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Video: How Will the Caps Recover?

On today's Washington Post Live, The Post's Barry Svrluga and Comcast SportsNet's Al Koken measured the damage done to the Caps after losing to the Penguins in a blowout Game 7. Check out the video below:

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  May 14, 2009; 6:53 PM ET
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Next: Morning Reading List: Still Thirsting for a Cup



Posted by: jgr007 | May 14, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

I think Al was dead on with a lot of what he said, particularly about the "fool's gold". I don't think we were outplayed the entire series. We played on a level with the Penguins for a decent amount of this series. However, at no point did we seem like the better team for long stretches of time. I thought we held in well for the first 7 periods of the series and then after that in spurts. An entirely different Pens team came out for the 2nd period of Game 3 and we never did quite recover.

Posted by: ph0082 | May 14, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

We were exactly like the Rangers - IMO - vs the pionz. Going in, I thought we were equal of the pinz talent wise & I still DO. But they had muckers that out mucked us.

Our combined offensive talents couldn't overcome our injuries & the physicality the pinz hammered us on compounde what the Rangers did to us in the first round.

Our play was spotty like u said but that was more the pinz & injuries than anything else.

They couldn't put us away & we hung around.
The physical toll finally over came us in the 7th game.
Literally Varly had holes in him from all the shots.

It should not diminish how we were the previous 90+ games - a Top 4 team in the league.

Posted by: Rocc00 | May 14, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

We need some serious changes on the blue line and a couple on the red (some net crashers). If Green is not scoring, he's pretty much worthless on D because he sure doesn't clear the crease or the zone. his 31 goals really helped out this year and he was absent in the playoffs. Nylander and Shultz are worthless. I'd venture to say that Mo might be worth losing. The only person I would really stress to keep, who is a free agent this year is Backstrom. We have to keep this guy. He's one of the top 5 centers in the league.

Posted by: ejohnsto | May 14, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse

i really dont think there going to let backstrom just walk out the door thats definitely not happening, but i hope comcast might show some Hershey Bears games on tv.

Posted by: skinsst21 | May 14, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully we get a veteran defenseman for next season.

Posted by: MNMNT | May 14, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

You're jumping the gun, guys. Backstrom isn't an RFA until next offseason.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | May 14, 2009 8:05 PM | Report abuse

I thought Backstrom had one more year in his contract. (I know he'll be expensive but he's worth it.)

The way the series was going, I'm not surprised most of our key players were injured. I could not believe Poti playing with a broken foot. How could he skate? I think the team would have been better served to use Sloan or Alzner. I don't discount Poti's play, under normal circumstances. Okay, he's not a great player but he had no business playing if his foot's broken. I've heard of baseball players missing 2 months with a broken foot.

With Green being injured, and not terribly effective. He was still playing tons on minutes, on the PP, and on the PK, for nearly half the game most of the time. (While Green was near the top in our Plus/Minus the regular season, it was bad this postseason.)

So that essentially took out 2 of our top D men.

I've heard different things posted on what's ailing Semin. I've heard slashed hand, broken wrist, and even broken foot. I know for a fact he was slashed in the face on his first shift in Game 1 of this series, needed stitches (and came back with a couple of assists).

Somehow, Ovi played well through a groin problem.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 14, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

agree with what you have said. I tend to think that in addition to that the team should have been playing better D to instill some additional confidence that it wasn't just Varly and the offense trying to get it done. He was left out to dry so many times and in addition to the playoff pressure now you have to worry about people running you over, trying to take your head off, people in the crease, and having to play the puck (which he will be better at going forward). He even commented that the D are supposed to clear those people out after game 3 (i think), regardless the blame for this series rests on the D and the D system and holding players accountable for not backchecking or clearing people out when the D is hurt (help your team out you know they are hurt).

D I am sorry most of you were banged up or worse, but that is unacceptable leaving your goalie hung out to dry. What confidence does that give any young goalie that you got his back, because he sure had yours.... time and time again.

Do we need an overhaul not really, mainly mentally, but we need some people that take ownership of the crease. Some one please make a call to Under Armor to make a commercial for hockey similar to the football ad slogan: We must protect this house!
I know the rules have changed so that we can't abuse players now, but for crying out loud be in position to lift check the guys stick after a rebound and close the gap better. The league is shifting to shooting for rebounds because the goalies are so good now. So why are you not closer to your guy? Worry about him, let the goalie take the shot. This is where the D system needs to be reviewed along with the forwards back checking and actually holding players accountable not just talking about it.

And since we have a growing cross culture sports friendships between the Caps and the Skins, can someone please bring in the linebacker corp and teach some people how to hit? OV sure knows how, I expect to see that out of most D (Juice your excused from this lesson, Green...maybe but must be in attendance just because it might help what he already brings) I want freight trains hitting people when they go into corners next year.

sorry for my diatribe, just want to see our team continue to get better as I know we all do.

Let's Go CAPS 09-10

but for now...

This year kids, have fun, we are waiting anxiously to see just how far you go.

Posted by: caps28fan | May 14, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

For the long term growth of this team it is probably better that they lost and in the manner they did. The organization can't gloss over the deficiencies of the team like they could have if they made the Conference Finals.

This was the same team as last season, with no change except in net. The late season run last year made an air of fools gold. A win in this round would have done that again. The team will be better for this loss.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | May 14, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

sorry, Erskine you get off to with an optional linebacker hitting drill too :)

Everyone get better, very good season you have left us with, but like you we will want more next year. Rest up troops

Posted by: caps28fan | May 14, 2009 8:12 PM | Report abuse

agree with rocco0 and am_jim, with the added point that the organization needs to rethink its approach to system. Boudreau didn't show a knack for adjustments on a game-by-game basis, but the long view also reveals that the Caps are undisciplined to a man. they take penalties, wait for individual talents to make plays, and don't adhere to the system. we shouldn't have to hear Brooksy make a quote like "don't look at the guy next to you, do it yourself" before Game 6 -- that should be ipso facto by that point. maybe if they hadn't coasted to the Division championship, this could have been maintained.

my personal $.02 is that the system that relies upon an intense swing forecheck from both wings, working together to establish presence in the zone, hasn't looked good enough all season. not even when we were good, was it as good as the final 13 games of 2007-08. if the conditioning isn't strong enough to maintain that level of intensity over 82 games + a second season, then SOME application of slow-down, lockdown, clog up the neutral zone should be considered. obviously this needs to happen up and down the organization, since the development isn't likely to stop coming from the ECHL/AHL pipeline.

Posted by: cityspirit | May 14, 2009 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: CodePoetry | May 14, 2009 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Rookie goaltender and eventually this skilled Penguin team was going to burst him. In hindsight considering the schedule with all those games close together the Caps probably should have started Theodore in one of those Pittsburgh games 3 or 4 so that Varly would be fresh for the game 5. Theodore is a good goaltender and just not consistent. For one game he would have been pumped to play - and the Penguins have always been a bit snake bit by Theo.

Posted by: yesisaiditfirst | May 14, 2009 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Is there any way that all of these videos and articles by other people can be moved to another place in the Caps section? I always liked coming to this page to read Tarik's updates, but lately they've been getting buried.

Posted by: Hatfield223 | May 14, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Refs called 2x against us, no PP last night

fix is in

Posted by: gtydings | May 14, 2009 9:46 PM | Report abuse

I keep hearing that we should go and get this player, and that player, and that player, and so on. Well consider what we would have to give up in return? Talks of getting Chara? What? Wasn't Anaheim wanting Varly, Alzner, and a 1st rounder for him?

Let's get real. Our D needs serious help and it will cost us if GMGM makes that move. So far, he hasn't.

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | May 14, 2009 10:45 PM | Report abuse

Theodore has been partly inconsistent because of the D; he still has a good win record, if he was really that inconsistent it'd be 50/50. Look at how Varly got lit up in the two games.

Both have let in soft goals. I don't think it's a coincidence... Varly is quicker, challenges more, and much more flexible than Theo, but when your D leaves you out hanging like that, I don't care how good you are, you can't stop everything and when your own defense screens you or doesn't cover their zone; can't do too much.

but I've said it for months now that the D needs a veteran defenseman, and i noticed the discipline problem late winter as well and if you look back at my comments you can verify it. the kids are talented and they know it. they got themselves to second in the conference and just coasted after clinching a spot. they had nothing to play for since they already had it. how do you beat a top 5 team and then lose to a bottom 5 team the next game during the season?

they should play like every game is their last, but they don't, only in games they feel like showing up for. but hopefully they can fix it and we'll go on farther next year.

Posted by: MNMNT | May 14, 2009 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Well guys, I think both Al and Tarik nailed it. As Tarik said, this game revealed that the gap was bigger than it was thought. We powered through 2 rounds on sheer will and charisma but the weaknesses (including the lack of discipline in penalties, Varly's lack of sufficient mental toughness, weak defense etc.) just caught up in the end. We popped like a balloon. It wasn't just a loss, it was coming face to face with the reality which, with our heightened expectations, we were not fully facing.

But this could be a very good thing. I remember, for instance, how McPhee said that the team did not need any addition or changes at trade deadline. He can't be in denial now.

Posted by: caraveli | May 14, 2009 11:07 PM | Report abuse

Backstrom isn't going anywhere, ever, until he decides he wants out.

Varlamov showed why he's in the future. That said, Nuevy has shown it as well in the AHL. Those two as a tandem will have growing pains, but you can't ask for more in your goalie core. You can't. And if you do, your an idiot.

The Caps were outplayed by a team with more playoff talent. Simple as that. you can't take away Crosby's skills. The kid was awesome. He drove the net, he made his presence felt, he never shied away, he was there every shift. Sure, he whined, he's a little beatch just like his mentor, Mario, but his game is rock solid and it aint gonna get better than that. The only one that comes close, and did, was Ovechkin. They ARE the two best in the world.

it comes down to the supporting cast. I said during the stretch, the things I was worried about were serious injuries to key players, and thats what we ended up seeing. Green, Ovechkin and Semin were all significantly banged up. Semin's injuries were due to the refs. He was slashed and cross checked mercielessly and why not? If the refs aren't going to call it, take the #2 guy out of the lineup. Thats on the officiating. Green was clearly injured at the end of the reg and throughout the playoffs. They're going to tell us it was bad enough that time off would, and will be, considerable so he stayed in. Ovechkin still plays through it like a monster. He's probably been taking pills and shots every day. That is going to wear him down in the long run. It slowed Iginla down, and Ovie is on the same route.

Backstrom was great. He was sublime.

Feds is too old this year, and older next. Great at times, but its a young mans game now.

Kozlov showed sparks, but he'll be moving on.

The D must improve. Rookies aren;t going to do it. The D should have been fixed years ago, but Mcphee went top heavy.

Nylander and Theo? I'll let mngt settle it. We likely wont be happy with the result. We'll see.

It was a good run, but Koken was right. Too many pieces were missing for a playoff run. Thats why he didnt move on deadline day. He saw the writing on the wall. He didnt want to give up everything for this year. Some will disagree. Some will excuse. ce la vie.

Further discussin s are moot until after the draft. It still hurts, but hey, if it didn't hurt, it wouldnt be worth the time we invested, right? As my 2 year old is fond of saying, Lets Go Caps! I'm here for the long haul. Have been, and will be. I bleed red.

Posted by: oo7 | May 14, 2009 11:09 PM | Report abuse

Look at the boston carolina game in OT. Lots of sticks being knocked out of hands and trips. Refs letting them play. I guess next round cindy will once again get all the calls.

Posted by: samb99 | May 14, 2009 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Are you kidding me about Theodore? The guy was in the net for just minutes before he let in a goal. And he looked nervous and tentative. He is done. Period.

Varly showed me that he still needs to mature and toughen up mentally. They did manage to solve him, as they hoped. He needs a solid, consistent and experienced back up. I don't Johnson or Theo are it but I would take Johny over Theo if these were my only two choices.

Posted by: caraveli | May 14, 2009 11:13 PM | Report abuse

Canes win in OT. Pens-Canes series coming with Pens having home advantage. Damn.

Posted by: fnralch | May 14, 2009 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Walker, of all people.
Carolina moves on. Look what grit brings you in the NHL playoffs.
Too bad, I wanted to see Boston move on.
Carolina or Pitt. Funny choice now, huh?

Posted by: oo7 | May 14, 2009 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Or Staal-Staal. Are the brothers supposed to hit each other?..

Posted by: fnralch | May 14, 2009 11:30 PM | Report abuse

I guess next round cindy will once again get all the calls.

Posted by: samb99

Yeah, lets see how that works out, huh? We'll see if the Pens continue their penalty box avoidance. Refs let them play, and whistle the caps for farting.

Posted by: oo7 | May 14, 2009 11:31 PM | Report abuse

ah, screw the East. The West finals is going to be beastly! I'm pulling for the wings, but if they loose, I'd much rather see the 'Hawks win than either Eastern team left.

Posted by: RedBirdie | May 15, 2009 12:01 AM | Report abuse

While watching the OT Bos/Canes game, and it seemed like Boston got away with a lot of penalties that they didn't call. I'm all for not calling penalties in OT, but do you think that Canes are going to get the shaft and be called for a lot of stuff versus the Pens? I mean, I don't remember who it was but someone clearly slashed the stick out of a Canes' player's hand and no call. You KNOW that would have been called against us vs. Pens. The Canes were the least penalized team during the regular season. I think it's going to be VERY interesting to see what happens in this next series.

Posted by: dfe1 | May 15, 2009 12:02 AM | Report abuse

As much success the Caps had this season, there's definitely some cause for concern.

Goaltending - Theo is back-up quality at big number. Is Varlamov ready?

Defense - who is our "rock" - shut-down guy? Too many tall drinks of water - not enough toughness - Poti/Juice/Shultz...and Mike Green - what happened? I'd overhaul the defense if possible.

Forwards - there's defnitely talent, just needs to be tweaked. I think I'd let Fed/Koz both go, and ask Nylander to waive the no-trade and get something for him...which isn't going to be much after his contract and the fact he didn't play.

It's all easier said than done, but I do believe the team needs a small scale overhaul to move to the next level.

I think a new GM would be a step in the right direction as well.

Posted by: Jaymagz | May 15, 2009 12:06 AM | Report abuse

I think a new GM would be a step in the right direction as well.
Posted by: Jaymagz | May 15, 2009 12:06 AM |

swine flu infection apparently.

Posted by: Rocc00 | May 15, 2009 1:30 AM | Report abuse

Are you kidding me about Theodore? The guy was in the net for just minutes before he let in a goal. And he looked nervous and tentative. He is done. Period.

Varly showed me that he still needs to mature and toughen up mentally. They did manage to solve him, as they hoped. He needs a solid, consistent and experienced back up. I don't Johnson or Theo are it but I would take Johny over Theo if these were my only two choices.

Posted by: caraveli | May 14, 2009 11:13 PM |


LOL Boston.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 15, 2009 2:31 AM | Report abuse

I'm not going to sit here and argue about Theo. You missed the whole point so it's not worth trying to explain. Either way not worth the 4.5 Mil a year.

Posted by: MNMNT | May 15, 2009 6:58 AM | Report abuse

I changed my mind.

Varly let in four goals in 18 shots. How many times have we seen that with Theo during some stretches? He still had a 32-17-5 record.

Like I said most of it depends on how the team shows up to play a well.

Varly only played what, through 13 games? Varly definitely has what it takes and after giving Theo a chance this winter, I think he's just an average goalie with a nice resume and a huge paycheck. But he's still capable of playing, just I don't think he should be paid as much as he is.

And the Penguins series showed that no matter how good the goalie is, it comes down to the team playing in front of the goalie. Like defense. But if you want to bash Theo, Varly still let in 4 goals on 18 shots. So start complaining about stuff like how many penalties Jurcina got and how many mistakes he made that turned into goals against us for the playoffs. Just like how he cost us the playoffs last year with some of his play.

Posted by: MNMNT | May 15, 2009 7:11 AM | Report abuse

I am pretty sure Backstrom has another year on his contract. The FA this year are Brashear, Federov, Kozlov and Morrison. My guess id Morrison, Kozlov, and Brashear are gone, and Federov signs for around 2 million. I may try to sign Backstrom this off season just so you don't get to his FA year, but that is not the Capital's usual way. I will tell you who we should have gotten, and who we should get now that he will be a free agent is Guerin. People who want to see Semin go are crazy, at least for now. We will not be able to afford him when it comes time for a new contract, but when healthy he is one of the best puck handlers and shooters in the NHL. See his first month of the season when he lead evey offensiv catagory. I like Brashear, and the Caps will make him an offer, but he will get more in Russia, and at his age he has to start thinking about making the dough before he retires. if fo no other reason you keep Federov for veteran leadership and to keep the young Russian players feet on the ground. He also needs to do a litte interpretting for Varlamov. if anyone would take Theodor's contract I would trade him, but I doubt there will be many takers at his pay. maybe if we eat some of next years salary. i would start out with Varlamov and Johnson, and bring in Neuvirth later in the year for injuries or trade Johnson at the deadline. Morrison is likely gone. By filing for arbitration every year he is not making friends in the front office. Much as I hate to say it, Halpern was the same way. I understand there is a limited amount of time to play and make your money, but play for your contract and then sign a new one. I am a huge Kozlov fan, but the word is he wants to go home.

We need a defenseman but I wouldn't touch Pronger with a 10 ft pole. There will be other tough nosed guys out there and we will need a few if we let Brashear go. Much as many want to put him and his skills down, fact is Brashears very presence has made our stars mor effective by way of inferred and sometimes actual protection.

I like Alsner, I think the Bourque kid can play a little, but will never be prime time ready. Anyone know anything about the Gustafson kid they just signed?

Posted by: dbrine1261 | May 15, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

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