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Posted at 1:44 PM ET, 11/27/2010

Tom Poti misses practice; Mike Green skates

By Gene Wang

The Capitals conducted a brief practice this afternoon at KCI, and among the notable absences was defenseman Tom Poti, who has been in and out of the lineup with a lower-body injury. Coach Bruce Boudreau indicated the move to hold him out was precautionary in advance of tomorrow's game against Carolina.

Poti played one of his most complete games of the season last night in a 6-0 victory over Tampa Bay, scoring the final goal and logging the second-most ice time on the team. He also helped the Capitals kill off a five-on-three penalty by blocking a shot even after he got cross-checked to the ice.

"We talk to him, and we make sure he does his off-ice stuff to keep his legs strong, and it's all maintenance with him," Boudreau said. "If it was a 7 o'clock game [tomorrow night], he would have taken today off and practiced tomorrow morning, but it's a 5 o'clock game after a game, and we didn't want to push it."

Meantime, defenseman Mike Green, who missed last night's game with an undisclosed ailment, participated fully in practice and said he would be in the lineup against the Hurricanes. Green missed three games earlier this season with what was believed to be a hurt shoulder.

With Green ready to come back into the lineup, the Capitals assigned Brian Fahey to Hershey. Fahey, 29, was in the locker room following practice gathering his belongings and saying goodbye for now to his teammates after collecting the first point of his NHL career last night. He has played in five games for the Capitals this season.

By Gene Wang  | November 27, 2010; 1:44 PM ET
Categories:  Mike Green, Tom Poti  
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Next: Statistical analysis: Don't count Alex Ovechkin out just yet

Comments

Poti was awesome last night, and his PK work in particular was stunning.

I'm very impressed the Caps were able to put together the defensive effort they had last night with this corps.

Posted by: Justafan | November 27, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Boudreau should keep Fahey around in case either Poti or Green have trouble during the game on Sunday. I suppose the GM makes the final decision though.

Posted by: hockeysense | November 27, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

The bad thing about last night's nearly flawless win is that many bloggers here will expect the Capitals to repeat the exact same results (6-0 win) for the remaining 58 games.

Posted by: puckman | November 27, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

puckman: You are 100% wrong IMO. I don't believe anyone here expects the results from last night every game from here out. That would be preposterous. For one thing, the Lightning played a weak game. Some times the opposition dictates. For another thing, the Caps can't be that perfect, and lucky, every time. Sometimes you make a mistake, sometimes the puck bounces the wrong way.

What we expect, what we hope for at least, is the Caps give that kind of effort. It's the effort that counts. Give the effort, hope for the results (which are much more likely if you have the effort).

What everyone here expects is for the Caps to play LIKE they did last night and not like they did against the Devils and Thrashers.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 27, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

@tom

I like the headline and presser...I say run it.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | November 27, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

@puckman

Yes, some people might expect the Caps to play like they did last night every night for they have the talent to do so.

Okay, I'm being sarcastic to some degree.

I know it's not possible to win all the time no matter how much effort is put into things. (as TominSoCal pointed out in last post.)

It was clear early on that it was not Tampa Bay's day. Their players were tripping a lot during the first period, especially in the offensive zone a fair amoung.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | November 27, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

@tominsocal1

I also think it is preposterous to think a team can give a playoff style effort for every regular season game. Look how beat up and exhausted teams are after the SC finals, and that is after about 23 games or so.

To give that sort of effort for 82 consecutive games would exhaust a team before the playoffs started.

Like Knuble told Ovie, you have to pick and choose your times in the regular season. It's just the nature of the game. Relaxing during some regular season games will help teams be more healthy when the playoffs start. As long as a team knows how it has to play in the playoffs(which I think the Caps are learning and you can see in their defensive effort when they try hard during games) that's all that matters.

I do agree that the Caps need to acquire another center(2nd pairing quality probably, or John Madden esque)and a defenseman for the reasons you stated.

Posted by: sgm3 | November 27, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

The practice report. The Caps schedule had initially stated 10:30 to be the time. At 10:40 or so, I arrived but no players were on the ice until about 10:45 or so, with "everyone" who was coming there by about 11:00.

Lines as follow:
1st: Ovi/Backstrom/Hendricks
2nd: Laich/Flash/Knuble
3rd: Chimmer/MarJo/Fehr
4th: King/Stecks/Bradley

Missing forwards: Semin, Gordon

Defensive pairings
Green/Schultz
Alzner/Carlson
Erskine/Sloan

Apparently, Fahey is back in Hershey (as confirmed on the Caps web site)

Should we try to read the "tea leaves" on what the lines will be based on my observations? If so, it almost seems like we're reverting to old combinations at forward.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | November 27, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I think the lesson to take from a series of games like this is that there's a benefit to losing. No, the sky does not fall. Instead, the Caps re-dedicate themselves to a winning system and prevail.

We know from our 14 game streak last year (in which we played worse and worse with every next winning effort) that winning does not necessarily beget winning but instead a feeling of invincibility.

Posted by: Justafan | November 27, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

flash had better start playing like he means it or is going to find himself scratched for one of the 800,000 wonders

Posted by: ovckn8 | November 27, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Fehr had better pick up his game a bit or he will find himself going the way of the Flash.

Posted by: Justafan | November 27, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

sgm: I think we disagree a bit but I'm not sure exactly what you meant. I think you meant to say that the Caps gave a "Playoff effort" last night and you can't do that every game. If that's what you meant, then we disagree slightly, not a bad thing, because last night was not a "playoff style effort." No, last night was an extremely solid, a near perfect, regular season effort. To paraphrase whoever it was who said it to Dan Quayle during the VP debates in 1988, "I know playoff games, and last night wasn't one."

No, last night's game was what we typically see from the Caps during the regular season when they are on top of their game. If cstanton1 were here though he'd point out in great detail why the Tampa game wasn't "playoff style." For one thing, as CapsFan75 pointed out, the Bolts didn't give too strong of an effort. There wasn't much hitting, notr until after Erskine stapled that one Bolt into the boards. Even then, not much retribution except for the fight. (And I thought the retribution fair because, although hit was legal, it was certainly borderline.)

Anyway, sgm, a wise coach would congratulate his troops on such a fine game but remind them that against rough-n-tumble teams like Flyers it won't be so easy.

You see, Bolts have been getting lots of credit of late but they actually remind me of Baby Caps. Tampa has almost talent of DC. Give them Green and Varly and let's see how far they go. My opinion is they can score like James Bond on vacation but let's see them do it when it counts. As for last night, and so far this year, they look intimidated by the Caps. Imagine that. Now, come playoff time, Downie and St. Louis will show up, but who else from them?

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 27, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Take Fehr out of the game last night and we don't miss him; i'd like to see Hendricks on the 3rd and DJK on the 4th for a few games...once again, though, Johnny E. showed his value to the team (i was torn at the end of the game between rooting for the shutout or Bolts scoring so Erskine's goal would count as the game winner haha....ultimately, i got what i wanted)

Posted by: vermontcaps | November 27, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

@tominsocal - agreed, a perfect regular season game. There is something perverse (and I don't single you out) in all of our fretting about the playoffs, it's a classic case of us worrying only about the destination and not the journey. That was a GOOD game. Can't we enjoy it?

I have some suggestions for the NHL. The playoffs are important and they determine not which team is the best team in the world (there is overlap at times, but not often) but simply which team won a knockout tournament. I think that they should also promote the Winter Classic as a kind of mid season Super Bowl and make it a contest between the two best teams the previous year in their respective conferences, give each of those teams a substantial shot of revenue, and give the players, esp the winning players, substantial bonuses for participating. This will elevate the meaning of the regular season and give this game some real meaning.

Posted by: RedLitYogi | November 27, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Yogi: If the league really and truly wanted to make the regular season more meaningful, there are a number of things it can do.

But to do these things, it would cost money.

Let's look at the NFL. Great example here. Same number fo teams as NHL (actually football has 32) but only six from each conf go to Playoffs. Only six, not eight. AND, the top get a bye week and then a home game in a single elimination tournament. Now compare that to what the PT winner got last year - they got Game 7 at home in the first round as their reward. Big difference, eh?

Now, put me in charge, and here's what we do:

8 and 9 seeds from each conf have a one game play-in (#8 is home) and then must travel and play the first seed the next night. Plus, #1 seed gets five home games out of the seven. #2 seed also gets five at home against the #7 seed. #3 seed gets five at home against #6 IF #3 seed had more regular season pts than #4 seed. Otherwise, #3 seed only gets four at home. #4 vs #5 is traditional 4-3 home ad.

You can say they don't do it this way in basketball, but BB for whatever reason home team has much larger advantage. Maybe refs, I don't know, don't bother watching that sport.

The regular season in the NHL should mean more. Without the money consideration, one could argue to put six in the playoffs each conf and give #1 and 2 seed a bye for Round 1. Winning the PT should mean more than just an extra home game vs Montreal as it did last year. I know some will say I'm changing the game that's been around for 100 years, but they only had four teams in the Playoffs for the first 60 yrs.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 27, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Yogi: BTW, I don't find it preverse actually this "playoff fretting."

There's an old saying: "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."

Well, you can imagine where I'm going with this one. As a long-time Caps fan, I've been led down the playoff altar and jilted, oh, maybe a half-dozen times. All those series up 3-1 only to lose. The ugly Islander series with Huntsy dumping Turgeon. The shame of three straight game 7 losses at home. The knowledge that had we kept Scott Stevens, we would have hoisted once, twice, maybe thrice.

It isn't perverse. It's called "gun shy."

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 27, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

I know Leonsis or any other owner would never let it happen but if I were BB, I would give up the "home ice advantage" and start every playoff series on the road.

If you have a good playoff team, it's actually an advantage for your team to start on the road because as everyone knows there is NO home ice advantage if you actually look at the winning percentages.

Posted by: joek443 | November 27, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Not to mention this team has lost 3 outta the last 4 game 7s at home.

Posted by: joek443 | November 27, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse

joek: Actually, part of the advantage a team should get for being the higher seed is to dictate which games it gets at home.

You have good point. Even within the conventional 4-3 home advantage, Caps as higher seed should have option (as football team winning the toss) to either kick or receive. Limitation could be that either way first four games must be 2-2. Boudreau could therefore take two on road and then four straight at home and game 7 if nec on road.

My point is that higher seeds should have some choice in the matter as a reward for the regular season.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 27, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

@ tominsocal1: I like your train of thought about making the regular season more meaningful. Since the NHL is never going to reduce the number of playoff teams, although that's the best and easiest answer, somehow there's got to be a bigger advantage given to the higher seeds than just the 4-3 alignment. Right now, the playoffs are like a poker tournament: catching cards at the right time (hot goaltender, a bouncing puck) can win you the tournament even if the odds are against you.

Posted by: eric22 | November 27, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

@tominsocal - I do like the "play in" idea. I don't think the "five games" thing can work, although I completely agree that it would be a more fair approach, it loses the lower seed too much in the way of revenue.

I also (frankly) like the idea of making the Winter Classic into an event with weight, a trophy teams will have to earn the right to play in.

As for the "jilted at the altar" thing - it's understandable, but since the Ovechkin era really kicked in, it seems there has been almost an anxiety - the Caps MUST win the Cup, it's something that should happen. Well, it would be nice and I hope this happens. But the memorable teams win more than one Cup and some very memorable teams don't win any. I'm thinking of the Ulf Nillson/Anders Hedberg era Rangers, for instance. Puck fans remember that team far more than they do the Canes or the Ducks.

Posted by: RedLitYogi | November 27, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

eric22: Well, since you like my train of thought (obviously I've duped you jk), welcome aboard the tominsocal1 Express! Trains run whenver you want and the wine flows like the River Nile (red for home games and white for road).

First let me say we are just back from Albertson's in Canyon Country CA and mrstominsocal1 selected a london broil to make at 2 pm tomorrow so we can rock the red with cab or zinfandel!

Ahh, the sacrifices we make! Like yesterday I popped open a Santa Rita 120 Carmenere (sp?) just at 2 pm to drink along with the game!

(Actually, she just cooked a little piece of the london broil and it's going great with some of that leftover red from yesterday.)

Back to the subject at hand...as a child, in the 60s, living in Detroit, I remember my parents watching the PBA on Sunday's I think with Nelson Burton Jr maybe and Dick Weber. They would do the bowling all week and then on the weekend it would be the Top 5 from the all week scoring playing for the championship (like, Milwaukee Open or something). So, the way it worked, with top 5, is 5 played 4, the winner playerd 3, the winner played 2 and the winner then played the #1 seed.

So, if you were #1 seed for the play during the week, you had the advantage of waiting while the other four seeds played to reach you. It seemed fair to my ten-year-old brain.

In the ACC tournament, the #1 seed has a huge advantage. First, the 5 thru 12 seeds must play an extra game the first day of the tourney and then the #1 seed gets benefit of max rest between games.

So, what else can we do in the NHL Playoffs besides give higher seeds five home games? How bout top seed gets to pick opponent from the bottom four? Before you say, "That's absurd!" why in the name of Gordie Howe not? The final 8 are determined Sunday evening last day and Caps as #1 seed get to pick who they play and if they want 1-2 at home or on road. Why not?

This is called "Out of the box thinking." The #1 seed should get a big advantage. Someting. The #2 seed should get something too. The #3 seed maybe just the extra home game.

There is no reason all teams should enter playoffs on a level ice sheet when they just played for 190 days to determine who had the best record.

That's my opinion. What's yours?

My name is tominsocal1 and I approve this post.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 27, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Yogi: Here's the deal. As a Caps fan, there since like 82 (I started rooting due to someone at work the year they lost out by 1-2 pts before the year they finally made it), the problem was always they we had a really good team but some other team had the better player. Whether Bossy, LaFontaine, Bourque, Lemieux, Jagr, whomever, we'd always do really well and give super effort and then lose because we just didn't have the talent. Either their guy would do better or our guy would choke (like Juneau missing first ever SCP OT penalty shot OK puck was bouncing as ice was bad).

Every year it seems we were the Charlie Brown to the Pittsburgh Penguins being Lucy (with the football). So, finally, OUR TURN, we have the best player in hockey! I can tell you, from years of watching, back to 60s, team with best player has a big advantage! OK, finally, we should win! We even won President's Trophy! 121 points like 8th best all-time! Playing the weak Habs with like 86 pts most lopsided in NHL history 35 pts between teams! What's that? We have a 3-1 lead? OK, bring on the next opponent!!!

Well, as Andy Rooney might have said, you already know the rest of THAT story. And it's ugly.

Did Gretzky ever lose a series like that? Yes. Did Lemieux? Yes, of course, see Pens-Isles 1993. Did Ray Bourque? You bet, probably half a dozen. Does it make me feel any better? Does it make you feel any better when your car breaks down to know that someone else's car also broke down?

No.

I think, you know, that I'll just have another glass of wine.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 27, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Crosby seems to be getting better and better and Ovi seems to be stuck where he is, since the start of last year Crosby even has Ovi beat in goal-scoring which has always been Ovi's calling card.

Posted by: joek443 | November 27, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

@tominsocal - ah, I envy you the wine!

Enlighten me on the Juneau thing (I must've missed that series, I tuned the Caps out a bit in the mid 90s...) Did Juneau miss that shootout in the final with Wings? (I'm not thinking his making it would've made a difference...)

Posted by: RedLitYogi | November 27, 2010 11:26 PM | Report abuse

Yogi: Juneau missed a penalty shot, in overtime, I think Caps vs Pens. Don't remember when, maybe it was the game Lemieux got tossed for fighting and then later bought pizza for his teammates in between OT periods. I recall watching on TV and Juneau carrying the puck and ice was all choppy and he never got off a clean shot. Could've maybe been same series Gonchar giveaway leads to clinching Pens goal. Hard to say it just seems like all the bad things couldn't've possibly been in one series. So many bad memories incl McEachern chopping at Calle Jo from behind and getting away no penalty and Calle Jo unable to play for three months. Jim Carey turns into a chump to lose one series. In another Dino gives his face to put Caps ahead and Kevin Stevens scores at will to bring Pens back. So many years; so many nightmares.

I try drinking it away, but I just can't seem to forget. If only I could put my head on my pillow and that I might shake the past. I pray that God might have sympathy on a Caps fan. But why should He?

Posted by: tominsocal1 | November 27, 2010 11:53 PM | Report abuse

@tominWE'RE-BROKEcali

Great posts. The so called "haters" don't expect to win like that every night, but the Caps can start to play "Team Defense" every night. Holding the Bolts to 17 shots after the 2 games we had the last 10 days is great news.

GOOD GOAL TENDING, BALANCED SCORING, TEAM DEFENSE ====== STANLEY CUP !!!!!!!!!!!

It is time to wash away all those bad memories !!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | November 28, 2010 1:03 AM | Report abuse

@tominsoca.

Great response to puckman. We're looking for effort here. That's all we're asking.
Ont team wins this thing, and it takes a monster effort to pull it off.

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | November 28, 2010 2:04 AM | Report abuse

@tominsocal

Great response to puckman. We're looking for effort here. That's all we're asking.
One team wins this thing, and it takes a monster effort to pull it off.

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | November 28, 2010 2:04 AM | Report abuse

Tom, you are right. Caps kill a late five on three on the road to take a 2 games to none lead. I went to game three an when bondra scored to make it 2-0 in game three, I thought the cap center was gonna crumble due to the noise. Lemieux lost his mind and attacked Todd krieger. Then, a linesman got in one of our player's way which led to a two on one and Pissburgh scored. That was the turning point. Nedved scored at about 2 am an the caps lost the series 4-2. The thing I remember most was this one pissburgh fan running through the concourse screaming with his hands in the air.To this day, I regret not punching him in the face lol.

Posted by: Dizruption | November 28, 2010 2:20 AM | Report abuse

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