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Varlamov to Start in Atlanta

Simeon Varlamov will start in Atlanta tomorrow night -- and it could be an important one for 20-year-old.

The question of which goaltender -- Varlamov or Brent Johnson -- will be Jose Theodore's backup in the playoffs still has not been answered.

Yet, that is.

Johnson, once again, faced shots today in full gear and appears to be getting closer to making his return from hip surgery. If Johnson is ready to go in the coming week or two, that could force Caps management and the coaching staff to make a difficult choice: Go with the talented -- but raw -- Varlamov, or turn to Johnson, the 32-year-old veteran who hasn't played in an NHL game since Feb. 1.

"That is not my call right now," Coach Bruce Boudreau said this morning. "I have a soft spot for Brent who wasn't able to play last year. He's working his way back into shape, and if he's game ready, we might go with Brent. But if Varly is hot, we might go with him."

"Right now, Theo is our guy," he added. "Let's hope he doesn't get hurt."

Reading between the lines, that would seem to indicate that Varlamov's performance tomorrow against the Thrashers could significantly impact the Caps' decision. Theodore, meantime, is scheduled to play both of the remaining regular season games as his final tuneup before the playoffs.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 6, 2009; 1:05 PM ET
 
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Next: Morning Reading List: Aucoin's Big Chance

Comments

Man, last post...

Rank Player Points per Game
1 Alexander Ovechkin 1.39
2 Alexander Semin 1.27
3 Mike Green 1.08
4 Nicklas Backstrom 1.05
5 Brooks Laich 0.63
6 Sergei Fedorov 0.63
7 Viktor Kozlov 0.61
8 Keith Aucoin 0.56
9 Tomas Fleischmann 0.50
10 Michael Nylander 0.46
11 Eric Fehr 0.43
12 Tom Poti 0.25
13 Dave Steckel 0.25
14 Boyd Gordon 0.22
15 Tyler Sloan 0.19
16 Shaone Morrisonn 0.19
17 Chris Clark 0.19
18 Milan Jurcina 0.18
19 Jeff Schultz 0.18
20 Karl Alzner 0.17
21 Matt Bradley 0.13
22 John Erskine 0.08
23 Donald Brashear 0.06

That, my friends, is some cherry-picking. Aucoin has play about six games this season so his numbers are not only skewed - maybe too low, maybe too high - but completely irrelevant. I'll argue the too low side, just for fun, and say that Kozlov's number are way too high for what we've seen over the last half season. On the other side, Aucoin isn't much better than Michael Nylander - a pariah on this board, if anyone is.

I think Backstrom is far more important to the team this year than Semin - point average or not - because he plays every game and that's critical. Unless you frame per game scoring numbers, they're for junk.

I like Aucoin a lot but to even ponder, via these numbers, that he's a top ten player on this team, is folly.

By this logic, Lepisto at .57, is just a successful as Aucoin, and he's a defenseman.

Posted by: saintex | April 6, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

From previous,

@KITTYPAWZ & ANYBODY ELSE INTERESTED

As I have mentioned in the past I run a "bracket style" NHL playoff tournament. I know Kittypawz and some others are interested but I'd like to make this as big as I can get it. Currently I have about 15-20 people in. Anybody else interested email me at this name at yahoo.com. I can email you all the rules etc. To me it's just as much fun as the NCAA tourney. We've done this for over 10yrs and we've done it so many different way but this seems to be the best. So if you're interested let me know. And hey, at least this year if you did pick the Caps to win at least you wouldn't be admitted into a psych ward! Each bracket is $20 and you can submit up to 2, winner take all.

Posted by: pokerface1208 | April 6, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I don't think anyone is going by that logic.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 6, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

@richmond, sure they were. That's exactly what the post said, that Aucoin, based on points per game, was a top 10 player. Can't read that any other way. It's not a great way to assess players - that's my point. Particulaly on a player with nine games this season.

Posted by: saintex | April 6, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Wait, what post? You mean the actual post or comments on a post? I see nothing in this post except talks of Varly.

I guess i need to go read the comments in the other recent posts too.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 6, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

@richmond, it was in the top half of the last set of comments. I posted it there just as the new story came up here....

Posted by: saintex | April 6, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I see it now.

I would hope that they are focusing more in on what else he brings to the table, particularly this comment:

"But even if he doesn't make the cut, he could play a much bigger role on next year's team, I'm told. The coaching staff has been impressed with Aucoin's tenacity and the engery boost that he provides."

But you are right. Judging someone's performance solely based on their point/game is a bit naive, especially when they have only been here as a call-up.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 6, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

We have to wait till the end of the regular season to find out about the playoff schedule, dont we?

Posted by: oo7 | April 6, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I think Aucoin would be great on the third or fourth line - maybe third? Tons of energy, hardworking, makes things happen. And you can't beat the 500k price tag. Based on what happens in free agency, I think he's got a great chance to make it up for the full season next year.

Posted by: saintex | April 6, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't want to get into a debate over who is more valuable, Semin or Backstrom. But why doesn't anyone ever comment on Backstrom's superb backchecking (no pun intended)? He is always back when needed and makes many great plays/takeaways in our defensive end. Same cannot be said for all Caps forwards. Nicky is a true two-way hockey player, something that cannot be underestimated for the playoffs.

Posted by: chevychase10 | April 6, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

If anyone has Miss Cleo's phone number, we could get a jump on the playoff schedule. :)

Posted by: _Mark | April 6, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

i like Varly, but based on what I have seen this season (and if he is 100%) i think i go with Johnnie as backup. Varly's most recent outting against the Sabres was shakey.

Posted by: doughless | April 6, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

True but I'm trying to get an idea of how many people are in etc. It's a lot of work on my part to get this thing going and once the season ends it's a lot of work and a short time to do it. It's a lot of fun though so if you want send me an email and I'll send you all the rules etc. It is a lot of fun.

Posted by: pokerface1208 | April 6, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

All you have to do is watch Aucoin play and you can tell he sees the game very well. In anticipates on the forecheck and has been the most impressive forward call-up of the season. IMO Bourque's chances have been used up. Early in the season he got chances on the PP point and couldn't produce. Aucoin is a playmaker, and a center, isn't that what most of you Caps critics been complaining about, lack of quality center depth?

Osala hasn't impressed either, although he hasn't gotten many chances. He looked very bad last week. Giroux had time on line 2 and couldn't finish on glorious scoring opportunities. Part of getting to stay on with the big club is performing when you get your chances, can you do it on the big stage, for Aucoin the answer has been yes, for Osala, Bourque, and Giroux the answer is no.

Brash is a liability, his number over the season don't lie. Everyone calls him an enforcer, when has he effectively served as an enforcer this season. When Semin was check from behind in the St. Louis game OV jumped into the pile. Any any point after that did our "enforcer" send a message, absolutely not. Often times Brash's line gets trapped in the zone because they fumble pucks at the blue line, that has become a recurring problem for Bradley of late too, he reacts to the point man when the pucks coming around the boards. Aucoin made our 4th line a scoring threat two games in a row. Then when he was moved up to play with Flash and Semin, he made a play. When he was inserted into the PP, he made a play.

Posted by: fanohock1 | April 6, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

@chevy - Backstrom is who's going to make this team rumble over the next 5 - 10 years. Ovi is the flash of brillance and Nicky will be the engine. The most brilliant thing about him - and I saw it all game long yesterday, again - is that when #19 gets the puck anywhere on the ice there are precious few that will get it away from him. More importantly, under pressure in our own zone, when we're all holding our breath and hoping for a clearance and no crazy passes - once Nick has the puck (and he'll go get it), all is well. The guy is ice.

Posted by: saintex | April 6, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I got notice that my tickets for Game 2 in Round 1 is making its way to me by tomorrow. If anything, I'll be able to let you guys know when Game 2 is. Otherwise, nhl.com isn't showing the schedule, though they show that we're matched up against the Canadiens in Round 1. Anyone able to confirm that and/or share the dates for Round 1? I'll post what date I have for Game 2 when I get my tickets unless someone beats me to the punch. =) Goo, Caps!

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | April 6, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

I think Aucoin should stay. Is he the greatest player in the world? No. But the guy has talent, and all the goals in the A obviously helped his confidence. Further, lets be honest, there is a lot less fighting in the playoffs. Do we really think Brashear will be logging a ton of minutes? Aucion makes the 4th line a nice unit. Two centers (Aucoin and Steckel) and then a tough-nosed banger like Brads. If we're playing the Flyers, maybe we dress Brash instead, but otherwise I would like to see someone faster and with more goal scoring in them.

As for Varlamov, his rebound control has looked like crap. He might be the goalie of the future, but a 6 foot rebound through the slot in the playoffs is going in the net, every time.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | April 6, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

@left,

based on last season, if I remember correctly, my playoff strip just has Game 1, Game 2, etc printed on it with no dates. You just have to play along with the schedule when it comes out. I don't think we'll get date until the 12th at the earliest. The NHL no doubt wants to set up the best primetime match-ups and I think the Caps position in that heirarchy can change. Caps v. Pens = huge; Caps v. Habs = so-so. I'm with someone earlier who guessed we'll see Friday, April 17th at 7p and Sunday, April 19th at noon or 3p. Worst case scenario, Game 2 is on Saturday after a Thursday Game 1. You're flying in, right? I think for Game 2 it's a safe bet it'll be Sat or Sun.

Of course, I'm just blowing smoke and talking junk.

Posted by: saintex | April 6, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

personally I like Aucoin's speed, along with his tenacity and play-making ability/possibilities. I fear that we don't have enough team speed at times, and that could hurt us in the playoffs. Aucoin has some good speed that I think could be well-suited for the playoffs.

Posted by: sargeantmofo | April 6, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

@oldtimehockey: I have a sneaking preference for Neuvirth over Varlamov - Neuvirth's a very good goalie one-on-one when he doesn't freeze (his shootout record in the AHL is very good). Is he as athletic or talented as Varlamov? No, but he's got more technique and more polish, and he scares me a lot less. I still think Varlamov has an angel sitting on his crossbar.

Not to say that Varlamov isn't good, but Neuvirth is easier to watch.

Posted by: kittypawz | April 6, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

@saintex-

I totally agree with what you say about Backstrom taking care of the puck, particularly in our defensive zone. I also agree it was particularly evident in last night's game, including when he was on the PK, which he should probably do more of. You gotta love Nicky. Let's Go Caps!

Posted by: chevychase10 | April 6, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

@LeftCoastCapsFan

Your tickets won't say the date. They'll say "Game 2" or "Game B" with no date. People get 16 tickets with their package, the maximum number possible playoff games. The schedule isn't released until Sunday evening when the PO teams and their placing are finalized. The whole series schedule will be dependent on a lot of factors, but mostly TV and arena availability.

A few years back the Caps (with home ice advantage) got totally screwed by arena scheduling between here and Pittsburgh. I think the circus was scheduled in one of the arenas. They hosted game 1 and then went to Pittsburgh for games 2 and 3 and then back home for 4 and 5. Needless to say it was a debacle and they lost.

That being said Game 1 probably next Wednesday or Thursday and Game 2 two days after that.

Posted by: SuperG5 | April 6, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I have commented on Backstrom's awesome backchecking numerous times.

Him and Flash are our two ripoff artists. They just need to refine it a bit better, and get those malkin-like takeaway/giveaway numbers.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 6, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

The playoffs are due to start April 15th. That is all that you can count on. Our first game may be the 15th, 16th, or 17th. We won't know until the season is over and the pairings are final. So another week to wait. The playoff tickets are out for season ticket holders and they are listed as Game 1, Game 2, Game 3, and Game 4 for each of the rounds.

Posted by: _Mark | April 6, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

@ saintex & leftcoastcapsfan
Exactly, looked at my tickets and there are no dates on the playoff tix, just Game 1, Game 2....
have to wait for the schedule

Posted by: caps28fan | April 6, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I like what I've seen from Aucoin this season, and I hope he gets a solid chance to come back and play for us all year next year.

Re: who backs up Theodore.

If Johnson is healthy, I would go with him right now over either of our two AHL-ers. Varlamov's rebound control still needs a lot of work - more than I'm really comfortable with at a playoff level. And, he's had SEVERAL shots that either missed an empty net, or bounced off a goal post and ricocheted someplace other than into the net. The boy has been VERY lucky in general, and in his last start, painfully unlucky, with three goals going in off of our own guys. :(

Don't get me wrong. I like Varlamov. He's had some injury problems this season, though, and that makes me as nervous as his rebound control, especially going into the playoffs.

I also like Michal Neuvirth, and I'd really like to see him start once more this year before the playoffs, too, but there probably won't be time.

We'll see; I trust Boudreau to make the right decision when the time comes.

LET'S GO, CAPS!!!

Posted by: irockthered | April 6, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

any thoughts on why our D doesn't employ the trap?? or, do we just do a bad job of it?? our forecheck looks good and is effective when we use it. i am just at a loss for why our D just can't get it together.

Posted by: doughless | April 6, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Re: backup goalie
Does it really matter? Bruce stuck with Huet even though the Flyers were literally running over him. I would guess that Theo is the guy unless his leg falls off.

Posted by: koalatek | April 6, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

any thoughts on why our D doesn't employ the trap?? or, do we just do a bad job of it?? our forecheck looks good and is effective when we use it. i am just at a loss for why our D just can't get it together.

Posted by: doughless | April 6, 2009 2:27 PM |

The trap takes all 5 guys on the ice to do it correctly. It is not solely a defensive tactic. It also runs quite adversely with BB's system.

and here is the obligatory post that needs to be said whenever the trap is discussed:
The trap ruined hockey.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 6, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

When i say defensive, I mean like a tactic that only the D men do.

I don't mean that it isn't a defensive strategy as a whole, because it is.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 6, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I like nothing more than beating a trap team. I hate the trap.

Posted by: saintex | April 6, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

BB's system is pretty much anti-trap without trying to be.

You beat the trap with those long bomb passes...and guess what..the Caps LOVE those long bomb passes through the gut.

Three d men high probably give us more trouble than a team who employs a full blown trap system, though this remains untested and only in theory.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 6, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I think most are aware of Backstroms great defensive play this year, for the most part. He has his slip ups, and the top line isnt very high in the +/- dept, but overall his sophmore year has been fantastic. I want him to shoot more, but i'm sure the coaches do too.

RichmondPhil, you forgot to add Fehr to the take away list. I'd put him ahead of Flash. He uses his long reach and stick extremely effectively.

Kittypawz, you are correct about the angel on Varly's crossbar. how long that Angel sits is in question. The Sabres could have put that game away in the first. It was their own fault, not anything great that varlamov did.

Doughless, our defense is made up of young inexperienced draft picks, minor league toilers and castoffs, and bit players (like Poti). Then there's Green. If it wasn't for the Bruins, we'd be short back there.

Posted by: oo7 | April 6, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

@saintex: From your first post, I don't think points per game is necessarily the stat to be looking at. I much prefer PROD, or ice time per point to that stat, as it reflects that Ovechkin gets 25 minutes a game where as flash gets half that.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/teams/stats?team=was&sort=production&order=false&season=2009&seasonType=2&type=exp&split=0

As alarming as it is, Aucoin is 4th on that list - he's even above Mike Green... There's no doubt he's playing his heart out every shift, and I think he's being rewarded for it.

So take Aucoin off of the list, does it not reflect about what you would expect team wise? Look at where Kozlov and Nylander are for example.

Posted by: Raber | April 6, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Flash doesn't do it anywhere as near as often, but he does it so cleanly.

I don't know how backs, fehr, and flash stack up in minor PIM, but I am thinking that they are all pretty low especially Flash's.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 6, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

i hate the trap because, if done well, shuts down good offensive teams. as for our D, seems to me that we have been doing more chasing breakaways instead of making the long pass.

Posted by: doughless | April 6, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Good idea to play Varly...Theo doesn't have the best luck in Atlanta! I will say that goaltending worries me going into the playoffs, but I hope Theo pulls it together like he did for the Avs in the post-season (well for the little time they were in the race). So far, so good with Aucoin...keep it up! I would love for the Caps to at least make it to the 2nd round this year, PLEASE! Of course my wildest dream would be a Stanley Cup being hoisted over a Caps jersey at the Verizon Center, I could die happy then!

Posted by: NatyBG | April 6, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

@Raber, I like that set of numbers and I agree it's a better way to slice-and-dice. I'll still hold out on Aucoin's numbers because it's only nine games and that sampling is too small (not intended as an Aucoin slight!). That may well be where he'll slot in but I want to see 65 or so games before counting it. I do think he can be somewhere in the Brooks Laich numbers area - and that would be awesome.

Posted by: saintex | April 6, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I think we should give Aucoin a start in net...he has been so good lately...hate to send him down...I mean look at his PPG...He is a top 10 fwd on the team.

Posted by: SA-Town | April 6, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I think Varlamov's the likeliest of Caps' backup goalies to skate from the bench right into that eerie out-of-the-blue goaltending groove. You know, the one visible only to Patrick Roy, Cam Ward, and certain kinds of dogs.
And Backstrom rules, okay? From his utterly impossible passes to his Dramatically Improved face-off work, right down to his 'how nice' celebration style. 19 is cooler and smoother than Edmonton's sheet. Too bad he's so old and has doubtless peaked....

Posted by: redlineblue | April 6, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

personnally i think they're not comfortablke with Theodore and are hoping Varlimov puts a big couple of games (didnt help himself vs Sabres). then maybe they take a shot on him, like the Habs did last year with Carey Price. If Theo stays on his pace of 1 soft goal per game, Caps could get bounced in 1st round.

Posted by: Caps09 | April 6, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Ovechkin won TSN.ca's "pool A" for play of the year! But everyone needs to go and show Semin some support as well, he got nominated for "pool B". GO VOTE!

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=273984#clip154591

Posted by: NatyBG | April 6, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Goals allowed for the playoff teams are a bit scatter. Whether it's soft goals, hard goals, good goals, weak goals, there are some teams giving up about the same number as the Caps: Flyers, Pens, Habs, Wings, Flames, and Ducks. I think or offense is better than most so I'll take an average goals against total (and I think it's right in the middle of the NHL) and our offense in a seven-game series with anyone. And, as much as I hate to admit it, this teams does have the on/off switch which you don't much care for in a your favorite team, but that ON is really good. We've seen them win some hard fought 2-1 games last month - on the road - and come playoffs they won't be skating around in teh off mode, believe me. I'd love JT60 to not give up any goals, soft of not, but it's going to happen. I'm at peace.

Peace.

Posted by: saintex | April 6, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

From the Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics Department...

"How many goals have been scored with Brashear sitting in the box?"

Well, let's see... in 2008 (I haven't done 2009 yet), we have:

* Boudreau*, Clark, Erskine, Kozlov, Schultz, Semin, Team: 1
* Collins, Green, Jurcina, Nylander, Poti: 2
* Backstrom, Steckel: 3
* Morrisonn: 5
* Ovechkin: 6

Now... I don't think ANYONE in their right mind is going to consider sitting Ovechkin, but he's responsible for 6 goals while we were on the PK, -AND- a short-handed goal for the other guys, all before the beginning of 2009!

Morrisonn? He's another story. We'll see the rest of it when I do 2009, which will be later, since I need to get back to studying now.

Note the missing name here: Brashear was responsible for ZERO goals while we were on the penalty kill in 2008.

The penalty on Boudreau was served as a bench minor. It was for abusing the officials after they said Alexander Semin dived when David Backes cross-checked him into the wall and put him out for the next several games.

Posted by: irockthered | April 6, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

@kitypawz, Yeah, Nuevirth is certainly talented as well. Clearly, Varlamov was expected to be the next guy. But, he was injured twice in the last year, and there has been some whispering of concern about a 20 year old goalie who gets injured. (Fair, no, but that's the breaks.)

I think someone in the last thread asked which Forward isn't coming back. From memory, I think Brash, Kozzie, Fehr, Gordo and Fedorov are all UFAs next year (Fehr might be an RFA). Fedorov is great, but he's expensive. As much as I like him around, I can't see him being here. I think Brash is ouliving his usefulness, given that there's enough willing (if not capable) bruisers around. Kozzie, Fehr or Gordo might be back, might not. I could see anyone of them leaving without much ill effect, with the possible exception of Kozzie, who at times has been very effective on the PP and the 1st line. (At other times, not so much.) Aucoin, Giroux, Bourque have all been decent at times up here, so I could see any or all of them here permanetly in 2010.

Back line: Alzner's in, with Mo, Schultz and/or Jurcina gone.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | April 6, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Raber

Aucoin's looked good and he works hard. But 9 games? He's played in 13% of the games Green's played. That's just not enough to predict anything.

Posted by: Greg S. | April 6, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

irockthered, just to clarify, is that 6 for Ovechkin just Ovi's penalties and not the many times he served the penalty for "too many men"?

Posted by: koalatek | April 6, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

if we play montreal in the first round, can everybody throw cigarettes at carey price?

http://www.totalprosports.com/blog/index.php/2009/02/canadiens-carey-price-loves-to-party/

Posted by: _stevo | April 6, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

i dont think Juice is gone. too much potential for him to consistently use his size & slap shot (which he is doing more and more). plus, i dont know what his cap hit is, but i dont ever hear about his oversized contract.

Posted by: doughless | April 6, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

+Keith seems to make the other players he plays with play better

-some players make costly mistakes when switching from the ahl to the nhl & playoffs are a hard time to discover whether that will happen

i'd vote for him to stay on the roster

Posted by: am_jim | April 6, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

@IRTR, are those numbers really accurate? I find it impossible to believe that only one goal has been scored with Semin in the box. I'm not picking on Semin but he's miscues over a few months of the season were pretty well covered here - maybe it was 2009 with Semin but the dude has been in the box for at least 6 goals this season.

Posted by: saintex | April 6, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Caps arguebaly have the worst #1 going into the playoffs. You cant have average goaltending. You need a guy who stops everything he should + robs one or two guys each game.

Posted by: Caps09 | April 6, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

I agree with doughless - Jurcina is their most improved defenseman this year and he isn't going anywhere. I suspect Morrisonn will not be back.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | April 6, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

I'm voting Semin for pool 2. The pirouette was pretty, but thats every NHL video game I've ever played. Semin stick handled on his knees and let off that wrist shot. I mean, come on. That was ridiculous.

Posted by: oo7 | April 6, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Caps arguebaly have the worst #1 going into the playoffs. You cant have average goaltending. You need a guy who stops everything he should + robs one or two guys each game.

Posted by: Caps09

That guy would be Thomas.
I think Boston is going far. Bruins vs Caps in eastern final.

Posted by: oo7 | April 6, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Any one know what the broadcast situation will be for the first rounds or the playoffs. Will NBC carry any? Will there be any dreaded VS blackouts? Etc.

Posted by: griffin13 | April 6, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

tominfl, You're right. Bourque would require waivers. He signed his contract in August of '05 when he was 19. He gets four years or 160 games. Unfortunately, its whatever comes first, so in this case, this August would be 4 years. In theory, he should require waivers. I'm free all day tomorrow, so I'll check the status on all our Hershey/SC guys then. I'm sure there might be loop holes for them to squeeze up through, though. One thing's for sure, this off-season is not going to be easy for the front office.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 6, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

PLAYOFF HOCKEY BRACKETS

@Kittypawz - I need your domain again or you can email me at this name at yahoo.com.

Some people have emailed me requesting for their identities to remain anonymous. This will be respected. I'm not here to blow anybody's cover or reveal anybody for any reason. This is purely for fun, we except the money part anyway! LOL. Generating plenty of interest and would love more so if you or anybody else is interested please email so I can get you rules etc.

Posted by: pokerface1208 | April 6, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Tim Thomas? No. He is extremely streaky and I have seen tons of softies go in through him.

best goalies in the playoffs this year are all in the West, brodeur aside. (who has been utter crap recently.)

Posted by: richmondphil | April 6, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Sorry if I gave the impression that I think Aucoin is better than Green...

I'm just saying that while 9 games is a small sample size, some credit's due for what he's done with the ice time he's gotten. Rereading your original post, that isn't at all what you implied, so now I feel a bit silly...

Aucoin isn't a top 10 player on our team. He is on my list of players that I want in DC come playoff time though.

Posted by: Raber | April 6, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

@IRTR, it was 2009 (Jan and Feb) that Semin really cost us, I shouldn't have questioned your numbers! - it seems like yesterday. Of course, he's gotten over it and played so well in March and April. I did a little work for you and it was a bad thing for Semin: in the box for goals on January 13th (Oilers), 20th (Sens), 27th (B's), 31st (Wings), Feb 18th (Habs), and 24th (Flyers). A few of those in Jan were game winners or game-tying goals. Man, we were pretty pissed in there in those days. I knew it seemed like every time I looked up Semin was skating from the box to the bench. (It didn't look at March but I don't remember many times he's been in the box since then.)

I'm glad he's over it.

Posted by: saintex | April 6, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

No? THomas has been the best goalie all year. I respectfully disagree. The Caps are the only team to give him fits this year.

Posted by: oo7 | April 6, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Theo will be fine in the playoffs. He's streaky, we know that, but he's had some fantastic runs, think about after the MSG debacle in December. He's had some great runs and his numbers are pretty good the second half of the season. I'll take him in seven-games sets for a month because I know our offense will be excellent.

Posted by: saintex | April 6, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Theo has more playoff experience then many of the Goalies in the East.

He won a 1st round series last year. Only 8 goalies can say that.

Posted by: SA-Town | April 6, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

My point with Juice was that he, along with Mo and Schultz don't have contracts for next year. Yes, he's better than he was. But, they still have to sign him, and deal with the Cap.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | April 6, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

griffin13, if it's like last year, Versus and NBC will select games they want to broadcast, all others would be locally broadcast. IIRC NBC is Saturday and Sunday only until the Finals, and then NBC will carry games 1,2,5,6 and 7 of the Finals.

Posted by: koalatek | April 6, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

thanks koalatek!

Posted by: griffin13 | April 6, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

No? THomas has been the best goalie all year. I respectfully disagree. The Caps are the only team to give him fits this year.

Posted by: oo7 | April 6, 2009 4:21 PM |

No he hasn't. Him and Fernandez split time up until recently. and the Caps are far from the only team to give him fits this year. He is extremely streaky, and hence why Fernandez saw that much ice time because Fernandez is not that good.

Is it a coincidence that the #1 and #2 GAAs for most of the year come out of the same system? Probably not.

I'll take a playoff-tried Kippy or Giggy over Thomas any day.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 6, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Nabokov, Backstrom, luongo, etc.

I'll admit that I would be more comfortable with Thomas over Theo, but I don't think he is even top 5 in terms of goalies in the playoffs right now.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 6, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Raber

Don't EVEN think it's silly. He's played well while he's been here. And anyway, I have a pretty good chunk of the "silly postings" market here. Your silliness pales in comparison. :D

Posted by: Greg S. | April 6, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Raber:
Greg is right ... ;-)

Posted by: Boo- | April 6, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

What! The question is "which goaltender -- Varlamov or Brent Johnson -- will be Jose Theodore's backup in the playoffs?" My question is who can REPLACE Theo and have a chance at becoming a breakthrough, come-from-behind, surprise genius in the playoffs, the way Cam Ward or Carey Price turned out to be.

I just don't trust Theo to deliver brilliant performances through several rounds. He is too uneven. And, if he doesn't have a hot streak, who has even a remote chance of emerging as an unexpected hero? In my opinion of our three available choices, it is not one who has an edge in experience (Johnson) or in technique (Neuvy) but the one with raw talent, aggressiveness and boldness-Varly.

As far as an angel sitting on the side of Varly, it seems to me that his NHL and European record is much more successful and extensive than our other goalies'. Am I wrong? He is still raw and untested. I wish they had used him more this season. But I will take a chance at brilliance that mediocre reliability.

Now of course, I will reconsider if he is a disaster tomorrow. But goaltending continues to be my worry for the playoffs.

Posted by: caraveli | April 6, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Boo

Hey! I resemble that remark!

Posted by: Greg S. | April 6, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

So the Hockey News reports that Detroit and Franzen are close to an extension. Looks like it's for around $4M which is, according to THN, about $1M short of what he could get as UFA. Looks like Detroit is getting a discount.

I bring this up in response to sign RFA's this summer. Perhaps playing for the Caps will bring us a similar discount?

Posted by: Greg S. | April 6, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

caraveli,

"come-from-behind, surprise genius in the playoffs, the way Cam Ward or Carey Price turned out to be"

I kinda remember Price sucking. Bad.

Posted by: Steve_R | April 6, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

I would not count on anyone replacing Theo as No. 1. If he got shelled or hurt in a game and Semyon stood on his head, maybe, but in the normal course I don't think it will happen. More likely is that Jose takes it up several notches, and the team solidifies play around him.

Posted by: Sonyask | April 6, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Greg S, I sure hope so. But not everyone will be back anyway. We don't have enough contracts to resign them all.

Steve_R, Price wasn't bad until they had to play Philly. I think their crease game got in his head. He was getting run worse than Huet.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 6, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Greg:
Sorry, I couldn't resist! ;-)

caraveli:
I like the way you think ... apparently we are the only two who feel that way.

Steve:
If memory serves, Price was really good after the trade deadline (post-season? not so much ...).

Posted by: Boo- | April 6, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

@koalatek - Just his penalties.

19-NOV-2008: Interference
20-NOV-2008: Interference
24-NOV-2008: Closing hand on puck (5 on 3)
02-DEC-2008: Interference on goalkeeper
06-DEC-2008: Holding
26-DEC-2008: Slashing

Posted by: irockthered | April 6, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

@saintex - Heh. Thanks. :-) Semin was out for a lot of 2008 with the pair of injuries he took, so naturally he wouldn't have spent a lot of time in the box during that time. ;-) I'm expecting that he's been responsible for more goals scored on us while we're on the PK than Ovechkin has, but I haven't done 2009 yet, so...

What I am really looking at was the question "how many goals have been served while Brashear is in the box?" and the answer for 2008 was a big fat goose egg. The man may spend a lot of time in there, but we don't tend to get scored on when he does. I suspect that the reason for this is that he's not on the PK most of the time anyway, and those who are, are some of our best at doing so. :-)

Posted by: irockthered | April 6, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Boo

All grins. :)

Free Press sez:

"One big reason Franzen wants to stay in Detroit is the bond he has with teammates. The Wings have seven other Swedes on the roster.

"The hockey's way more important than that (money)," Franzen said after the morning skate. "I couldn't imagine playing on a team where we're losing all the time."

In thinking of the possibilities for Schultz, Mo and Juice you have to be looking at TBL, ATL, PHO, COL and a few other bottom feeders that need "value" players. Who wants to play with them when you could play for a contender? What would their expected bump be if they went to market? I don't think it'd be that great.

Posted by: Greg S. | April 6, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

I would not count on anyone replacing Theo as No. 1. If he got shelled or hurt in a game and Semyon stood on his head, maybe, but in the normal course I don't think it will happen. More likely is that Jose takes it up several notches, and the team solidifies play around him.

Posted by: Sonyask | April 6, 2009 5:10 PM

I agree. You have to expect that any team we face in the playoffs is going to create opportunities to score. What will make a difference for the Caps is getting the secondary scoring like we saw yesterday.

I vote Johnny for backup. He looked solid in the first half of the season and he's faced all the teams we could go up against before.

I totally agree with the kudos for Nicky in the defensive end. Don't miss Semin's contributions there, though. They both have 73 takeaways for the season (Nicky in 79 games, Semin in 59).

Posted by: 28_is_amazing | April 6, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Random, prank-related video of Joe Finley:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBndB4DN-5E&feature=related

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 6, 2009 5:50 PM | Report abuse

So the Hockey News reports that Detroit and Franzen are close to an extension. Looks like it's for around $4M which is, according to THN, about $1M short of what he could get as UFA. Looks like Detroit is getting a discount.

I bring this up in response to sign RFA's this summer. Perhaps playing for the Caps will bring us a similar discount?

Posted by: Greg S. | April 6, 2009 5:05 PM |

Franzen could probably get 6 mil if he played his card rights.
I wonder what will happen to Hossa then?

RE; Theo and Varly

Wanting to ride Varly is borderline insane.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 6, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Theo is the #1 goalie this playoff season unless something strange happens. Losing consistently would not count as "strange". Only repeated shellings and injury count.

Let's review Theo's year: Started poorly and was legitimately at risk for losing the starting gig to Johnson who made no secret that he wanted Theo's job. Theo started playing better- a lot better. Then Johnson got hurt, and frankly I think he's played worse since then. He's been ok, but I can think of more than a few soft goals he given up in the last month or so. Maybe he's tired, maybe he's phoining it in a bit like the skaters sometimes seem to be. Maybe he'll be more focused when the playoffs start.

But, let's say Johnny is the back up. Do we really expect that he'll be anything but emergency relief? Not that he isn't capable, but can he be ready for the playoffs just by pracitce? Its a far cry from the press box to a playoff starter. I'm not even talking physically, which will be an issue, but mentally.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | April 6, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

richmondphil:
It may be insane, but I am still reserving judgment until after the next three. Who knows - he may channel Stanley Cup Cam Ward.

Posted by: Boo- | April 6, 2009 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Well! I am now prepared to answer the question, "How many goals have been scored this season when Brashear is in the box?"

The answer is.... ONE!

Yes, the other team has scored precisely ONCE on us with Brash in the box, and us on the penalty kill.

That incident took place on the Jan. 9th shutout we got handed by the Blue Jackets; of their three goals, two were on the power play. Our other culprit was Jurcina.

Other culprits in 2009:

* Brashear, Fleischmann, Laich, Nylander, Ovechkin^, Schultz, Sloan - 1
* Steckel, Team - 2
* Erskine, Green, Jurcina, Morrison^^ - 3
* Fedorov - 4
* Backstrom - 5
* Semin - 8

^ Ovechkin was 2nd in for a 5-on-3.
^^ Two of Morrisonn's were 5-on-3. The first, he was first in the box, and the second, he was second.

So our top badboys for being in the box when goals were scored are:

* Semin - 9 this season
* Morrisonn - 8 this season (see above for 5-on-3 situations)
* Backstrom - 8 this season (one was a 5-on-3 with Ovechkin being the second guy in)
* Ovechkin - 7 this season (two where he was 2nd in on a 5-on-3)

Posted by: irockthered | April 6, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

impressive research irtr.

Personally, I don't think Johnny will have the backup role. As Tarik mentions above, much depends on tomorrow night, but if Semyon does well against Atl, I think he may be suiting up in the playoffs.

I doubt we'll see a backup actually play in the playoffs

Posted by: Sonyask | April 6, 2009 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Question: What was Ovechkin doing on the ice during a PK those two times? Was it a strange situation where it was 4 on 4 hockey and he got whistled for a penalty?

Lends a lot to the theory paraded by some analysts that teams have a harder time killing bad penalties (ala Semin's hooks after giveaways in the offensive zone) than ones you had to take (stopped a goal in the defensive zone).

Posted by: Raber | April 6, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Did you guys hear about the injuries in Montreal? Apparently Markov and Schneider are out for weeks/months. I already thought they would be good to see first round (the Caps play well against them), but now even more so!

Posted by: Boo- | April 6, 2009 7:33 PM | Report abuse

'Wanting' to ride Varlamov in the playoffs might be nutty. Thinking he could be that playoff bolt from the blue is reasonable enough--ask the Canadiens. And thinking Varlamov's got more gunslinger in him than Johnson or Neuvirth is downright sensible.
If bad Theo were to reappear, I'd want Varlamov.

Posted by: redlineblue | April 6, 2009 7:40 PM | Report abuse

ANOTHER THOUGHT- as most of you know I've been stating for a long time that we won't contend for a Cup until we fix our PK. Watching the Det/Buf game right now and I would have never guessed but Det is 26th in the league in PK! Yep and we're 21st! So I'm either right and Detroit won't win it this year either or we've got a shot at it this yr! I just can't imagine winning the Cup and being in the bottom 1/3 of the league in PK. Of course we're 1 and they're 2 on the PP so that makes up for some of it. Looks like it's time for me to do some more research! Yeah! I'll let you know what I find.

Posted by: pokerface1208 | April 6, 2009 7:41 PM | Report abuse

>So our top badboys for being in the box when goals were scored are:

* Semin - 9 this season

For years, we've had the "Gordie Howe hat trick": a goal, an assist, and a fight. I think there should be an "Alex Semin hat trick": a goal, an assist, and a stupid penalty!

Posted by: acesdc | April 6, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse

acesdc: Your analysis on Sasha is a few months out of date. He had a pretty good string going there, but it stopped in favor of responsible play. He obviously worked at it and largely solved the issue.

Posted by: Sonyask | April 6, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse

@Raber - Ovechkin played PK for a while as a Boudreau experiment.

@Sonyask - Yes. Semin's play has cleaned up considerably since the string of bad penalties. I'd credit his run in January to having been out for so long with injury, and still coming back.

16-OCT-2008: Slashing
13-JAN-2009: Hooking
20-JAN-2009: Hooking
27-JAN-2009: Cross-checking
31-JAN-2009: Hooking
18-FEB-2009: Hooking
24-FEB-2009: Delay of Game (Puck over Glass)
16-MAR-2009: Hooking
19-MAR-2009: Hooking

@pokerface1208 - This is why I have been saying all season that one of our big keys is to stay out of the box. I should point out that this year, we have had 24 games in which nobody scored on us at all when we were on the penalty kill. That's 30.7% of our games.

Posted by: irockthered | April 6, 2009 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Ok so here it is, since the 2000-2001 season, the lowest seed any Stanley Cup winner had during the regular season was 19. In the 00-01 season Colorado was 19th and in 05-06 Carolina was 19th. Other than that no Cup winner was ever ranked below 10th on the PK. In 00-01 Col was 3rd in PP and in 05-06 Car was 17th on PP so this seems to be a surprisingly less crucial stat. Especially when you consider that in 02-03 NJD were dead frickin last in PP percentage! Yes that's right, 30th in the league on the PP and they won the Cup. They were also #1 in PK that year so I think it's safe to say that the PK is critical to playoff success whereas the PP isn't as critical. So if stats mean anything, our wish of a rematch with Detroit isn't happening! Right now the top 10 on the PK are NYR, MIN, NSH, STL, CAL, SJ, LAK, BOS, FLA, PHI. So a SJ vs. Bos final maybe? Let's hope not.

Posted by: pokerface1208 | April 6, 2009 8:13 PM | Report abuse

@acesdc - Hahahaaha! Cute. I'm assuming you mean the "Alex Semin Hat Trick" as a bit of fun, just like the Gordie Howe Hat Trick is.

@Sonyask - I hope we don't have to play anyone but Theodore during the playoffs. That said, I'm still more nervous when Varlamov is in the net than I am when Johnson is (by far) or when Neuvirth is.

One of these days, Varlamov is going to face a team that has good aim. Then he will be caught out multiple times, and we will be slaughtered. I counted no fewer than six or seven shots Sunday night that would have been in the net had someone been there for the rebound, or the missed shot, because Varlamov overcommitted himself. It happened in Montreal, too, where several shots rang off the goal posts.

I don't want to see Varlamov's confidence shot, and I just don't think he's ready to play in the NHL at the playoff level. I wish I could say otherwise, because I like him. But I'd rather see Johnson back up Theodore in the playoffs, if he's healthy.

Posted by: irockthered | April 6, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

@pokerface1208 - In order to complete your research, you should break it down further. (This is why I called my earlier post "lies, damn lies, and statistics!")

In March (our worst month all season as far as wins-losses were concerned), we were:

01-MAR-2009 vs. Panthers - 4/7 on the PK
03-MAR-2009 vs. Hurricanes - 4/5 on the PK, and they scored twice on us short-handed
05-MAR-2009 vs. Maple Leafs - 5/5 on the PK
08-MAR-2009 vs. Penguins - 7/8 on the PK
10-MAR-2009 vs. Predators - 5/5 on the PK
12-MAR-2009 vs. Flyers - 4/4 on the PK
14-MAR-2009 vs. Hurricanes - 6/6 on the PK
16-MAR-2009 vs. Thrashers - 3/5 on the PK
17-MAR-2009 vs. Panthers - 3/3 on the PK
19-MAR-2009 vs. Lightning - 4/5 on the PK
21-MAR-2009 vs. Hurricanes - 7/7 on the PK
24-MAR-2009 vs. Maple Leafs - 2/3 on the PK
27-MAR-2009 vs. Lightning - 5/5 on the PK

59/66 for a .894 penalty kill. That would put us - on our worst month as far as win/lose goes - first in the League for penalty killing. The Rangers have the best right now, at .881, so make of that what you will, but I say we've improved a LOT in that regard.

Overall, we have a .803 penalty kill.

Posted by: irockthered | April 6, 2009 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Alright statsmongers, riddle me this: What influence on playoff wins does a team's relatively weak season-long PK have where the PP is #1 in the league regular season and would be expected to offset a weaker PK.

I suspect there aren't many relevant comparitors. Fact is, we can PK well when we put our minds to it; we can avoid the penalty when we're on top of our game, and we can make them pay on the power play. Generalizing from the regular season won't get you far. There are going to be fewer penalties in the playoffs; play will be different. Granted I wish I had one PK performance back in a certain game 7 OT.

Posted by: Sonyask | April 6, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

So tomorrow night's game is going to tell if Varly will stay for playoffs or not?

I'd wouldn't mind seeing Neuvy!! :D He's been doing great in Hershey lately!

Posted by: rachel216 | April 6, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Haha, Sabres playoff lives are fading away! 2-0 Red Wings.

Posted by: rachel216 | April 6, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

@irock

I agree and disagree with you. I don't know that you can state how a team does in the post season based off of 1 month's sample. Is it good to be improving on things as the playoffs get closer sure but the stats that I presented I'm sure have teams improving on the PK in the last month as well but the bottom line is only 2 times has a team with a PK lower than the top 10 won the Cup in the last 7yrs. And the 2 lower than that were 19th not 20 something. If we're at 89.4% in the month of March and we're currently 21st, what does that say about where we were?

The part I do agree with is that we're getting better and that is never a bad thing. Plus I believe this team can win in many ways, we don't have to score 5 or 6 every game. The reason for my research is that if you're going to build a Cup contender then you have to find out what works and it appears as if you need to be in the top 10 in PK and we can both agree that we are far from that. I'd love for the stats to be wrong, but they rarely are.

Posted by: pokerface1208 | April 6, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

I know Varly has playoff experience in Russia, playing in the "men's league". But I'm not a fan of having Varly here if Johnny's ready to go for a few reasons.
First off, it would suck for Johnny. Granted, he was hurt, but he doesn't deserve this two years in a row. But that's not a good enough reason.
My main reason is wanting Varly to get No. 1 minutes in Hershey for their playoffs. Assuming things go well for the Caps in the off-season, we'll be back in this position for him to get the "NHL playoff experience" next season, as a back-up that's been here all year. I want Varly pressured 8 ways from Sunday in the AHL, just for the experience of North American playoffs. He's done marvelously thus far, but my gut (and my eyes) tell me he needs more time.
That's another reason. The kid is gifted to be sure. Some day, he has every possibility of becoming a Vezina-winning goalie for us. But I would really like to see him work on his rebound control. He's got that amazing athletic talent, but I think he's relying on it too much. Best case scenario, he stops them. But teams aren't going to let those rebounds go, especially the elite teams we could face in later rounds. Worst case scenario, he gets hurt. Butterfly style is hard enough on a goalie's hip & leg joints without having to make inhumanly quick lateral adjustments to cover rebound shots.
You can make the argument that he could become the next Cam Ward if he stays here, but honestly, Ward hasn't been awesome since then until this season. He's a solid No 1 goalie now, but he's no Roy. He hasn't had a SV% or GAA that good since. He was pretty mediocre until he took over for Martin Gerber in the playoffs. I think his hot streak was an aberration, one not likely to ever happen again, for any rookie goalie.
I'm not saying Jose is the best goalie in the world. But, as CapsChick put it, he doesn't have to be. http://www.dccheapseats.com/?p=2236 I'm still confident that he can and will put us in a position to win. Even if he has a bad night, its a lot easier for five guys to cover the mistake of one than one guy covering the mistakes of five.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 6, 2009 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Well put, jmu_capsgirl. I'm more comfortable with Johnny backing Theo and Varlamov/Neuvirth taking the Bears through the playoffs.

Posted by: kittypawz | April 6, 2009 9:28 PM | Report abuse

works for me.

Posted by: Sonyask | April 6, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

JMU:
You know how I feel about the whole goalie thing so I won't belabor it, but RE: Cam Ward not playing as well after the cup, that's why I said maybe Varly would channel "Stanley Cup Cam Ward" ... :-)

Posted by: --Boo-- | April 6, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

kittypawz, I hope its well put, it only took me three hours to write. :-P
Boo, Oh, I do know. I just don't think it'll work the way you want it to. However, Varly channeling Cam "Stanley Cup" Ward would be wonderful. I just think he should do it in the AHL this season. Next season he can do it up here.

Watching "Red Line Monday". We need to find Brooks a lady, stat. He eats more yogurt than the guy from "Burn Notice" and he's got 4 cartons of OJ in his fridge.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 6, 2009 9:41 PM | Report abuse

JMU:
You are right it won't work out how I want it to - I want Jose to be a wall but I just don't see that happening. :-/

Posted by: --Boo-- | April 6, 2009 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Boo, Ahhaha. You're such a smarta$$! :-P

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 6, 2009 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Habs lost to the Senators, thank you, keeping the Pens in 6th rather than 7th place.

Posted by: Sonyask | April 6, 2009 10:04 PM | Report abuse

I'll mention this again, because i'm too lazy to see if anyone responded to the idea last night:

I'm asserting that the Caps home win streak began to dissipate as Johnson's injury worsened. He was pretty hot at home. SInce he's been out, the Caps have been less than stellar at home. Any thoughts (a couple)? Comments (surely a few)? Ridicule (plenty)?

Posted by: oo7 | April 6, 2009 10:08 PM | Report abuse

@pokerface1208 - My feeling on the matter is that you can prove anything in any direction using statistics. Numbers lie.

And if we DO win the Cup, it will be the first time someone with our PK stats wins it, the first time WE win it, and that would be just glorious, wouldn't it?

Just don't count us down and out before the playoffs even start based on numbers. If we'd had the PK we had in March all year, look where we'd've been. AND we're #1 with the Power Play in the entire LEAGUE! I know your statistics don't say much for that, but it gives ME plenty of confidence.

We just need to stay out of the box, play the system, kick butt, and chew bubblegum... and leave the bubblegum at home.

@jmu_capsgirl - I agree on Varlamov/Neuvirth running Hershey through the playoffs this year. The Bears have played SO well; I'd love to see them with a Calder the same year we win the Stanley. That would be entirely too cool. With V/N, they can do it.

Machesney, I'm not so sure.

Posted by: irockthered | April 6, 2009 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Calder and Stanley would be amazing. Has that ever been done before?

Posted by: oo7 | April 6, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

There's lots of question marks for the Caps going into the playoffs. No doubt about it. There's a lot of things that don't necessarily look rosy or promising, and a lot of them have happened lately. We do look like one of the weaker teams, let's face it, especially defensively. No, we're not in the world's best position, record notwithstanding.

THe only thing that gives me some hope is that we're generally full of surprises and that this team is pretty good at proving the naysayers wrong.

Guess we'll see what happens.

Posted by: kittypawz | April 6, 2009 10:14 PM | Report abuse

JMU:
Me?!? Really?!? :-P

Posted by: --Boo-- | April 6, 2009 10:15 PM | Report abuse

oo7, hmmmmmmm... Interesting hypothesis.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 6, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

oo7: There might be something to that.

Posted by: kittypawz | April 6, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse

oo7:
I think things started to slide when Jose no longer felt Johnny nipping at his heels.

Posted by: --Boo-- | April 6, 2009 10:28 PM | Report abuse

oo7, I'll check to see if Calder/Stanley has ever happened.

Boo, *nods head emphatically* Yeeeessssss. :-D

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 6, 2009 10:28 PM | Report abuse

just finished reading your post, jmu, and I agree. Rebound control needs work, but when he gets that down, his quickness, size and ability will make him very good. Neuvirth has my attention as well. HE was calm, collected, focused and very solid. Perfect? no. But thats a tall order.

I have faith in Theo and in Johnny. With that tandem, I think we can beat anybody. All these guys have to do is play like they did in the 3rd on sunday, and like they were doing until the all star break. Apparently, they CAN flip the switch. That means a lot to me. Damien Cox had a good take on the playoff race; he noted that the top half of the conference has just been waiting for the season to end, auto pilot hover mode, while the bottom halves are fighting it out. Lets face it, the 3 pt game isn't doing what the NHL brass thought it was going to do. ON the surface, it creates tight races and highlights divisional opponents, but underneath, it illuminates the grind of an 82 game season and what that does to the athletes.
Man, can you imagine having to ramp it up now? Isn't the season a little too long? Wouldn't it be better if the all star break was the end of the regular season? Just a thought.

Posted by: oo7 | April 6, 2009 10:36 PM | Report abuse

JMU:
LOL!! You crack me up! BTW, how's Shea doin' these days? ;-)

Posted by: --Boo-- | April 6, 2009 10:40 PM | Report abuse

I dunno Boo, Johnny going down seemed to coincide with the second half of the season, Theo Time. Maybe the competition was too distracting, after coming from Colorado. With Johnson out of the picture, THeo got many more starts, found a groove and stayed on it, and then rode it with the team flying high.

I think this years Caps can be likened to the Hare, who, far ahead of the tortoise, opted to take a quick nap.

Posted by: oo7 | April 6, 2009 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Tonight's Scores

* DET 4, BUF 1 (final)
* OTT 3, MTL 2 (final)
* LAK 0, CGY 1 (14:30 2nd frame)

Posted by: irockthered | April 6, 2009 10:41 PM | Report abuse

don't get her started on shea again!

Posted by: oo7 | April 6, 2009 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Bon vivant, Habitant!

Posted by: oo7 | April 6, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse

oo7:
LOL!!! Awh come on - it was funny and I'm in need of entertainment!! :-D

Posted by: --Boo-- | April 6, 2009 10:43 PM | Report abuse

oo7:
I thought Johnny going out coincided with Jose slipping a bit, no? I thought Jose stepped his game up with Johnny started seeing more ice time. Oh well, would not be the first time my memory failed me and I'm too lazy to do the research! :-)

Posted by: --Boo-- | April 6, 2009 10:45 PM | Report abuse

"I think this years Caps can be likened to the Hare, who, far ahead of the tortoise, opted to take a quick nap."

HA!! I missed that the first time I read that post ... must be past my bedtime.

Posted by: --Boo-- | April 6, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

I second that emotion Boo!
I prefer to remember things as I remember them and not as they might have been.
;

Posted by: oo7 | April 6, 2009 10:48 PM | Report abuse

oo7, I really wish someone could invent a machine to meld the best aspects of two people together. Varly's "Holy cow! Did you *see* him do that?!?" athleticism and Neuvirth's "Holy cow! Did you see him do *anything*?!?" smoothness and "Wow!"

Boo, I try! He's really pleased after the game against the Jackets. He thought he played well and the team is really excited that Capt. Concussion is back. He also said "Fast & the Furious IV" was pretty good, but it could really wait and go on your Netflix queue.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 6, 2009 10:51 PM | Report abuse

JMU:
Is you pet name for him Siskel?

Posted by: --Boo-- | April 6, 2009 10:54 PM | Report abuse

and here we go...

Posted by: oo7 | April 6, 2009 10:56 PM | Report abuse

oo7:
Awh come on ... you know you love it! :-P

Posted by: --Boo-- | April 6, 2009 10:58 PM | Report abuse

oo7, I really wish someone could invent a machine to meld the best aspects of two people together.
Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 6, 2009 10:51 PM

isn't that called 'marriage'?

Posted by: oo7 | April 6, 2009 10:58 PM | Report abuse

@jmu_capsgirl & oo7 - Yes, Calder/Stanley has happened before, just not to us... ;-) I don't remember the details; I posted it a few months ago. I'll look it up when I finish with Chapter 3...

Posted by: irockthered | April 6, 2009 10:58 PM | Report abuse

ask Shea.

Posted by: oo7 | April 6, 2009 10:58 PM | Report abuse

I think oo7 has a soft side!

Posted by: --Boo-- | April 6, 2009 10:59 PM | Report abuse

thanks, Iroc!
I look forward to that info! I wonder if it was in the modern era, or when there were fewer teams....

Posted by: oo7 | April 6, 2009 11:00 PM | Report abuse

I have a soft side, but i sit on it.

ha

Posted by: oo7 | April 6, 2009 11:00 PM | Report abuse

"On three occasions an AHL club has won the Calder Cup and its NHL affiliate also won the Stanley Cup. In both 1976 and 1977 the Montreal Canadiens and affiliates Nova Scotia Voyageurs won both trophies. In 1995, the New Jersey Devils and Albany River Rats achieved the same feat."


I used to see River Rat games all the time. Have family up there. Random.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 6, 2009 11:06 PM | Report abuse

THe river rats! I remember that! Man, talk about the ethers of my memory... Thanks phil

Posted by: oo7 | April 6, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

oo7:
That's just wrong!

Phil:
Interesting ... thank you!

Posted by: --Boo-- | April 6, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Is the Philly/Florida game televised tomorrow night? That game is HUGE.

Posted by: oo7 | April 6, 2009 11:10 PM | Report abuse

CGY 2, LAK 1 - End of 2nd frame.

Posted by: irockthered | April 6, 2009 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Boo, No! That conjures up images of a guy I don't want associated with him in my brain. We haven't really gotten into the pet name stage. Its just Shea.

oo7, Might be marriage, but unfortunately, I don't think the NHL will allow two goalies in the net at once, let alone married ones.

richmondphil, Thanks! I tried searching for it, but I thought I was going to have to look up every affiliation since 1936. Nova Scotia! Woohoo!

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 6, 2009 11:19 PM | Report abuse

JMU:
Not even Shea Butter? (arh arh)

Posted by: --Boo-- | April 6, 2009 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Boo, lmao! No, most definitely not! (That was pretty corny) :-D

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 6, 2009 11:30 PM | Report abuse

We look like one of the weaker playoff teams? How many of you remember hearing the same stuff said of the Pengiuns back in their heyday. Every season the naysayers would question their defensive legitimacy come playoff time only to see the Penguins step it up.
When a team has the likes of Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin, and Green things aren't so bad. I personally think Flash and Fehr have serious potential as well. However, the point is nobody in the NHL can match the young talent the Caps have. Nobody. These guys are good and yes they are inconsistent but that is to be expected of such a young team. They have a serious chance because they have serious talent.
I have been a Caps fan since the 70's and I'll take my chances with this group anyday over the group of the 80's/90's when the Caps were all defense and no offense come playoff time. Those players lacked the creativity/raw talent to score during the playoffs. I shiver at the thought of the ol' bump and grind days when the Caps would consistently lose 1-0, 2-1 etc because every team they faced had a "hot" goalie. Funny how that goalie was never as hot in the next round.

Posted by: croftonpost | April 7, 2009 12:08 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand you people who want Johnson as a play off back up. You think that Varly needs better rebound control. Do you think that Johnson is a better goalie? I really want to know how you compare the two.

As far as I am concerned, Johny has had several chances to shine and move to the number one position (like when Kolzig was hurt or when Theo was screwing up) and he failed to convince that he was starter material. He would have a streak of great games and then would unravel. In addition to that, he has been out of practice for months.

These are my two cents. I guess with Johny we know the limitations, while with Varly we mostly sense the promise of what he can be. Personally, I would choose the risk of a great promise to the limitations of safety. But I may be eating my words by Tues. evening. Do not embarrass me Varly!

I am unhappy with the current goalie situation and hope for a miraculous intervention from somewhere.

Posted by: caraveli | April 7, 2009 1:19 AM | Report abuse

Montreal Vs. the Rangers tomorrow nite is pretty big game as well. Boy there will be some scoreboard watching tomorrow nite!

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | April 7, 2009 1:36 AM | Report abuse

I think it may come down to our last game @ the Panthers as to who we play that would be interesting if we had a "choice" depending on if we won the game or not.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | April 7, 2009 1:40 AM | Report abuse

caraveli, I know you dislike depending on Theodore. And we are going to have to disagree on that. I think he can go as far as the team in front of him can go. Goaltending is important, but as long as he can keep out one fewer goal than our offense can score, we're fine. He's not the only guy on the ice in a Caps sweater. With the team we have, he shouldn't have to be a Vezina winner. He just has to play as well as he can. Osgood isn't winning the Vezina anytime soon, yet how many Cups has he won?

And its not that I think Johnny is a better goalie than Varly. There is no really good way to compare the two. Varly's young and talented and the sky's the limit for him, but Johnny's not exactly a sieve. I would feel this way no matter who was an alternative to Varly backing up Jose. I just think, if Varly is truly the future of Capitals goaltending, he is best served being a No 1 playoff goalie in Hershey. If he's going to ride the bench as a playoff backup, he can do it next year when we don't have a perfectly capable backup sitting in the press box. Watching the games and being in the room during a playoff run is all well and good, but the experience he gains getting actual minutes with the Bears in what is arguably the second best league in the world would be invaluable.
Maybe its because I'm young and God willing, I'll get to be a Caps fan for another 50+ years. Or maybe because I look at this team and see how great they are and yet how much greater they can be. I just think right now the best move for the future of the organization is to have Varly in Hershey.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 7, 2009 2:52 AM | Report abuse

But all of this depends on when Johnny comes back. Varly may get a round sitting on the bench before Johnny & the team decide he's healthy enough to play again. I don't think Johnny's going to make a stupid decision about his health, not when he's UFA July 1.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 7, 2009 2:57 AM | Report abuse

Total scoring stats take into account games played. Games played per season is an interesting stat, and is certainly part of what determines a player's overall value, but whatever you think about games played, there's no great reason that I can think of for why one would want to muddy up productivity stats by conflating them with the games played stat. Yet this is exactly what total scoring stats do. Productivity stats should be in one column, and games played should be in another, to be given whatever weight they are each actually due in making a determination of overall value.

Productivity stats like goals per game, goals per minute, points per game, and points per minute--those are better stats than total scoring stats because they separate out the games-played factor and let the individual decide for him- or herself how much weight to give to productivity vs. games played.

PROD is a stat that is determined by dividing total minutes of actual ice time by number of points, i.e. it's really just points per minute, inversed, so that the smaller your PROD, the better.

Alexander Semin is #1 in the entire NHL in PROD, if you set a reasonable minimum on the number of games played, such as 12 or 20 or 30. That means no one who has played in at least 12 games this season has as many points per minute of ice time as Alexander Semin, in the entire NHL.

Alexander Ovechkin is #1 in the entire NHL in points per game and goals per game.

And it's going to be really tough for anyone to catch Semin in PROD, and fairly tough for anyone to catch Ovechkin in points per game.

That's something.

Of course, personally, of the four productivity stats I talked about: points per game, points per minute, goals per game, and goals per minute--my personal favorite is actually goals per game, and I prefer points per game over points per minute, for a lot of reasons.

Ovechkin is very, very easily the most valuable player in this league this season in my book. No one is even close to Ovechkin in goals per game.

Posted by: youaresquishy | April 7, 2009 3:46 AM | Report abuse

And I should add that while Semin is #1 in points per minute (minimum 12 games played), even if you think that points per minute or PROD is generally the best stat out there, it has to be taken into account that Semin is often not on the top line for the Capitals, which often means he's not on the ice against the opponent's top players.

So, Semin is having an incredible season, for sure, but I doubt it's fair to consider him one of the top five forwards in the league, although I'd say there's a good argument he's in the top ten, at least this year.

Posted by: youaresquishy | April 7, 2009 4:06 AM | Report abuse

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