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Theodore to Start Against Red Wings

One day after a lengthy team meeting/video session to carefully go over all that went wrong during Thursday's loss to the Rangers, the Caps had an upbeat morning skate at Joe Louis Arena ahead of tonight's showdown with the Johan Franzen-less Red Wings.

"It's not only Bruce [Boudreau] who feel no good," Alex Ovechkin said of Thursday's defeat. "Everybody was upset and everybody was not happy. But it's over and today is a new day."

Based on the skate, Boudreau is making a few changes to the lineup. He's sticking with Jose Theodore as the starter in net. ("It's my prerogative," Boudreau said. "I'm the coach.")

It also appears that he'll stick with the same top two lines. On the third line, however, Eric Fehr will make his return from shoulder surgery (Boudreau said he's putting Fehr there as opposed to the fourth line in the hopes he can get the unit going offensively). And on defense, John Erskine and Jeff Schultz appear to be the scratches.

Some other notes from The Joe:

*While Thursday's loss could be blamed on several factors, one of the biggest reasons was the lack of defensive effort and focus from some of the team's top end forwards. For that, Ovechkin shouldered the blame.

"On my side, I didn't play well against the Rangers," Ovechkin said. "I don't know why, but something was going wrong with me. When I have 100 percent chance to score goals, I didn't score. A couple of times my sticks was broken, pucks were bouncing over my sticks. I think I wasn't concentrating 100 percent."

*Something else the Caps discussed in detail yesterday was the need to eliminate the selfish/lazy penalties. It was a big problem last year and it's becoming one again this season. After four games, only four teams have taken more minor penalties than the Caps' 21.

"It's our mistake," Ovechkin said. "When we play five-on-five, teams can't do nothing against us and we can play our system. But the penalty kill is killing us, especially when we take five or six penalties. It's hard for the penalty-killing guys. We can do better."

Brooks Laich added: "The coach can't do anything about that. That's up to the individual. It drives players nuts and coaches go crazy over it. Penalty killers don't like killing those penalties. The more you play with fire, the more you're going to get burned when you take penalties like that. Needless, careless penalties make you look up in the air and say, 'Why?'"

*The last time the Caps played at Joe Louis Arena, the Red Wings prevailed, 4-3, in the shootout on Dec. 17, 2007. Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Jiri Hudler all scored on Olie Kolzig in penalty shots with the exact same move -- backhand, top shelf.

"They put three fabulous moves on our goaltender," Boudreau said sarcastically.

*With Franzen out four months with a knee injury, the Red Wings are going to go with a first line that consists of Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom.

"It could be the most complete line in the league," Boudreau said. "You have the Selke winner, a guy who goes to the net and two guys who can pass the puck as well as anybody."

*Ovechkin on facing Datsyuk: "He's won the Lady Byng a lot. So probably mens ladies love him."

*After tonight's game, Mike Knuble will have faced all of his former teams: Boston, Philly, New York and Detroit.

I'll check in again before the game.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  October 10, 2009; 1:10 PM ET
 
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Next: Tonight's Lineup: Caps at Red Wings

Comments

Thanks for the update Tarik. Can't wait to see a tighter team todnight. Go Fehr!

Posted by: Sonyask | October 10, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Listening to XM Home Ice right now and they are airing a replay of "Leafs Lunch" from 640AM in Toronto. Leafs GM Brian Burke was the guest for the first hour. He took e-mail and live call-in questions from fans regarding every aspect of the Leafs. Considering how rabid the Leafs fan base is, you'd figure that whoever is GM of that team would shy away from that kind of public interaction for fear of the nastiness that could ensue. But, Burke is very candid and doesn't pull punches. He has no problem laying out the team's philosophy regarding why this guy is playing, or that guy was sent back to juniors or the "A", and on and on and on. It's a shame that there's a seeming Cone of Silence around McPhee. I can't imagine him ever putting himself on the firing line with the fans.

LETS GO CAPS!!!!!!

Posted by: MetalCapsFan | October 10, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Oh no! He picked Theo. We are done for unless the D wakes up or the offense scores twn goals.

Posted by: caraveli | October 10, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

I meant TEN goals, not twn.

Posted by: caraveli | October 10, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

haha love the lady byng comment. Ovy cracks me up. In Datsyuk's defense, he may not get penalties but he sure hits harder than a lady. I never thought he'd add that dimension to his game where he just obliterates opposing players with open ice hits. Semin should learn how to do that.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 10, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I think we'll see a much improved effort tonight because the players all know that if they have a repeat of Thursday's performance, they'll LOSE by ten goals.

LET"S GO CAPS!!!

Posted by: wocoliz | October 10, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

@Caraveli: I,too, am disappointed that Varly isn't going to be in the goal tonight. Of course, it's Boudreau's call, as he said, but I would like to know the "why".

Ovie manned up to the mistakes--I admire that. Can anyone imagine he-who-must-not-be-named #86 black/yellow fessing up to any kind of mistake? The way the Caps are being introspective wrt penalties and defense kind of gives me hope for a great game tonight.

Wish I lived in Florida and could crash the prime rib lunch and pork dinner---will settle for the wings for dessert though---good one tominfl!

Posted by: dccitizen1 | October 10, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

dccitizen1: The prime rib is gone! Tasty! NHL Network has Stars and Flames on now in HD. I don't know the result, and since all the yard work is done, and my belly is stuffed, I'll relax w/a glass of Clos du Bois cab and watch.

Caps always play well against Wings. Caps have a respect for Detroit and that brings out their best game. I'm hoping for a very good game. Actually more confident than I was Thursday, when I had a pre-game feeling all day they'd lose.

Posted by: tominfl1 | October 10, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Seriously ... when's Ovechkin's open-mike night? That would rock.

Posted by: Cerealman | October 10, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Varly isn't playing because it turns out that all the athleticism in the world doesn't make a bit of difference if you can't make a simple glove save.

Posted by: spacecadetkid | October 10, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Henrik had a mistake the other night. Theo had two. Otherwise, Theo was looking pretty brilliant. Sucks to have two mistakes in a night, but he wasn't the only one.

Posted by: Sonyask | October 10, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

dccitizen1

Absolutely. "He-who-must-not-be-named #86 black/yellow" never acknowledges mistakes or praises others or has any semblance of a sense of humor for that matter.

I trust BB but don't know why he gives Theo chance after chance and always supports him (unlike poor Nylander). Well, he must know what he is doing.

I wonder how the team feels. What goalie makes them more confident. This can make a huge difference.

Posted by: caraveli | October 10, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

ok...that Ovechkin quote about Datsyuk made me laugh out loud.

Posted by: blwiseass | October 10, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand the constant changes that BB makes with the 5th and 6th D-men. the Rangers had two rookie D-men playing for them including a 19-year old and they both look good so far.

I know the Caps are trying to save money later on by not rushing Alzner and Carlson into the lineup early but might as well get them in the lineup and let them get some experience with the big boys because unless they can pick up a D-man before the trade deadline, they don't clearly have the group of D-men that can win them a Cup right now.

Posted by: joek443 | October 10, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Both teams have high powered offense and very suspect goaltending. I would think that we might enjoy another high scoring game. As ever, Jose scares me, especially vs. a team like Detroit. Even without the guys who left in the summer and Franzen going down with a long term injury they can still put the biscuit in the basket. It's a real chance for the recent Finnish league MVP Ville Leino to step up and show his stuff.

Posted by: ranndino | October 10, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I'm expecting the score to be Caps 4 - Detroit 3 and Jose 2 as we lose in OT.

Posted by: visionof75 | October 10, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Tominfl---will be checking in with you after the game to see if your instincts prove true again. If so, could you please concentrate on the winning power ball numbers?

Discovering Tarik's Insider columns and the subsequent comment/blogs has been a real boon for me. Thanks to all ('cept trolls!) who contribute to the discussions. Lots of different points of view, and as my Uncle Red used to say, "That's what makes the world go 'round."

Let's Go Caps!!!

Posted by: dccitizen1 | October 10, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Theo's got loads of experience against the Red Wings; Varly... not.

Varly's still gotta be handled with some care. Granted trial by fire in the playoffs is one thing but he has yet to be a regular regular season NHL goalie. This is fine.

Posted by: Sonyask | October 10, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

@tominfl1

Hope your gut feeling for today is right. (Your "negative" gut feeling about the Rangers game reminds me of the fact that my office mate's pregame prediction which had given me a bad feeling.)

(I did read your post in the last thread on routes from Tamba to Sunrise.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | October 10, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

@ranndino

The "Peerless Prognosticator" agrees with your "take on the game. In that post, it's predicting an uber high scoring game that will end in OT.

So, it's pond hockey tonight.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | October 10, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

@dccitizen1

I enjoy the comments on this nlog. While Japers' probably has better statistical analysis, the comments on this blog give us more about the backgrounds and personalities of the posters here.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | October 10, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

"Theo's got loads of experience against the Red Wings; Varly... not. :"

While that is true I remember Detroit tearing him apart in the playoffs the year before he signed with the Caps getting beat in 4 straight and Jose was pulled in 3 of the 4. Of course that was the year Franzen was unstopable and had 9 goals in the 4 game series. Maybe without Franzen there to expose the holes Jose will be better.

Posted by: icehammer97 | October 10, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm far from an expert on the game, but I didn't think Theo looked that bad on Thursday. In fact, in the first period in particular, he made some great saves that kept us from getting blown out early (how embarrassing would that have been?). Yeah, he shouldn't have let in those two late goals, but our D shouldn't have disappeared like it did, either. I think we get at least 1 point tonight.

Posted by: wocoliz | October 10, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

dccitizen1: Let's hope and we'll see.

CapsFan75: I put on Travel Channel during lunch when consuming the prime rib. They had, "10 Best Natural Wonder Vacation Spots."

Everglades was 5th, just ahead of Sahara Desert (?). 3rd was Great Barrier Reef and 2nd was Amazon Basin. Winner of course was my favorite place on Earth, a few hours from my retirement property, the Grand Canyon.

Grand indeed. I had prime rib there several times a few weeks ago, leading me to buy the aforementioned piece today.

A good question, related, what would be the Top 10 (keep it in US) "Sports Attending Vacation Spots?"

I would say New York number 1 with MSG and Yankee Stadium and then all of Manhatten to see. SF I would make second if you can include San Jose. Third I might make DC with all the history and museums. Seattle, Denver, San Diego, Miami, Boston, of course, Salt Lake City and Phoenix make ten for me. You might push Florida and Arizona higher if you combine sightseeing and Spring Training.

I would not list Detroit, even though I lived there, or despite that.

Posted by: tominfl1 | October 10, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

tominfl1, how about Chicago? I love the whole Wrigley experience, and it's a pretty cool city, too.

Posted by: wocoliz | October 10, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I agree w/ tominfl1 and wocoliz. Caps tend to rise to the level of their opponent and with the possible exception of the late goals, Theo wasn't horrible Thursday. Of course such non-negative thoughts don't belong on this blog.

Posted by: HappyWeagle | October 10, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

the useless stat of the day - both semin and ov are on pace to score 102 goals this year which would break Gretzky's record of 92 goals in 1981-82 season.

Posted by: joek443 | October 10, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

1981–82 NHL Scoring Leaders

Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers 80 92 120 212
Mike Bossy New York Islanders 80 64 83 147
Peter Stastny Quebec Nordiques 80 46 93 139
Dennis Maruk Washington Capitals 80 60 76 136
Bryan Trottier New York Islanders 80 50 79 129

how would you like to score 64 goals and 147 points in a season and finish second in both by a mile??? LOL

Posted by: joek443 | October 10, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

@tominfl: from last post: i go to every game here in tampa that the caps play.so YES! i will defenitly be there! i'm only 40 mins from tampa but a little to far from sunrise so its hard to make it to a panthers-caps game.If i ever get a chance,you bet i'd be there.but i do make it to ALL caps-lightning games.hope to see ya there bro! GO CAPS!!! ENJOY THE FEAST

Posted by: gratefuldid | October 10, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

From Steven Hindle/Hockeybuzz...

"Caps @ Wings: Lineups + Is a Franzen-less Wings Team an Easier Challenge?"

http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog/Steven-Hindle/Caps--Wings-Lineups--Is-a-Franzen-less-Wings-Team-an-Easier-Challenge/98/23574

Posted by: MetalCapsFan | October 10, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

"Both teams have high powered offense and very suspect goaltending."

That's true. I forgot that Oswood has been struggling and that is comforting. Watch him bounce back tonight and have the best game of his life. We do have this effect on goalies.

Posted by: caraveli | October 10, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

So much for the Red Wings going without a tough guy. In case you missed it:

"RED WINGS SIGN VETERAN MAY TO 1-YEAR, $500K CONTRACT"

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=294148

Dude has 2,182 career penalty minutes. Here's a link to his career fight card, fairly impressive:

http://www.hockeyfights.com/players/61

And, evidence of May's truculence when he was a Duck vs. the Wild in the '07 playoffs (go to 0:44):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfNdmelWneU

So, with no Erskine, I guess Bradley gets another broken nose tonight?

Posted by: MetalCapsFan | October 10, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

wow - Erskine & Schultz are healthy scratches - this is like our two best defensemen... what gives Bruce.

(Said as if I was fjc33 or some other leolem)

Posted by: Jaymagz | October 10, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse

LMAO if those two are really the best two D-men they've got, they are in deep doodoo.

Posted by: joek443 | October 10, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

wocoliz: I will have to go by your say so on Chicago.

It's a different NHL than 81-82. My own preference is offense over defense. More exciting.

Is Brad May even dressing?

Posted by: tominfl1 | October 10, 2009 6:32 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Bruce chooses his D based on a perceptions of who's best. I'm sure he looks for the best possible match-ups game to game.

Posted by: gonchpup | October 10, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Erskine is good if we need a fighter, and Shultz is good if we need one of our D to trip over his feet. I'm anxious to see what Sloan can do on the blue line.

Posted by: UnleashTheCaps | October 10, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Bruce chooses his D based on a perceptions of who's best. I'm sure he looks for the best possible match-ups game to game.

Posted by: gonchpup | October 10, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

if BB had 6 good D-men he could count on every night, he would NOT change his 3rd defensive pair every game. So all the talk during the preseason that they had plenty of good D-men is just a big fat lie or over-estimation of their talent.

Posted by: joek443 | October 10, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if any team out there has 6 D that perform every night. Some teams DO have more strength there than ours, but usually at the expense of having less talent up front. Also, it seems it's as much the system and having the players buy into it than just a matter of lack of talent. As soon as the opposition has the puck, we should have 5 defenders on the ice and that doesn't seem to be happening. I think the potential is there with most. The key is getting them to keep their heads into the game for 3 periods.

Posted by: gonchpup | October 10, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

joek443:
i believe the talk was about having a bunch of nhl quality dmen - the problem is that over half of them are 3rd pair dmen. one of these guys needs to take their game up a notch and play like they are a 2nd pairing. then bb can platoon any of the rest based on the opponent

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | October 10, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Backstrom should shoot when he's in front of the goal and open and forget about passing to Semin.

Posted by: UnleashTheCaps | October 10, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse

BRADS!

Posted by: UnleashTheCaps | October 10, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse

bradley - not just a fighter

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | October 10, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

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