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What's Gone Wrong?

I think we can all agree that the Caps' effort yesterday was markedly better than their previous three. But they've still lost four in a row -- for the first time under Coach Bruce Boudreau, I might add -- and the playoffs are fast approaching.

So is it time for concern? Or was yesterday's game a sure sign that the Caps are about to break out of their funk?

While pondering these questions, I started looking for common themes in the losing streak based on my observations, Boudreau's postgame comments and the score sheets. Here's what I came up with as I sat (emphasis on "sat") on Rt. 66 this morning.

Where Has It Gone?
I'm talking about secondary scoring. The Caps have scored eight goals in the four losses. For the mathematically challenged, that's two per game, significantly down from their season average of 3.22.

The eight goals have come from Alexander Semin (four), Alex Ovechkin (two), Sergei Fedorov and Brooks Laich. Laich's breakaway against the Penguins was the only goal scored by someone who doesn't play on the top two lines. That's not good enough.

None of those goals were of the "ugly" or "dirty" or "hard work" variety that all teams need. The Caps have also out-shot their opponent by a combined total of 111-81 in the past three games. Someone needs to crash the net (as Laich did on Ovechkin's goal yesterday), screen the goalie and bang in a rebound. That needs to be an every-game thing, not a once-in-a-while thing.

Working Hard, or Hardly Working?
While the Caps competed much harder against a Penguins team they despise, that same sense of urgency wasn't there in the previous three games. The Caps are comfortably in a playoff spot and are one of the most skilled teams in the league. But skill doesn't equal wins -- especially in hockey -- if the work ethic is not there.

So will Sunday's effort level carry over Tuesday night against an unfamiliar Nashville team that is every bit as desperate as Florida, Carolina and Pittsburgh? Or will they be satisfied with gaining a point against a bitter rival and have a "stinker" as Boudreau said.

To a 'T'
If you've been reading this blog for a while (or listening to Boudreau's postgame pressers) you've heard that expression a lot. When the Caps play Boudreau's system "to a 'T'" the result is almost always two points in the standings. When players freelance (this is most common when the Caps fall behind) and or suffer a mental error that invariably leads to a breakdown and a goal against. For an example of this look no further than Sidney Crosby's goal Sunday. Veteran defenseman Tom Poti was overly aggressive on his read, didn't look around to see if he had any puck support before he stepped up, one Penguins' pass beat three Caps forwards and bam, Crosby and Guerin were bearing down on a two-on-one.

Getting the players to adhere to the system, as Boudreau often says, has a lot to do with the schedule. When the Caps have ample practice time, they do not stray from his system. When they fall into a stretch of game-optional practice-game-optional practice, etc., that's when breakdowns are most common. So why doesn't he have full practices more often, you ask? It's not that easy at Game 67. Players need time to recover as well. It's a fine line Boudreau has to walk.

They are in one of those stretches right now.

So what are your thoughts?

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  March 9, 2009; 11:17 AM ET
 
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Next: Practice Update

Comments

maybe the players need to earn optional practises...there are not many who have earned optional practises this week...
if they arent performing make them practise
(doesnt have to be skating lines but at least make them make the effort to get out of bed and put their gear on) They are after all paid to play so stop babying them when they play poorly. Who are the most frequent no attenders at optional practises?

Posted by: wendel2 | March 9, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I think we are 3-0-1 vs the Penguins this year, and they are having a hard time understanding that stat.

Posted by: SA-Town | March 9, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Im not worried... I wouldnt be shocked if the players felt this long home stand was more of a mini vacation in the middle of the season. If we are fully healthy and rested going into the playoffs that all I can ask for.

Posted by: nferg18 | March 9, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

First, good effort yesterday crowd was certainly into it - this blog has attracted far to many whinners

Posted by: Redwolf1 | March 9, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

This week the Caps go 3-0 so all you doubters shut up. Regulation win vs Nashville 4-2 with an empty netter clincher, tight OT win vs Philly, and an 80's style game 6-5 win vs Carolina. They have 40 wins for a reason everyone, they are good. Every team, and every player on the team will have a slump.

Posted by: ThePat | March 9, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

I had the same recollection as you Tarik, secondary scoring has been non-existent. Finally, yesterday's 3rd goal I attributed to secondary scoring, although Brooks buried it Steckel found him and sent him on a breakaway from a pass from our goal line. We need a goal every once in a while from a Brash, Brads, Gordo. We also need Flash to wake up. His last goal was the lucky redirect off of a Bruins skate. He's too talented to to go that long without scoring.
We need much more scoring from our defenseman as well but they have to hit the net. They also need to be ready to release one-timers, they too often have to control the puck before releasing a shot, by then the shooting lane is gone. I also saw Semin signal to Green to keep the shot from the point lower. No forward wants to stand in front of a shot coming from the point that is coming at their chest of above.

Posted by: fanohock1 | March 9, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Tarek, Good to hear your in depth observations and perceptions. Wish you would do it more often!

The Caps still do a lot of little things wrong. Yes, Poti pinched and he shouldn't have. Leaves JS55 on a 2 on 1. He is suppose to position himself to take Crosby (the player without the puck) out of the play and leave JT60 one on one with Guerin. He doesn't and SC has an easy goal.

How about DS39 stupid tripping penalty in the neutral zone with 6 minutes left in the game?

The thing that is so frustrating, is that the Caps are so close to dominating the conference but can't get over their immaturity (lack of experience) that leads to dumb & inopportune penalties and not following BB's system to a "T"..

Posted by: puckman | March 9, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

There are always teams that get "hot" down the stretch in the NHL through March and many times we are quick to overlook teams with good records that are suffering the focus of the long schedule. Right now all the division leaders are so far in front and all (except NJ) are in slumps. This is not unique to Washington. Even the Devils played a stinker on Long Island Saturday. The Caps are really no farther behind in the standings after a week of bad play.Even Detroit goes through it - what needs to happen is players have to be sure they are all contributing and not "riding" and paying attention to roles. On Sunday against the Pens the Caps had the better of chances in regulation and did not take many penalties. All the other losses included ample trips to the penalty box. Those penalties were to fatigue and lack of focus. The road will be good for this team.

Posted by: yesisaiditfirst | March 9, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

To use a basketball comparison, the Caps are shooting too many "jumpshots" from the outside. They need to get inside and bang and try to get layups.

They also need to screen the goalie more. It's fine to have shots from the point, but when there's nobody there to screen the goalie, it's an easy save. Just look at Gonchar's goal yesterday. Had Theodore seen it, he'd have easily gloved it. But Guerrin completely screened JT.

Also with traffic in front, there's always the chance for a deflection. Or if someone is in front and the goalie gives up a rebound, that guy can put it home.

Posted by: sargeantmofo | March 9, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Good point on Poti.

But someone needs to teach Jeff Schultz the proper way to defend a 2-on-1. He looked confused.

Posted by: Hatfield223 | March 9, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the concept that optional skates should be earned. It's fairly evident which players appear to need extra practice. True, it's taxing on the guys if they're skating for long periods of time during practice and then have to get back on those skates for a game later that day. Still, though, skills practices for certain players who have made obvious errors and need some correction should come in for a practice session. I don't like the idea of them not having practices, especially between games when it's obvious some things need fixing. But again, as it's been pointed out, yesterday's efforts in the 2nd and 3rd periods were clear signs that they're coming out of the funk. Tomorrow's game should give us a clearer picture if they're back. As Caps fans, I'm sure we're all hoping for a victory. Go Caps!

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | March 9, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

A lot of the young guys got too full of themselves. Simple as that.

Posted by: poguesmahone | March 9, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

and Tarik, you can thank Angelina Jolie for messing the traffic up. Filming a stupid movie in DC that basically had the E St exit at the TR bridge shutdown so everything was backed up from there, all the way back to the Toll Road basically.

Posted by: ThePat | March 9, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

It is no reason to worry. That why we play 82 games. There is no way a team goes 40-21 and is a fluke. Look at these other top teams of late...It could be a mental thing where playoffs become the focus right now.

Boston 4-5-1 in last 10
Sharks - Lost 4 straight
Red Wings - Given up 8 goals twice in last 4 games
Devils are Hot
Caps - No Comment
Flames and Hawks - both lost 2 straight

Anyone worried one of these teams wont win the cup? I dont think so.

Posted by: SA-Town | March 9, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

If the G/OP/G/OP schedule truly hurts their adherence to the system, then they really need to figure something out fast. That pattern is basically what they're dealing with through out the rest of the season - excluding the 10 days in March.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | March 9, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

excluding the LAST 10 days in March... oops.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | March 9, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

First of all: Tarik, these insider posts offering more analysis lately are great reads.

Second of all: Any time you lose 4 straight AND ALL ARE AT HOME, there is need to take our heads out of the stand and determine whether there is danger ahead or not.

Third of all: My question is whether practice gets everyone to buy into a system that was working so well for the first 2/3 of the season.

Fourth point: It (the BB System)was on Automatic and fell into Manual. It's clearly up to the players who, in deed, stepped up yesterday with better results. I'm interested in the upward trend and will have to wait and see as there's nothimgh else you, I, GMGM or BB can do, right?

Posted by: IzzySez | March 9, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Tarik is dead on regarding secondary scoring; there is too much of a feeling right now that if 8 or 28 don't score we won't win. As for the practices, I think it is time to push through the tiredness; it is too important now. If your hurt that is one thing, but just tired - sorry. This team will be fine. This road trip can be a big boost, or it could be a confidence killer. Personally, I think Nashville is in for a real beating tomorrown night.

By the way, was it loud or what in Verizon yesterday? Wow...

Posted by: Roose | March 9, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Yesterday they played well. You can play well against good teams and lose, that's the way it goes. But, I also highlights how Pitt, when Gonchar is healthy, and with Guerin and the other additions recently, is a legit contender again.

The losses against TO, Fla and Car were horrible performances. They get a slight pass because Gerber played out of his mind (ala Mason in the CBJ sweep). Is this a minor blip? If so, we can put it behind us. But, I don't think we'll know for sure until the road trip. If they win 3/4 of the games, crisis averted. If they come back with a losing record, then its time to panic and to wonder whether their playoff stay this year will be "brutish and short..."

Posted by: oldtimehockey | March 9, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Good point on Poti.

But someone needs to teach Jeff Schultz the proper way to defend a 2-on-1. He looked confused.

Posted by: Hatfield223 | March 9, 2009 11:40 AM

yes #55 played that 2 on 1 pretty haplessly. It may as well have been a 2 on zero, he didn't do anything to neutralize any one of those players. You'd think having a wingspan like a condor would have helped disrupt something!

And yesterday's 2nd period was a terrible effort. If you can't muster up energy to play a 60 min game against an arch rival while you're in the midst of a 3 gm losing streak then there's going to be serious issues once the playoffs start.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 9, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

The most evident thing with the Caps are they are young and fragile, very fragile mentally. When playing to their abilities they are unstoppable but mental errors, not following the system, lack of focuse those are the reasons they lose. They need to learn to pull out of this slump and they will be better for it. Thats why I am still bitter they didnt pick up a vet or two at the deadline but that is over with. Also seems like every time there is a big deal made about any of the players it gets in their head and they stop doing what got them to the top. Backstrom went in a slump in January after everyone sang his praises for his great December. Flash and Fehr both slumped almost immediately after a big deal was made about them turning the corner. The best thing they need right now is a road trip. More time to bond as a team, no pressure of over doing it from the home crowd and just playing a road type game, which is to simplify things.

Posted by: alagarts | March 9, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Tarik. You know as much about Hockey as John Thompson. Meaning you know nothing about Hockey. Kinda like most of the Post's writer's (Korndogheiser included who only knows NY teams and thinks the Cowboys are the most talented team in the NFL). Even though I'm not a Caps fan I've watched Hockey long enough to know that teams are streaky. The Caps were in a big win streak awhile ago and you're pushing Boudreau for Coach of the year. They get into a mini-losing streak and "what's gone wrong??" Read your own words "The Caps are comfortably in a playoff spot..." You got it right for once there. Their Coach has plenty a time and wiggle-room to make adjustments. This isn't women's basketball for God-sakes. .

Posted by: billm32 | March 9, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I believe the Capitals (and the atmosphere at Verizon) lost its mojo after that game they blew against Philly. They were dominating and up late in the game. Semin took the delay of game penalty then the Flyers came back dominated the 3rd and won.

That was the first time in the Boudreau era, that the Capitals dominated a game and ended up loosing (not including hot opposing goalies). To make it worse it was at home and against Philly. Since then the players seem to be questioning if they can win, and why they aren't.

During the run last year and this yea they just played and the results were wins.

Posted by: ohaque23 | March 9, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Oh and lets not forget Green who has scored what once since his amazing record breaking run when he got the attention of the whole hockey world?

Posted by: alagarts | March 9, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I'm confident that they'll shake out of the doldrums over the next week or so and be ready for the playoffs. That doesn't make it any easier to leave Verizon after watching them go 3-6 on what was essentially a 9-game home stand. I've seen some of the same issues over the last few weeks that are always there when they play poorly:

1. Bad point play on the PP - I'm looking at Green and Ovi not staying home.
2. Skating through four guys when setting up the PP. They seem to keep the puck in on the zone for the first portion of a PP but once it's cleared, it's over, we never get it set-up again.
(I know the PP is high in the % this season but it could be better.)
3. Breakaways. I don't think this will change this season - we give up three or four a game. JT saved the game by shutting down Crosby on his chance. Every time we give one away you see the D-man making a bad choice and moving up with no help back.
4. Getting beat on the boards when teams dump in against us. Mike Green is guilty of the ongoing jumping out of the way and not securing the puck.
5. Back door goals. What? No way. I'll say that over the last six games at least 2/3s have been back door goals even when it a 2 v 2 run by the opposition - we don't cover that player AT ALL.

I think a couple of those are fixable and will be better come the playoffs. Even with that, we'll be winning 4-3 games most of the way if the Caps go deep.

Off to Nashville.

Posted by: saintex | March 9, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I like this version better :)

"I think we can all agree that the Caps' effort yesterday was markedly better than their previous three.

"...was yesterday's game a sure sign that the Caps about to break out of their funk?

"Someone needs to crash the net (as Laich did on Ovechkin's goal yesterday), screen the goalie and bang in a rebound.

"The Caps are...one of the most skilled teams in the league.

"When the Caps play Boudreau's system "to a 'T'" the result is almost always two points in the standings.

Posted by: austinsteve | March 9, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

It looks like there are a lot of general basics that need going over, honestly.

Except for Semin. He has been an absolute beast going on 3 weeks.

Ovechkin whiffed on 3 or 4 shots on which he normally either buries or gets rebounds. That could have been the ice, or it could have been lapses in concentration, which practice would help.

Schultz needs ankle weights and parachute running -- he's got to be quicker to the puck/to his coverage. I have noticed that his shot looks better than it ever has, though.

Green looks lazy as all hell. He's making good plays, but he doesn't have the zip that he'd had before our mini slump. He looks like he can't figure out what to do with the puck once he gets it into the zone. He used to just shoot, now he's waiting for plays to develop, instead of initiating a chance.

Backstrom is playing pretty well, but the first line needs a new go-to play when Nicky carries the puck in himself. I don't like to see him immediately drop the puck because we all know (opposition included) that that's exactly what he's going to do. Same goes for Kozlov. They've got the best player in the world on their wing, but they've got to remember that they're World Class, too.

I, as many others on here, maintain that we desperately needed an experienced D to complement the team. I respect the reasoning why we didn't do something, but that doesn't mean that something didn't need to be done. Schultz is the main one who needs a true mentor. He looks like he could be great (that's right), but he's not going to get there by himself.

This team needs a kick in the pants that will actually work, because losing 6 of 10 doesn't appear to have done it, yet.

I love the Caps and can't wait for tomorrow night's game! Let's go Caps!

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | March 9, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Hey billm32... shut-it!
Tarik rocks, and cares more/knows more than any beat writer I've ever read covering the Caps.

Posted by: matucker | March 9, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

I agree that it's possible these young guys are getting too full of themselves.

Absolutely, get on the program with the system, and make the system more focused on clogging the crease (esp. on the 3rd and 4th lines) on the O, and clearing it on the D.

Also, some more versatility would be nice. How many times did we see Kozlov bring the puck ably into the zone only to get forced outside, seemingly with little help. If only he'd get trailed by Semin/Backstrom with a feed to Ovi/Green on the far side, and we'd see a couple more goals. Adjust, please.

Course they were outplayed much of yesterday's game. Loath I am to admit it, but the Pens and Crosby got the job done.

Posted by: Sonyask | March 9, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Good points, Tarik, especially the lack of scoring from guys without an 8 or 28 on the bac of their shirt.

Here's another -- even when we outshoot an opponent, we are giving upo too many "quality" scoring chances. We don't have the kind of goalie to bail us out of those, so the D really must make smarter decisions.

Perhaps this point goes under the "To a T" category. But not always. Morrison was in the right position yesterday... he just got completely schooled by Guerin.

And speaking of that, Schultz certainly has his issues back there. We all know that. But the mistakes Poti and Morrison made yesterday -- both leading to goals -- were far more egregious than Schultz's poor postitioning on a 2v1.

Posted by: sinbin | March 9, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

BillM - YOU know that you don't need to capitalize the word "hockey", right?

Posted by: Hatfield223 | March 9, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone know if games on Tuesday or Thursday are in HD? The schedule says no, but I have to think Comcast will at least have the Philly feed in HD.

I cant wait to watch a game on my own couch...This stretch has been a busy one.

Posted by: SA-Town | March 9, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Ditto on what ThePat said. Thanks, ThePat, for the vote of confidence in our guys.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | March 9, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

jim rome is doing a take on how hostile the environment was in washington for crosby yesterday...awesome

Posted by: _stevo | March 9, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Nah, it's not time for fans to be concerned (the Capitals organization should always be concerned -- it's their job.) Our hope is that the caps are on an upward trajectory. If at the end of the playoffs they did better than last year, things are good. We hope that eventually this trajectory will lead to a championship. But come on -- they are not Gretzy's Oilers. They are not a championship team -- yet.

Posted by: etin | March 9, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

The Caps most glaring need is for a vocal leader on the ice and in the locker room. A veteran player that will get in the face of guys who are freelancing and or just not playing smart hockey.

Nowhere is that needed more than on the backline. Poti is not a leader of this type despite being the senior defenseman on the club in terms of NHL service.

Mike Green is a wonderfully skilled player but he will never be that leader either, it's just not in his personality to be vocal, and he himself has not evidenced the kind of discipline necessary at times.

Chris Pronger was available at the deadline but at a high cost and I understand why McPhee didn't pull the trigger on a deal for Chris at this time.

The time to have gone shopping was last summer. At the same time the club was signing Theodore to replace Huet McPhee needed to increase the hockey IQ of his defense.

It didn't happen and the inconsistent, erratic defense we see is likely the achilles heel that could derail this club come playoff time.

Posted by: leopard09 | March 9, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Too much night life. Too many players being seen in sketchy bars in College Park, etc.

Posted by: MKadyman | March 9, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

i think you forgot about goaltending. they need reasonable decent goaltending and the didnt get it vs. fla and carolina. they did vs. the maple leafs and pens, which is why they were in those games. i think when the d and forwards see a struggling goalie, they tend to try and overcompensate instead of playing their game. that results in the freelancing and odd man rushes the other way.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | March 9, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Having gone to the auction last night, I saw how down Ovie was. He did look a bit frustrated with his stick yesterday, and maybe he over thought the shoot-out. I think they are trying but not connecting like they should. I instructed Gordo and Brads that I expect them to each score a goal on Tuesday. (I am confident that they can and will). They are all great players, and they are ALL capable of scoring and playing some defense. They must work together as a team and follow Bruce's game plan! And yes, please don't take penalties during crucial points of the game. If you do, please make sure the ref doesn't see you!
I also hope to see the use of the gritty players on the shoot-out as well- i.e. Brads, Gordo, even Juice! Have you seen their shot?
Let's Go Caps!!!

Posted by: ocracokemonkey | March 9, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Jim Rome doing a story on hockey?? I don't believe it.

Posted by: PhilR | March 9, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

dcsportsfan1

I agree "i think when the d and forwards see a struggling goalie, they tend to try and overcompensate instead of playing their game. that results in the freelancing and odd man rushes the other way"

Tarik: how do you think a goalie like Backstrom (or any of the top 5-10) would have affected the team? Do you think the skid could have been avoided or quickly reversed?

The Caps' fading was predicted by Farber in a Jan. roundtable. Of course, Theo has improved since then, but not excelled and the procession of goaltenders must have had an impact on the morale, as well.

"2. The Sharks, Blackawks, Capitals and Bruins established themselves as contenders in the first half. Which of these teams (if any) is most likely to come back to the pack, and which team lurking in the weeds is primed for a second-half run?

Michael Farber: This might sound like a contradiction, but Washington might swoon. Of the elite teams in the East, its goaltending duo of José Théodore and Brent Johnson inspires the least confidence. Théodore was solid for Colorado down the stretch last year when he reclaimed his No. 1 job, but a Hart Trophy winner (2002) should not fade in and out like an AM radio station as you drive through the mountains."

Posted by: caraveli | March 9, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

too many guys not contributing anything....couple of guys going through a tough time....

as long as BB is in charge, I feel pretty good...

Posted by: outrbnksm | March 9, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

The biggest issue is this: The more games you watch, the more you realize that we're playing with a patchwork defense, largely the same patchwork defense that we played with during the years where we knew we wouldn't be close to a playoff spot.

Morrisonn has peaked at mediocre at best, Erskine is not NHL-caliber, Jurcina is just learning to use his body and be a factor, and Shultz is still too young still learning the position and doesn't use his size at all. As a result, a Tom Poti type -- who has never been a top-two D-man in his career -- is now seen as our vet D leader and best defensive d-man. This is woeful. Mike Green is obviously the exception to this list due to his incredible offensive gifts, but as we all know even Greenie has a lot of learning to do on the D side of his game. Whether you can win even ONE playoff series with this D corps is obviously completely in question, but I would suggest that it would be very difficult to win multiple playoff series' with this D Corps. We didn't have the cap space to get a FA D man this past summer (and Teddy acknowledged that personnel hole early this season) and that more than anything else is keeping us back.

Posted by: MTB7 | March 9, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

I think maybe the entire organization needs to take a couple of big steps backwards and catch its breath. I am not against aggressive marketing, but I wonder if the Caps are "over"marketing and along the way creating an unintended "rock star syndrome?"

I don't particularly care for the new television program one way or the other. I personally could care less about seeing Jose Theodore's garage and Mike Green's hot tub being installed etc... We need much less of that and much more emphasis on regular old hard-nosed hockey.

To me those shows and segments just look like ghetto revamps of MTV or something. Forget all that nonsense. Play hockey. Play it hard. And play it for the full 60 minutes. Stop the Harlem Globetrotter crap and just attack, attack, attack.

Straightforward hockey is what got us here. Straightforward hockey is what will advance us in the playoffs. Otherwise it will likely be one and done.

Posted by: randy_boyd | March 9, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

@ocracokemonkey:

What 'auction' did you see Ovie and the team at last night? I wasn't aware there was any event after the game.....

thanks!

Posted by: DevilsCapsGal | March 9, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Question to "WAS" land?
Why is there no talk about Cherry's comeback comments
No U-Tube postings
Did he hurt u that bad?
I know I couldn't stop laughing I think I even pumped my fist a couple times

Posted by: StanleyCup1907 | March 9, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

"When the Caps play Boudreau's system "to a 'T'" the result is almost always two points in the standings.

Posted by: austinsteve | March 9, 2009 11:59 AM

not necessarily true. Other teams have made adjustments to Bruce's "system". What remains to be seen is whether the caps will commit to playing harder hockey and break through some of that middle-zone clog, not cheat on the defensive end, and crash the net more consistently to generate those "garbage" goals.

note, Bruce never made mention of his defensemen being caught up ice before, he encourages a "score at all costs" hockey style. You can see it in the way his PKers themselves get caught trying to break out of the zone without the puck sometimes. The only reason we're hearing things like we need to score more garbage goals and our D needs to be more responsible is because we're losing. When we were winning this team was making the same mistakes. How many times in a win did we give up odd man rushes? Happened every game. Now that we're losing those games, the coach is harping more on those errors.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 9, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

[Morrisonn has peaked at mediocre at best, Erskine is not NHL-caliber, Jurcina is just learning to use his body and be a factor, and Shultz is still too young still learning the position and doesn't use his size at all. As a result, a Tom Poti type -- who has never been a top-two D-man in his career -- is now seen as our vet D leader and best defensive d-man. This is woeful. Mike Green is obviously the exception to this list due to his incredible offensive gifts, but as we all know even Greenie has a lot of learning to do on the D side of his game. Whether you can win even ONE playoff series with this D corps is obviously completely in question, but I would suggest that it would be very difficult to win multiple playoff series' with this D Corps]

All solid comments MTB. I disagree on Mo though, he's better than he gets credit for. He's not a top 2 pairing but for the most part he plays a responsible game. And he has the strength to win battles down low. And yes, when a Tom Poti becomes your "leader", there's a problem :)

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 9, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I think Randy hit the nail on the head.

I'd really like to see the Caps just shut up and play hockey.

Hell, maybe the Caps are in their own heads now.

Posted by: writered21 | March 9, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

feed no trolls

Posted by: Sonyask | March 9, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

I hope that part of this is just that the guys have not been in this situation before. They know what it feels like to be on the outside struggling to get in. What they do not have a lot of experience with is being on top and maintaining that status. Maybe they are still learning how to be that team.

Maybe some of the guys got a little too comfortable, or maybe they do not have the experience yet to put setbacks into perspective. I think they are getting worried and losing some confidence. Yesterday it did look like they turned the corner a bit. Hopefully they will find a way to turn it completely around tomorrow.

Posted by: Kim-3 | March 9, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm encouraged by yesterday's game, especially the third period and overtime. The crowd was definitely back in full force - it was pretty deafening in there - and the Caps put in a heck of a lot more effort than in the previous three games. Hopefully they can forget about the shootout (thank goodness there are no shootouts in the playoffs!) and build on the momentum from those last 25 minutes of the game.

Posted by: capsfan26 | March 9, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

Um, I just copied those quotes from Tarik's blog entry (see top of this page)

Posted by: austinsteve | March 9, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

I have been studying the secondary scoring issue for some time now.
I have come to the conclusion that our secondary players are just not good enough.
Flash is talented, but he is not a good hockey player. He loses most one on one battles in the offensive zone and does not have good hockey sense. This makes him hard to play with, and disrupts his lines offense. His ability finish is not getting any better.
Laich just tries to do too much one-on-one and is not talented enough to play that style. This causes too many turnovers. He is a third line player at best.
Kozlov will always try to make the perfect play instead of making a quick play, which often leads to turnovers in the offensive zone.
Nylander, ditto.
Fehr is good in the corners and shoots when he can, but is lost in the neutral zone when he does not have the puck, and makes too many turnovers near the blueline. Hopefully he will continue to improve and be a John Druce in the playoffs.
Steckel is getting better all the time and we can hold out hope for him since he is a late bloomer.
Federov is just a bit old, but when his legs show up and he has good linemates(seldom), he will be effective.
The hard working 4th line players just don't have the talent to score in spite of their ability to cycle and control the play in the offensive zone.
We have players in Hershey that can help, but can't call them up without losing someone on waivers going or coming until the playoffs.
Lets hope for the best with what we have.
There are not many options now.

Posted by: OldFan | March 9, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone seen the Hershy Bears past 2 games with Pothier? How'd he play? I know he had -2 last game but how physical was he?

Posted by: Andoy | March 9, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

I "almost" feel sorry for many of you, thinking this team is capable of damage in the post season.

I said it last year and it applies now, the Caps are a very good regular season team.
Contenders ? Still far away.

Owner and his little helper have exploited the DC market by turning naive, ignorant fans into believers.

Posted by: Cheef | March 9, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

As many have mentioned, lack of intensity, playing too cute, etc have not helped. It’s easy to point to the skill guys for not coming through. Having two of our enforcers not setting the tone has not helped either. Erskine and Brashear have left that responsibility to Bradley who is lucky to survive a fight. Many people shy away from invitations from Brashear, but Erskine has had one fight this year. He can be an intimidating force when he opens up his can of whoop @$$.

Posted by: FLDave | March 9, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

The Caps seem to be weary at this stage of the season and have been cruising with a large lead in the Division. Few practices and many games with little breaks seems to have worn them down physically. In addition the ineffective play of Michael Nylander has taken away any solid 2nd line center. Hence scoring has dropped. Other teams are starting to gear up for the physical play during the playoffs. That is the Caps major weakness. An inexperienced defense with no banger to move opposing forwards out of the crease, no bruising forward to score so-called garbage goals from in close, and suspect goaltending all point to an early exit from the playoffs. Depending on who they play after Round 1 or maybe Round 2 at best.

Next year looks much better. I am optimistic, especially about the defense.

Posted by: roger14 | March 9, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Cheef! Dude, where were you during the trade deadline? You are so much more entertaining than some of tha Yahoo's here! At least you know hockey...

Posted by: Leeguru | March 9, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

That looks like Rush Limbaugh on the home-page photo.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | March 9, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I really think you don't need fights to set the tone of the game. Devastating hits like Juice on Kennedy yesterday are enough (which strangely was called a penalty). We just need guys like Schultz, Mo, Steckel, Fehr to take no crap from anyone around our goalie's crease.

Posted by: Andoy | March 9, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I think we've been home so much the last month that it got a little stale...we'll go on the road and come back to where we should be...we didn't fold yesterday after being down 2 goals..we clawed back..it's a shame we should be 2 pts behind Boston but better to get our funk out of the way now than during the Cup run

Posted by: capsgary | March 9, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Caps have achieved their goal, to sell sell sell tix with a highly skilled team.

No sense in trying to convince anyone that they are actually far away from lifting the Stanley Cup.

You may be a success by accident, as in the case for the Caps "gm", but it will never win you a Stanley Cup.

Posted by: Cheef | March 9, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Jim Rome should do a story on despite the best efforts of bandwagon Caps fans, Crosby still had 2 points and the game-winning shootout goal. Philly fans have been trying to get to him for years and he has almost 2 points per game against the Flyers in his career. Same thing against the Caps, he has almost 2 points per game against them as well. The more fans try to get under his skin, the better he performs. Also, is it any coincidence that the laughable franchise record of 11 straight sellouts was broken last Tuesday in the middle of a losing streak? Keep telling yourselves that DC is a hockey town... I'll look forward to readily available tickets the next time the Caps drop two in a row. LET'S GO PENS.

Posted by: GoPens | March 9, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

@Andoy: I don't think Jurcina got whistled for the hit. They got into a scuffle afterward and both were sent off for roughing. But I agree with you, fights aren't necessary to set the tone if we play a good physical game all around.

Posted by: capsfan26 | March 9, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Don't look now but FLA is only ten points back!!

Played a better game yesterday? Come on, if they could not focus for PENS, then it realy is bad? So let's see how this week turns out!!

I too was thinking of a common thread and the secondary scoring is key along with penalties.

Someone said it best earlier, immature mistakes, overall, I think we still are a young team w/out a C! Are we not? Even OV is 24 or so?

Enjoy the ride, atleast it is never dull!

Posted by: hunter32 | March 9, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

All seasons have ebb and flow. Look at the Bruins, a loss yesterday to the Rangers. It was not an impressive effort from Boston. Look at New Jersey, they started the season slow and have been hitting their stride. The steam is down for the Caps, catching the Bruins doesn't look possible and the division looks to well in hand. (not true but still a factor.) The Caps are still a young building team and all I want to see is fun hockey and lose to the better team. The last few weeks they have lost to the teams they should beat and beat the teams whoare supposed to be at their level. If they can ge their heads on straight and play like they should, they should do well in the playoffs. But not the finals, not this year. I am realistic and have been a Caps fan since the 1970's, want to keep the core of this group together.

Posted by: sazzwho | March 9, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I really really really really hate Jim Rome. That guy annoys me and so do the people that call in. They all have the same voice inflection that Rome does when he speaks.

Posted by: FusilliJerry1 | March 9, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

@hunter32: They were a lot more focused than they had been. There were a lot of near-misses yesterday - Poti's crossbar, several other shots that went juuuuuuust wide - yes, they made a few pretty bad mistakes, but at least the loss was not due primarily to lack of effort as the previous losses had been.

You're right about this being a young team that seems to be lacking leadership, though. Hopefully someone will step up.

Posted by: capsfan26 | March 9, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Solid goaltending would be nice. Why is it when the defense limits the SOG to 20-25, that's when Theodore lets in the most goals?

Posted by: CamaroFS34 | March 9, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Hey GO PENS....Sid is a baby, no surprise that he was raised under the Mario flag.

Now you want to talk about a team and person who had our number, please caps were up 3-1 in the playoffs and that *&^% Mario and Jags &^%$ came roaring back, i asked Locker after game 5 loss, hey no way right...but that was a team that had our number. We lost in game 7 but hey it was fun.

SID is card carrying charter member of the Pacifier club!

Other year, Joey Juneau missed a penalty shot in the OT, i think it was game 7.

Hey where is Juneau these days? He used to fly did he not?

PENS fan, i rather be from DC area then Pittsburgh!

Posted by: hunter32 | March 9, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

"No sense in trying to convince anyone that they are actually far away from lifting the Stanley Cup."

Cheef, I'm really sorry we Caps fans are so dense. But I think if you try harder, you'll be able to convince us we suck. Don't give up, dude!!

Posted by: Andoy | March 9, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Hey GoPens, if Pittsburgh is so great, why do you live here?

Posted by: Alisterio | March 9, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

@ caps fan26>>> i listened to it on the radio>> travel too much to get the center ice>>> Thanks caps fan 26

been here in St. Louis since 1999 but always had the center ice pkg.

Posted by: hunter32 | March 9, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

"Solid goaltending would be nice. Why is it when the defense limits the SOG to 20-25, that's when Theodore lets in the most goals?"

When 3 or 4 of those shots are point blank shots or breakaway shots, it's not so easy to make a save

Posted by: Andoy | March 9, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Hey, never said Pittsburgh itself was that great. My parents migrated out in the 70's along with everyone else but thankfully raised me to appreciate the fine sporting traditions of, what's the term... oh, winning championships. I'm the reason why we dominate your hockey and football stadiums. At least The Danny didn't sign T.O. this weekend. Hunter32, I wasn't even going to bring up our domination of the Caps in the 90's but thanks for the reminder. Enjoy your 3-0-1 this year gentlemen and I hope to see you in the playoffs along with 5,000 other Pens fans taking over your arena yet again.

Posted by: GoPens | March 9, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Not so much in yesterday's game, but in a few of the previous losses- Philly, Florida, Carolina... it seemened we didn't capitalize on our scoring chances early and this came back to bite us later.

Posted by: griz0615 | March 9, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

@hunter32: I hear ya, I lived out of the area for seven years (moved back to town when I finished grad school three years ago) and I couldn't watch many of the games. Of course, the Caps were pretty bad for several of those seasons, so I didn't miss much. :P I hope you've had a chance to see them play in person this season, or will soon.

Posted by: capsfan26 | March 9, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

PENS FAN...do not worry it will all wash out and even up! We never had guy like OV and enjoy the 90's .

As for Danny boy, love the redskins but hope they go 0-18 just for the heck of it!

Caps are doing the right way, take their time and let the young guns grow up!

Where is Hossa right now?

Posted by: hunter32 | March 9, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

3 comments:

1) D was better when Alzner (minimal errors) and Helmer (experience)were here.

2.)Not cashing in. There have been many opportunities over this poor stretch, but too few goals. Pressure without the pain for the other team. Why, no pain? Trying to be too fine instead of overwhelming a D. Then, while being too fine, you have the tendency to stand around a bit looking for some perfect opening. And that extra split second, lately, translates to transition goals for the other team.

3.) Taking too many penalties at key times. (This is a result of number 2)

Posted by: agclaston | March 9, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

In response to:DevilsCapsGal

I attended the Amazing Auction last night. It was held after the game yesterday at the Acela Club. All of the players were there. I spoke with all of them and the coaches. It sold out pretty much the day the tickets went on sale, which is probably why you didn't hear about it.

Posted by: ocracokemonkey | March 9, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

There is a saying in golf - its not how you drive, but how you arrive. Caps peaked too early in a weak division is the issue, plus you have too many individuals and no team cohesiveness.

Posted by: jackme11 | March 9, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Yesterday's was as entertaining a game as I've seen in a long time. Both teams fought hard for the win for 65 minutes. It looked like they were evenly matched. The difference between the losers and the winners was a shootout goal. I don't think you can make a statement about the progress or status of an entire team based on a shootout goal. Based on our performance, that was the best game we'd played in the last four games. Anyone disagree?

Of course I'm not saying that we couldn't make improvements, that our defense doesn't look porous, or that a lot of our shots aren't particularly threatening, coming as they do from way out. But that's an ongoing struggle. Nothing to panic over (although it's going to bite us big time come the play offs).

Shootouts are their own world. For one thing, they are such a low base-rate phenomena, and call for such a specialized skill set, that you can't generalize from the results of a shootout to almost anything else. I looked it up. The reigning shootout king is Wojtek Wolski of the Avalanche. He has a winning percentage of 87.5%. This is astounding, until you look at his number of attempts: 8. The rest of the time he is a not-that-bad LW; this year he has 14 goals and 23 assists. His overall goals per shot average this year is .106, about the same as Ovi's at .117.

I think the real comparison is between Ovi and Crosby. Ovi is 1 for 5 for SO goals. Crosby is 2 for 7. 20% vs 28.6%

Except for the bragging rights, it's not that big a deal.

Posted by: RedRocker1 | March 9, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Tarik -

Did you steal this article from my blog post during yesterdays game? :)

"1) secondary scoring!!!!
2) caps score on a breakaway!!!!
3) someone in front of the net on the PP!!!!

Who is this team and what did you do with my washington capitals?

Posted by: patrone | March 8, 2009 5:10 PM "

haha jk - you've got some great points here. I think a mucker needs to be on GMGM's shopping list this summer. Laich is good there - but you really need someone with grit and experience to play that role everyday. I was very supprised that Guiern didn't come to the caps - he would have done very well in that role - as we recently witnessed first hand.

I'm tempted to make a joke about how we should sit Nylander in front of the net moving forward - he can't seem to do anything else correctly - but I'll refrain.

Posted by: patrone | March 9, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Heavens to Betsy, if the Caps start dropping in the standings because they have lost their focus. Unfortunately, there is still time for Carolina to win the Southeast. I don't want to see that happen! With the noted disparity between the lines and especially between the offense and the defense all skill fundamentals must be played with precision. It's back to basics time.

Posted by: playhockey | March 9, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Heavens to Betsy, if the Caps start dropping in the standings because they have lost their focus. Unfortunately, there is still time for Carolina to win the Southeast. I don't want to see that happen! With the noted disparity between the lines and especially between the offense and the defense all skill fundamentals must be played with precision. It's back to basics time.

Posted by: playhockey | March 9, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

@puckman - thanks for mentioning the misplay of JS55 on the Crosby goal. I played C-league at defense, and even I know that! I wouldn't have worried so much about that goal if BG had beaten JT 1-on-1, or if SC87 had done something spectacular with JS55 all over him.

Posted by: theshawn | March 9, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

As many have said, I'm not worried at this point either. Certain players look a little tired to me; Backstrom & Green for sure.
It's good they're getting away from home, too comfortable.
Are they starting to get anxious about the playoff's?
Are the expectations too high for this team this year? Could that weighing on them a bit?
Do I expect them to win the Cup? No. Do I think they can? Yes.
I'm glad GM didn't mortgage away the future for the immediate. Over the summer we can drop off some of these ridiculous salaries (If we pay $4mil for Sergei again, GM is dumber then I thought), we get a veteran defensive defenseman (Matias Ohlund?) we're golden.

Posted by: KAS2 | March 9, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

The Capitals have a strong fan base. Pittsburgh? 5,000 in the stands during the playoffs? Bring it. You guys were underwear skidmarks earlier. You can't be serious that you forgot how poorly you were playing, could you? Or is your attention span that bad? It really wasn't that long ago, in all honesty. And please, spare me the whole, Crosby scored two points...blah, blah, blah. We were toe to toe with you guys. We responded to your first goals and to win it in a shoot out, you might as well have flipped a coin for that last point. Seriously, though, enjoy the win. It's about the only thing you guys would be celebrating this season anyways.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | March 9, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

@CHEEF
"I "almost" feel sorry for many of you, thinking this team is capable of damage in the post season.

I said it last year and it applies now, the Caps are a very good regular season team.
Contenders ? Still far away.

Owner and his little helper have exploited the DC market by turning naive, ignorant fans into believers."

All I ask is that you provide us with your personal email address or come back during the Conference Finals and talk that trash.

Posted by: pokerface1208 | March 9, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Hey GoPens- who's franchise was in such dismay AND NEAR BANKRUPTCY that Super Mario had to buy it in order to save it and still came within 24 hours of moving to KC? Can't wait for the Pens to lose Cindy and Geno to Free Agency so they can finally deal with destiny and end up in Kansas City. Those who live in glass houses shouldn't cast stones. BTW, did Sid ever move out of Mario's basement?

Posted by: pokerface1208 | March 9, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Yes, the Caps have a good record. Yes, all teams have slumps. Yes, the Caps are loaded with talent. Yes, we as fans, all want the very best for them and hope that "we" can win it all. But...we have to be realistic. Their deficiencies are evident to the most neophite hockey fan. They should be evident to management. But, is it? The Gen. Mgr's inactivity before the trading deadline is inexcusable. Is management selling us the "wait 'till next year" line already? before the end of the season? Even before the playoffs begin??!
No moves to acquire what the team needs because...? because the team will be "more experienced" next year? Because a couple of kids from Hershey will make the team next year? Hogwash! Everybody knows that we don't have a top-notch goalie to carry this team. Probably the No. 1 deficiency. Everybody knows that we have no toughness on this team at all. It is absolutely inexcusable when the GOALIE has to try to clear his own crease because not one defenseman, not a single one, has the guts to do it for him. It is absolutely inexcusable when we do not screen the opposition's goalie at any time. Oh yeah... every once in a while someone glides in front of the net for a millisecond, but...it doesn't get it done, does it? The way I see it, not enough toughness for this team to survive in the playoffs. Bottom line, the Gen. Mgr. failed to accomplish what was needed for this team to become a Cup contender this year.

Posted by: scmonty1 | March 9, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Before you all jump on Tarik about this current losing streak and if it's cause for concern consider that the beauty of a long season does tend to even things out at the end. The Caps are a good team, their record proves it, but the one glaring thing they didn't do at the tarde deadline was make a move for a legitimate #1 goalie (and a few were available) nor did theymake the move for a shutdown defenseman (Chris Pronger anyone). Certainly there are cap issues to deal with and neither player would come cheaply, but as we Pens fans found this year in the salary cap era the window to win is very narrow - you need to retool constantly. The Caps will be facinf some serious contarct negotiations just as the cap falls...I know Ovechkin's locked up (by the way Crosby and Malkin took similar deals to leave money on the table so save it) but how do you account for Green, Semin, Backstron and the necessary role players like Steckel and Laich, etc. I know Teddy will tell you not too wory, but worry, all of his money can;t keep the team together and if you think every player is like Ovechkin, Crosby, Malkin that will take less you are very wrong. The Caps are a good team, but the long season, lack of defensive depth, suspect goal tending and erratic secondary scoring will catch up top you - the three or four stars cannot do it alone. Many teams made moves to bolster themseleves for the playoffs - the Caps stood pat which may leave them looking on after the first round. No sour grapes - just fact.

Posted by: pensfan1 | March 9, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

well yes the Pens went into bankruptcy, yes they played will move the team card for a new arena, but don't lose your memories...it wasn't all that long ago that the Caps drew NO ONE....that there was talk your team could move....despite all your success the last two seaons you still don;t sell out (and it's not because the National, Skins, Wizards or United) are taking all the disposable income. It would be some much more fun to discuss, argue the plusses and minuses of each others teams without reverting to name calling and mockery. Ovechkin is a great player, so is Green, but so are Corsby and Malkin and the inability of so-called Caps fans to recognize this shows your ignorance. You think Teddy would take a run at signing Malkin, Crosby, Letang? He would - you know and we would love to have Ovechkin, Green or backstrom. Lighten up - good luck in the playoffs.....

Posted by: pensfan1 | March 9, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

If you're a Cap's fan then you know the inactivity during the trade deadline could be cause for concern or not, that being said a four game slide is not what you want to see especially at home,i think Tarik is right on point highlighting the Cap's lack of offense during the current four game mini-swoon( first under Boudreau)no need to panic but certain issues need to be dicussed if we are thinking of advancing further than last year.

Posted by: dargregmag | March 9, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

No,no,no "Go Pens," youre the one who came onto HERE talking smack about the "bandwagon fans" and about how you were "raised to appreciate Pittsburgh fine sporting championship traditions."
Well, you might want to look into those traditions starting with the Pens, BEYOND the bankruptcy and possible moves to KC,Hamilton,Portland...Go on ESPN website under NHL attendance for just FIVE(5)years ago, and look who is LAST(30)but you call US bandwagon fans? Or was the 2/3 empty igloo every night part of the game plan for getting a new stadium?
Now, lets turn to the other fine Pittsburghian sporting traditions, besides the Steelers and theres, um..no NBA team, and the Pirates havent even had a WINNING SEASON in over a decade, despite promises made when they had to play hardball for a new stadium- actually, wait, I guess there IS a Pittsburgh sports tradition after all!

Posted by: peabody2 | March 9, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

If the Caps end up with Pissburgh in the playoffs it is a Caps win in maybe five games. It is Philly and New Jersey I'm worried about.

Posted by: poguesmahone | March 9, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

@PENS1 Sir, Good points except for PRONGER. The Disney ducks pulled him from the Market.

P.S. while i do believe there is a conspiranct theory out there. ....

The price for Prongsie was way too much perceived or actual!!! And while i do not believe our GM all the time; JD with the Blues here said the same thing bout getting Prongsie back to the blue land. "Too much to pay" the words both our GM and JD used were exact to the Vowel.

Posted by: hunter32 | March 9, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Peebody (show me your angry face!) - Take pride in your dozen or so sell-outs for the Caps. And AO - afterall he is the leading goal scorer in the league (although he has a lower shooting percentage than both Crosby and Malkin). Enjoy the moment, because come the post season, you'll feel that old familiar feeling. You know the one, the 'we'll get'em next year' feeling. I HOPE, I HOPE the Pens play the Caps in the playoffs.

Posted by: TimHorton | March 9, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

@ TH>>>Dude love you coffee, need a franchise in the lower mid west. Closest one is on the way Canada near Columbus or michigan.

I am a Big caps fan, not sure if i want Pitt in the first round....take my chances with Sabres/Rangers/even Panthers. But leave PITT to beat out with NJ...

Law of averages PITT FANS,,,,it will average out.

Posted by: hunter32 | March 9, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

"Someone needs to crash the net (as Laich did on Ovechkin's goal yesterday), screen the goalie and bang in a rebound. That needs to be an every-game thing, not a once-in-a-while thing."

Are the Caps just figuring this out!?! Maybe I should have restricted my coaching career to middle school teams.

Maybe someone should read the blog comments more often - many of us have been making this point most of the season. No one cared when lucky shots (Semin against Boston in OT) or beautiful sniper shots (Ovie) made it, but that's not sustainable. It's a little late, but not too late, to address this. THIS is where getting some toughness in front of the net would have been helpful (Guerin) at the trade deadline, and along the boards (although we're getting better there, see Jurcina against Armpitts-burgh).

Posted by: bucknelldad | March 9, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

to beat a dead horse that needs to be beaten on a regular basis, the caps give up way too many breakaways. I don't see that getting fixed in the next 15 or so games. And its not a personnel issue. Lesser teams with lesser defensemen do a better job of covering their own end. This is a mentality being filtered down from the coach. Bruce has brought a lot of offensive creativity to this team and now the roster is jumping up on every play trying to score. But its at the expense of good solid defensive hockey. Many teams in the nhl play a much more balanced style. And before we go blaming Poti or Mo or whoever, I don't think having different players on defense will stop the breakaways and odd man rushes. Not until the coaching staff changes its own philosophy on what it wants out of this team. Just paying lip service to it after a loss or two won't cut it.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 9, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

From the DC Pro Sports Report today:

The Washington Capitals may buy out the contract of Michael Nylander at the end of this season.

The Edmonton Journal is reporting the Capitals will likely buy out Nylander's contract this summer.
Nylander, 36, has two-year and $8 million remaining on his current contract.
The Capitals would have to pay Nylander two-thirds of his salary over four-years, and that figure will count against the salary cap.
Apparently, it is not that the Capitals failed to trade Nylander at the deadline last week, but more so that they could not find willing takers to takes on Nyls contract.

Other decisions for the Caps in the off-season, will be what to do with the current roster free agents. Here they are . . .

RESTRICTED: Shaone Morrisonn, Milan Jurcina, Eric Fehr, Boyd Gordon, and Jeff Schultz,

UNRESTRICTED: Donald Brashear, Sergei Fedorov, Brent Johnson, and Victor Kozlov,

Dear GMGM -- yes, release Nyls, and free up some cap space. Feds departure will save another $4 mil, and Schultz just HAS to be dumped. Use the left over money to get a mucking forward or two who loves the abuse of harrassing/screening goalies near their crease, a tough defenseman or two, and resign Kozlov, Fehr, Johnson (for one more year), and Boyd Gordon.

Posted by: bucknelldad | March 9, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

The easiest way to score is bring the pressure with a good forecheck and force turnovers. Caps top two lines take extra long shifts and as a result their forecheck suffers.

Posted by: michaelcoh | March 9, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

I'm honestly not worried. Caps are Sitting comfortably in the East. I'd rather them struggle at the beginning of March rather than the beginning of April while heading into the post-season.

Posted by: Green-ery | March 9, 2009 11:27 PM | Report abuse

Tarik in the short time I've been reading the insider I am most impressed with your in depth though provoking posts. I am just becoming a more serious hockey fan and am learning a lot here so from the little I do know it seems the coach is very successful both in Hershey and here and I trust that he knows what do to in this situation. Hope I'm right!.......i agree that the lack of physicality around the net is a big negative for the Caps. not sure this will bode well for them in post season play.

Posted by: congero | March 9, 2009 11:50 PM | Report abuse

they never had this much success before. it's new. they're young. after they lose a few more here and there, they'll get used to it, pull it together for the first round. yeah, second round could be tough, depending on who. Philly pushed them around last year. Pitt would be tough too. of course, if caps are thinking ahead to second round, they may still lose in the first. which is what they're doing right now, thinking ahead.

Posted by: shoe1 | March 10, 2009 1:25 AM | Report abuse

I agree there's concern about the offense, or lack thereof, however I think the bigger problem is the defense. We never saw the number of odd man rushes and breakaways earlier in the season as we have in the last month or so. In fact, when the callups were playing for Poti, Shultz, etc the D was solid and consistent. Not anymore.

Posted by: bundy44 | March 10, 2009 8:14 AM | Report abuse

you know, it's funny how all these penguins fans love to talk smack. Granted they do have 2 cups and more superbowls but they have NOTHING else. As other people have said, if S***burgh or wait I meant Pittsburgh had any relevance in today's world you'd still be there, wouldn't you. Oh wait, I forgot, Pittsburgh is a washed up dump that died in the 70s so you come here to DC to better yourself, get a better job, better schools, and in the process talk smack about our teams all the while forgetting the reason why you left Pittsburgh in the first place. Sound hypocritical? Last time I checked Pittsburgers are moving to DC, not the other way around. We still took 3 of 4 this year and I'm more than happy to give you an exit first round of the playoffs. You all have one true stud on your team and his name isn't Crosby, it's Malkin.

any seriously people, baby blue jersey's, can you get any more pathetic.

Posted by: kennybanya | March 10, 2009 8:28 AM | Report abuse

If I see one more delay of game penalty for throwing the puck over the glass I am gonna puke. I have never seen this many of those in one year. Just carelessness.

Posted by: nelmsmn | March 10, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

The Caps are the hockey equivalent of "He's just not that into you"; i.e., "They just aren't that good"...

The Caps are going down like a spent bottle-rocket.

Posted by: Ron16 | March 10, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I'm one of those Caps fans that usually doesn't comment, but read all the others. I have a different perspective: competitive teams are using a similar system to beat the Caps. First and foremost they attack the defensemen on both ends of the ice, especially Mike Green. Result: turnovers in the Caps zone, control of puck time. Second, they are overall aggressive against Caps blueliners on offense. Result: turnovers, odd-man rushes. Caps can't handle a full-court press. The price of youth...maybe? Just watch what happens to Greenie when he goes back for the puck; he looks tentative and I don't blame him. Other teams have figured out that Greenie is the key to this team's initiative. Hit him hard and often in his own zone and don't let him get a clean pass for a slapper in theirs. Result: low Caps scoring despite high shot counts. Save for Ovie (fantastic) and Semin (unstoppable at times) the Caps are weak without that work ethic you guys talk about. As for the younger defensemen, it'll take time. Schultzie will learn that you hit Crosby ALL the time, no matter what. Treat him like opposing teams are treating Greenie. Let him cry about it (and he will). Just had to get that off my chest and maybe give the competition some credit for these Caps losses. Go gettem Caps...

Posted by: Jrlobo | March 10, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Tarik,

Our defensemen, as a group, are by far the worst out of any of the other 15 NHL teams currently in a playoff spot. THAT right there is our biggest problem and earlier this year the offense or the goaltending was covering that up. We're not going anywhere with Schultz, Erskine, Jurcina, Mo and/or Pothier as 4 of the top 6.

Posted by: asharifi10 | March 10, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

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