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Tuesday Practice Notes

Viktor Kozlov is back in town after spending an extra day in Florida to visit relatives, and David Steckel is back on the ice after missing yesterday's practice with the flu (thought he still looks sick).

Some other items of interest:

*Prospect Sami Lepisto is on the ice. Still no word on how long he's going to stick around. Based on his play Saturday, he deserves a longer look.

*Defenseman Tom Poti (bruised thigh) is also skating, and appears to be moving better than he did yesterday. I'll check on his status after practice.

*Olie Kolzig is wearing a special jersey today. On the back, it's got his No. 37 over a puzzle piece. The jersey will be auctioned off to support Kolzig's charity, Athletes Against Autism. The other players will wear a similar jersey for the morning skate on Wednesday.

*Also, Bruce Boudreau's nine-year-old son Brady is here at KCI and will be interviewing players about random subjects. Brady has done this before, and the new videos will soon debut on the jumbotron in Hershey (and perhaps in Washington).

Update:The forwards lines have not changed. Meantime, Poti said he'll play tomorrow and it looks like Lepisto will be sticking around at least through tomorrow's morning skate. Kolzig will start in net vs. the Islanders, who will be facing a full strength Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin said he has fully recovered from the stomach bug that dogged him on the road trip.

Steckel, on the other hand, came off early. But Boudreau said he thinks the checking line center will be good to go tomorrow.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  February 19, 2008; 10:45 AM ET
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Next: Isles Limp Into D.C.


Stecks needs to stay away from the rest of the team if he still has the flu!

Glad to hear Poti is skating...though I'm guessing he will still be out of the lineup come tomorrow night.

Posted by: Jill | February 19, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Are the lines the same? I'm most interested in the always-changing second line...

Posted by: capthis! | February 19, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Any trade deadline news? Do you think the caps will make any moves?

Posted by: capsfan08 | February 19, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

the lines are the same.

Posted by: Tarik | February 19, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Any updates on Chris Clark's status?

Posted by: Clark17 | February 19, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

When are they going to auction off the jerseys? The last game of the season?

Good to hear Poti's back, but I still don't think we'll see him tomorrow.

Posted by: EricS | February 19, 2008 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Clark and Pothier are not skating.

Posted by: Tarik | February 19, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Does Eminger still suck?

Posted by: Bob | February 19, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse


If Clark and Pothier are on the ice/or have any status updates, I can assure you that Tarik wont leave it out of his update.

Does my statement above have your approval?

Posted by: SA-Town | February 19, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

@SA-Town - I doubt it will meet with Tarik's approval because it's a mess, gramatically. ;)

However, I agree that Tarik will post updates on injured players as appropriate, without prompting.

Posted by: Jill | February 19, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Tarik, do you read Japers' Rink? In the last couple days he's had posts on two big, big issues facing the Capitals: Mike Green's contract situation and Brian Pothier's concussions.

Posted by: Blog reader | February 19, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I agree, those posts at Japers' Rink are very good.

I followed the link in the them to the stories in The Star about concussions - very disquieting stuff.

Tarik, do you think it's possible Pothier's career might be over?

Posted by: dmg | February 19, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Hey Tarik... watch out! I'm here to steal your job!

Muahaha, wink wink ;)

Posted by: BRADY BOUDREAU | February 19, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Tarik - what's your favorite ice cream?

Posted by: keef | February 19, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Check out the newest Caps blog

Posted by: DC ONE TIMER | February 19, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

clarkie is hands down my favorite player in the NHL, if it wasnt for him i wouldnt be a caps fan...i have followed him since clarkson and im sure everyone agrees that he is sorely missed. i know i am stating the obvious, but im just saying. he'll be back for the P******* though.

Posted by: capsfan08 | February 19, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

When pointing out one's "gramatically" challenged posts, it is important to spell "grammatically" correctly.
Just sayin'...

Posted by: Shaggy | February 19, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

@ Shaggy - touche. ;)

Posted by: Jill | February 19, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

touché? :)

Posted by: keef | February 19, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Japers' Rink

Wow, good stuff. Thanks for whoever recommended it, count me as a future reader.

Posted by: Yosh | February 19, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Lets go Bruins!
Lets go Montreal!
Lets go Pittsburgh!
Lets go Ottawa!

Posted by: JSchon | February 19, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse


Will you help me lobby for spell check on this thing?

Posted by: SA-Town | February 19, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse


As a dyslexic, I'll vote for that. And what sicko psychologist decided that dyslexia should be spelled like that? You have any idea how tough that is for us to write?

Posted by: Greg S. | February 19, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse


I think the first order of business is to get the system to stop occasionally repeating wrapped words.

Interesting that Poti will play tomorrow - wonder what kind of TOI he will see?

Posted by: Jill | February 19, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I missed the game on Saturday (well I snuck away to watch the last 10 minutes of the third) because my girlfriend decided to have a birthday party. I scolded her for not checking the Caps schedule ahead of time.

What were the D pairings on Sat?

Posted by: Sombrero Guy | February 19, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

J.P. does a really good job. I read him all the time.

But you have to remember that I'm a news reporter. Bloggers are free to speculate, assume things and draw conclusions that a beat writer for a newspaper cannot.

I enjoy reading J.P.'s stuff, but I've got to be considerably more careful with the tone I take and the conclusions that I reach.

Hope that helps.

Posted by: Tarik | February 19, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse


Any relation of Neil Schon of journey?

Posted by: dave | February 19, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

If you were a tree, what type of tree would you be?

WOW!! I just got a brilliant idea! Why don't we ask every player the smae qusetoin and see waht type of forest makes the Capitals.

Posted by: x | February 19, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to see Lepisto play against NYI. The "E" boys can be scratched.

Of course, since the game is blacked out by the NHL Network, I won't see the game, even if the Capitals put Tarik on the blue line. :D

Posted by: Caps fan in TN | February 19, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

@JSchon: I pray that this is the last time we'll have to cheer for all four of those teams in one night... Do we have to root for the Pens though? I'd just as rather there's a power outage in the arena and the game gets canceled...

Might add "Let's go Columbus" if we want the Leafs to sell out.

Posted by: Raber | February 19, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I hope Lepisto gets into the line up on Weds. He deserves it after what he did in the Tampa Bay game. From what I saw, he plays better defense than Eminger and Erskine.

Posted by: Lowell | February 19, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

One comment on Lepisto:

Anyone worried we'll Eminger the poor kid? Sure, bring him up while we're undermanned, but give the kid some time to develop while he's still young. Playing 3rd line D minutes is not what he needs.

Posted by: Raber | February 19, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

@Jill and Greg S.

Real hockey fans cant spell. If you are a good speller....take it to the golf board.

Posted by: SA-Town | February 19, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Its been a few years since I've rooted for other teams than the Caps(All of us here for that matter). Rooting for PIT is tough, but they're in and FLA is on our backside. Maybe they could just quit the rest of the season because the thought of the NHL talking about OV and not Crosby is too much for them to take.

I am not related to Neil Schon, but I bring the house down singing Dont Stop Believ'n at the Royal Lee.

Posted by: JSchon | February 19, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Trade Eminger.

Keep Lepisto.

Posted by: strungout | February 19, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Raber, I don't think you need to worry. Eminger has waiver issues, Lepisto doesn't.

There's an article on Green on CBS Sportsline. Nothing new, Hanlon system bad for offensive D-men, Boudreau set him free.

Posted by: tallbear | February 19, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

A few weeks ago, I said we needed to go 18-9 to get into the playoffs (93 points) - I also said that we needed to get 10 points out of the current 7 game stand before we hit a nasty 9 games span with NJ, Boston, MN, Pitt, Buf, CGY, etc. In which I was "hoping" to get 10 points there as well. However, we may need more than 10 during that span.

So, here are the results so far:

18-9 ... we are currently 2-2-1 with 22 games left. To get to that magic number 93... we need to get 15 wins and 1 tie.

Here we are in the current 7 game span:

We have 5 points out of a possible 14... with 4 more points to grab. So, instead of getting 10 points - it looks like we could only get 9. We need them! 9 of 14 possible points - not bad...

For all of you that are wondering why 93 points - well, over the past few seasons - 92 points have put teams into the playoffs. I don't see why this year would be any different.

I will get this back up in a few more games. The tough 9 game series starts with the Devils on Feb 24th. That run will show true character. It would be nice to have Clark back by then, but I know probably won't be back until mid March.

Posted by: 828 | February 19, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

As for Lepisto - I like him. I think he skates better than any other D-man out there. He has not made any mistakes that have hurt the team out there. He reminds me of Pothier a bit. I think he will be alright... I agree - sit the "E" boys...

Posted by: 828 | February 19, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse


I can think of one reason this year would be different - it might not take 93 points to win the SE division and hence make the playoffs.

Posted by: dmg | February 19, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse


I completly agree - however, I don't want to rely on that. Just trying to be safe. I would like the Caps to win the SE and have at least the 7th best record in the Eastern Conference.

But, if a bone is thrown our way - I'm not going to complain how it tastes.

Posted by: 828 | February 19, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Although 93 points might not be needed, I'd like to think that we wouldve made the playoffs without winning the SE.

Getting in is the bottomline... but doing it in style would be nice...

Posted by: JSchon | February 19, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Things will surely change by the end of the season, but as of today the Senators are on pace to win the East with 102 points. Last year the winner of the east had 113. Similarly, last season there were 3 teams that had under 77 points for a full season, where Tampa (the last place team in the East) is on pace for nearly 78 this season. The East is simply more balanced this season.

From a points per game standpoint, the Caps actually are leading the Southeast, and are on pace for 85 points (just SLIGHTLY ahead of Carolina). Ultimately, unless a bunch of teams fall apart down the stretch, the division is likely going to be won with around 90 (or even fewer) points, and the last playoff spot is on pace for 90 points as well.

Getting 93 this season is almost certainly a division title, or at the worst a 7th or 8th seed.

Posted by: Jeff | February 19, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

I would like to win the division, but still have enough points to be a 7th or 8th spot.

If the SE division leader gets into the playoffs and has less points than the 8th seed, there are going to be some serious questions especially if the SE team wins a round. Folks are already complaining about this, and I somewhat see their point - but then why have divisions?

Posted by: cs | February 19, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

cs - that is how all sports are - if they are complaining... oh well. Every single sport is like this - The Steelers were a wild card when they made the playoffs... I think the Red Sox were a wild card as well when they won the World Series.

I really doubt the SE winner will not have a better record than the 9th place team. The team who wins the SE is the team who gets hot in the division games at the end of the season.

I just set up a plan so they don't have to scrap for points at the end. Again, I hate close games and I hate not knowing if the Caps are going to make the playoffs. Just get on a 10 game win streak or something...

How cool is that Philly is 2-8-0 in their last 10 games. I hope they don't make the playoffs... although, I wish that was Armpittsburg and not Philly.

Posted by: 828 | February 19, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Folks probably are complaining more just because it's the SE. Doubt the old divisional playoff system would ever make a comeback. I can see a "division winner guarenteed top 4 seed" change, though.

Posted by: tallbear | February 19, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Just spoke to an inside source and apparently the Blue Jackets are interested in seeing if the Caps want to deal away Pettinger, Emiger, 2nd rounder for Federov.

I usually dont believe everything that my inside source from thie org tells me, but just say that there is something along these lines on the table.

You know, for what it's worth...

Posted by: anonymous | February 19, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

But that is how ALL sports are - why would they make hockey the exception? A team could make the playoffs with a sub .500 record - that's if their division teams have a worse record than them. Again, that's in ALL sports - Basketball, Football, Baseball, Soccer, World Cup...

Posted by: 828 | February 19, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

If you take the number of points we have plus the number of remaining points at BB's win rate, The Caps are on pace for 89.6 points. 62 + (.628 X 44) = 89.6

Eighth place has been hovering around 90-92 points and this is as low as we've been for a bit. If the boys can get back up to the 2 outta 3 pace, our chances of seeing the playoffs at VC are good!

Posted by: TheCapitalist | February 19, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Will the Olie jersey be auctioned off online????

Posted by: Go SOX Go | February 19, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

I watch a lot of football and soccer as well and I don't really have an issue with sending the top from each division. It promotes division rivalry, etc...
The complaining seems to be louder with hockey, specifically with the SE division. Geographical location, i guess. Though DC and the rest of the SE are completely different and I don't like the Caps being lumped in there removed from our old rivalries, but I digress. Though I find it amusing that the "weak" division has 2 very recent cup winners. Can't be all bad ;)

Posted by: cs | February 19, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse


I'm sure the Caps would be interested in Fedorov...if they had lost their minds. He is now an overpaid underachiever on the downside of his career, carrying a hefty contract. The Caps dealt with similar garbage when they brought Jagr here, watching him pout and sleepwalk his way through games, all the while soiling the Caps uniform. Let's hope your inside source is wrong.

Posted by: Puckdawg69 | February 19, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse


I think that your answer about how Japers' Rink is allegedly free to speculate is off-base. There is no reason you couldn't have done a story or two by now on Green's contract situation/status/etc. or on Pothier's concussions, his extended absence and whether or not the team expects him to return (ever).

Secondly, all a blogger has in terms of authority is his/her own credibility. So while in theory a blogger is free to speculate, any independent writer who wants to maintain his/her credibility is at least as careful as someone who is institutionally affiliated, if not moreso.

Posted by: Sec. 430 | February 19, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

I'd rather have a Cape Water Buffalo than Federov.

Posted by: JSchon | February 19, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I'd love to have Fedorov...the more Russians, the better.

Posted by: red army | February 19, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Sec. 430...not to speak for Tarik, but considering injuries are generally listed as "upper" or "lower" body, and are almost all explained as day-to-day, it's unlikely he'd be able to write an "article or two" without speculating a bit. There's not a great deal of credible information being released from the Caps about contract negotations (or at least in the past this was the case), or about injuries.

Posted by: Jeff | February 19, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse


One thing that I think about Lepisto is that he is ready. He's played 3 or 4 seasons in the top Finnish league, which I hear is one of the most similar international leagues to the NHL. He did his development in the Finnish league.

Posted by: Stephen | February 19, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I said this on a previous post, but I'm not to pleased with Fehr's line droppage, all the way to being a healthy scratch. Just when he was really showing something with Ovechkin and Backstrom (albeit not getting on the scoresheet, he was still looking good with those two), he got dropped to skating with Laich and Brashear. He's a scorer, and he needs to be on a scoring line.

Posted by: Stephen | February 19, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Great. Report the issues as thoroughly as possible and include the Caps' (likely) 'no comment.' Just because the Caps act like the Politburo from time to time doesn't mean the stories shouldn't be done.

Posted by: Sec. 430 | February 19, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Sec.430, but do you think Tarik can get the editors to publish such an article? Sure JLC can publish all the injury reports and trade speculation he wants to, but hockey gets maybe a half page a day. He's briefly mentioned that Green's looking for 4-5 mil before.

Posted by: tallbear | February 19, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Tarik has two outlets: This wonderfully helpful blog (checking it is always the last thing I do before I leave for Verizon Center or before flipping to Joe & Craig) and the dead-tree edition. There's room.

There's a big, BIG difference between Mike Green wanting $4.9 million and Mike Green wanting $4.1 million.

Posted by: Sec. 430 | February 19, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

@Sec. 430

If I wrote that Brian Pothier's career could be/is over without talking to his doctor, to the player himself and/or the General Manager, I would be a former beat writer. Quickly.

I did, however, write a little while ago (I don't remember if it was on the blog or in a chat) that negotiations between Green and the Caps are ongoing. That's still the case.

Posted by: Tarik | February 19, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Has Green actually said what he is looking for, however? As far as I know, the 4-5 mil per year was an estimate based on other deals that have been signed by comparible players. So, who really knows at this point if Green is hoping to get 4.9 or 4.1, or 6 mil? It's tough to say what his value is, beyond saying it's likely somewhere between Whitney's and Phaneuf's deal.

Posted by: Jeff | February 19, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

the 4-5 mil was based on a source that I spoke to two weeks ago when the talks started.

that's a big range because there's a lot of give and take when it comes to the term.

Posted by: Tarik | February 19, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Didn't Laich sign a contract last year that would put him here through next summer (2009)? If so that would mean that Japers Rink was wrong in stating that Laich is a restricted free agent this year. I could have sworn he was signed until 2009...

Posted by: K | February 19, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

The difference between $4.1M and $4.9M is all about what the team would get back in RFA-related compensation. If Green wants $4.9M/ and thinks someone will give it to him and they do (and if the Caps don't match), the Caps get four No. 1s back from the team that signs Green.

If Green wants $4.1M and the Caps won't go there, it would cost the offer-sheet-offering team a lot less....

Posted by: Sec. 430 | February 19, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

K, and both show Laich as a RFA after this year.

Posted by: tallbear | February 19, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

I found was a one year deal but why would we do that if he's still going to be a restricted free agent...I guess it wouldn't matter if we didn't want him that correct? I don't know so I'm asking.

Posted by: K | February 19, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

it was an arb. award, I believe.

Posted by: Tarik | February 19, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

I appreciate Tarik's briefings on how the journalism business works -- regarding stories, rumors, space issues and more -- for all of us on the blog.

I work in a newsroom myself -- albeit, at a MUCH smaller newspaper than the WaPo -- but I still enjoy the "how" and "why" explanations.

Posted by: Caps fan in TN | February 19, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Do you by any chance know if there are any summer internships available at the Washington Post for rising high school seniors (preferably in sports, but I'll take what I can get if anything's open)?

Posted by: Alena | February 19, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

What is up with the ripping Tarik segment?
Tarik, I think you do a great job with the BALANCE of covering the team while being with the team all season long, year after year and getting the information out to the public. Thank you and the Post for this forum as well.
By the way, how much longer is left on gmgm's contract with the Capitals? Does it expire this June?

Posted by: someone else who knows | February 19, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I was told that GM's contract coming out of the lockout was three years. But he could have signed an extension. The Caps guard that info. But I'm working on getting the details. One of my sources always finds out.

Posted by: Tarik | February 19, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse


Regarding length of Laich's contract. Let's take an example. If a player has 4 years of RFA eligibility left, but is up for a new contract, the team should be pushing for a 3 year deal, giving them the option to not resign him after that 3 year deal, and still get compensation if another team signs him.

I don't know Laich's status, but I would assume the 1 year deal he signed was because he had 2 years of RFA left. Giving us one more "evaluation" year with him before letting him go for a draft pick or resigning him.

I hope we bring him back, though. He's one of our best defensive forwards with a nice short-handed touch...

Posted by: FFS Enough | February 19, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Ahh..I get it. Thanks for the explanation!

Posted by: K | February 19, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Thanks you. Are you sure it's the Caps and not the gm that likes to guard that information, or the way it's to be presented? I appreciate your work.

Posted by: someone else who knows | February 19, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Some more Info on UFA vs RFA:
It is 100% age based. Previous to the new CBA, any player younger than 31 was an RFA.

Since the start of the new CBA, the age has dropped 1 year per year to it's final value for next season, 27. Laich tunrs 25 in June, so I am unsure why his last contract was so short. Either way, look for the caps to extend another year or two with Laich to still have RFA rights to him following his next contract.

Posted by: FFS Enough | February 19, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

As far as Tarik's reporting goes, he has to stick to the facts. he has to get reliable sources, and then double check them. Otherwise you would end up seeing a biopic about Tarik in your local theater within a couple years called "Shattered Glass 2: Even more shattered".

Anyway, I am excited that Flash has been producing but was disapointed that Fehr got demoted so quickly. I thought he was doing good work crashing the net and along the boards etc, even if it was not showing up on the scoresheet. That being said Flash is now showing up on the scoresheet so who am I to question the move. I think Fehr has a future with the caps, especially if he is able to train at full capacity in the offseason.

Posted by: Sombrero Guy | February 19, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Hey, guys! Remember all the chatter here about how much the AO deal was going to be $11 Million? We hit that one on the head, didn't we?

How much Green is shooting for, or what's on the table or not on the table is pure conjecture.

IMHO $4 Million sounds like a lot to me for his services.

Posted by: Greg S. | February 19, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, so Poti will skate? That's good. And here's the good and the bad news: As of this moment
Bos: 1
Car: 0

Fla: 1
Pit: 0
Rooting for Pittsburg is painful but those cats need to be kept down...

Posted by: ratgurl | February 19, 2008 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Make that 2-0 Boston :)
good stuff

Posted by: ratgurl | February 19, 2008 8:47 PM | Report abuse

@ ratgurl
3-2 Boston but in a shoot out. Darn point!!! And 2-2 tie right now w/ pens/florida.
Malkin has officially taken the lead in the scoring race

Posted by: pixie | February 19, 2008 9:58 PM | Report abuse

So have we found the kryptonite to our team's Superman? I kid I kid. Happy for ya Ovie. Now dedicate a hat trick to her tonight.

Posted by: SOmbrero Guy | February 20, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

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