These combos make sense and I believe BB is correct in saying they'll work for a while and then he'll probably juggle again. Lines are like "swing thoughts" in golf: they work for a while, then you refresh them. That being said, I think this is all about igniting Morrison. Ovie seems more likely to do that than Semin and those are the two top flight scoring wingers we have. Ovie doesn't need a banger on his line so no point in pairing him with Knuble, while Knuble and Semin may be mutually beneficial. Also, it doesn't look like Semin and Morrison are a good fit. Semin has always had excellent chemistry with Backs (remember the great goal against Philly in game 6, 2008?).

Posted by: RedLitYogi | October 15, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

in my book, Ovie having a banger (Knuble) on his line is a plus for him and the team. looked pretty good against the Devils

Posted by: doughless | October 15, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

The event happened on third game of the Play offs in NY right after the game.
Posted by: atybat

atybat:
you've referenced this 'event' before. if you have some first hand knowledge - then by all means do please share - otherwise if you choose not to elaborate on heresay - please stop bringing it up.

whether or not this event ever happened becomes irrelevant without the deatails
thanks

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | October 15, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

@RedLitYogi

It's definitely normal for BB. Still don't like separating Ovie and Backs, though. I don't think it will last long. I do agree with the Morrison issue. He can produce, but he needs a strong line to support him. So, finding the right wings for him is a big deal. We shouldn't be so quick to jump on the Semin/Morrison line, because it was only one game. They could grow, just like Ovie and Backs have. Hell, they have sleepovers together! That's the chemistry I want with lines! Such chemistry needs to develop.

Posted by: JD09 | October 15, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

capt kirk,
i was there in NY in may. it was raining and nyls snaked a cab from GMGM on the way to the rink. GMGM didn't have an umbrella because his former equipment guy used to carry one for him. since GMGM fired the equipment guy, he had no one to protect him from the rain. fortunatly, glen hanlon was there to lay down in a puddle so GMGM didnt get his feet wet. at any rate, GMGM was p'od at nyls for snaking his cab and he vowed he would never play for the caps again.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | October 15, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Capt Kirk
I have referred to the event before a few times, when I see so much speculation on this board on why Nyls is not playing and I want to set the record straight.
Anyways, as you wish, I will not bring it up again after this post.
In a place like Montreal, you would all know by now what I already know from someone directly involved in the event. Two reasons for that, the fans and the media have leverage on the team in Montreal so nothing happens without the public knowing. The teams like Montreal know they are redeemable to their fans.

Here in DC, reporters such as Tarik can not ask the tough questions because:
1) GMGM would not answer them because he is not afraid of the repercussions of not talking to the medias.
2) The reporters don't have any leverage on management and have to content themselves with the scraps of information that the team is willing to throw their way.

So, I am done beating this dead horse.

Posted by: atybat | October 15, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

For the record - Nylander was a healthy scratch for Game 3 vs the NYR. Caps won 4-0.

Posted by: puckman | October 15, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Please stop badgering atybat. I'm as curious about this as anyone else, but this is more information than we've gotten before and certainly enough for a reporter or even one of us, maybe, to be able to track something more concrete down.

That said, I'm really looking forward to the game tonight--should be a good one. GO CAPS!!

And Tarik, nice piece on Mike Green today.

Posted by: wocoliz | October 15, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

i won't be in my regular seats (421) for tonight's game. if you are interested and a Caps fan, email me at doughless@hotmail.com.

Posted by: doughless | October 15, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

dcsports:
I heard that GMGM tried to -share- the cab, urging Nyls to "shove over". But the veteran swede declined, citing his "no movement clause". can you confirm?

Posted by: redlineblue | October 15, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only one who gets this?

The webpage at http://alexovechkin8.com/ might be temporarily down or it may have moved permanently to a new web address.

Posted by: CodePoetry | October 15, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

redline,
i'm not sure whether nyls was willing to waive the no movement clause. i do know that just to add insult to injury, nyls made the cab do a few laps around the block (circles if you will) passing GMGM several times before finally heading towards MSG.

GMGM was eventually able to catch a ride in a hearse.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | October 15, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

These stories are all probably way more fun than what actually happened. Keep it up!

Posted by: Raber | October 15, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

What I don't get is this: why is it always all about Ovechkin? Why isn't moving Backstrom about what BACKSTROM can do for the second line with Semin and Laich and not about what OVECHKIN can't do without Backstrom as his pivot?

Do you think Ovechkin can't work with any center in the league and make sick things happen?

Do you think Backstrom requires Ovechkin to make him look great?

Nicklas Backstrom is a superb player in his own right, and should not be known as "Alex Ovechkin's Pivot Man" for the rest of his life. I think Backstrom will be great pivoting for Semin and Laich, just as I think the chemistry between Brendan Morrison and Mike Knuble (who played together at university) and their experience will allow them to play well with Ovechkin on their left wing.

Posted by: irockthered | October 15, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

atybat:
thanks for the explanation. i kind of understand your position, but without the details it really doesn't diffuse any speculation we may have. it will be interesting once this 'event' has been revealed

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | October 15, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Ovechkin is the best player on this planet. You can put anybody on his line, and the other guy would be just a shadow, no matter how good he is.

Posted by: CodePoetry | October 15, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

atybat - You've referenced this incident in NY but have not elaborated. Perhaps you can share the Reader's Digest condensed version (without every detail) of what took place.

You are right in that the media in this town does not want to report why Nylander is not playing. How a reporter does not ask why a $5.5 mil player who is healthy and is not playing "at all", makes you want to question the media's motive. Not one reporter wants ask McPhee the tough questions. That's why I've stated before there are not the likes of a Larry Brooks in this town.

There are level headed bloggers that do want to know what "really" is going on with Nylander. Your insight is appreciated.

Posted by: puckman | October 15, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

IRTR -- I think you're right. Backstrom on the second line has nothing to do with Ovi and everything to do with Semin. I'm excited to see the combo.

Posted by: Sonyask | October 15, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

dcsports/redlineblue:
i think maybe nyls did share the cab but when it came time to pay the fare - nyls claimed he couldn't reach into his pocket because his shoulder was acting up. at that moment GMGM vowed to get at least $18.50 (plus tip) from nyls before he would ever wear a caps sweater again (or maybe even get that for nyls in trade before he would take the ice again)

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | October 15, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

@CodePoetry - Exactly. So why NOT give Backstrom a chance to shine with another linemate? He will, I guarantee, do so!

Re: Nylander - OH PLEASE CAN WE FIND ANOTHER TOPIC? PLEASE? It's none of our damn business what is going on with him. Period. It is between him and the Capitals organization. Quit with the rampant speculation, get off the topic, and move on. It's a dead topic. Ended. Kaput. Dead. I don't even want to hear his name any more, I'm so tired of this topic!

Posted by: irockthered | October 15, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

for real, who gives a crap about the cab? He isn't playing now, let's move on.

Posted by: Chad8 | October 15, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

i am looking forward to seeing what 8-9-22 can do

Posted by: doughless | October 15, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm with you doughless... there's potential there

Posted by: Chad8 | October 15, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Re: Nylander - OH PLEASE CAN WE FIND ANOTHER TOPIC?

Posted by: irockthered | October 15, 2009 2:41 PM

Honestly, this cab fare speculation is more fun than any Nylander discussion I've read so far. It's been brought up practically every day since FA started this year and the same discussion happens every day between the people who think he should be on the ice and the people who would rather trade him for pucks. Some people are on both sides.

At least this discussion is new :-P

Posted by: Raber | October 15, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

@IRTR

I'm starting both Theodore and Nabokov in my fantasy league tonight. I also have Semin and Setoguchi playing.

Can I get a little point-counterpoint going on? Or perhaps, just flame away at how dumb of a move this is on my part. Either is better than the Nylander debate.

Posted by: Fro_ | October 15, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Anybody tried Ovechkin's site http://alexovechkin8.com/ ?

I am not getting it.

Posted by: CodePoetry | October 15, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

The teams like Montreal know they are redeemable to their fans.

Here in DC, reporters such as Tarik can not ask the tough questions because:
1) GMGM would not answer them because he is not afraid of the repercussions of not talking to the medias.
2) The reporters don't have any leverage on management and have to content themselves with the scraps of information that the team is willing to throw their way.

So, I am done beating this dead horse.

Posted by: atybat | October 15, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I think you mean "answerable" instead of "redeemable" but point taken. And I agree with your assessment of how the media dynamics exist in DC vs someplace like Montreal or Toronto. Tarik isn't shielded like he would be as a Canadian reporter. Its him and that Corey dude. And you can see how the Redskins shut out WaPo after the LaCanfora reporting.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 15, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

@Fro_ - I don't do fantasy hockey, because every time I pick a player to do well, he doesn't. Usually, he falls on his nose. :-p That said:

You picked guys on the OTHER TEAM for your team tonight?!

Playing Sharks on your team is fine when we aren't playing 'em, but dang! Playing them on your fantasy team when we want OUR guys to do well and we want them to stink up the ice? That's harsh! :-p

Posted by: irockthered | October 15, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

BTW, the Sharks have recalled defenseman Derek Joslin from their AHL team as a possible replacement for under-the-weather defenseman Douglas Murray...

Posted by: irockthered | October 15, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Greetings from your resident Rangers fan. I said last week that Ovie should be on a line with Knuble and that Semin and Backstrom should be on their own line. Knuble matches Ovie well in that Knuble is a hard worker who isn't going to create offense but is always around to tuck the puck home, dig it out of the corner, etc. Ovie is talented enough to not need a big playmaker. Sometimes when I watch him, I feel like he'd be better off if everyone else just got out of his way. When the Caps played the Rangers, Ovie passed up a shot twice to try to put the puck through to Semin, which I thought was tremendous mistake.
If I were a Caps fan, I wouldn't like the idea of these guys having their own websites, etc. No one questions this team's talent, but early season issues for this team seem to be in the idea of the team concept and playing a responsible two way game. Sometimes, a responsible two way game cuts down on scoring which is why some players don't want to work hard backchecking. Individual websites and too much concern about scoring are major issues that seem to impede coming together as a team. If the coach were someone like a Mike Keenan, he'd be sitting a few guys already this season to send a message. You have a few players with all world talent, but they have to buy into the team concept because if they score 50 goals but are responsible for 51 going back the other way, they may have impressive stats, but in the end, the team loses. I direct that less at Ovie and more at Semin. Ovie is +7 for the year, Semin is even, which effectively means that whatever he's done thus far has been a wash because of his defensive play (I know its not that simple, but its an alarming trend).
I also want to point out something that I think you guys miss from the posts I've seen. You guys are clearly like me in that we sometimes get wrapped up in stats, and its easy to do for you guys when you have such prolific scorers, but here's an interesting question....how many Caps are in the top 100 in the category of hits? The answer is 3. Ovie is 3rd with 24, Morrisonn is tied for 28th with 16 and Jurcina is 65th with 12 hits. You know how many the Rangers have? (Don't worry, I'm not turning this into a "my team rules" post). 6, all in the top 50. Including the #1, #6, #11 and #14 hitters in the league. My point is that the Rangers have certainly gotten off to a good start with plenty of scoring, but the Caps are scoring too. The idea is that the Rangers make themselves hard to play against, they hit a lot and try to wear down opponents and then rely on conditioning to get by in the 3rd period. The Caps seem to like turning games into shootouts, and while they certainly have the firepower, it isn't fair to their goalies.

Posted by: JK111 | October 15, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

This is true, it is harsh. However, most of the other guys on my team don't have games tonight. So I need to try to generate points from somewhere- which makes for a tough decision. I'd be ok with a Caps win, 2-1, with Semin netting a pair and Setoguchi putting one in for himself. Fair nuff?

Posted by: Fro_ | October 15, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

For those who want to know what cstanton1 is referring to, here's a link to explain.

http://dcprosportsreport.com/2009/05/jason-lacanfora-leaving-the-post-for-nfl-network.html

To be the best at what you do, you've got to work harder than your competition and co-workers. LaCanfora worked and dug deep for answers. Gets recognized for his accomplishments and gets a better gig.

Posted by: puckman | October 15, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

@JK111 - The players may "have" their own websites, but there is no way in hell they did the programming for them. Those sites were put up by a professional webmaster.

That said, I won't begrudge a guy the chance to write a blog post every week or so. None of the players have time to do more than that. But these guys aren't the only ones with their own website up.

(Ovechkin's, BTW, appears to be down at the moment. No idea why.)

Posted by: irockthered | October 15, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

@Fro_ - If that's the way it has to be... :-p

I'd prefer the Caps win in a 16-0 blowout, personally. ;-)

Posted by: irockthered | October 15, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

irockthered, i'm not saying they're sitting home coding a website instead of studying a playbook, lol. What I mean is that I wouldn't be happy with the concept of the individual player versus the team concept

Posted by: JK111 | October 15, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

ok, thanks for confirmation.

Greenie has it, Backstrom has it and Ovechkin doesn't.

Posted by: CodePoetry | October 15, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

good news for our forwards that Doug Murray may not play. He's no fun to play against.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 15, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

For those of you who can remember, both Jason Laconfora and Rachel Nichols were the Caps beat reporters for the Post, and both did a good job but moved on to football. Not being Canadian, I guess that was where they really wanted to be and where the money is.

Posted by: CapCenter105 | October 15, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

@JK111 - The NHL doesn't have a problem with several individual players having websites, who aren't on the Caps team.

PLAYER SITES
Martin Brodeur
Patrik Elias
Georges Laraque
Vincent Lecavalier
Ryan Miller
Mike Modano
Alex Ovechkin
Alexei Ponikarovsky
Chris Pronger
Jeremy Roenick
Kevin Weekes
Justin Williams
Henrik Zetterberg

These are just the ones listed on NHL.com's site. I don't see it as not being a team player, personally. :-)

Posted by: irockthered | October 15, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

PLAYER SITES

Alex Ovechkin

Posted by: CodePoetry | October 15, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

@CodePoetry - Nobody said the NHL is any good at updating stuff like this!

Posted by: irockthered | October 15, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

PLAYER SITES

Alex Ovechkin

Alex Ovechkin doesn't have his site anymore

Posted by: CodePoetry | October 15, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

A lot of this speculation about Nylander could be ended if Tarik would ask some tough questions, as some others on this blog are starting to express.

So I'll re-post my two suggestions, maybe Tarik can get to them when he's done all the important stuff, like figuring out which players have web sites:

1) What us the thought process behind the Nylander situation? We'd rather recall Aucoin? We'd rather play Sloan at wing? The situation demands that you ask the question.

2) Are you disappointed with Anton Gustafsson's progress? He said in an article (written by you) that he wanted to play in North America this season. Now he's not good enough to play in Hershey.. And he's not good enough to play in Sweden's Elite League? Is this guy a future Cap or is he a forward version of Sasha Pokulok?

I can get news of transactions from yahoo sports. What I need from you, Tarik, are tough questions.

Oneal

Posted by: TheRealOneal | October 15, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Maybe its just me, but I wouldn't be happy with players on the team I root for creating individual player sites when the emphasis should be on the team concept, especially when that seems to be the team's weakness

Posted by: JK111 | October 15, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

@JK111

Another extremely insightful post. This is the first time that I understood clearly how the lack of playing like a team is manifested.

Your analysis of the aspects of the game beyond scoring (backchecing and hits, for example) is extremely illuminating.

I wish I had the nuanced perceotiveness many of you guys have to catch all the elements of a game that go on simultaneously, but I don't. I focus most of my attention on scoring related stuff. This is why what you say is especially helpful. People comment on bits and pieces but I like how you put it all together to give the whole picture.


Be sure you give us your take on the game after it's over tonight.

Also, I would like to know what do you think has contributed to the Rangers' improvement thus far?

Posted by: caraveli | October 15, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

personally, i think the websites, Tweets, MTV cribs appearances, Facebook sites are ALL distractions. Seems like BB says it all the time and gets ignored: "We haven't won anything yet."

Posted by: doughless | October 15, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

caraveli:

you didn't ask me, but easy answer to your question: Brash!

Posted by: doughless | October 15, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

@doughless

You forgot Mercedez commercials. :)

TheRealOneal says he is Oneal. Is it for real? The real Oneal would just sign as Oneal. Get real, imposter!

Posted by: CodePoetry | October 15, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

my bad

Posted by: doughless | October 15, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

doughless

I agree with you about websites etc. as well about BB's astuteness when he says: "We haven't won anything yet." It is not that I am against websites or that I think they are against NHL policy. It is more in what they may reflect in light of a team whose weakness is their inability to really play like a team. Maybe they are in danger of being too infatuated by their own stardom and less concerned about the team's success as a whole.

As for Brash, I can't agree here. He seemed to be more of a liability than an asset when he played with the Caps. Who knows, maybe the Rangers know how to make use of him better.


Posted by:

Posted by: caraveli | October 15, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

OH NO, our players have sites on the world wide web!!!! OH NO they be double clicking all day instead of practicing!!! Oh NO email!!!AHHHHHH!!!!!!!

Posted by: ChickenLittleCapsFan | October 15, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

caraveli-

re: Brash- joke (although i like Brash)

chixlittle:

take a look at Green's website. if i didn't know who he was, first thing outta my mouth would be - TOOL. i got nothing against WWW, I'd just to see more team success before we start with all the extra crap.

Posted by: doughless | October 15, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

On the lighter subject of websites and tweets and such: the only reason I don't want to see individual players' websites is that I spend way too much time as it is on the net! But, truthfully, I don't see it as a problem. Other than that, I really appreciate all of JK111's analyses.

Oh, as much as I really like BB, I really can't stand to see the car commercial where he's hamming it up about "You had me at 'no problem'" right after the team blows a 2 goal lead. Somehow, my sense of humor has escaped me at that point.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | October 15, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

You flatter me Caraveli, but I could easily be wrong, as I'm sure some people who read this blog probably think. I won't be able to comment on the game since I am outside the TV market (I wish I had Center Ice but my wife might divorce me if I watch any more hockey).

I feel like the number of hits in a vacuum aren't so relevant, but what they tend to show, is, in the case of a forward, the commitment to the forecheck, and in the case of a defenseman, punishing guys in your own zone. Both often lead to turnovers and are not stat sheet numbers but help a team immensely.

As far as Rangers early season success, its so early and they started quickly out of the gate last year too so I'm cautious. Having said that, they have bought into Tortorella's high pressure system and are generating a lot of offense. Gaborik has 6 goals in 7 games, etc. More than that though, they are becoming a hard team to play against. I think you guys would say that was the case last year too, as they played you guys that way in the playoffs, but with a few more offensive weapons, they are putting the puck in the net more this year. Lundqvist can erase a lot of mistakes too. I'd say the biggest difference is some of our homegrown guys, Ryan Callahan is such an unsung guy, he does everything well, especially away from the puck, but guys like Dubinsky and Staal have progressed and young guys like Michael Del Zotto are providing a spark. The team is buying into Torts' system. This year, Avery is on the 3rd line and he, along with a rookie named Anisimov, who was 3rd in the AHL in scoring last year, have created a lot of depth through the lineup. I don't see the Rangers as a top 3 team in the Conference but I do think that if they keep up the good play, and especially with Lundqvist in net, they can steal a few rounds in the playoffs. Now, as far as who I'm most afraid of in the Playoffs, I think it goes (1) Pitt (2) Philly and (3) Caps.

Posted by: JK111 | October 15, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

i think things should go back to the good old days when the players didn't have any rights - they were practically owned by the team. this way ted could force them to become 1st level support at aol during the off-season. of course nyls would only be an intern :)

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | October 15, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and you know how sometimes you watch another team and you think to yourself "I wish that guy was on my team?" I don't do that with Ovie since thats a little obvious...but I do that every time I see Brooks Laich. He's a worker and I think captain material as he gets older. I just like the way he plays the game.

Posted by: JK111 | October 15, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

I think a lot of the Rangers' current success is thanks to Tortorella. Remember what he and the Lightning did to us in the 2002-03 playoffs. (I was at a couple of those games, and the memory still hurts.) I never understood why Tampa let him go as coach anyway.

Posted by: wocoliz | October 15, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Corey is reporting that Gordon is scratched tonight and Aucoin will be skating.

Go Twitter: fastest news in the west!

Posted by: irockthered | October 15, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

wocoliz, I think they let him go because he ended up losing the team. A lot of these hot headed type coaches can only yell so many times before the team quits on him.

Posted by: JK111 | October 15, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

I would hardly think Tarik and Corey for that matter, haven't asked the hard questions. I can't see how either of them could write a story on "Caps management responds with a adamant 'No comment' on whether Nylander is staying or going." I'm sure they've asked and gotten no responses. Can we let them do their jobs the best way they know how? It's bad enough we're trying to tell the Capitals how to play hockey or manage a hockey team, we gotta' attack the way Tarik and Co. do their own jobs? Eesh. Go put your jerseys on. It's almost game time....

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | October 15, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

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