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Theodore to start, Semin might be sidelined

Coach Bruce Boudreau said he plans to tap Jose Theodore to start tonight against the Maple Leafs as a reward for the veteran's impressive performance in relief of Michal Neuvirth on Wednesday night.

The rest of the Caps' lineup, though, is unclear because of Alexander Semin's undisclosed injury. If the winger is indeed sidelined, that will force Coach Bruce Boudreau to scramble his lines.

The 'D' pairings, however, will be the same as they were in the second and third period of Wednesday's come-from-behind win in Sunrise, Fla. Boudreau broke up the Mike Green-Shaone Morrisonn tandem in that game after the first period, which saw the Caps' top pair struggle for the second straight night and the team go down 2-0. (In Tuesday's 7-4 loss in Tampa, Green was on the ice for six goals and Morrison was on for all seven.)

So tonight, Green will be paired with the league's plus/minus leader, Jeff Schultz; Tyler Sloan will skate with Tom Poti; and Morrisonn will play with Brian Pothier.

"I liked it because they didn't scored on," Boudreau said when asked what he likes about the Green-Schultz pairing. "And Morrisonn and Green got scored on [for] eight of the previous nine goals. Obviously, there was something wrong in those two games. We'll probably go back to it because Mo has played with Greenie for two years and they've done quite well."

Some other notes and quotes to get you ready for tonight's tilt against the Leafs, who are in 28th place overall but are coming off a 4-0 win over Philly last night:

*The Caps' goaltending situation remains as murky as ever after Neuvirth was pulled in consecutive games. He'll watch from the bench at Verizon Center as Theodore makes his first start in five games and third in 12.

While that might signal a little turmoil to those on the outside, Boudreau said (again) that he's not worried.

"Everybody wants to look for a weakness with our club because we're good offensively," said Boudreau, whose team has won four of five. "So they pick on the goaltending and the defense. We'll go seven or eight games with two goals or less and then we'll give up a bad game like in Tampa or give up four like we did last game, then [everyone] is worried about our goaltending. I think our goaltending is pretty solid."

"Neuvirth is a young guy and he's going to learn," Boudreau said. "And Varly will be ready in a week to 10 days, and he was playing outstanding when he got hurt. So I think our goaltending is in good shape."

*The goaltending situation could become a lot more clear/stable when Semyon Varlamov returns from his groin/knee injuries. The 21-year-old, who skated on his own after practice, told me he thinks he needs two more days before returning rejoining the team for a full practice.

*Alex Ovechkin laughed off an article that suggested he would consider bolting the Caps for the KHL because he is upset with the escrow payments players are required to make under the current collective bargaining agreement.

"What?" he said. "Yeah, I'm leaving today. I have a private plane. I heard it for the first time [now].

"Yeah, I'm upset, but there's nothing I can do right now," he added. "Of course we don't want to lose our money for escrow."

Boudreau added: "Was it out of Canada or out of Toronto? I don't know. I've never heard that. Who knows what's going to happen? He has a [13] year deal."

*John Erskine will miss his third straight game with an "upper-body injury," according to the team, but he appears to be getting closer to returning after skating this morning. Boudreau said he expects Erskine to practice fully tomorrow.

"We'll see how he is, and if he's ready to, we'll play him Sunday," Boudreau said.

*Tonight starts a three game homestand and a stretch in which the Caps play seven of nine at Verizon Center. To this point, they've played the fewest home games (20) of any team in the Eastern Conference. In all, 21 of the remaining 36 are at home.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  January 15, 2010; 12:04 PM ET
 | Tags: Alexander Semin, Jeff Schultz, Jose Theodore, Michal Neuvirth, Mike Green, Semyon Varlamov, Toronto Maple Leafs  
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Next: Semin a 'maybe' for tonight's game

Comments

you guessed it.....Glass Joe has left the building, AGAIN!!!!

Posted by: doughless | January 15, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

we could use Lumberjack against the Flyers. would love to see carcillo get pummeled

Posted by: doughless | January 15, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

And the "Semin is about to be traded" nonsensense will start in 3, 2, 1....

Posted by: oldtimehockey | January 15, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Man, it seems like Jose only gets starts at home anymore. But the Verizon crowd has been rather hostile towards him, so I'm not sure it's helpful. Dude could use an away start.

Also, it's telling that Boudreau doesn't even mention Jose when he discusses how the Caps goaltending is satisfactory. A young goaltender who will learn and an injured rookie who should be ready to play in 10 days or so, they're both mentioned. A former Hart and Vezina winner and 12-year veteran? Unmentioned.

I'm not arguing that Theodore is a Vezina-level goalie now, or even that he should be the team's starting goaltender. Just pointing out that what's not said is about as telling as what is said when it comes to the team's confidence in the guy.

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 15, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

I'd be willing to bet it's his wrist that's bothering him again. I noticed he's taken a lot more slapshots recently. Chris Clark did the same thing right before they sat him out and got his wrist taken care of last year. I hope it's not that bad, but the similarities are striking to me.

Posted by: Capcrazy77 | January 15, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Semin needs to do whatever it takes to be ready for the playoffs. He is a great young talent but the caps need him for the playoffs, not finishing up the season. I would rather see him have surgery, rest, or whatever so he is his best during playoff time then battle through a nagging problem now.

Posted by: cadlecreek1 | January 15, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

@JohninMpls

Actually in BB's radio chat which was linked in the first thread this morning he discusses Theo in warm terms and talks about his Hart, Vezina, and years of veteran-ship. He makes the point that we have three good goalies but that the other two are still rookies.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 15, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Yeah people need to lay off Semin. The guy is an amazing player. When he's on top of his game, he's one of the elite player's in the league and probably the most talented. Have you seen better hands? No. Plus, he's been on fire lately. His 40-50 goal season will come soon enough. He just needs an injury free season.

Posted by: JD09 | January 15, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Well, by my count he's 0 for his last 3 seasons (including this season) at being injury free. He managed 63 games two seasons ago, 62 last year, and so far this year is on pace for 65 games. I'm not advocating the Caps get rid of him at this point and I think he's a world-class talent, but it has to be problematic when one of your star players consistently misses a quarter of the season.

Posted by: cainoo7x | January 15, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Posted this on the old thread before realizing there was a new one.

Posted by: cainoo7x | January 15, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

And I answered cainoo7X on the old thread, saying the Semin injury factor makes it harder for McPhee to calculate a "worth" for a long-term deal.

BTW, to Tarik: Rather than typing "Philly," please, pretty please, just for us, could you guys spell it "Philthy?"

You'd make us feel a lot better and the people up there wouldn't care anyway.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 15, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Semin missing a quarter of the season is fine with me as long as he is healthy and ready to go come post season, still a better option than a half year rental and then nothing at all next season...

Posted by: PhilR | January 15, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Tarik,
The Leafs were at home in Toronto last night in their win against Philthy.

Posted by: MReilly9 | January 15, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

One thing I've noticed about Semin is that he doesn't look all that bigger now compared to his rookie season.

Guys like Ovie, Backs, Greenie, Steckel, Laich have all put on some weight since coming into the league, but Semin, not so much...which could be a big reason he's always getting hurt.

Do you think it's his offseason conditioning program (or lack there of) or his frame has maxed out and this is as big as he gets?

Posted by: jsnyd1 | January 15, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Actually in BB's radio chat which was linked in the first thread this morning he discusses Theo in warm terms and talks about his Hart, Vezina, and years of veteran-ship. He makes the point that we have three good goalies but that the other two are still rookies.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns

This is very good to know. I get the sense when it comes to Tarik's reporting in particular that we do not hear enough good things about Theo or about Semin for that matter. Tarik, I think you are doing a great job and particularly enjoy CI and all the work of Lindsay and others, but I think the criticism of Theo and Semin gets unnecessarily stirred through some of the reporting angles (see, e.g., the Semin/Kovy poll in the last thread).

Theo earned this start and should be trading off starts regularly, in my opinion.

Posted by: Sonyask | January 15, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I think Semin is simply a skinny guy that can't put on weight to save his life. I feel his pain as I was like that in my 20's and 30's when I wanted to gain some muscle weight.....now that I am in my 40's though, not so much. Can't eat that whole large pizza anymore and not suffer the extra few pounds and its not muscle!....stinks because I was used to being able to eat whatever I wanted with no consequences!!

Posted by: PhilR | January 15, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

WAY OFF TOPIC...

Hey gang, I'm looking to get a hold of an authentic Caps practice jersey with the new logos. I'd love to get a white one and a dark one. I've tried most of my connections and so far nothing has come through. I live in Los Angeles now so I can't get to any local D.C. rink or store.

Just to pre-qualify myself as an official Caps fan: My dad had season tickets when the team's first season. I would go as a little child and sleep at those games, good thing too. I also spent a few years before moving to LA as Hockey Instructor at the Reston Ice Forum with Paul Mulvey and the gang.

So... any help would be great. I just always liked having the practice jersey over the game jersey, I'm weird like that. If you have any leads could you please contact me at natresgroup (at) aol(dot)com.

thanks in advance.

Posted by: natresgroup | January 15, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

from previous thread:
@JIMALLCAPS1

Semin does speak English, he just does not speak to the media in English. He talks to his teammates in English, I have been told by someone who has witnessed it.

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

Posted by: Steakum | January 15, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

@PhilR

I'm the same way too...I had to quit playing soccer after my first year in college because I was just getting beaten up. Didn't matter how much I lifted, how much I ate, I just couldn't gain much mass...and sweeper being my natural position that I played throughout club and highschool ball, I just couldn't hang anymore.

Posted by: jsnyd1 | January 15, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

So do you think we'll see a call up tonight of Giroux or Osala? What about Borque? Seems like otherwise we're short a man, and with a D man down Sloan is not available, unless I'm missing something.

I do not know any waiver implications, though I'm sure others here could enlighten us.

Posted by: Sonyask | January 15, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I'm not a doctor, but I don't think weight gain, even muscle, would necessarily protect the wrist from Orpik slashes.

Maybe Semin should have as part of his equipment those long, metal wrist guards that were worn by Roman legions. Seriously, the goalies (Roy) developed the neck guard, so maybe a wrist guard is possible.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 15, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

River City Sports in Winnipeg has the practice jerseys in their catalogue. I don't have number, but you should be able to look on the net and find it.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 15, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Tom, I'm not just talking about the wrist slashes, but his history of injuries over the course of his now 4 year career.

I don't think he'd be able to fire those wicked wristers with wrist guards on lol. I love the guy, hate seeing him out of the lineup.

Posted by: jsnyd1 | January 15, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

@jsnyd1

Semin did grow and put on weight since he first came here. I have not checked again, but I seem to recall when he was first drafted that he was 5'11" or 6', and 185 or so. Now he's 6'2" and 205.

Posted by: Steakum | January 15, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

@tominfl1 - The problem with those wrist guards is that you need to be able to move your wrist to take a slapshot or wrist shot... and if your wrist is immobilized, you can't.

Sasha, take all the time you need to get healthy. Just be healthy in time for the post-season, is all I ask. <3

Semin-haters, please form a line: Tom will be performing the Doofus Squad Initiation Ceremony at 2:00.

Posted by: irockthered | January 15, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Sonyask: No, Laing and Gordon can both play if Semin is out. They've been scratching two per game.

That isn't to say BB wouldn't rather have a skilled player (Bouchard?) replace Semin as #2 RW.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 15, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

@tominfl1 -- yes, I was missing something. Plus, I'd look to the right side.

Posted by: Sonyask | January 15, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

@tominfl1 - Thanks for River City Sports lead.

I just contacted them and they have only have the replica practice jerseys. I'm trying to get an authentic one. So the search continues, but I really appreciate the lead. thanks!

Posted by: natresgroup | January 15, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

@natresgroup - Check down at Kettler; I think they sell practice jerseys down there, but I don't remember for sure. If anyone does, it'll be them.

Posted by: irockthered | January 15, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

@Sneakum, I wouldn't necessarily believe those figures. I think Chris Bourque is 6'2" in one of those media guides. (Kidding, but not entirely...)

If it is Semin's wrist again, he might need surgery everntually. I hope it isn't anything as drastic as Pronger's bone shortening thing, but it sounds like it will need more than just rest at the end of the season.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | January 15, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

There is absolutely no way Semin is 6'2"....got his autograph in the parking lot outside Kettler one day....I am just below six foot tall and I was the same height if not a little taller than Semin...

Posted by: PhilR | January 15, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Tom and others . I still play and wear a short wrist guard that attaches with velcro to my elbow pad lower extension. I am pretty sure I've seen the same type of guard under the sleeve of a couple of the players . It really doesn't effect your shots.

Posted by: billd2 | January 15, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

thanks @irockthered -

I called Kettler and they only have the replica practice jersey. Trying to get the authentic with fight strap and everything but I appreciate the feedback. It's going to be a hard task, but I'm gonna try my best.

Posted by: natresgroup | January 15, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

the Verizon Center is going to loud and drunk tonight...

Posted by: SA-Town | January 15, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

@billd2 - What is the purpose of that wrist guard? Does it protect against RSI type injuries? Immobilize? Just protect the outside of the wrist against slashes?

Posted by: irockthered | January 15, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

FYI....Puck Daddy has a reminder regarding Caps v. Pens viewing party at Bailey's (Ballston Mall) on Jan. 21 at 6 pm. He is asking for participation by Pens fans. I do not want to be surrounding by D-bags from Putzburgh. I beseech you all to be there in numbers. Pass along.

http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy/post/Reminder-Puck-Daddy-Japers-Rink-Caps-vs-Pens-v?urn=nhl,213897

Posted by: doughless | January 15, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Repost from last thread. But I want to add that to JIMALLCAPS1 that I did not call you brainless.

JIMALLCAPS1,

I partially quoted you above because I had no problem with the rest of your post - although I do not agree with you - regarding a Semin trade for Kovi. I only quoted that part that did not make any sense to me and asked you if you cared to explain. I did not ask to give an evaluation of the two players and why it would make sense, each one of us have our own opinion and I respect yours. I am only asking for an explanation regarding the absurdity of your charges about Semin:
1)Semin is uber tempermental, requires too much babying. …
2)... and won't bother to learn the lingua franca of the NHL, English, so he can't communicate with teammates that well.

All that from watching him on TV or from the stands? Have you ever tried to go live on a different country on your own and learn a new language? I have, I am a foreigner, and I can tell you it wasn't easy for me. Some learn quick some don't.

Unless you socialize with these guys, work with them or maybe even have some insider information, those are charges you can not substantiated and you are maligning a player just because you might not like him.

As far as his plays and dumb penalties, etc, etc,. well you and I have different views and understanding of the game but I respect your opinion, although, I fundamentally disagree with you regarding the play of Semin. I do agree that Kovi is a great player, but better than Semin? They are both on the same level and I prefer Semin so we will just have to disagree on that, no big deal. It would be nice to have them both here.

Posted by: hock1 | January 15, 2010 3:05 PM

Posted by: hock1 | January 15, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I really would like to see Alzner or Carlson come up for at least a few games and fill in for Sloan. I think signing Sloan to that extension was/is a good idea because it was a cheap contract, however I think it's time to sit him for a few games. I think the D as a whole has been sloppy past few games but I haven't seen Sloan play that great particularly (without looking at stats). I'd like to see Alzner or Carlson up for a few games to possibly give the D a jolt!

Posted by: DCSportsFan28 | January 15, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse


Semin missing a quarter of the season is fine with me as long as he is healthy and ready to go come post season, still a better option than a half year rental and then nothing at all next season...

Posted by: PhilR | January 15, 2010 1:05 PM

I agree and I would go one step farther. Semin for half a season is better than many guys full season, and I mean for both team production and true hockey fan enjoyment.

Posted by: hock1 | January 15, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Semin was due for another 10 games off.

Posted by: CapsChick | January 15, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Redwolf1 | January 15, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

sorry, but i agree with the SI piece, at least in the sense that playing such a physical style is going to draw a reaction. I hope Brash gave OV some good pointers. If OV is gonna be captain and play the style he does, he is gonna have to get ready to rumble from time to time. get ready, it is coming.

Posted by: doughless | January 15, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

redwolf, i think muir answered his own question. ovie doesnt hide behind a slab of beef. he's out there for everyone to see. he gives and he takes and is more than willing to stand up for himself. dont see how that opens himself up for any additional punishment from other players. if you want to go after him, he wears number 8, have fun.

in fact, if ovie shows he's willing to drop his mitts and take himself off the ice for 5 minutes, that may be worse than letting someone else fight for him. the tampa game was out of hand at the point of this incident, so i would not have had a problem with ovie making downie pay for his transgressions. but asided from that, i think brads did the right thing. wouldnt be surprised if ovie told brads after the game that next time it's his fight to win or lose.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | January 15, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Haven't seen SoaringCaps in here for awhile. Did you all finally chase that tool away fro good?

Posted by: jmurray019 | January 15, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

@CapsChick

Do you honestly and seriously believe that Semin prefers not to play and to "take games off?" Is that what you say about any other player who is injured?

I suspect that if he is injured (let's say wrist still), and he did play, but was unable to make the shots he's known for beacuse of the injury, then you would savage him for being a terrible player.

Last I knew, a healthy wrist is pretty important for a blistering wrister.

I think you are one of those with whom Semin can never win. Why don't you direct your snark at the player who caused the original injury? I think someone said Ballard.

Posted by: Steakum | January 15, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

@ Hock1 -- welcome to the US (really -- no sarcasim); yes, learning a foreign tongue is difficult, but Semin has 6 million reasons to communicate well at work. If it is true that Sasha can speak English to his teammates, effectively, cool. I like Semin when he is on his game, and his game has improved greatly every year. His dumb penalty taking is much, much better. His forechecking and his pk play is really good at times. I do see him giving up on plays every so often, especially backchecking. Yet, the Caps will not trade Semin for Kovi -- not with the Cap's cap limits. I really think Fehr and a couple others (Bourque?) for a serious stay-at-home defender is a much better trade. Now let the Fehr lovers lay into me :)

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | January 15, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Kovy is hands down better than Semin. But that trade is never going to happen, so forget about it.

Posted by: richmondphil | January 15, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Alexander Semin speaks and understands English fluently. I've seen this first hand. He does NOT conduct interviews in English because he's by nature a very shy guy and he doesn't want to stumble over his words or have his words misinterpreted because English is his second language (which has happened on more than one occasion). I understand Spanish fluently, but under no circumstances would I get on TV and try to conduct and interview in Spanish. That's two completely different animals. Semin is more than capable of communicating with his coaches and team mates. This is not an issue at all.

Posted by: Terpsrule | January 15, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

@Redwolf1 - Of course they had to get a dig in about the supposedly questionable hit Ovi threw (shoulder to chest, FFS!)

These people will say anything to sell their rag...

Posted by: irockthered | January 15, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

It was interesting to see that in this morning's poll on whether to trade Semin for Kovy. more people voted against it than for it.

My own take. Yes, objectively speaking, Kovy is better statistically offensively than Semin. He usually stays healthy which has been a problem with Semin.

Semin is better defensively, assuming the Plus/Minus statistic can be believed, which, over the course of a season, is certainly believable.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 15, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

With respect to Semin and taking days off, @CapsChick and others were harping on Sasha with the worst of insults after a bad game maybe 6 weeks ago, and I stated at that time that it was clear from his play he was injured. Turned out the following morning the club announced the re0injury of his wrist and that he was sitting out for a time.

I say this not to take credit for any keen insight, but to remind the harshest of critics that you simply don't know what a player is playing through. Sasha was out there and playing less than 100% because he was trying to play through the pain and the limitations, not because he's a hack, lazy, or a poor player. As with his English, attitude, or any other measure, you don't work alongside him, so please don't assign the worst of attributes to him. The guy's one of the game's elite players and we should be thankful we have him.

Posted by: Sonyask | January 15, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

@CapsFan75,

I voted against it because Kovy's salary would make it difficult for us to sign other players we really need.

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | January 15, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

trading for or signing a high-priced player rarely works out in your favor in any sport, it's always better to hold on to the good players you've already got even if they may not always meet your insane expectations of them...

the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence.

Posted by: joek443 | January 15, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

On Fighting:

Skill, speed, esprit de corps, sure, I dig all of that, too. But I think the fighting part of hockey (and, make no mistake: it is a part of the game) speaks to the primitive in all of us--even for the folks who say they don't like it and say that one who wants to see fights should look elsewhwere. Please!!

Consider the alternatives:

--"'Pro' Wrestling"? Not even close! What is this but a low form of ghetto-fabulous melodrama where every televised hour usually contains:

-10 minutes of commercials...most of them being ads for the next related pay-per-view "event"!
-5 minutes of insipid commentary,
-30 minutes of over-the-top, cheek-fluttering, steroid-fueled trash-talk
-15 minutes of (fake) fighting...if you're lucky.

--Boxing? Give me a break. Even if the major fights on pay-per-view weren't such an obvious rip-off, there is some subtle manipulation going on. viz.: any fight above middlewight class, it seems as though Don King is promoting both of the fighters invloved, and so he gets Paid regardless of the outcome...

--MMA? Cm'On!..yes , I know it's as close to a real street fight as you're likely to see on TV...but I find the whole emphasis on ground fighting somewhat boring...it reminds me of two exhausted crabs trying to have sex. And the fighters seem to put a great deal of importance on how tough their ink and piercings make them look.


No thanks...give me a hockey fight now and then...there's just something collossally funny about two guys trying to keep their balance on skates while they have at one another with the fisticuffs:

-The fights--though brief--are real
-They aren't hyped out of all proportion for months ahead of time.
-They aren't fixed or rigged.
-Nobody has a direct financial interest in their outcome.
-They aren't burdened by an avalanche of trash-talk.
-They just...happen.


Oh, and before you Damien Cox wannabees out there go slamming me for being bloody-minded, know that I do watch the games primarily for the athletic skill on display. The occasional "docy doe" (sic.)...excuse me...that's spelled: "dō-si-dō"...is, IMHO, a bonus.

That said, I am still a bit on the fence as to whether or not we really need an enforcer type.

Posted by: Rhino40 | January 15, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

I emailed him--the initial check was clean. That is my problem with how he characterized the hit. Ovi hits like a mack truck but that doesn't make it dirty--just hard. And Downie had the puck.

Second I told him in the email that I had a problem with a skill guy on any team fighting the other team's pugilist. Downie's job is to fight. Different fighting class altogether. IMHO Brads would not have come over had Ovi gotten into a fight with Tampa's skill guy. Honestly I don't think he would have even taken off his helmet and dropped his gloves had Downie not hooked and jerked him in his midsection when coming out of the box.

Ovechkin may have a reputation now but Downies's record is far far worse with much more serious infractions and serious suspensions. Different caliber of player altogether.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 15, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

I was referencing the SI piece in my post.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 15, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

when every sports league in this country is crying about the declining interest of their sport, the TV ratings for the NFL just keeps going up and up and they've had the best year yet.

the NFL does NOT allow any sideshows even if some may call the league "No Fun League"... they just stay the course and sell their game better than any other.

their fans always cheer for the logo on the helmet, the TEAM... not the individual players.

it's something the NHL should learn from... get rid of the fighting and sell the friggin' game!

Posted by: joek443 | January 15, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

@Rhino40

I agree for the most part with your post (tho' I have a hunch there is some major trash talk going on sometimes between the players during the game).

But IMHO there is a strong distinction between fights that just happen and the staged enforcer type of fights. The hockey culture that I see is toughness and standing up for oneself and not taking any c*ap from an opponent. I understand that the game has a rough and physical aspect to it in addition to speed and skill so indeed moments happen. As Ovi says with a shrug: "It's hockey."

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 15, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

@joe443

The stylistic and ritualized play of football is based in staged displays of war battles actually--two sides advancing toward each other with their weapons. Guerrilla warfare was considered highly dishonorable (yes we American Revolutionaries were not following 18th century protocol with our battles). And NFL stars abound. It's about the team and the stars. If anything I think hockey is much more about the team than the individual than football. BTW I hate football--too many stoppages of play. I prefer the free flowing action of hockey.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 15, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Semin's injuries do worry me but like some others, I would gladly take him for 60 gms over 95% of the other players in the league for 82 gms. Semin is arguably one of the top 5 most offensively skilled players in the NHL. When he's healthy his stick handling and shooting are second to none.

Posted by: FunkyGloveFacewash | January 15, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Also he's pretty good defensively. To me his two main flaws are his durability( which he more than makes up for with his production) and his stick penalties, but he has cut down considerably on those this season.

Posted by: FunkyGloveFacewash | January 15, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

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