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Thinking Back and Looking Ahead

Something's got to give. Seriously.

Here are some basic (but key) stats you need to know:

*Despite the addition of three power play specialists, the unit ranks 27th (4 for 35). That's a measly 11.4 percent effectiveness rate. Forget about Motzko for a moment, 11.4 percent still isn't acceptable with players named Ovechkin, Nylander, Kozlov and Poti out there. (The return of Alexander Semin this week should help a ton. But can one player single-handedly turn around the Caps' pp woes? They had better hope so.)

*The penalty kill is 27th, having snuffed out a mere 75.7-percent of the short-handed situations it's faced. (Getting Boyd Gordon back from injury should help in this area.) But it would really help if the Caps would stop taking penalties at exactly the wrong time.

*The offense is tied with one-win Atlanta for second to last in goals per game (2), which is just a fraction ahead of the supposedly high-powered Rangers. (Try to blame the goalies for that one.)

*The checking line (Matt Pettinger, Gordon and Chris Clark) has played well in the defensive end, but the trio has accounted for exactly 0 goals.

*The Caps rank 25th in shots against (31.4 per game).

*They're still about $13 million under the salary cap ceiling. (I get criticized a lot for always bringing this up, but it matters.)

Yes, it's early. And lots of these problems can be turned around. But they're digging themselves a hole.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  October 21, 2007; 12:27 PM ET
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Next: Forward Line and Power Play Shakeup


Agreed Tarik! I think we may have been sold a crock of ... just so Teddy Hockey can sell tickets. How this team can be so deficient this early in the season is perplexing to say the least. Looks like the 1st 3 wins were a fluke. I'm even beginning not to care too much anymore. Been down this road too many, I mean too many times. After investing almost $8,000 for full season tickets, parking, eating, etc., I think I'll have better places to put my money next year. If this trend keeps up, I don't think I'll be alone.

Posted by: kenhockey | October 21, 2007 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Tariq, last year the Cap remaining was a valid issue to look at. The Caps have AO, Semin, Morrison, and Kolzig as RFA/UFA after this year. A large part of that number is going to them.

I'm sure they are open to renting a player with some of that space, but who is trading right now? Doesn't look like too many teams.

Sign Anson Carter?

Posted by: Stop with the Cap Figure | October 21, 2007 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Drury has not been on the ice for a Rangers even strength goal since opening night. Jagr has been on for one. Gomez has no chemistry with any one right now.

Posted by: Could be Ragners | October 21, 2007 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I understand they've got folks who need to get paid next year. But what about this year? Can they afford another last place finish? I don't think so. Did you see the attendance at Thursday's Islanders game?

Posted by: Tarik | October 21, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Good points Tarik! Nice to see some realism. Right now it looks like we only have 4 legit top 6 forwards (OV, Nylander, Backstrom, Kozlov). Getting Semin back gives us 5, but we are still 1 short. I am not sure we can wait until rent-a-player season, so any chance of a Forsberg or Selanne? A one year signing like that would have no impact on the cap next year.

Also seems crazy now that neither Nylander or Backstrom are centering the top line. I'm sick of hearing about all of the "chemistry" OV and Kozlov have in practice. It's clearly not translating consistently in games.

Posted by: Sean | October 21, 2007 1:41 PM | Report abuse


By "something's got to give" do you think it's a possibility that Hanlon might be let go? I mean, if we have the offensive forces of Ovechkin, Nylander, and Kozlov, I would have to assume it's the coach that's not getting his job done. And if so, who would you suggest we pick up? Would Hartley be a good fit or would he simply not be interested in coaching Washington?

Thanks in advance,


Posted by: Trevor | October 21, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

This is the first time that I've actually thought about the team's performance affecting my future season ticket purchase (though I know for many people the two are closely tied together). However if the season continues as it starts, and no changes are made to coaching staff during the season or the off-season, I will probably not renew for next season. If the organization so obviously doesn't care about winning (Motzko on the 1st power play unit for more than one game? Really?) then I'm not going to continue spending money for the privilege of watching them lose. How many seasons are we expected to accept failure?

Last night all I could think watching the power play was "don't these guys read the Post?"

Posted by: Jill | October 21, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Agree 100%. But I put a lot of the blame on giving quality ice-time to the 2007 equivalent of Kevin Miller (heck, Kim Miller was loads better than Motzko).

Nothing has changed in the WAY the caps play the game. there are new faces...but the same miserable tendencies. What does that tell me? Coaching. Dean and Glen have to go. Now. We can't wait until we are ten games below .500 to pull the trigger. Then it WILL be too late. This team needs a wake up call now. This team needs someone who can coach special teams now. This team needs someone who will put the best players on the ice now (not just the latest turgid call-up from Hershey). Too many players on this team are giving it their all...and it is unfair to them, to the fans and to the man who signs their checks.

Posted by: Dan - DC | October 21, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Bottom line is they stopped the free agent signing too early. We needed a least one more guy upfront.

The other question now is how much of this is coaching.

Posted by: Melissa | October 21, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I'm not one to 'blame the Ted for not spending $'. that $13 Million will be spent on Ovie, Semin and even kolzig (but his will probably ne a 1 year deal, you know what I'm trying to say).

I hate to say it, our special teams are special for the wrong reasons. I think that comes from the way they are set up. Yes the players need to be held accountable but at the same time when everything fails, it has to be the coaching. Just my 2 cents...

motzko still sucks

Posted by: Go Skins Go | October 21, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Tho, here's a question. Is something else going on in that room that we don't know about? Is there stopping else that is stopping the chemistry from developing, the power play clicking?

Posted by: Melissa | October 21, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Coaching definitely comes into question. So does skill. Take a look at the best shutdown lines in the league. Take a look at the #1 lines we put on the ice. He's had two 20 goal campaigns his entire career. He has a career 9.14 shooting percentage. Kozlov is centering the top line. Meanwhile, Nylander is mentoring Backstrom on the 2nd. Yet, Hanlon hasn't put Ovie-Nylander-Backstrom together on the top line. Why? Because they think that it stretches the other teams defense to have two scoring lines. Realistically, we dont have 2 scoring lines. We have Ovechkin, running around the ice.

We have career AHLers and those destined for careers in the AHL trying out for a first line spot alongside the best thing thats happened to Washington since its inception.

We have a defense made up of kids and castaways. Sutton was available. He's no spring chicken but he's rather intimidating. He's a top 4 on any other team. He's a top 2 here. He's in long island now.

Pens fans, nested around me like buzzards, kept asking "who the @#$@ is Motzko?" That was embarrassing. Especially when I see Recci and Sykora on the ice.

The Caps, for all their puck moving defensemen, shy away from each and every hit. Ovie hits everything he can. Once in a while another player steps up, if its easy and convenient. Otherwise, I watch this team shy away from almost every opportunity. I watched Kozlov pull up after a Pen passed the puck, instead of making him pay for it. Sure, there are hits on the card, but they're BS. The highlight of last years hits on the jumbotron were rather sorry, with the exception of Ovechkins.

WHo the hell are Dean Evanson and Jay Leach? What is there job again? Have they been any good at it in the last 3 years?

Since when is Matt Pettinger a top flight shut down guy?

Its the beginning of the season. There are a lot of games to play. Atlanta noted a problem after 7 straight losses. We're up to 4. Something is obviously not clicking, looking at last year, the preseason, and this year. The problem doesn't start and stop at Hanlon, its organization wide. I don't mean anyone should be fired, either. I dont mean anything, actually.

I'm just laying out facts.

Posted by: M- | October 21, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Tarik -- thanks for the reality in this entry. I appreciate your insight.

The Caps started out hot,and fooled long-suffering fans into believing things had changed. That's obviously not the case. This is the same mediocrity that we've seen over the last few seasons, except with a few more expensive players. I don't blame Leonsis because he opened his wallet this time. GMGM, I blame partially. He did get some upgrades, but not enough to ice a completely competitive team. Hanlon -- I've tried to support, but I'm done now. He doesn't seem to be motivating the players, either that, or maybe because he was a goalie, just doesn't comprehend other parts of the game. How long does it take to see that a guy like Motzko, although he might be able to play 5-on-5, does not belong on the PP? How difficult is it to see that Schultz needs more time in the AHL? Why do you insist on playing guys on positions they don't normally play? It might be time for Ted to clean house in his team management.

The Caps gave me hope this year with the first two games. However, just when they should have continued that effort and built up points for the inevitable slumps later in the season, they let themselves and the fans down. This lack of points will haunt them later in the season.

As a fan since 1980, I hate to see myself write this, but I almost don't give a damn anymore. It's beyond frustrating to go into games, expecting the team to lose, only to be surprised when they win. To consistently lose to Cindy Crosbytch and the Pens, or that piece-of-crap that soiled a Caps uni -- Jagr, is unbearable. I don't know that sacking Hanlon is the right move, but it can't be any worse than what's going on now. It sucks that we already have to be thinking -- "There's always next year."

Posted by: Puckdawg69 | October 21, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse


Eid Mubarak.

Motzko is the worst excuse for a hockey player I have ever seen. Simple skills like catching a pass and passing to someone's stick seem to be completely lost with him. Why is he here??!!! Bring up Bourque or someone with talent. Also, DON'T PUT A HERSHEY CALLUP ON THE FIRST LINE!! Give him Brashear minutes on the 4th line and promote someone like Laich to play with Ovi. I've always been a huge Hanlon fan but this idiotic decision is really making me scratch my head and wonder what in the world he's thinking.

Also, Backstrom looks solid defensively. Let's put him at center where he belongs. Our team would be much better with:


Let me know your thoughts.

Thanks Tarik.

Posted by: Sabah | October 21, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Sabah -- I like your lines, except Flash. Until he shows me otherwise, he's just not ready for a top-6 job on a team that actually wants to be good.

Posted by: Tarik | October 21, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse


Have they ever thought about putting Brashear in front of the net during the PP's? I remember they did that a while ago and it worked pretty well. No one can move him, he's huge and he's actually a pretty decent hockey player.

Also - do you think it might be time for Hanlon to get the axe?

Posted by: UhOh_GameMisconduct | October 21, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse

UhOh-- I don't feel a coaching change is in order right now.

Scotty Bowman would still have Motzko and Fleischmann as his top two right wings until Semin comes back. Bowman still would have a defense that has an average age of 26.2, the youngest in the NHL.

Posted by: Tarik | October 21, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse


That's why we need to move Backstrom to center, so we can get a real RW in Kozlov. We have to settle for Flash right now since we don't have anyone else. Motzko is just terrible though, and with every second of icetime he gets, especially in crucial situations, I get more and more frustrated.

Posted by: Sabah | October 21, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Folks, the harsh reality is that OV and Semin will not be back with the Caps next year. They are both too young and too talented to be playing for a team that doesn't seem to have a direction....or discipline. You know any one of the 29 teams out there is going to pony up huge offer sheets to get those two players and with OV's mom calling the shots for him, she's going to jump on the highest dollar from the best team. It's been a great three years having them in Capitals uniforms, but it's going to suck watching them play elsewhere next year.

Posted by: Mitch | October 21, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Tarik - someone needs to question the lineups Hanlon is putting on the ice in key situations. An AHL dude lives his dream from heshey to top line? When is someone going to start asking questions about the coaching decisions....McPhee has given him many more tools and the results are the same thus far. Early? yes. Too early to worry? Uh, no.

Posted by: CjnPigs | October 21, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Do you really think that Scotty Bowman would keep a 30-goal scoring RW on his third line over two AHL players with little proven ability in the NHL?

Granted, Clark has seen some time on the top line here and there but it seems as though the coaching staff is keeping that safe, reliable option open only as a last resort. Also, would Scotty Bowman not put his $5M playmaking center on the same line as his best finisher? Both are questionable decisions.

It seems to me that these sort of line experiments should have been done in the preseason, when points didn't matter. Instead, the coaching staff is experimenting now (partially thanks to Semin's injury) and it's costing them points. They know that they can't afford to give away points at any point in the season and yet that seems to be exactly what they're doing by not having their act together.

Getting Semin back will help the offense to an extent but this team remains below average when it comes to passing and offensive play away from the puck. I wouldn't expect a coaching change just yet either but I do wonder just how able the staff is in getting these guys prepared and getting the most out of the talent they have at their disposal. Too often this doesn't look like a team so much as a collection of individual players.

Posted by: Langway | October 21, 2007 4:13 PM | Report abuse


Scotty Bowman might have those guys in his top six but he would also call every player out as to why they're not leaving everything on the ice every night. The caps have one player who leaves everything: AO. There are twenty-two other guys on that team that need to ask themselves if they are worthy of playing on the same ice as Alex. And if they can't which is obvious it's up to the coach to make changes. And if motsko is the solution he needs to be

Posted by: Darryl Hockey | October 21, 2007 4:18 PM | Report abuse

tarik, since flash isnt an option on the wing, and i tend to agree with you, what do you suggest as a solution? a different call up? someone from outside the system? trade? if so, who?

Posted by: im disgusted | October 21, 2007 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Those stats are very disturbing. But what's worse is watching that futility in person against the pens, ugh. I know we're missing some important pieces but this team is still way to talented to be playing like this, seriously why is Motzko out there? I'd rather Pettinger get a try or even Sutherby for that matter. And if your going to call up someone why not Bourque?

Posted by: captnclark | October 21, 2007 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Frankly, I think everyone is hating Motzko way too much. He's looked decent with Ovechkin and Kozlov. Sure, he's a less effective Clark, but he is fast, and he is creating havoc away from Alex. He's doing what he should be doing.

However, i completely agree with everyone that he has no place on the PP point. In the two games he's been there, he's not gotten a single shot (off, even) on goal and has mishandled the puck out of the zone too many times. I would rather see Pothier than Motzko.

I would rather see Green, there. Obviously, he's leading the second powerplay backline, but i'd rather see him and Poti together, making 1 good backline, than see two weaker ones.

And Poti hasn't been anything special. Green has been by far the second best player on the team. He and Alex have truly established themselves as the talent on the team, thus far. I want to see Green get the #1 PP point, and see Poti demoted.

We need a wake-up call, as a lot of you have said.

After these past four games, seeing practically no change (though I think that the game last night, overall, was much better than the previous 3) in the systems, I think it might be Hanlon.

But, to be fair, who would come in?

Can anyone suggest someone better?

We sure as hell don't want GMGM to come down and coach, do we?

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | October 21, 2007 5:04 PM | Report abuse

If Klepis had played well and if Fehr wasn't injured, one of these guys would be filling these spots.

Posted by: Mac | October 21, 2007 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Tarik, good posting and keep up the good work. I agree, with Ovie's mom calling the shots, I don't know if he will stick around. If he leaves, you might have to start thinking of relocating this team. If they put Clark on the first line, you are taking two steps backwards to take one step forward. I know I banging my head against the wall like Gus Ferrotte, but people, if you are going to make a coaching change, it has to be Bruce Boudreau. He is the guy who knows most of the players compared to someone else on the outside. If he doesn't work, than yea, try to get Dale Hunter. I said this last year than Hanlon wasn't the guy. I like Nylander and Poti is ok, but Victor Koslov is horse pucky. McPhee needs to go just as much as Hanlon.

Posted by: Pete Peeters | October 21, 2007 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Tarik you sound like the losers on this blog. Give it a chance, the season is early and Hanlon is still getting to know the new players. I have my thoughts, like playing either Backstrom or nylander up with OV and Koslov, but I have neither the experience, the knowledge, nor the reason why Hanlon is doing otherwise, I will defer to him and his coaching staff. Anyone, who thinks that the organization does not care about winning is simply a fool.

Posted by: boreski | October 21, 2007 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Tarik, thanks for putting a dose of reality to this so far miserable season. In your opinion, are the Caps, especially the skilled ones, just not playing to their ability or is the team really just this mediocre and noone should be surprised at their 3-4 record? thank you!

Posted by: Wanggo | October 21, 2007 5:09 PM | Report abuse

CAPS need a real scoring threat other than ov. buy scoring threat i mean someone who gets hot and scores 3 or 4 goals a week for a week or two.
not a bunch of guys who look good on paper or had career years last year.
this will fix most (not all) of their problems.

Alex played his arse off the last couple of games in the offensive AND defensive zone. He is going to get sick of loosing soon.

Posted by: LIVINIT | October 21, 2007 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Those jumping on Motzko, he worked hard to get to a position where he could succeed- it was McPhee and Hanlon who put him in way over his head and set him up for failure. That's not on the player. He's just doing what he's told to do, as best he can. Don't blame the messenger for the Caps' lack of depth and preparation. That's on McPhee's doorstep, and Hanlon's the "Welcome" mat.

As far as Semin goes, I think we fans are kidding ourselves if we think he comes back before November, but we shall see. They already set him back once trying to sell a few more tickets to one game (or maybe they were hoping for a few more STHs), no reason why they won't do it again.

The team management and their media seem to be vacillating between the next game or Vancouver for his return, which kind of tells me they just hope to get a few more fannies in the seats hoping to maybe see the guy back on the ice and staunch the bleeding until management can come up with another excuse.

Posted by: crowesnest | October 21, 2007 6:09 PM | Report abuse

oh let me also agree that if the caps dont turn things around by the end of next season their future in DC has got to be in ?

the freaking bears can draw 10k a game.

Posted by: livint | October 21, 2007 6:13 PM | Report abuse

It all comes down to McPhee. What is the return from Gonchar, Lang, Bondra, Jagr, Nylander, Grier, Konowalchuk?:

Mike Green and Shaonne Morrisonn? That's ridiculous! His drafting record is no better (and probably a bit worse) than you would get from some chump armed with the Hockey News.

And what is the evidence that Glen Hanlon is a good hockey coach?

Posted by: mrmoa | October 21, 2007 6:17 PM | Report abuse

As has been said a million times, Motzko is a joke. The fact that he plays the point on the PP is ridiculous. Bruce Boudreau who has proved he can win in the AHL as a coach should be hired if the Caps don't turn this around this week.

Why is that I turn on a game and watch the Lightning stack their top lines and play all their top guys 25 minutes , and yet all caps fans talk about is how great our 3rd and 4th lines are. Can we just play our top lines and forget about mixing everything up all game? If you want goals, play your "puck possesion" game....that doesn't mean boyd gordon and joe motzko lead the team in ice time.

Flash got 12:46 minues, Backstrom got 15:16, Clark got 15:17, Nylander got 16:10.

MOTZKO GOT 16:33!!! MORE THAN ALL OF THESE GUYS!!! No wonder we can't score, we play scrubs all game. HOW DOES MOTZKO GET MORE ICE TIME THAN NYLANDER! Motzko doesn't even play the PP in hershey and yet Hanlon gives him a chance.

The caps have two home games this week, if they lose them, Hanlon should be fired.

Posted by: Rob | October 21, 2007 6:18 PM | Report abuse

I agree, you guys are killin Motzko and all he is doing is playing on the PP cause the coach put him there. He shouldn't be on the PP right now. He is playing fine 5 on 5. I have no problem so far with his play in those situations. He has played 3 games. He and Clark should switch places in my opinion.

Motzko will be back in Hershey this week once Semin is back and Bourque isn't coming up anytime soon so knock the Bourque comments off.

Schultz needs to be back in Hershey. He is not ready to play if the Caps are thinking playoffs.

Oh, and hate on Crosby all you want but he is 8-1 vs the Caps and has an MVP.

Posted by: PaCap | October 21, 2007 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Being 13 million under the cap is a big issue because it is room to bring in a top line right wing to play with Ovechkin and Kozlov, or hopefully Nylander at some point.

Posted by: Dan | October 21, 2007 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Intended to tape last night's game but the tape screwed up. Apparently I'm happy it did.

Hanlon's not getting the job done - I think he's a good coach (skill and system wise) but sometimes being a good coach isn't worth squat if you can't bring out the best in your team. The game against the NYI three nights ago was prime example of what a coach means to the team.

We're down two goals and everyone is playing like trash. OV buries a goal after a lost puck at center ice (they practically passed it to Motzko) and the entire team picks it up. For several minutes, the entire team has a spark, and we're rewarded with a goal from Flash of all people. Then we take a dumb penalty, get scored on, and play like trash again.

If Hanlon knew how to talk to his guys in the locker room this never would happen. We have 19 skaters who want to win but expect to lose. "Oh well, we tried" is what Hanlon is saying to the media and it's exactly what is going through players' heads after the GWG is scored. OV goes out there and gives 100% every shift only to be surrounded by players who just want the night to be over so they can go home.

We need a coach that lets players have just that. If they don't want to play when they're on the ice, bench them. No one should be safe. If it means sitting a guy like Pothier for a game and forcing him to watch Schultz play like a girl then so be it. Messages need to be sent.

Part of me thinks a lot of people are overstating the problems personnel wise on this team. We can win with what we've got and Semin back. Fix the lines to put Backstrom at center and Kozlov on the wing (I agree w/ everyone else who's said this). But more importantly, fix the mentality this team has.

I can't take any more of Hanlon's post game comments - until he starts recognizing when he's making the wrong calls this team is doomed.

Players I like:

Players on my bad list:
Flash (there are times when he doesn't want to be out on his shift)

Players who need to prove themselves:
Olie & Johnny

GMGM - show me why I still have some faith in your decision making abilities and GET SOMETHING FOR OUR 10 PLAYER TRADE FODDER!

(Emmy, Sutherby, Clymer, Bradley, Laich and the list goes on...)

Posted by: Raber | October 21, 2007 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Kozlov is either out of position right now or just isn't as good as anyone thought. The team spoke of how OV and him had great chemistry, but I haven't seen it. In fact I haven't seen anyone have great chemistry w/ Ovie and it's going to be hard to because he mostly takes over himself.
The best immediate move is to take Nylander and Backstrom and put them on Ovie's line. Make Kozlov a RW on the second with Semin and Clark. That's two good lines.
Do something for crying out loud. Stop talking about how well you played when you lost the game!

Posted by: Capfan1 | October 21, 2007 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Great post Tarik,
Thank you for the realism. I admire you for calling it as it is. You have to deal with many of these people daily, but honest criticism maybe the wake up call this organization needs. I've said many times this team needs major changes from the top front office down to the edges on the blades. Looking at the schedule, a move behind the bench would probably come either 10/29, although on the road it gives the new coach two days to work with the team prior to playing the Rangers. The latest opportunity would be 11/10, giving the new coach four days to work prior to playing divisional teams in Florida. If the decision isn't made by then, pack it in. You guys may rip me for saying it, however the points you lose in Oct. & Nov. are the points you need in March and April.
Interesting comments from Hanlon, "We have two players who played in the American Hockey League last year and one player who has played in seven games," he said, referring to forwards Joe Motzko, Tomas Fleischmann and rookie Nicklas Backstrom. "If you go through the rosters of a lot of teams, that's not their makeup of their top six offensive forwards." How many excuses can he come up with? It also sounds like a shot at GMGM, I wonder if GMGM is smart enough to see it coming. The old, "I can't cook the meal if I can't shop for the groceries." Face it Glen, if you can't run the bench, do you think you deserve a shot running a club." Can someone please tell Hanlon "the rebuild is over"; (hopefully not to include new coach, GM, Scouting, and President of operations) this front office doesn't want another high draft pick b/c they have proven they can't do anything with it.
Moving on, Dale Hunter would be the first choice only if he is able to bring in his own people and run the team the RIGHT way. Boudreau is a proven winner as well. Either one of these choices would be a change in mindset for this club and would prove this team is serious about winning, and not just a gimmick image. If this club doesn't get a legitimate front office, they will continue to perform to the name sake of its President of Operations, Dick ....................................... Patrick.

Posted by: someone else who knows | October 21, 2007 9:49 PM | Report abuse

I don't bellive Motzko Even had a chance to play for the bears so far this year. When he comes down he will be on the PP, he is a proven AHL goal scorer. Also just so everybody knows Ben Clymer Scored twice in the home opener against Rochester last night.

Posted by: Dan The Bears Fan | October 21, 2007 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, the point isn't to hate on Motzko. He hasn't done anything wrong. He got a chance and he took it. Maybe he could be a good contributer. The point of hte matter is that the top line consists of a guy with only 2 20 goal seasons and a rotating door of fellas who have trouble cracking an NHL lineup, to play along side a world class talent. 7 games in, the team has been outplayed in the last 5. Yes, they played many in few nights. Yes they played teams that were very good last year. Yes, they were missing their #2 scoring threat and their #1 Pk/defensive center. At the end of the day, the issue is the lineup. The team claimed they wanted to build from within but the pieces they had to play with were castoffs and young guys who were thrown in with high draft picks. Are we all being too judgemental? yeah, the team needs time to gel; more than just a few preseason tilts and a handful of reg season games. What is really bothering a lot of people though is the fact that the mngt and ownership started saying things like the rebuild is over when all they picked up was #4 or 5 dman, a number 6-8 forward and 1 first class center playing on the 2nd line while the team struggles for goals.

Posted by: 007 | October 21, 2007 10:00 PM | Report abuse

"Last night all I could think watching the power play was "don't these guys read the Post?""

Nope...they read the Times so they can charge us over $240 for a autographed stick ;)

Posted by: Chad | October 21, 2007 10:05 PM | Report abuse

for all those message people, motzko was the message to lazy play & bad penalty forwards on the bench, in the minors, and on other lines.

can't blame motzko for this loss. not his fault he was put on the 1st line & pp. that's a management issue and issue of other players blowing their chances. if they put me on the top line, is it my fault if they lose?

flash underperforming on the top line is different b/c of long-term expectations and time w/ the caps.

that said, there are good teams w/ equivalent records (& bad teams w/ better record). effort was better last night. we'll see what's next.

Posted by: jim | October 21, 2007 10:06 PM | Report abuse

$13M under the cap. gee, i wonder what they will do with it? perhaps sign OV and semin to long term deals? or maybe to take on players at the trade deadline. tarik, seriously, are you insinuating that they should go higher on the cap and risk not being able to fit those guys under the cap long term? each is going to get 5-7M a year no doubt. there's your cap.

the team outplayed the pens last night, with the exception of the pathetic power play. the difference was that the pens play well together since they have been together and not constantly being shuffled around and wondering who's playing RW this shift. hanlon needs to figure out his lines and stick with them. i saw OV w/Kozlov. sometimes steckle a center w/ koz an RW and then clark at RW. its a joke. no wonder they can't generate any offense. i expected a little of this since there are so many new guys, but c'mon.

i have confidence that they will turn it around...

Posted by: Cap Fan 1 | October 21, 2007 10:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure that anyone blames Motzko for the loss. He was put in a position that was way over his head. That's not his fault. I'm sure he did his best. The problem was that the coach put him in that spot. In the process the coach put the team in a position that it couldn't succeed. If the team doesn't capitalize on opportunities, they won't win. If the team has a 5 on 4 advantage, you lose the advantage if you put a weak skater on the ice. It becomes a 4 on 4.

Having a weaker player on the most powerful line weakens that line. The strong players can't depend upon the weaker one.

That's coaching.

Posted by: Greg S. | October 21, 2007 10:27 PM | Report abuse

This Motzko bashing has to stop. I love it that everybody blames a guy who has played three games and two of them he played pretty well in. If you hate Motzko this bad you then have to hate everyone else because besides AO and Gordon, no else has done much better than Motzko.

Posted by: James G | October 21, 2007 11:51 PM | Report abuse

No one is blaming motzko for anything. the reason the team is losing is due to coaching. (and playing scrubs on the top line.) but I have seen all three games...and the kid (27?) is in way over his head. he was awful. not the reason we lost 3 games. but just brutal to watch.

Posted by: dan dc | October 22, 2007 12:14 AM | Report abuse

Well, well, well. Isn't this amazing. Just look at how many have suddenly come out of the woodwork, SAYING ALL THE THINGS I'VE BEEN CONSISTENTLY LAMPOONED FOR, FOR THE LAST 1 1/2 YEARS. Unbelievable! I guess my faults were that I realized these things long before most of you, or that I had the courage to speak up, and call em like I saw em.
Oh, well. It doesn't really matter. I forgive all you Johnnie - come latelys. I really do. See how magnanimous I am? However, next time don't be so eager to criticize Puckguru. Remember, he wasn't given that name for nothing. He earned it as a result of his keen insights, and profound understanding of the game.

Posted by: Puckguru | October 22, 2007 12:19 AM | Report abuse

Pucktard, stop. It's not about you, it's about the Capitals.

Posted by: czechsmix | October 22, 2007 1:08 AM | Report abuse

We're through seven games. That leaves...75 to go? The sky is falling. Only with this team's fans...

Posted by: Metro Desk | October 22, 2007 1:54 AM | Report abuse

Puckguru also has the amazing ability to effortlessly shift between the first and third person in his writing! Why, I'll bet he can predict the Stanley Cup winner right now!

Posted by: Whatever | October 22, 2007 6:24 AM | Report abuse

Metro Desk - I have been in your shoes for many seasons, always forgiving slow starts and maintaining a positive attitude while the Chicken Littles pissed and moaned. If there is anything I've learned from that experience, it's that 5 games quickly becomes 10, 10 games quickly becomes 25% of the season, etc. And at that point it's basically too late to turn the season around.

The typical Caps game illustrates that it is hard to dig out of a hole once you are behind. The same can be said for the season as a whole. We longtime Caps fans are justifiably tired of excusing slow/bad starts every season.

Posted by: Jill | October 22, 2007 7:10 AM | Report abuse

This team always has some excuse. How can the Flyers of last year be 6-1 to start this year? Is it just Briere? How did they become a powerhouse over the summer?
This city's sports teams have more excuses for why they fail then any I have ever seen. Each game the Caps play is for their survival, not only this year, but in the future. One more season like last year, and even us die-hards aren't going to care too much.

Posted by: kenhockey | October 22, 2007 7:50 AM | Report abuse

the only one to blame is the coach he must go

Posted by: jhon | October 22, 2007 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Hanlon has to go. Preferably himself, without any outside help. Glen, take the blame, leave yourself. You will be remembered as someone with dignity and self respect. Admit that you did yout best and just leave! Please!

(Take GMGM with you)

Posted by: Finn | October 22, 2007 8:52 AM | Report abuse

MetroDesk -

How many teams DON'T make the playoffs by one or two games? Even though it's early; even though there's a ton of games left in the season, these games are the ones that could come back to bite us in the keester. We're trying to find our legs with this new team of ours. A lot of our competitors also are trying to do the same. This is prime time to gain quick ground before the others find their footing. It's being lost.

On the salary cap. I don't necessarily subscribe to the philosophy of the Rangers. Just because there's room at the top doesn't mean you use it. When you compare the salary expenditures of Detroit to Carolina when Carolina made a run for it (and a game of it I hasten to add), Carolina made it to the finals on the comparative cheap. In a different post, I recommended a few players that would be the types of skaters we could use. Their salary range was +$800K to $1.6M. Considering you'd be giving up a few skaters in the process, the net hit to the budget would be negligable, and possibly none.

Posted by: Greg S. | October 22, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Hanlon needs to go. Period!

Tarik, I really respect you, and your coverage of the Caps, but there is no effing way that Scottie Bowman would EVER put Joe Motzko on his 1st even and PP lines. There's just no way. The guy couldn't make the team in camp, so why would you all of the sudden throw him on the 1st line? It makes no sense. He's just searching for a diamond in a trash pile. This team looks horrible right now, and if the coach can't make adjustments and motivate his team, then he needs to go. I have no idea who they would get to replace him at the moment, but there has got to be someone. I just don't know what coaches are available.
It needs to happen, and soon.

Posted by: jwh37 | October 22, 2007 9:58 AM | Report abuse

well, all the calls for Hanlon to go are fine -- but you need to start with finally removing the architect of this mess and lost decade: McPhee

Posted by: stevens86 | October 22, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

2 words - Pat Quinn.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 22, 2007 10:33 AM | Report abuse

This team always has some excuse. How can the Flyers of last year be 6-1 to start this year? Is it just Briere? How did they become a powerhouse over the summer?

No team can be considered a 'powerhouse' 7 games into an 82 game season.

Posted by: slappy | October 22, 2007 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Nylander or Backstrom must become the 1st line center NOW! (It should have been at least two games ago.)

When Ovie was excited about the free agent signings, I would imagine he was expecting to play with a true center, not with a right wing just because he's also Russian.

If they lose the next game, bring in Boudreau or Hunter as coach. Hanlon appears to be a nice enough guy, but he doesn't show or inspire any passion. We don't need a nice guy as coach.

Posted by: "Change Is Good" - Leonsis | October 22, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Fascinating installment and subsequent comments.

Caps management, except for the Jagr debacle, has been trying to get the most out of the least. Hanlon is the best example of that. He really is a great college or minor league coach. He seems to be a good teacher of the game. But he is no Scotty B.

Bowman might have had those guys out there as you suggest, but they would have played with much more discipline as well as the rest of the team.

Another point: for all this time of rebuilding the Bears, what happens to these guys when they get to the show? The Bears have two great back- to - back seasons and they aren't translating it here. Back in the day when Scotty was leading Les Habitants, they never missed a beat when they called up someone.

And as far as what the team is reading, they seemed to have read everything after their first two games. The Caps did come out disciplined for two games, and then they read how they are going to the playoffs. Oops, forgot, 80 more games between now and then.

It is still early to reach for the panic button; October has never been their month-- The International Horse show is a HUGE priority (the opera of sports). Along with this schedule of few week-night games and several games clustered around the weekends, it is hard to get into a rhythm. If this play continues into November...

Posted by: Clarendon | October 22, 2007 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I don't disagree with the fact that these are games/points we need to have. All I'm saying is that it's a looooong season, and that after 7 games -- 3 of which were played at home -- people are already talking about cancelling season tickets and/or jumping out of third-storey windows. I understand the sentiment...but I'm not ready to throw in the towel just yet. Give this thing time to come together. Remember how poorly Ottawa started last season? I'm not comparing the Caps to the Senators, but the point is that a slow start isn't always a death sentence.

Posted by: Metro Desk | October 22, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I went to the game Saturday, and I thought the Caps actually did play well enough to win. I do not blame Motzko for the loss, but I was one of the ones asking what he was doing on the ice so much, on the power play and with OV. He is a 4th liner; he showed me (a hockey expert because I have seen a game ;) ) nothing that would warrant him playing on the power play or top line.

The caps have gone back to dump and chase. We are now 7 games into the season. At what point does management look and say, "enough?" The coaching staff has been given an upgrade of talent, perhaps not enough to make for a stanley cup champion, but certainly better than the last 2 years, and they have the same results to show for it. Unfortunately for Mr. Hanlon, his time is up. It's just WHEN the trigger will be pulled. Will it be early enough for the season to be saved, or at the end of the season when two of the Caps top players say "enough" and decide to sign elsewhere. Remember, the New Jersey Devils changed coaches twice while in a playoff race. They didn't wait until things bottomed out. Management say a problem, and they made the changed. We need some decisivness.

Posted by: Lee | October 22, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Amen Tarik!! If they want to make the playoffs.. they need to start taking the earlier games more seriously. I am tired of hearing that it is early in the season. Everyone needs to step up! I thought they played very well on Saturday.. probably the best thus far this season. I don't get why they aren't more consistant. I am also very tired of hearing "well.. we didn't have Gordon.. and Semin is out.." 2 players a team does not make. If they do, then we are in big trouble. What happened to the depth that GMGM said we have?? I thought we were supposed to be able to survive some adversities?? You are right.. something has to give.. If this losing streak continues.. at what point does the straw on the camel's back break it?

Posted by: LOVEMESOMEALEXx2 | October 22, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Mitch, please leave the fear-mongering to the trolls. The reality is that Ovechkin will be here for a minimum of five more years (including this one) no matter what happens. Semin might not stay for the four more years the Caps control his rights, but that's only because I could see him getting traded at some point.

I actually think that the team has the pieces it needs to be a fairly good team, but Hanlon has shown a complete inability to put the pieces together in a way that fits. Why is Ovechin now in his third year of playing without a quality center on his line? It just makes no sense to me.

I like Sabah's lines. One benefit of them is that they leave only one player playing out of position (whichever of Semin or Flash plays on the right side). Hanlon's lines to start the season had four players out of the top six playing out of position. And people wonder why chemistry is a problem.

Posted by: norske | October 22, 2007 5:52 PM | Report abuse

What are those "follow-the-football" run-in-place things in football practice called again? It's been a few years. That annoying drill at the end of practice is supposed to help reduce penalties by keeping players disciplined and in control of their bodies when they are tired and the pressure is on not to screw up.

Oh wait, this is hockey. Nevermind...

Posted by: austinsteve | October 22, 2007 6:16 PM | Report abuse

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