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Varlamov set to start vs. Stars

Based on the morning skate, it appears Semyon Varlamov will be back between the pipes tonight against the visiting Stars. Varlamov has surrendered 10 goals on 57 shots in his past two starts and seems to be losing ground to veteran Jose Theodore, who is 12-0-2 with a 2.38 goals against average a .929 save percentage.

So, it goes without saying that the rookie needs a strong showing against a Dallas team that's dropped three straight.

Varlamov getting the start won't be the only change for the Caps, who are closing in on a third straight division title. Tomas Fleischmann, Shaone Morrisonn and Scott Walker will also sit this one out, joining regular scratches Tyler Sloan and Quintin Laing.

"We're really deep [with] four lines that can check and can score," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We have the ability to move people around and play people, say on the fourth line, that normally would be second or third line [players] on other teams."

Boudreau said he scratched Fleischmann, who has two assists the past three games, because he has played a lot of hockey when you include his stint with the Czech team in the Olympics.

"We have four games this week and we play every other day, so I don't think it hurts at this stage in the season," Boudreau explained. "And he was also, don't forget, in the Olympics and didn't get a break."

Boudreau didn't give a reason for scratching Morrisonn, but one can assume it had something to do with horrible turnover Saturday night.

As for Walker, Boudreau hinted on the day he was acquired that the 36-year-old right wing wouldn't play every game down the stretch. So it's not too surprising. He was brought here for the playoffs.

"We're just trying to keep as many people as we can involved," Boudreau said. "They know it will be different guys again on Wednesday. I don't know how long we'll do it, but right now, with the amount of players we have, we don't people sitting out for too long a time."

Some other notes from KCI:

*Milan Jurcina is having double sports hernia surgery on Thursday. I know the team keeps saying he'll be out four to six weeks. But that sounds pretty optimistic to me.

*John Carlson will skate in his fifth straight game for the Caps tonight (when you count the game in St. Louis before the break). No one has said anything about how long he'll be here, but I have to believe there's a very good chance he sticks around for the stretch run and the playoffs.

*The lineup should look like this (or a lot like it) tonight:

Forwards
Ovechkin-Backstrom-Knuble
Laich-Belanger-Semin
Chimera-Morrison-Fehr
Bradley-Steckel-Gordon

Defense
Schultz-Green
Poti-Corvo
Erskine-Carlson

*If you read my story today, then you know that Joe Corvo is wearing a special Kevlar sock to protect himself from future puncture wounds. Well, here's a little more on that topic. He tried out a new, prototype sock last game at the suggestion of Alex Ovechkin, who has been wearing them since almost suffering a skate cut in San Jose. Brendan Morrison is also wearing one of the prototype socks, which I'm told is being produced by Shimano (yes, the bike parts/fishing reel company).

Although there's only a small chance of suffering such an injury, Morrison said he doesn't want to take the chance.

"They feel like normal socks to me," he said. "So why not?"

*Speaking of Morrison, I'm told that he played in a father-son game here at KCI with his eight year old over the weekend and toward the end, he started showing off a bit. When I confronted him about showing up kids, this is what he had to say for himself: "I was just building up my confidence."

*The Caps and Bears have won a combined 36 straight games on home ice. That's pretty insane.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  March 8, 2010; 12:27 PM ET
 
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Next: Tonight's lineup: Stars at Caps

Comments

Having already played 10 games, Carlson has hit the threshold for 1 year towards free agency. So, no reason to send him down now. He'll stick around unless he stinks up the place.

Posted by: Langway4Eva | March 8, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

last

Posted by: CelticFCbhoys | March 8, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

even though Theo has been playing very well, BB knows better than anyone that when Varly is on his game, he gives the team better chances to win so he'll give him every opportunity to get back to his pre-injury form last december

Posted by: joek443 | March 8, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

@joek443

I'm not sure it's fair to annoint Varly. He's a good young goaltender, but Theo is no slouch when he's on his game (like when he won the Vezina). I'm enjoying the competition and it only benefits the Caps.

Posted by: Blueline | March 8, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Those D pairings look pretty darned good. Substituting Gordon for Walker and Chimera for Flash, depending on the opponent, I think we've got our postseason lineup, barring injuries, emergencies, etc.

Posted by: sandyflee | March 8, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Bruce is going to switch off for a while in goal. With some emerging D and an anemic Dallas O this is a good opportunity for Varly to do well.

I said before that I think we rotate out our regular D except Green and Schultz; probably Corvo stays in too.

If Belanger gels, BMo may end up sitting more and more.

Posted by: Sonyask | March 8, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Um, the ten game limit doesn't apply in this case; it's a 40 game limit. The 10 game limit involves either waiver implications for emergency injury recalls (which Carlson is not) or the number of games played (anywhere within the system, including the AHL and ECHL) before the Entry Level Contract's first year kicks in (which Carlson passed a long time ago).

Posted by: whiteltng | March 8, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

@sandyflee

You would bench Chimera? Really?

Posted by: Aldred15 | March 8, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

One source says recovery from sports hernia surgery is about 8 weeks. http://orthopedics.about.com/od/sportsinjuries/a/hernia.htm

Maybe longer for double hernia surgery?

Posted by: zmega | March 8, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I have a good feeling about Belanger playing with Semin. I hope that pairing stays put for the rest of the season.

Posted by: youaresquishy | March 8, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

i like the Bradley/Steckel/Walker 4th line. IMO, Carlson is here to stay. He is as steady and has more edge than Alzner.

Posted by: doughless | March 8, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Another take on the 10 game rule...some people confuse this with the rule regarding 18 & 19 year players. If they play 10 games with their NHL team they can't be returned to their jr team, they must remain with the NHL team for the season. They have to be 20 to play in the AHL, except in the case of a player like Carlson, who played this year in Hershey at 19 because when he was drafted in was in the NAHL (US jr league), even though he later played for Dale Hunter in the OHL.

Posted by: boomer44 | March 8, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

@alfred15, @youaresquishy

Definitely sit Chimera sometimes - I think all forwards will be rotated out to rest them up. I like the Belanger Semin combo also, I think they may wind up trying Flash on the left wing on that line. I'd keep Chimera on the third line if possible, but if, in the playoffs, BB prefers Flash on that wing, then Chimera probably goes to line with Gordon and Walker...

Semin, Ovie, and Backstrom - I hope - will also be rotated out of the lineup also. It's a brutal schedule down the stretch...

Posted by: RedLitYogi | March 8, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Um, the ten game limit doesn't apply in this case; it's a 40 game limit. The 10 game limit involves either waiver implications for emergency injury recalls (which Carlson is not) or the number of games played (anywhere within the system, including the AHL and ECHL) before the Entry Level Contract's first year kicks in (which Carlson passed a long time ago).

Posted by: whiteltng | March 8, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

pretty sure it does count one year towards carlson being a RFA. if he hadn't played 10 games this year he would be an RFA after the 12-13 season. as it is, i think he is now an RFA after 11-12.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | March 8, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

And, Sonyask, I kind of have a good feeling about a Chimera-Flash-Fehr line. That combo has some speed, some moves, some put-the-damn-puck-in-the-net ability.

Morrison's home face-off percentage is 48.1, but so is Fleischmann's, and that's not much that worse than Backstrom's (49.4).

But their road face-off percentages are a different story:

Morrison 52.4
Backstrom 50.3
Fleischmann 39.3

I am pretty sure that at the moment, of those NHL players who have taken at least 100 road face-offs, only six players in the entire league have a worse road face-off percentage than Fleischmann.

www.nhl.com doesn't let me put a minimum in so I had to count them by hand, but it didn't take long, so I probably didn't make an error.

Maybe Morrison should be in line 3 only on the road or something, in which case Fleischmann can be left wing and Chimera can move to line 4. And then maybe at home we can do the Chimera-Flash-Fehr line and either sit Morrison or put him on line 4.

Posted by: youaresquishy | March 8, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

*The Caps and Bears have won a combined 36 straight games on home ice. That's pretty insane.

By Tarik El-Bashir

And, now for some other unstoppable duos:

Batman and Robin.

Smith & Wesson.

The Captain and Tennille.

http://www.bing.com/videos/watch/video/captain-and-tennille-love-will-keep-us-together/c23f86c4012c0984f885c23f86c4012c0984f885-1628671837247

Just kidding on that last one.

Posted by: tominfl1 | March 8, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Imagine that folks, last time I checked at 1:45 Wilbon had not shown up for his live chat......can't face the music I guess!

Posted by: PhilR | March 8, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

I hope that they can rest all of the forwards occasionally, even Ovi. But I wonder if there are business reasons that prevent this. Fans who bought a ticket to see the Caps either here or on the road will be pi**ed if Ovi doesn't play. Less of an issue for STHs, but the guy who takes his son to one Caps game is going to be pretty disappointed if Ovi doesn't play.

Posted by: zmega | March 8, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone else noticed that nearly every time the Caps have had trouble clearing their zone in the last 3 games, it has been the second line with Carlson + Partner on the back end? Granted the second line is not the most defensively responsible, but Carlson for all of his "steady play" still makes me nervous.

Posted by: azayatz | March 8, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

@sportsfan1:

whiteltng and boomer44 are right about the RFA rule. It's 40 games. Last year Alzner played a bunch of games in Washington but was sent back to Hershey before he reached the 40-game limit and it was stated that the reason for the send-down was the RFA rule. 10 games only means an underage player can't be sent back to his junior team.

Posted by: tess2201 | March 8, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

What Tess says is the way I understand it. The only player on the Caps who will reach UFA status prior to age 27 is Backstrom. The rest must all wait until 27, and Backie can be avoided if they sign him to 5 yrs or more.

Even Green is a RFA after his current deal runs out. He'll be 26.

Posted by: tominfl1 | March 8, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

the caps should check in with DC United about the surgeon in Germany that they send players with hernias to, she gets people back on the field in ~3 weeks because of some revolutionary surgery she does. Apparently NFL teams have caught wind and started sending players to her as well.

Posted by: joe_hill | March 8, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I need to clarify that the 10 game rule also applies to the length of the Entry level contract, so a player with his first contract and doesn't play at least 10 games, the entry level contract is extended one additional season. The 40 game rule is used to determine the numbe rof seaosns a player has in the league towards Unrestricted Free Agency.

Posted by: boomer44 | March 8, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

According to my calculations using www.nhl.com's to-the-second time-on-ice numbers, Chimera has spent 262 minutes and 12 seconds on the ice as a Capital in his 23 Capitals games, and has 12 Capitals points. That, I believe, calculates to a PROD of 21:51. (And PROD is just points-per-minute-of-ice-time flipped on its head, i.e. it's minutes-per-point, so lower is better).

If Chimera's Capitals PROD were his PROD for his entire season, his 21:51 PROD would make him tied with Teemu Selanne for 40th in PROD in the entire NHL, one spot behind Patrick Kane (amongst those players with a minimum of 23 games played this season). Being ranked between Kane and Selanne in points-per-minute is not a bad deal.

Chimera's +7 with the Capitals in 23 Capitals games makes him 6th in +/- per game amongst Capitals forwards who have played in at least 23 games.

Granted he's been playing alongside some pretty good players, and opponent defenses obviously are more likely to concentrate on the top two lines than Chimera's line. But I think I like Chimera! I don't think we should sit Chimera much.

Posted by: youaresquishy | March 8, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I meant to say "Chimera's +7 with the Capitals in 23 Capitals games makes him 6th in +/- per game amongst Capitals forwards who have played in at least 23 games WITH THE CAPITALS."

Thank you.

Posted by: youaresquishy | March 8, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

"…who are closing in on a third straight division title."

Caps are 30 points over second place Atlanta, I guess you could call that ‘closing in on’. ;-)

Posted by: KireDCU | March 8, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

boomer: I don't think the entry level gets extended. When a player signs for three years, like Andrew Gordon, the three years are up at the end of that time period. In Gordon's case, qaccording the nhlnumbers.com, his entry deal runs from 2007-2010 and expires July 1st. Nevermind he only played I think one game during that time - July 1st, he's a RFA.

I think the ten-game thing is for players having played less then four years at the Junior club, if they start the season with the NHL club. If they play less than 10 games, they can be sent back to the OHL or WHL or the Q. 10 games, and they can't go back and must then stay with the NHL club. I don't think these players can be sent down to the AHL. So, it's either less than 10 or all 80, so 10 games is the break point for them.

Carlson though completed his four-year Junior eligibility last season, and was eligible then to be assigned to Hershey. And he was. Since his Jr eligibility was completed, he is under the 40 game count. That's the way I understand it.

Posted by: tominfl1 | March 8, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Based on current standing we would play the bruins. The caps have scored 100 goals more than the bruins this year with one more game played. Amazing stat

Posted by: samb99 | March 8, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

kjl;

Posted by: croftonpost | March 8, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

@sportsfan1:

whiteltng and boomer44 are right about the RFA rule. It's 40 games. Last year Alzner played a bunch of games in Washington but was sent back to Hershey before he reached the 40-game limit and it was stated that the reason for the send-down was the RFA rule. 10 games only means an underage player can't be sent back to his junior team.

Posted by: tess2201 | March 8, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

per the cba, if you are 18-19 when you sign your first contract (which carlson was) 10 games in the nhl counts one year towards the term of your 3 year entry level deal. if you are 20 or older (which i think karl was when he signed his first deal), he only needs to play 10 games professionally to qualify for one year of service under his entry contract.

i'm pretty sure that's how the cba works...it not an easy document to read so i could be wrong.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | March 8, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Alzner turned 20 9/24/88. I'm almost certain he signed before then. Part of it is your age and part is Junior eligibility. The CBA is confusing.

Posted by: tominfl1 | March 8, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Chimera is actually 8th on the club (defensemen included) in Capitals +/- per minute of even-strength Capitals ice time. I calculated +/- per even-strength Capitals minute for the Capitals who have played in 23 games, and then flipped it around so that it's minutes of even strength ice time per plus (I flip it so that it is easier on the mind to look at). Jurcina is +0, and Sloan and Clark are minus, so I didn't include them. Here's your Capitals rankings in even-strength-Capitals-minute-per-plus so far (minimum 23 games) (and smaller is better):

1. Ovechkin 21:54
2. Schultz 24:47
3. Knuble 29:44
4. Backstrom 30:32
5. Semin 33:02
6. Fehr 33:40
7. Green 34:35
8. Chimera 37:27
9. Erskine 39:20
10. B. Morrison 45:37
11. Poti 50:14
12. Pothier 55:41
13. S. Morrisonn 57:26
14. Gordon 75:46
15. Laich 77:48
16. Laing 78:51
17. Fleischmann 110:02
18. Bradley 118:33
19. Steckel 120:33

Posted by: youaresquishy | March 8, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Oops. Alzner was born 9/24/88 and turned 20 on 9/24/08.

Posted by: tominfl1 | March 8, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

squishy: The thing that jumps out is that Laich and Flash have such high numbers. They are plus players, but obviously way behind most of the team in "plus-time effectivity."

Posted by: tominfl1 | March 8, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

If you wanted to go ahead and promote Chimera to line 2 so that he plays with Semin and Belanger, I wouldn't be opposed, just as long as Semin and Belanger can be together for a while.

I wouldn't mind having someone with a little fighting ability playing beside Semin, because I don't want to see Semin fight anymore, and maybe opponents will be slightly more deterred from trying to hurt him. I love Semin, but he seems awfully fragile.

Posted by: youaresquishy | March 8, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Carlson has moved ahead of Alzner evidently, although they both remain elite prospects.

I would not be so quick to dismiss Theodore's performance this season. He is 33 years old and has been in the NHL for 10 years. He suffered a horrific loss in the offseason in his family and I think is playing inspired hockey in memory of his child.

He has the physical talent to take this team to a Cup championship and if his head is right, he might just do that.

Posted by: leopard09 | March 8, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone else noticed that nearly every time the Caps have had trouble clearing their zone in the last 3 games, it has been the second line with Carlson + Partner on the back end?

Posted by: azayatz

I have and what really makes me nervous is when Carlson is paired with Erskine. That combo needs to work on getting the puck out of the zone. Let's see some quick ups tonight. Of course that will make it look like we don't know what we're talking about. :)

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | March 8, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

On the NYR contest: good, solid win for the Caps (way 2 go, Thee-0!).

I almost feel sorry for Torts. When he looks up at the Jumbotron after a Caps goal or a NYR penalty, you can see the pain on his face and almost hear him thinking:

"O dear God why do you hate me so much, that I have to coach a team of overpriced d-b's instead of a real hockey club..."

GO CAPS! BEAT DALLAS!!!

Posted by: Rhino40 | March 8, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

tominfl1: yeah it jumps out at me too. I had to go back to make sure I did it right, but I'm pretty sure I did.

Flash is only +6 in absolute terms vs. his linemate Fehr's +17. Laich is +11 vs. his linemate Semin's +25. So I think it's OK.

I'm not sure this is a wonderful stat. Like I don't think someone with twice as good of a number should be considered twice as good a player or anything. To make it more mathematically correct, I think I'd want to start with, say, the worst minus figure in the league, make that 0, and add that amount to everyone else's +/- before I did it. With the way I did it, the intervals are misleading.

But, it's somewhat interesting.

Posted by: youaresquishy | March 8, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

I dunno; I enjoyed watching Torts react.

Posted by: Sonyask | March 8, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

all this talk about carlson coughing up the puck. leave the kid alone. i would rather have him play and learn than slone/erskine. i mean our top line of green/sarge also have issues. carlson is going to score a very important goal in the playoffs.

Posted by: samb99 | March 8, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Because of the unresolved food fight between DirecTv and Comcast/Versus, I won't be able to see tonight's game. I live in an area where there is no cable, so DirecTv with the NHL Center Ice package is my only option. Does anyone have any recent information regarding the status of that foodfight? I'm concerned that this will be a real issue come playoff time. If anyone has any input on that situation (playoff telecasts) or suggestions, I'd be obliged if you'd post something.

Thanks.

Posted by: NorthFork1 | March 8, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone else noticed that the sound during Comcast home games is absolutely horrible? It's like they can't mix properly or something. I'd love to know if this bugs other people as well, because I've considered e-mailing Ted about it...

Posted by: MarylanDChris | March 8, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

@ Blueline

Theo won his Vezina almost a decade ago and I just don't trust small goalies in the playoffs.

Posted by: joek443 | March 8, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

@NorthFork1: I am in the same situation, albeit in Dallas area. I've talked to DirecTV by email several times in the past few days and there is no indication from them that the issue will be resolved in time for playoffs. I believe that some playoff games and games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup finals are on Versus.

Posted by: Dalliquippa | March 8, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Per Japersrink, the Caps just signed center Keith Aucoin to a two-year contract extension. This is good news for the Hershey Bears, maybe insurance for the Caps.

Posted by: MReilly9 | March 8, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

@Aldred15: I wouldn't bench Chimera permanently throughout the playoffs, but rather, use him depending on the opponent. Against faster teams like Montreal, I'd absolutely suit him up, where his speed can negate theirs/be an advantage. I know this flies in the face of "line chemistry" proponents, but I think the Capitals have to use the proper weapons against the proper opponents. I will admit, it's a lot more comforting than having a "run-what-ya-brung" strategy going into the postseason.

Posted by: sandyflee | March 8, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I think we paid Aucoin the full value of his contract this year, to play in Hershey, so it will be interesting the get the explanation for this.

Posted by: tominfl1 | March 8, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

@youaresquishy: RE: Laich's +/-

It does make you wonder about the validity of the +/- when a guy who everyone would suggest is one of our best two way players is not near the top of the list.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | March 8, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Carlson, in my opinion, is a top 6 Dman on this team right now. Is he going to make mistakes? Yeah, but he's a net plus for this team all things considered. I'd rather him be out there than Shamo, Erskine or Sloan.

I'm growing more and more confident with the goaltending situation with each passing game. Theo's been playing his best hockey as a Cap these last 14-15 games and BB is giving Varlamov his starts to get him back up to speed. I'm guessing they'll be rotating both keepers until the last 5 or 6 games of the season before settling on who is starting (my guess will be Theo).

I get a different vibe from the team at this point in the year compared to last. They're pretty darn healthy *knock on wood*, have the depth to account for injuries (unlike last season) and are playing the best hockey in the league (with two "slumping" superstars to boot).

Posted by: jsnyd1 | March 8, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

RE: Carlson and turnovers. I haven't gone back to look at the games again, but my sense at the time (in the last 3 games) was that he had a bad shift or two early in each game, and was pretty solid the rest of the way. If that is a correct observation, then it is not entirely surprising for a young guy who is probably still pretty excited/nervous at the start of each game. At least he didn't make a perfect centering pass to Brandon Dubinsky. :^)

Posted by: ccCapsfan | March 8, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

@MarylanDChris

Yes, we talk about it frequently at our house. We have to turn it up so loud just to hear Joe B. & Locker. For the life of me I cannot understand why they cannot balance the arena sounds & play calling better than that. It even varies sometimes durign a game and we'll think they've fixed it. But, suddenly, it goes back to the 1970s.

Posted by: Steakum | March 8, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

From the Caps website: "ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have signed center Keith Aucoin to a two-year contract extension, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today. In keeping with club policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Aucoin, 31, currently leads the American Hockey League (AHL) in scoring with 84 points, posting 31 goals (a career high) and 53 assists for the Hershey Bears. Aucoin helped lead the Bears to the Calder Cup last season while finishing second in the AHL scoring race to linemate Alexandre Giroux with 96 points (25 goals, 71 assists).

Aucoin, a 5’9”, 162-pound native of Waltham, Mass., has played 21 games for the Capitals in the last two seasons, recording three goals and eight assists. He had a goal and four assists in nine games for Washington earlier this season. The Capitals first signed Aucoin as a free agent July 3, 2008."

Posted by: MReilly9 | March 8, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

@Steakum,

Thank GAWD. Good to know I'm not crazy... I just e-mailed Ted, so stay tuned...

Posted by: MarylanDChris | March 8, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

@Dalliquippa: Thanks very much for the update. I was afraid that that was the case.

@Tarik/Lindsay: I wonder if you have any other information, or if you would see what else you can find out for us. I'm a bit surprised that Ted hasn't weighed in on this fight. The NHL has been pretty passive as well, as far as I can make out, notwithstanding that they get a bunch of revenue from DirecTv through the Center Ice package.

Posted by: NorthFork1 | March 8, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

A lot of folks just can't get enough. Varly Talk. Yeah, he's real good, and I am damn glad he's a Cap, but Theo is playing great. Theo could help us win The Cup if he stays as sharp. I can't think of any other goalie on any team that I would start over Theo right now. Varlys time will come, and who knows how soon, but The Theoman is HOT!

Posted by: coastallp74 | March 8, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

As a thought experiment, I tuned in to the Red Wings-Blackhawks tilt on Sunday.

First, a few facts:

1) Neither Detroit nor Chicago has played against PIT in the last 5+ games.
2) Sidney Crosby does not play for either CHI or DET.
3) I don't think CHI or PIT is scheduled to play PIT in the next 5+ games either.
4) Sidney Crosby is not a former Red Wing or Blackhawk either.
5) Sidney Crosby is not a product of either team's farm system.


And yet somehow, Milbury et al. still managed to work in Crosby-Love on numerous occasions--not just during intermissions, but while the puck was in play!!!.


WTF.


This was inexcusable--the only (peripheral) invlolvements were that DET coach Mike Babcock also coached Team Canada featuring you-know-who, or that many of the players in this game were also on the ice during that Olympic gold medal game.

So what: the Olympics are over!! What is this, the NHL Edition of the G-d d-----d Kevin Bacon Game?

Enough is enough: Milbury and the rest of the Sid-The-Id Fan Club must go! C'mon, NBC: do you honestly think that DET and CHI fans want to endless odes to How Great Crosby Is? Honestly, If I didn't think that next Sunday's Caps game against Chicago was a possible preview of the SCF, I'd boycott!

Even if no other game had done so before, the recent NYR-PIT tilt showed us in an instant (the violent cross check to Lundqvist after the latter told him to quit diving) what a spoiled, petulant, ill-mannered and foul-tempered brat Crysby can be when things don't go his way.

The NHL should re-think whether they ought to continue marketing him as the 'Second Coming of Gretzky'.

Proposed new rule for CI: Sid-The-Id shall henceforth be referred to only as:

"You-Know-Who"
or
"He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named"
or
"Voldemort"

Posted by: Rhino40 | March 8, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

@RedLitYoshi

Sorry, I should have been more specific as to what I was addressing. The person commented on taking Chimera out for the playoffs (he would become a sub). I think that is an absurd idea, as Chimera has grit and speed, and he seems to be an ideal third line player for this team; that is why I was questioning the person who posted about taking him out for the playoffs.

I agree that he should sit out in this little rotation that is going on for the next 10 games or so. It's only fair to give everyone a shot to prove themselves, and that would mean that a guy like Jason will likely be a healthy scratch once or twice before the end of the year.

However, when all is said and done, I strongly believe that he should be playing every game in the playoffs, unless he gets hurt or suddenly goes cold. I have been thoroughly impressed with him since coming from Columbus, and I think the additions of he and Belanger are going to be AMAZING for this team come April, May and June.

Posted by: Aldred15 | March 8, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Carlson has played mostly good. He's developing, and quite well. I don't know if you remember how poorly Mike Green looked when he first came up, but Carlson looks several times better than that.

Posted by: Sonyask | March 8, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Anyway, the point of all this is that Chimera is doing fine numbers-wise, and I'll be keeping a close eye on him tonight to try to see how he seems to do at the little things. So far, my general sense is that he's done well.

www.nhl.com giveaway/takeaway numbers say Chimera has 6 giveaways and 4 takeaways as a Capital so far. In Columbus this season he had 14 giveaways vs. 6 takeaways. Combined that's 20 giveaways and 10 takeaways. So that's probably a little issue for him I suppose.

So far, for those with at least 23 Capitals games played this season, the takeaway-to-giveaway ratios are as follows (more is better, above 1 means more takeaways than giveaways, and below 1 means the opposite):

1. Fehr 5.83
2. Gordon 5.00
3. Bradley 3.86
4. Knuble 1.93
5. B. Morrison 1.34
6. Steckel 1.20
7. Fleischmann 1.10
8. Laich 1.09
9. Backstrom 1.03
10. Semin 1.00
11. Ovechkin 0.84
12. Pothier 0.68
13. Poti 0.67
14. Laing 0.67
15. Chimera 0.67 (0.5 for the entire CBS/WAS season)
16. Green 0.54
17. Clark 0.5
18. S. Morrisonn 0.37
19. Schultz 0.31
20. Sloan 0.28
21. Jurcina 0.21

Posted by: youaresquishy | March 8, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

In case Michael Wilbon is reading, I want to point out that Sidney Crosby's takeaway/giveaway ratio so far this season is 0.56, which is quite a bit worse than Ovechkin's 0.84.

Posted by: youaresquishy | March 8, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

I blame all parties in the DirectTV/Versus-Comcast debacle. But when I called and wrote to our provider to complain (we had DirectTV) they were of no help. Told us it was Comcast's fault. Takes two to negotiate is what I told them so that answer was lame as far as I was concerned. So we switched to Fios when they came to our neighborhood AFTER making sure that versus was included. Before that we streamed the game on our PC. All of parties involved are in a p$@&ing contest. And as a result DirectTV lost us, loyal users for more than a decade. And at least during the snow we were still able to get reception--not always a reliable expectation in bad weather.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | March 8, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I am not a huge fan of +/- or anything. It's almost never completely one player's fault for a -, etc. On a per-game or per-even-strength-minute basis, it's more informative, but not great. But, it's something. I dunno.

I'll say if you do it on a per-even-strength-minute basis, and relativize it vs. the player's teammates' numbers, then you have a decent start at an argument regarding how overall valuable the player is. Like, maybe that's enough to create a presumption of overall goodness or badness, which would shift the burden of proof to the one who would disagree. I'm sure some of these +/- related stats are better evaluators of some players than others.

I can't think of a single stat that is much of an argument settler in this very team-oriented game.

Posted by: youaresquishy | March 8, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: hockeysureshot | March 8, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

How may necs could a Plecanec plec if a Plekanec could plec necs?

Posted by: Rhino40 | March 8, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Loving what I see in John Carlson. One question that I'm hoping some of you might have some insight on: Will he be keeping sweater number 74? Odd number, and if you remember Alzner changed his number after his first season in the pros. I've been in the market for a new Caps sweater and have been debating who to go with. Im leaning toward Captain America but I don't want to buy one then have him change his NHL number on me. Anybody heard anything from him, or anybody else, about the subject???

Posted by: CalleJoFan | March 8, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

I made a mistake, also, when I was talking about Chimera's Capitals PROD. It would be 40th amongst players in the NHL with a minimum of 23 games, tied with Selanne, but he'd be right behind Patrick Sharp, not Patrick Kane. My bad.

Anyway, your top 25 in PROD so far this season (minimum 30 games) (and PROD is points-per-minute flipped around so that it's minutes-per-point, which means lower is better):

1. OVECHKIN 13:47
2. D. Sedin 14:32
3. H. Sedin 14:56
4. SEMIN 16:07
5. S. Crosby 16:46
6. P. Kane 16:52
7. J. Thornton 16:58
8. S. Stamkos 17:01
9. BACKSTROM 17:05
10. M. St. Louis 17:49
11. E. Malkin 18:18
12. B. Richards 18:28
13. M. Gaborik 18:39
14. D. Heatley 19:01
15. C. Stewart 19:09
16. Z. Parise 19:20
17. FLEISCHMANN 19:32
18. I. Kovalchuk 19:38
19. KNUBLE 20:05
20. M. Hossa 20:14
21. N. Antropov 20:17
22. J. Jokinen 20:26
23. R. Getzlaf 20:26
24. FEHR 20:28
25. P. Marleau 20:34

Posted by: youaresquishy | March 8, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Wilboner didn't answer a single question about the Caps. That prompts the question - who is the bigger pussy, Wilboner or Crysby?

Posted by: VeloStrummer | March 8, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

@coastallp74

I can tell you that Theo did this exact same thing in Colorado 2yrs ago. He was splitting time with Budai at the time and won the starting job in the 2nd 1/2 of the season. He was phenominal in the 1st round in knocking off Dallas but then got swept in the 2nd round by Detroit. While I have been impressed with his play of late, history tells us that he is consistently inconsistent. Varly will see time during the playoffs. In a perfect world it would be nice to have 1 goalie going and be hot for 4 rounds but that's not what history tells us about Theo. We need to get Varly on his game for sure.

Posted by: pokerface1208 | March 8, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

I love the look of tonight's second line. I bet they are on the ice for at least 2 Caps goals tonight. Final score 5-3 Caps!

Posted by: nomarjax01 | March 8, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

I think Carlson will continue to improve at the NHL level as he gains experience. I don't think anyone is having issues with his development. He has to get a little better at getting the puck out of the zone and I fully expect him to improve with time. And, as he gets more comfortable and confident the offensive part of his game will emerge. I'm hoping all this happens by the time the playoffs start.

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | March 8, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Serious question: Why doesn't BB give Ovie, Backstrom and Semin a day off? (Not on the same day, though.) These guys look tired and they are not playing well. This is the regular season, and the Caps have pretty much accomplished everything they need to. We need to be healthy and well-rested for the playoffs. Mike Green needed the rest last year, did not get it, and played horribly in the playoffs. I know Ovie wants to play every minute of every game, but why not give him a night off? If not that, why not play him for only 10 - 15 minutes?

Posted by: PotomacDad1 | March 8, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Good to see Morrison with Chimera. They work really well together. And Morisson being out of the lineup could work out pretty good. Erskine has been pretty solid this season. I'd like to see Walker in the lineup as much as possible because he always makes really smart plays. Even if nothing comes out of it, he'll make sure the puck gets in deep before turning it over.

Posted by: Stu_c | March 8, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

aaaahhhhhh
NO MORE ERSKINE

@ stu
Erskine hasnt been "actually" good this season, he has just been good for erskine

he is a stay-at-home 7th d-man, not a starting 6 on a Stanley Cup winner, i'm sorry, i like him in a pinch, but he shouldnt be playing unless someone is hurt...(or tonight is fine cause boudreau is sending a message to morrisone)

Carlson has looked like a fish out of water sometimes, i see a lot to like in his play: sharp passes, the ability to skate with the puck without getting flustered, and no fear of the corners...BUT he needs to get stronger on his stick and at clearing the puck

he isnt better than alzner, right now...where is Alzner?

Posted by: cotelloer | March 8, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

I really like Chimera, Flash , and Fehr together. I think that line works pretty well. However, I don't think there is any way they can stay together if Flash is going to go 2 for 10 on faceoffs. I'm not sure Chimera should be dropped to the 4th line like he was the other night, so what does Bruce do going forward?

Posted by: WVPhil | March 8, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

he isnt better than alzner, right now...where is Alzner?


Posted by: cotelloer | March 8, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

don't you think Alzner would be here playing if BB and GMGM thought he could do a better job than Carlson? it's not like the playoffs are months from now

Posted by: joek443 | March 8, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

@cotelloer: Apparently GMGM and BB don't agree with you. They have obviously moved Carlson ahead of Alzner in the system.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | March 8, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

I also like the Chimera, Flash , and Fehr line.

But I believe that while every1 thinks faceoffs are important.

Studies have shown that faceoffs aren't a great determinant in overall winning.

Intuitively I would disagree but the data doesn't lie.

Here are a couple of great article on this:
http://www.fearthefin.com/2009/11/11/1125724/the-importance-of-faceoffs

http://www.puckprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=101

In short:
over the course of roughly one thousand playoff games since 1997-98, having a 55 percent to 45 percent faceoff advantage over your opponent statistically gains you zero goals and zero wins.

Posted by: Rocc00 | March 8, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

@rocco00: That is shocking. I think I have also heard that outhitting the other team makes it likelier that you will lose. Have you seen that stat anywhere?

Posted by: ccCapsfan | March 8, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

I think Alzner and Carlson play different roles. Carlson is a puck carrier, and there is room in the lineup for someone in that role, even with Corvo being added. Alzner is in the responsible, stay-at-home role. For him to play, they would probably have to sit Poti. I think the Caps prefer to go with the veteran through the playoffs. Next year is another story, IMO.

Posted by: zmega | March 8, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

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