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Varlamov faces shots, nears return

Lots going on at GM Place this afternoon, so let's get right to it:

*David Koci has escaped suspension for his dangerous check from behind on Mike Green, according to the Denver Post's Adrian Dater. Koci only received a fine for the hit, which left the Caps' defenseman with a black eye and nasty gash.

Shocking to say the least, especially consider the league's talk about the need to crackdown on head shots and predatory hits.

"Wow," Coach Bruce Boudreau said before adding, "I'm not going to comment."

*Green and Shaone Morrisonn - both of whom were injured by Koci hits - practiced today and are ready to go, according to Boudreau.

*Semyon Varlamov could be back between the pipes as soon as Saturday, he said after practice. Varlamov faced shots for the first time since straining his groin muscle on Dec. 7 in Tampa. He also said he'll practice fully tomorrow during the morning skate. If everything goes well, he could play in Edmonton but more likely Wednesday at home against Buffalo.

"He's getting better," Boudreau said. "He'll practice full out tomorrow and we'll see if Saturday or Wednesday if he'll get a start."

*The team had its rookie dinner last night. The bill was split by Karl Alzner, Varlamov, Michal Neuvirth, Quintin Laing, Kyle Wilson and Tyler Sloan. I'm told Wilson, who was just called up, and Sloan, who paid a share last year too, were given a bit of break.

Alzner said he called his credit card company ahead of time to warn that there would be an "expensive" expenditure. He was worried about the company thinking his card had gotten stolen and then declining the charge. So that should give you an idea of the cost.

*I wrote a story for tomorrow's paper on Alzner, who is set to play his first big league game in his hometown. He told me he was a big Trevor Linden fan as a kid, but didn't come too may games because a) tickets were hard to get and b) he was traveling a lot himself.

*I wish I could tell you what Alex Ovechkin said after practice. But I couldn't get within 10 feet of his locker stall. You think Ovechkin is popular with the media back home? It's borderline insane in Canada.

Anyway, that's it from here. I'll check in from the morning skate.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  December 17, 2009; 6:48 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Koci: 'My purpose wasn't to hurt' Green
Next: Morning roundup: Thinking less helps Alzner


Varlamov should get around 30 wins, if that happens and he finishes with similar stats, you are looking at your Calder winner and a Vezina finalist...

Posted by: JSchon | December 17, 2009 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Not that that matters all that much other than to us, but him winning the Conn Smythe would be a better deal...

Posted by: JSchon | December 17, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: nickiefan83 | December 17, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Glad we at least have some good news re varly

wanna bet koooochi koo wasn't suspended bc green and mo are "ok". Kudos NHL on continuing to be an inconsistent waste of space

Posted by: mrszilla | December 17, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

If this knucklehead says that "he didn't mean to hurt him" then what is he doing going full speed right into the numbers from behind from 15, 20 feet away? When will the NHL and especially the players (circular firing squad?) figure out that this great game doesn't need goons taking out the talent. Brashear, as endearing as he is, nobody is buying tickets to see him. They want to see the beautiful game played well by people like Ovie, Backs, Sasha, and Greenie. geesh when will these people get a clue?

Posted by: Landshark | December 17, 2009 7:12 PM | Report abuse

How on Earth did Knci not earn a suspension?

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 17, 2009 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Looks like the Pens/Flyers game is being shown on CSN tonight. Pretty good game so far. 1-1. Rupp and Asham already went at it at 7 mins in. I hope they beat the hell out of each other again.

Posted by: Fro_ | December 17, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse


As usual for Pens/Flyers, I will be supporting Philthy.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 17, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Glad to see the League continues it's inconsistent disciplinary policies. Perhaps after more of our players get injured due to these types of plays, maybe the team, as well as the fan base which is buying the "power play is our enforcer" Kool-aid will wake up and realize that all the wishful thinking in the world will not eliminate these types of incidents from the game.

In every day society, there are very severe penalties for crimes such as murder, yet these horrible things still occur. Obviously, I'm not making an attempt to equate a charging or boarding situation to someone who loses their life. However, people who are bound and determined to commit transgressions against the applicable law continue to exist. As I soapboxed yesterday, it's much more effective to deter the crime than to penalize after the crime is done. Sadly, yet again, the League has provided ample reason for the Caps to abandon this "we don't need a toughguy" nonsense. And, seriously, I think as knowledgeable hockey watchers, we can agree that the player in question would not be in the Brashear mold, rather it should be someone who can fit in with the team's style of play and, if not contribute, then at least not be a detriment while taking a semi-regular shift. Now it's up to the scouting department to identify the applicable player. If not already in the Caps' system, then it's time for McPhee to earn his loot and protect his rather large investment in Ovie, Green, and the rest by bringing said player into the line-up as soon as possible. Colin Campbell will not protect the Caps, and when our stars are injured and out, the power play will not be any more of a deterrent than it is now to the nastiness that we have seen with no tough guy in our line-up.

Posted by: MetalCapsFan | December 17, 2009 7:26 PM | Report abuse

I say sign Ogie Oglethorpe and get him in there as soon as possible.

We actually had Ogie for like 6 games in I think 90-91. His name was John Kordic. Got a game misconduct in almost every game he played.

OK, I looked it up. 7 games and 101 penalty minutes. Now there's a stat to be proud of.

Posted by: tominfl1 | December 17, 2009 7:37 PM | Report abuse

flyers suck...Philly feed on's so dumbed down PA style...

Posted by: SA-Town | December 17, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

I love it - Alzner is so organized. Just like me.

Posted by: CapsChick | December 17, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

God I hate the Pens.

Carcillo looks like a rapist.

It kills me to have Malkin on my fantasy team- but I'd have to admit that he's the guy I hate least on the Pens.

Posted by: Fro_ | December 17, 2009 7:59 PM | Report abuse

^^^ 3 random thoughts, btw.

Posted by: Fro_ | December 17, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Kordic's story was a sad one - died at age 27, after drug overdose and struggle with police. As I recall, he had physical talent but simply couldn't harness it. These are the kind of troubled characters that the league seems to want to make a home for. Tom's link mentions that Kordic had a brother in the Flyers organization - now there's a shock.

Posted by: zmega | December 17, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

That is shameful that Koci got onlya fine!!! used to brush it off when people said the Caps get treated the harshest, but we do seem to get the short end of the stick a lot!!

Posted by: capscoach | December 17, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

I firmly believe that Colin Campbell should NOT be making any decisions on suspensions or punishments for any NHL team. His SON plays on the Panthers, and Campbell has now gone beyond the "appearance of a conflict of interest" in my opinion. He suspended Ovie when the Caps were due to play Florida, thereby eliminating Ovie from that game, and he does nothing to Koci (oh, right, a fine---big deal) on an ugly and suspendable hit on Green, and the Avs are not due to play Florida for a long time. I gave Campbell the benefit of the doubt before, but not now. What a joke. It's like the league is writing a parody of itself.

I'm so glad that Green and Morrisonn are okay, and things are looking good for Varlamov to return soon too. So that's good.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | December 17, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse

"The best revenge is living well"-once we hoist the Lord Stanley Cup, it will all be good. I'm ready to move on. Go Caps!

Posted by: AADCDERM | December 17, 2009 9:10 PM | Report abuse

With the recent poor play by Philthy, I wonder what their fan boards are saying about their captain, Mike Richards. I wonder if they're saying stuff like "he's inconsistent since he hasn't scored a goal since Dec 8"; "he either gets a multiple point game or nada"; "he's either white hot or a liability"; "he takes too many penalties".

Here is the skinny on Richards: 13 goals; 14 assists (counting 1 for today); +4 in Plus/Minus; 40 Penalty minutes.

Well gang, we have a player with similar stats to Richards who fans have leveled similar criticisms against. Similar stats both this year and last. And they're only 11 months apart in age. Yes, Alexander Semin and Mike Richards have similar stats, overall. (This year, Semin is lower in the penalty minutes department but it varies which one of them is worse.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 17, 2009 9:10 PM | Report abuse


Yes, Colin Campbell does not sound like he'd be very objective on discipline, with a kid in the league.

He's as objective as baseball's commissioner who, of course, will look out more for the interests of the Milwaukee Brewers than anyone else. (He used to own the Brewers. When he became commissioner, he had to divest himself of the team. So who became the owner instead -- his daughter. I don't know who owns the team now.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 17, 2009 9:13 PM | Report abuse

I'm so disgusted I don't even know what to say. Ovi is tarred and feathered across the league--suspended for his own good many commentators say either because he's the dirtiest talented player since sliced bread (cue in Kelley) or they are saving him from himself with his physical take no prisoners style of play (cue in Le Brun).

I really am not a believer in conspiracies but given that this is an Olympic year and the NHL is wishy washy about 2014 in Sochi and Ovi is the biggest, not the only, but definitely the biggest detriment to the NHL abstaining from the 2014 Olympics and I'm beginning to believe there is a double standard for Ovi. There are regular players, star players, and then a special set of rules for Ovi.

The NHL should be singing his praises, not trying to stuff him in a box. Ovi is truly the bridge between the European and North American styles of hockey. He is made for the NHL. He may be born in Russia and may have gorgeous stick handling and amazing skating but his gritty and physical style coupled with his determination to take whatever anyone or any player dishes out makes him truly unique. Finesse and grit in one package plus an unscripted, unfiltered and appreciative approach with the public and the media--really what more could the NHL want or desire. Give me Ovi anywhere--any day--anytime.

And what would they have done if Green had had a concussion. And what about the fact that Erskin got the instigator when Koci had his back to the wall with his gloves off first.

I am so DISGUSTED!!!

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | December 17, 2009 9:32 PM | Report abuse

agreed capsyoungguns... i really think it would have been a suspension if green or mo got hurt. its a shame the nhl has so few balls that it can only suspend based on the result, not the intent.


Posted by: mrszilla | December 17, 2009 9:42 PM | Report abuse

What would the league have done if Ovi had hit someone the same way that Koci did? Ten game suspension? Not to mention the reaction from the Don Cherry's of the world.

Posted by: zmega | December 17, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Ovie like any other superstar playing a team sport will always have his share of critics till he wins the big prize... and that's perfectly fair.

you really can't be considered a true superstar in sports like hockey and basketball unless you help your team win a championship.

Posted by: joek443 | December 17, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Oh if Ovie did this hit he would have been banned for life. I love how everyone talks about the bias for Ovie... in that Ovie gets away with everything.... hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Posted by: mrszilla | December 17, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Night gets worse... pitts is now one point above us...

Posted by: mrszilla | December 17, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

I don't like Crosby, but I try to avoid bashing him too much because I have several dear friends who are misguided Pens fans. But I have to say this....

I was watching the Flyers/Pens game on FoxSports Pittsburgh and just prior to the start of the shootout they showed a close-up of Sid retaping his stick. The guy has the hands of a teenage girl. I swear his nails looked nicer than many women I know. :-D

Posted by: tess2201 | December 17, 2009 9:58 PM | Report abuse

I've been quite surprised by Crosby's sudden goal scoring prowess this year... for a guy who hasn't scored over 40 goals in a year, he's well on a pace to shatter that mark.

that's not a good sign for the Caps.

Posted by: joek443 | December 17, 2009 10:56 PM | Report abuse


Not sure of your point. What does winning the Cup have to do with the suspension issue? Are you saying that Ovi would be immune from criticism if he had the led the team to a championship? That the NHL gives a free pass to stars after championships but not before. Or are you saying he is not a star player? At any rate my rant had absolutely nothing to do with winning the Cup. Which the Caps will do come this June. Of that I am sure.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | December 17, 2009 10:58 PM | Report abuse

@ Capsyoungguns

I think you're getting worked up over absolutely NOTHING. Who gives a rats a$s what the NHL or the rest of the world thinks of Ovie or anyone else on the Caps??

Posted by: joek443 | December 17, 2009 11:03 PM | Report abuse


I am not surprised by Crosby's scoring more goals. His shots on goal has dramatically increased and he is a great player and he hasn't been injured. Notice too that his assists have gone way down comparatively. But that doesn't mean the Caps can't beat them. I am quite sure that we in turn are the team for the Pens to beat. I expect some great games with great hockey. Moreover I am not too worried about individual stats. Between the injuries and the suspension Ovi has played far fewer games and yet he is right up there points-wise. We just need to keep honing and improving our play. The Caps have shown that they can play a strong and disciplined game. They just need to keep it up. I think they can.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | December 17, 2009 11:22 PM | Report abuse

I was just ranting that's all. Nothing personal to you. I really didn't understand your point in regards to my post.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | December 17, 2009 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Tarik (or anyone else who knows), what restaurant did they decide to visit?

I love Vancouver, it's one of my top two or three cities to consider if I decide to leave the DC area.

Posted by: 1995hoo | December 18, 2009 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Hey TEB! We love our Ovie up here! Well, I guess he's not ours but...

Have fun in Van City! AWESOME city. Enjoy!

See you Saturday night in E-Town! I'll be enjoying the Rock the Red show in person! Can't wait!!

Why only once every couple of years??? SO stupid!

Posted by: edmontoncapsfan | December 18, 2009 12:11 AM | Report abuse

Why only once every couple of years??? SO stupid!

i feel your pain

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | December 18, 2009 12:29 AM | Report abuse

I don't believe in conspiracies either (at least outside of Kennedy). I think you have to look at the OV incident and Koci incindent as 2 completely separate things. At least I think Campbell has. Not saying it's the right decision to not suspend him. It's easy to get caught up in the emotion of the thing when "our" player gets suspended and "theirs" didn't. Both may have been very bad decisions but they are not related. I think the bigger issue is, the GM's especially GMGM have been calling for an end to this and proposing severe punishments for this type of hit and the NHL turns it's shoulder on the most pressing "safety issue" in the game. While there was no suspension given, rest assured that it will be a prime example when new rules come about. I think the delay in the decision had to do with seeing if Green would miss any time. I truly believe that had Green missed a couple of games he would've been suspended. Plus what's a 3 game suspension gonna do to this guy? He averages a little over 3 minutes a game in ice time so he'd be missing a 1/2 a period of hockey! And NO we don't need an enforcer. That's a whole new can I won't open up right now.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | December 18, 2009 12:41 AM | Report abuse

@ KIRK: Hopefully the sched changes they've been talking about come into effect soon. Have you heard anything about it?

Posted by: edmontoncapsfan | December 18, 2009 12:43 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Rocc00 | December 18, 2009 1:19 AM | Report abuse

The lack of a suspension for Koci is absolutely ridiculous.

It only goes to underscore my belief that the league has no desire to eliminate goonery from the game -- They only desire to make fans think they care about eliminating it.

Furthermore, the "power play deterrent" argument is null and void when your team is already up 5-0. Why should they care if you score 12 more goals? They've already lost. Sacco put this guy on the roster, and then on the ice with the intention of hurting people. If the NHL truly had any desire to curb this sort of thing, they'd start suspending coaches, not players.

Deep down, the NHL loves the thuggery aspect of the game and believe that a lot of their fans come to the games because of it. I personally think this is an utterly misguided belief, but what can we do about it if the league is so set on allowing this sort of behavior?

Posted by: Brashnir | December 18, 2009 1:46 AM | Report abuse

Even though I don't like the guy, and his choices are terribly inconsistent, it is Colin Campbell's own policy that he recuse himself from any and all decisions regarding events that occur during Panthers games, including applying punishment to Florida's opponents, in each individual game.

Posted by: jcleggette | December 18, 2009 2:03 AM | Report abuse


I am in complete agreement.

... I want to see players like Green on the ice playing the game, not goons like Koci ...

However, I think the NHL will have problems, when Green, Ovie (put the names of your favorite players in) are out for a longer period of time ...

... it would be interesting to know, how much money the NHL has lost to goonery ... (e.g. injured players and people not going to games because superstar are not able to play due to being injured. Will a goon be as popular as Ovie in Vancouver ?)

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | December 18, 2009 6:13 AM | Report abuse

I had to cheer for the Flyers last night because I wanted to Caps to have a lead over the Pens. Of course the Flyers just gave me more of a reason to hate them because they can't win when I want them to. I did come to a surprising conclusion last night when the game was over. Although I hate the Pens with a passion, I honestly hate the Flyers more. I am surprised by that. My sons felt the same way so we tried to rationalize. We decided it is because although the Pens are annoying they whine more than anything else. The Flyers are just flat out dirty. Crazy crap was getting let go last night. Carcillo is out of control. He left his feet so badly last night to throw a check that one of his skates were on the lip of the Pens bench. Probably on purpose trying to "accidentally" cut someone. He had to be settled down by Laviolet after the crazy hit. The announcers said he was getting "an earfull" from Laviolet. I see a purge by the Flyers, and soon. The talk is Hartnall may be on the move. I friggin' hate that guy so I hope he ends up in the West somewhere.

Posted by: fanohock1 | December 18, 2009 7:08 AM | Report abuse

Zetterberg was injured last night. Now that they have lost a center I wonder if they might come a knockin' for Nylander. The Red Wings are running out of options and Nylander racks up points faster than anyone on the Red Wings farm team. Grand Rapids lost their first game with Nylander back in the line-up 4-3 in a shootout. Nylander assisted on all 3 goals.

Posted by: fanohock1 | December 18, 2009 7:12 AM | Report abuse

@jcleggette: it's not enough that Campbell recuses himself from things that happen DURING Panthers' games. His suspensions affect all the NHL teams. And don't forget that Ovi was suspended and as a result DIDN'T play against the Panthers. I'm just saying that he shouldn't be making ANY of these decisions now because he has proved he is inconsistent. It has gone beyond the "appearance" of a conflict of interest.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | December 18, 2009 7:40 AM | Report abuse

"that's not a good sign for the Caps."

So what? Each team has pretty balanced scoring. Aside from Crosby, the Penguins have two guys with ten goals and a few other guys close to that. The Caps other than Ovie have four guys who have already hit 10 goals and another five guys who will hit it before too long.

The teams are pretty much equal-stat wise right now.

Posted by: southside721 | December 18, 2009 7:40 AM | Report abuse

Oh to be in Vancouver for the game. One of the world's most beautiful cities. Spent my college days and a few other years in that magnificent city and would go back there in a minute if the rest of my family would--hell I may just move there myself. Under other circumstances I would say "Go Canucks", but for tonight it is "Go Caps!"

Posted by: RogerNoVa | December 18, 2009 7:53 AM | Report abuse

As a Caps fan, it's hard to listen to our coach personally going after other players. It's completely unnecessary, and it makes him sound like those whiners in Pittsburgh. It's fine to stick up for your players, but the rest is bush league. Shut up and coach. Teach your team to be aware of their surroundings on the ice, know who's on the ice with you at all times and get out of the way. No way a player like Koci should have an open hit on Green. Alot of it is situational awareness. And if OV catches Malkin with that hit behind the net (last year of 2 years ago? can't remember, old age), the result is much worse than what happened to Green, and coach would have praised OV all day long. And it's not up to hime who the Avs put in the lineup each night. He had some questionable players over the years as well. Let the players deal with this stuff. This is the biggest problem in the game, players not being able to police themselves. Get rid of the instigator rule and these kind of hits will go away. And good job by Erskine for doing what needed to be done. This team needs more toughness, not a one shift per game goon per se, but someone who will deter this stuff. Erskine and Bradley are not enough of a deterrant.

Posted by: Fletch22 | December 18, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse


Have to dissagree...I was proud of BB standing up for his players...esp. after such a dirty hit (with intent to injure!) Players do need to police themselves in some areas, but goonery needs to be handled at a higher level, and when the NHL didn't act on it, good for BB caliing Koci out.

Posted by: capscoach | December 18, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse


I'm ok with BB calling out a player regarding specific actions. I just don't think it was necessary to go into 'he can't play in the AHL, he has 1 goal in 4 years'. That's irrelevant, and comments like that aren't good for the game. Critize the act. Critize the NHL for not suspending him. BB has had guys like Koci in his lineups through the years. The bigger problem is that the caps don't intimidate or deter anyone into not taking runs at their players.

Posted by: Fletch22 | December 18, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Wow. You'd be in the minority, Fletch22, to even think that Boudreau should have shut his yap about what Koci did. Bravo to you, for taking a stand as dumb as that. I think you overlooked the fact that Boudreau referenced that Koci wouldn't be able to play in the AHL because an AHL player did a very similar act and was banned for life from ever playing in the AHL. No offense, but Koci deserved more than a fine. How would you feel if one day, someone you care about gets hit in the head from behind and gets their face smashed up against a building window and whatever person of authority who sees this decides to let it slide? Would love to see how long you could stay quiet about that. Think about it for a second and then rethink your criticism about Boudreau calling Koci out for what he stupidly did.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | December 18, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse


"Expensive expenditure?" Surely you have an old English teacher somewhere whose skin would turn if they read that one, buddy.

Posted by: TheFunBunch | December 18, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I had predicted nothing short of a two game suspension for Koci, which of course was following an application of logic, not NHL HQ's forte. Green will continue to be stellar for the Caps, and Koci will just keep racking up majors and game misconducts for the Avs, so we win in the end anyhow.

Posted by: seth_malaguerra | December 18, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

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