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New line combos in Ovechkin's absence

Practice just started at KCI and Bruce Boudreau rolled out a few new line combinations as the Capitals prepare for tomorrow's game against New Jersey without Alex Ovechkin. Boyd Gordon, who has missed eight straight games, is the only other player not on the ice.

Fleischmann-Backstrom-Knuble
Laich-Morrison-Semin
Fehr-Perreault-Clark
Laing-Steckel-Bradley

As most of you already saw, Mathieu Perreault was recalled and Keith Aucoin was reassigned to Hershey this morning. The move means that Aucoin won't have to clear waivers the next time he is recalled, because he has played in just eight NHL games so far this season. Once he plays in two more NHL contests though, he will have to pass through waivers if he is sent back down.

More to come.

By Katie Carrera  |  November 3, 2009; 10:44 AM ET
 
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Comments

It's been a couple of weeks since my last post. Just wanted to give an update on our 1st round draft pick Marcus Johansson. He is playing in the Swedish Elite League as a 20 year old and is having a great season thus far. He is a 5'11" 190 lbs center that totaled 5 goals and 5 assists in 45 games last season. This season he already has 6 goals and 4 assists after 15 games. He leads his second place team in scoring even though he is one of the youngest players on the team. To draw a comparison, Backstrom's last season in the SEL he had 12 goals and 28 assists in 45 games, it is a good league. If Johansson can come close to Backstrom's numbers we know we have a great addition. Johannson, and experts, have compared him to Zetterberg. He is not flashy, but he is an effective two-way player. He is the virutally the same height and weight as Zetterberg as well.

If things continue to go well for Johansson it looks like we'll have another good center come next season.

Posted by: fanohock1 | November 3, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Basically, with Aucoin, I doubt we will see him up again until after the trade deadline as a result of the waiver wire, unless we can offload the Nylander contract, then, because if he comes back, he'll be back to stay.

I'd like him to be back to stay, but Perreault is also very good.

Posted by: irockthered | November 3, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Whats the deal with Aucoin being sent down? Wasn't he playing great scrappy hockey with us? Dude was going full throttle every shift! He had 5 points in 8 games while only getting 8.5 min of ice time. what gives?

Posted by: SkinsFanInNYC | November 3, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

one guy out and bb breaks all the lines. I know I am not seeing everything that bb sees, but it sure seems as if he is determined to push semin down, almost showing the way of Nylander.

Posted by: hock1 | November 3, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

irock- Agreed. It's a shame for Aucoin, because he's played very well, but I'm very excited about seeing Perreault again. Very similar players as far as size and skill, but I think Perreault has even more skill than Aucoin which is saying something because Aucoin has above average skills and hockey sense.

Posted by: FunkyGloveFacewash | November 3, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

@irockthered

if we unload Nylander's contract, Alzner or Carlson will be the first one brought up. When everyone is healthy Aucoin won't be with the Caps. When/if everyone is healthy anytime soon(assuming Nylander hasnt been moved)....Perrault gets sent down as well as Sloan or Laing, due to roster limit.

Posted by: ThePat | November 3, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

SkinsFan, it's a maneuver to keep the big team staffed without losing a promising prospect to waivers. Like the man said, 2 more games and Caps can't send him to Hershey w/o offering him to the whole league.

Posted by: redlineblue | November 3, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Is Nylander back at practice too?

Posted by: Andoy | November 3, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Aucoin has been terrific, and I was wondering too why he was sent down.
Here's why:

cmasisak22: Aucoin won't have to clear waivers the next time he gets called up, but if he plays 2 more games he will have to clear if he goes down again

I can see several teams could pick up him from waivers. He is a bargain.

Posted by: CodePoetry | November 3, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

cmasisak22: Ovechkin, Malkin, Kovalchuk, Markov, Gonchar -- that's quite the "Russian Five" ... that are all injured right now.

Posted by: CodePoetry | November 3, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

one guy out and bb breaks all the lines. I know I am not seeing everything that bb sees, but it sure seems as if he is determined to push semin down, almost showing the way of Nylander.

Posted by: hock1 | November 3, 2009 11:05 AM
-----------------------
"Determined to push Semin down"? You win the prize for most stupid comment of the morning.

Posted by: tess2201 | November 3, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

That's disappointing about Aucoin. I was really starting to become a fan of his. He's played great with us.

I did find out some good news, though. Some or all of you may already know this, but despite Nylander being under contract through next season, even if he's still with us, we can avoid his cap hit next season by sending him to Hershey or something else. Basically, no matter what, we'll free up his $4.875 mil cap hit next season. That was great news to me!

Posted by: TheDoubleAlex | November 3, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

The 1st 2 lines have a playmaker (Backs and Morrison), a shooter (Flash and Semin), and a net crasher (Knuble and Laich). Why do some think that Semin being put on the 2nd line is a demotion? This team IMO never really has a 2nd line but rather a 1a and 1b. Both of the lines are EXPECTED to score. When BB black-balled Nylander he had Nylander logging minimal minutes with the 4th line. Semin will be skating 20+ minutes a game.

Posted by: fanohock1 | November 3, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

@codepoetry and all

Aucoin has been decent to good. To say he's been terrific is far from the truth. If he had been terrific and making that much of an impact you keep him up regardless of the waiver issue once he plays 2 more games.

Posted by: ThePat | November 3, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

is it at all possible that with the grind of an 82 game season and the inevitable injuries that teams incur that Michael Nylander will not be needed at some point to actually play games for this team?

Even at 37 and coming off successive injuries he is the third best center on the Caps roster.

Posted by: leopard09 | November 3, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

To piggy back on fanohock1:

Marcus J. has shown a tremendous work ethic the last two seasons. A friend of mine is the team's phys. coach and speaks very highly of this kid. Hakan Loob, the team's GM spoke very highly of Marcus a couple of weeks ago, highlighting his determination and maturity (Loob is known to be cheap on praise). It's also worth mentioning that he is playing on a team littered with quality players (several former NHLers).

Posted by: jakopz | November 3, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

1. @fanohock - Great information, much appreciated. Let's hope he continues to develop.
2. I don't get the sense that the Caps are in a hurry to move up Alzner and Carlson. If salary constraints were removed, they would come up in an injury situation or if there was a clear delta in performance level vs. Caps current d-men. Even though Alzner and Carlson are both playing well in Hershey, I'm not sure that delta currently exists. I have no doubt it will in time.
2. I understand that Nylander's stay in Grand Rapids ends with a practice there today.

Posted by: zmega | November 3, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

What's the worst that can happen if we play Nylander? Eaither he plays well and helps the team... plays like crap and goes back to sitting in the press box... or he gets hurt and is on LTIR... all three seem better then him just sitting around the entire season

Posted by: UMWHockey | November 3, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Thanks also to Jakopz.

Posted by: zmega | November 3, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

@codepoetry and all

Aucoin has been decent to good. To say he's been terrific is far from the truth. If he had been terrific and making that much of an impact you keep him up regardless of the waiver issue once he plays 2 more games.

Posted by: ThePat | November 3, 2009 11:16 AM

It depends on your context. As a 3rd/4th line guy not expected to contribute all that much, he's been good to very good.

I think it's partly because he's been doing so well that they feel they have to do this. I'm sure others have noticed him, and if he were to go on waivers soon, we'd probably lose him.

Posted by: TheDoubleAlex | November 3, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Flash will be very important since he will be doing Ovie's job at even strength. I doubt seriously though he'll be at the point on the PP. I don't know who will do that job. They had Ovie and Green on point, both RH shots. Normally where Ovie plays on PP you have a LH defenseman. You would think Poti would be that person, therefore he might become the 2nd "very important" replacement.

Posted by: tominfl1 | November 3, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

one guy out and bb breaks all the lines. I know I am not seeing everything that bb sees, but it sure seems as if he is determined to push semin down, almost showing the way of Nylander.

Posted by: hock1 | November 3, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

"Determined to push Semin down?" He's been on the 2nd line plenty this season. It's not like it's a demotion -- Bruce is trying to find a place for him, and a way to get him to wake up and play like he cares for more than a couple of shifts per game. An insurmountable task, IMO.

Posted by: CapsChick | November 3, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

The info and prognosis on Marcus J is indeed good. That begs the question - what's up with Baby Gus? They'll always be linked since BG was taken a year earlier in Rd 1.

Aucoin: Yes, the value is what he does for $500K. He averages a pt every other game. As I said before the season, play him all 82 and he'd match production of Feds, Kozzie or Nyles from last year. And worse than getting picked on waivers if they try and then bring him up after that and you get reverse waivers.

Posted by: tominfl1 | November 3, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

cool, Hakan Loob mentioning... still the greatest name in NHL history

Posted by: joek443 | November 3, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Nylander Situation

Big contract with a big cap hit.

A player that can play but won't be allowed to play (with the Caps).

A player & contract the Caps want to move but can't because nobody wants it or don't have contract space for him.

#92 agreed to be traded to Chicago or accept a contract to KHL. Trade rescinded by CHI & no reasonable offer form KHL.

Nylander > Perrault

False Statement - Can't play him, he'll get hurt & then we can't trade him. Why - Grand Rapids.

McPhee's actions on Nylander has been vindictive, unprincipled, vengeful and disruptive.

Posted by: puckman | November 3, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Fleischmann-Backstrom-Knuble
Laich-Morrison-Semin
Fehr-Perreault-Clark
Laing-Steckel-Bradley

Yeah. THOSE are some fearsome lines....

Posted by: TheSuperhoo | November 3, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

To say he's been terrific is far from the truth

By that, I mean that he exceeded expectations, at least for me. If you want me to compare him to other players, I agree, 'decent to good' is where he is.

A lot of people here and in Canada watch Caps playing mostly because of Great Eight. And they take notice of other players too. With Aucoin salary he'll be picked off the waivers in a heartbeat.

Posted by: CodePoetry | November 3, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

don't they have anyone in hershey who can play 10-15 minutes/game in the NHL and doesn't mind dropping his gloves once in a while??

Posted by: joek443 | November 3, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

@joek443

Beagle! He can drop 'em. I wonder why they don't bring him up.

Posted by: CodePoetry | November 3, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

@joek443 and CodePoetry

Beagle has been known to fight once in a while but he's not what I would consider an 'enforcer'. That would be Brandon Sugden or Grant MacNeill (if G-Mac ever gets healthy).

Posted by: tess2201 | November 3, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

speaking of swedes, I'm in favor of retiring numbers 16 and 6...

16, Bengt Gustafsson - the most skilled and best two-way forward the Caps have ever had

6, Calle Johansson - besides Langway the most solid d-man the Caps have ever had

Posted by: joek443 | November 3, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I dont want to get on here to complain as that seems to be a trend but how much longer is Clark going to be allowed to play with this team every night. I understand he carries the C but he has been awful. Whats the deal...

Posted by: Searchingforstanley | November 3, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

@joek443

You constant babble about needing an enforcer or a goon shows how you don't understand the evolution of the game. With the abolishment of the 2 zone-pass rule, hockey has become much faster. As a side effect, most goons of 1980s and 1990s could not follow the play nowadays, especially on the first 3 lines. You no longer have goons playing on the first line like the Dave Semenko of old. Consequentially, for those teams who have an enforcer, they are put out on the ice only when the other teams enforcer is on the ice. I fail to see how this intimidates any good players. Do you ever remember seeing Brash on the ice against Crosby, Datsyuk, St-Louis, etc??
Having Brash in the line up would have,in no earthly way, prevented Ovie from getting hurt. If Brash was put on the ice subsequently against Nash for one shift, the BJ would have either pull him out and send an enforcer if they had one (with no intimidation effect on Nash), or Nash would have score 2 goals while Brash is on the ice.
GMGM is much more hockey savvy than you are, obviously. I agree with him, let's not tie up $1.4 M of cap space for a guy who is only skilled at fighting with the likes of Orr and Laraque.

Posted by: atybat | November 3, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, but I don't see the big deal about Eric Fehr. Nylander would definitely be better. Can someone please explain?

Posted by: Girl1 | November 3, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

@searchingforstanley

You aren't complaining, you are just pointing out a fact. He plays extremely hard, but he has lost a step or two. His line tends to barely play in the 3rd period of games or at least it seems that way to me. I don't have actual time on ice stats to back it up. Hopefully he steps up his game.

Posted by: ThePat | November 3, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I like those line combos...

Please - let's drop the Nylander issue - everyone else has!

Posted by: lylewimbledon | November 3, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

puckman:
McPhee's actions on Nylander has been vindictive, unprincipled, vengeful and disruptive.

i also believe that it is gmgm keeping nyls off of the ice.
i just hope that some of the other core players (semin, backs - very soon) do not take this into consideration during contract negotiations.
i lot of people knock nyls for sticking around, but a contract should be honored by both parties - much like a gentlemens handshake. i don't believe the caps are treating nyls very fairly right now

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | November 3, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

@fanohock1 - Very cool news. I needed some good news today. Thanks! :)

Posted by: irockthered | November 3, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

This is probably a look at Perreault who is a finesse type player and good playmaker almost the level of Aucoin. Thoroughbred in waiting is definitely Beagle who has size and is a banger but not specifically a fighter - just won't take anything - and is what we need in a NJ game. Showed lots in his call up last year and hung around for the end of training camp; just needs afew more muscle pounds to his frame. BB likes everyone to experience a call up, so this will be Perreault's. Say good bye to Aucoin and his one-way; he's as good as gone when trade time arrives.

Posted by: rockdaredlangely | November 3, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

@hock1 - Someone else said it, too. "Lines" in hockey are not the same as "first string / second string / third string" in football. The top two lines on a hockey team - this one in particular - are really 1A/1B.

We think of the lines in terms of numbers because that's easy, but what it really is is: scoring line A, scoring line B, energy line, checking line, and they are all important for different reasons.

After all, the "starting" line is very seldom the same as the "top line" in Boudreau's team. I don't see putting Semin on the "second line" as a demotion.


Posted by: irockthered | November 3, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Lyle-

Yes, lets sweep the dirt under the carpet and pretend it doesn't exist and everything else is nice & orderly. Yeesh!!!!

$4.5 mil is a tremendous amount of dirt.

The Nylander situation is having an impact of this team and the continue rotation of players to & from Hershey.

When he's gone and no longer a member of this organization, we can drop it.

Perhaps we should blame all this on Ben Clymer's buyout instead.

Posted by: puckman | November 3, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

From Rotowire and confirmed by Expressen (swedish news)

Update:
Forsberg (foot) is expected to play in the upcoming three-game Farjala tournament in Stockholm, and will and make a decision about playing in the NHL soon after, according to the Denver Post.

Recommendation:
Forsberg's foot has reportedly completely healed, he’s been training with a local Swedish junior team, and according to sources in Sweden “looks great” on the ice. NHL teams rumored to be interested in his services include Colorado, Philadelphia and Washington.

Posted by: jakopz | November 3, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

If scoring is a problem with Ovie out for more than a game or two, they have to bring up Giroux, don't they? Giroux has well documented deficiencies, but the man does put the biscuit in the basket.

Posted by: zmega | November 3, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Nylander's situation is disruptive to the entire team, not just whatever revenge McPhee et al seem to be executing.

Let him earn his keep and self respect, even if GMGM has none.

Posted by: dogdaze | November 3, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

GMGM is much more hockey savvy than you are, obviously. I agree with him, let's not tie up $1.4 M of cap space for a guy who is only skilled at fighting with the likes of Orr and Laraque.

Posted by: atybat | November 3, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

LOL yeah you just wait till next time some other scrub goes after one of our stars... the ides is to PREVENT these incidents NOT what to do about it after it's already happened

if you think that dude from columbus would have gone after OV like he did if the Caps had a real enforcer, you're outta your mind.

Posted by: joek443 | November 3, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

one guy out and bb breaks all the lines. I know I am not seeing everything that bb sees, but it sure seems as if he is determined to push semin down, almost showing the way of Nylander.

Posted by: hock1 | November 3, 2009 11:05 AM
------------------------------------------
The game isn't until tomorrow. The lines may change a couple times before then. Also, I think Semin on line 2 is more about propping Flash up than putting Semin down. Everyone knows that BB is in love with Flash. He just wants to give him a chance.

With Ovi out indefinitely, I wonder if they will put him on LTIR? As much as I love Ovi and wish he could play tomorrow, his $9 million cap relief will allow a number of young Hershey players to be called up. Everytime I see Tavares, Kane, van Riemsdyk (sp?) and other young guys contribute to their teams, it makes me want to see the Hershey guys even more.

Posted by: ablake70 | November 3, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

puckman "McPhee's actions on Nylander has been vindictive, unprincipled, vengeful and disruptive."

I keep waiting to understand some wise strategy behind McPhee's actions. If it is nothing more than vindictiveness, then shame on him and pity for the Caps organization. I find it hard to believe that the coach and owner would just agree if McPhee was acting on emotions rather than the benefit of the team. I do agree that the actions vs. Nyls, in themselves, seem unprofessional and irrational. Why doesn't an analyst somewhere offer at least conjectures?

Posted by: caraveli | November 3, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Smart move to send down Aucoin. The team can't afford to continue to lose prospects without compensation. He got a good showcase, which hopefully increased his value.

Posted by: JohninMpls | November 3, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Perrault? Ugh. Next time they'll call up someone from the Little Caps rather than give Nylander a jersey.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | November 3, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, are we really talking about putting Ovie on LTIR so that we can bring up lots of Hershey Bears? It's not really that long a drive up to Hershey, and I encourage all to go there to see them play.

Posted by: zmega | November 3, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Hey, at least it's not Yanic Perreault (although he could probably still win a faceoff).

Posted by: JohninMpls | November 3, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

About Ovi:

I have to say that Ovi's absence is not our worst problem. I am REALLY worried and frustrated by the team's inability to overcome chronic problems:

1. defensive breakdowns
2. lack of discipline in taking "selfish" penalties
3. not enough grit in being able to crash the opponent's net
4. not being able to maintain leads

Ovi or any new infusion of talent will not help if the team does not work as a team to solve the above.

Could someone tell me why we can't see an improvement in these recurring problems? I am frustrated.

Posted by: caraveli | November 3, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Aarrghh! More Nylander conspiracy theories.

Posted by: zmega | November 3, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I agree with joek. This team needs someone to take the "enforcer" tag off OV. Bradley and Clark are willing to fight, but no one is really afraid of them. It seems more teams fear Ovi's punishing hits than getting into a fight with those two. Maybe they don't need a Brash type, but they need someone(s) who can play on the 3rd or 4th line that other teams fear.

Posted by: ablake70 | November 3, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

An enforcer would have at least done something in response. Ovie is the first player into every scrum for his team. Your star player should not have to do that. Yes, Chimera, Boll and Dorsett were definitely taking liberaties on the ice and why not. It worked, they took OV out of the game and then beat us. When we have a few more players go down to injury because of cheap shots, maybe GM will wake up. So far Green has been hurt and now OV.

Posted by: StanleyCap | November 3, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I said this before, quit worrying about the regular season. Has anyone watched the dreadful teams we are against. We have a 1-2-3 seed NOW. The Atlantic has all 5 teams in the top 8, I know this won't last, but we are in a cupcake division. We have all year to get grittier and tougher. Buy your first round home playoff tickets today, because our division SUCKS!

Posted by: IamThehockeyGod | November 3, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

@JohninMpls

Aucoin is 30 years old. Teams have had years to see him. He is not a prospect anymore, he is a career AHLer.

@caraveli

At some point we have to stop blaming the individual players for lack of defense, selfish penalties, etc. If these problems haven't been corrected by now, you have to look at BB and GMGM.

Posted by: ablake70 | November 3, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

it doesn't neccessarily have to be an enforcer... if a guy like Dale Hunter was the captain of this team, he would have made sure that their best player Nash got a clear message before the game was over.

and to all those who say they would have been penalized and whatnot and I say SO WHAT?? you think one lousy regular season game is more important than protecing your franchise player???

Posted by: joek443 | November 3, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Would you sit Backstrom or BMo to play Nylander? Didn't think so. Nylander's sitting cause there's no place for him in the present system/roster. He seems to be dealing with it much better than some of y'all.

Posted by: redlineblue | November 3, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

i agree, i would rather have a hunter type player over a guy that only gets 5 minutes of ice time and can't skate. we all know what would have happened after that game winning goal in OT if we had a hunter type player. How about Rypien or Tootoo in a caps sweater.

Posted by: StanleyCap | November 3, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

An enforcer would have at least done something in response. Ovie is the first player into every scrum for his team. Your star player should not have to do that. Yes, Chimera, Boll and Dorsett were definitely taking liberaties on the ice and why not. It worked, they took OV out of the game and then beat us. When we have a few more players go down to injury because of cheap shots, maybe GM will wake up. So far Green has been hurt and now OV.

Posted by: StanleyCap | November 3, 2009 1:03 PM

Columbus didn't beat us. We beat ourselves with two dumb penalties at the end of the game. The sooner people realize that all an enforcer would've done in the situation is taken a 2 minute instigator right after our PP the better. Hell, an enforcer might've even taken a 5 for fighting w/o the opposing player taking anything - since it's clear Chimera didn't want to go with Clark or Bradley.

OV's injury happened because Columbus had 7 players on the ice and decided to start something. If he hadn't been skating by the opposing bench, he wouldn't have been swarmed by 4 players at once. How is an enforcer going to fix that?

Smart teams aren't afraid of enforcers because of the instigator rule. If Brashear were here, and decided to "answer" for what happened to OV, he'd probably be suspended and then we wouldn't have an enforcer for a few games anyway.

OV's hurt and it sucks, but let's not come to the rash conclusion that we need a boxer on skates to take up a roster spot.

Posted by: Raber | November 3, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

why not, we are taking one up a spot for a guy that is making 5 mil to watch the games.

Posted by: StanleyCap | November 3, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

THIS IS NOT YOUR FATHER'S NHL, DAMMIT!!!

$!@^&*$@%^$&()%@)!$!

GET OVER IT!!!!!!!!

Posted by: irockthered | November 3, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

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