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Posted at 9:46 AM ET, 12/13/2010

Big Chill at the Big House: Lessons learned for Winter Classic

By Matthew Rennie

To whet the appetite of Capitals fans looking forward to the Winter Classic, I visited the Big Chill at the Big House college hockey game Saturday in Ann Arbor, and if the New Year's Day game in Pittsburgh goes even nearly as well, fans are in for a treat. From weather to logistics, the event could not have come off much better than it did. You can read more here and then, more impressively, see more here.

A few additional observations, some more obvious than others:

>> The tailgating scene before the game was as impressive as the scene inside the stadium. With a 3 p.m. faceoff, fans had a couple extra hours than they will in Pittsburgh (and the night before wasn't New Year's Eve), and they made the most of them. Seemingly every third vehicle in the parking lot of Ann Arbor Pioneer High School (just across the street from Michigan Stadium) had some sort of tailgate gathering going on.

Fans huddled around fire pits and cooked over grills. I'm not sure how wise it is to have flaming logs in such proximity to gas tanks -- nor am I sure whether there are any prohibitive policies in Pittsburgh -- but the fans who were gathered around these fires seemed a lot happier than those who weren't. I did, however, hear a few say that after a couple hours in front of a toasty fire, leaving for the cold seats of the stadium wasn't easy.

>> If it's even a little bright, don't forget your sunglasses. Unlike a football field, ice reflects back all the light. Even on a mostly overcast day in Ann Arbor, players wore eye-black on their cheeks. Don't spend the afternoon squinting.

>> Dress in layers. No kidding, I know. The earlier start in Pittsburgh might mean a smaller range of temperature than in Ann Arbor, where the sun set at some point in the second period. Regardless, a wind blowing or not blowing or seats in the sun or shade can make a difference of 10 degrees or more -- no big deal for 10 minutes, but something to think about for an hour or more.

>> Bring a camera. These are cool visual events, and they don't happen that often, relatively speaking. Take pictures, save 'em for your grandkids.

>> While the sight lines at Michigan Stadium were better than I expected -- even from the 96th row -- binoculars aren't a bad idea, especially for hard-core fans. All in all, I thought seats that were extremely high offered better views than those extremely low. Low seats always offer perspective challenges when the puck is on the other side of the ice, but they make up for that in excitement when the action is nearby. At a football stadium, low seats have the same challenges but lack the intimacy.

Regardless, if you have tickets anywhere of the Winter Classic, you're in for a treat. If not, you can look forward to a game in Washington soon.

Here are a few additional videos to give you some additional flavor for the Michigan event. Excuse the shaky cinematography.


By Matthew Rennie  | December 13, 2010; 9:46 AM ET
Categories:  Winter Classic  
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Next: Poll: What should the Caps do now?

Comments

I don't care if they're "injured and sick," they need to suck it up and get to work.

Posted by: VTDuffman


And that is why you are not employed by the NHL...I get it...you are mad...so am I, but athletes can't play every day. Sure..overwork them and then you can be 100% sure things will continue down the wrong path. You can't act out of frustration as a coach.

Posted by: capscoach | December 13, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I know the Michigan game was great for hockey but back to the matter at hand. If BB is let go please do not make Evanson or Woods the interim Head Coach. I see that as a big mistake. Team needs new blood. When a taskmaster is hired, the players will only have themselves to blame. The favored children especially have had it easy with BB.

Posted by: kcbrichmond | December 13, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

The favored children especially have had it easy with BB.

Posted by: kcbrichmond |

That is such a load of poo! BB has benched and/or demoted all of his favorites this seaoson...No one has been given a pass so far. BB has flaws, but the favoritism thing just sounds childish

Posted by: capscoach | December 13, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Eklund (I know) is reporting Caps have called Florida about Vokoun. Typical. Neuvirth was playing great until his slight injury, then BB (like usual) destroyed the kids confidence by plugging in Varlamov as the main cog in the machine.

Posted by: kcbrichmond | December 13, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Eklund is less reliable than a magic 8 ball.

Posted by: capscoach | December 13, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

@capscoach
If you don't think BB has played favorites for the last 3 years then there is no sense debating it. Sorry for my load of "poo".

Posted by: kcbrichmond | December 13, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

love the caps but I think the biggest mistakes they have made over the last two years or so were signing Ovi to a huge contract

junkmail2

that is HILARIOUS! every team in the league would have signed him to what we got him for! He is having a bad season...and despite that he is still one of the better players in the league...if you don't think that, please ask the 3 players on every other team that are tasked with the sole job of tailing him all game.

Posted by: capscoach | December 13, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

If it's true, GM is looking in the wrong direction. Goaltending is not this team's problem. The overall defensive scheme of this team is severely flawed (not a revalation, I know). We don't need a $6M goalie who's been to the playoffs once.

GM needs to go outside the box on this one. Get rid of Fehr, put Laich on the block, see what Semin would fetch (Dustin Brown + Simmonds). Send Stecks and Gordo packing. This team needs more toughness and grit, not softness and apathy.

Posted by: Fletch22 | December 13, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

"And that is why you are not employed by the NHL...I get it...you are mad...so am I, but athletes can't play every day. Sure..overwork them and then you can be 100% sure things will continue down the wrong path. You can't act out of frustration as a coach."

---

You're right, the best way to handle a bunch of primadonna headcases is to pamper them harder. Perhaps if we toast their marshmallows before putting them in their hot chocolate, they'll stop losing games 7-0 to the Rags.

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 13, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Just hope the CAPS figure out what is broken and get it fixed before 12/23. If the loose to the pens at home, I will strongly consider giving up my season tickets.

Six straight loses with multiple super stars that have multimillion $ contract is simply sick.

Posted by: instinct227 | December 13, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

@fletch

Gordo has been good when healthy

Posted by: capscoach | December 13, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

@capscoach,

Never fear, we optimistic types are around. We just are not as vocal as the nega-nancies. I would think that the dark-siders would cringe at the thought of being joined by Cheef, but these are trying times.

Cheerfully and patiently waiting for the next game,
Pollyanna :)

Posted by: _Mark | December 13, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

You're right, the best way to handle a bunch of primadonna headcases is to pamper them harder. Perhaps if we toast their marshmallows before putting them in their hot chocolate, they'll stop losing games 7-0 to the Rags.

Posted by: VTDuffman

No one said anything about pampering them...but every athlete needs a day off to recover. Half are sick, and the other half are injured. When players are not given rest, they get bad injuries. It's not like they are getting a weekend. It's one day and if you were thinking with your head and not your emotions you would see that ANY coach would see that his players can't work every day.

Posted by: capscoach | December 13, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

@fletch

Gordo has been good when healthy

Posted by: capscoach

I'm not saying he's good or bad, but there's other players out there who are better suited for 3rd and 4th line duties. We have too many bottom 6 players who don't have any grit in their game, and if you can trade Gordon and Stecks and get something reasonable back, I'd do it.

Teams like Pitt and Philly have cohesive, consistent bottom 6 players, we play musical scratches with our extra forwards. It makes no sense.

Posted by: Fletch22 | December 13, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

"It's one day and if you were thinking with your head and not your emotions you would see that ANY coach would see that his players can't work every day."

---

We have different philosophies, which is fine. I think days off are earned. I don't think that losing 7-0 to the Rags earns you a day off.

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 13, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

@capscoach

I agree partly on Boyd Gordon. He was good the first 15 games of the season. The last 15 games however he has not been very good and neither has Chimera. Fehr has been stuck with those two and people said he has played awful, yet he got away from them last night and was probably our best player. So maybe Boyd and Chimmer have just faded off and its making someone else look bad. Andrew Gordon was stuck with those two last night and you didn't get to see much from him because of that.

Posted by: ThePat | December 13, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Everyone is talking about the forwards and I agree many/most are not living up to expectations, but the D has looked terrible lately.

They just kept falling back in that game, and gave up the middle of the ice about 10 times! They also tend to lose a man in front of the net...it's like they all go attack one side and leave someone completely open on the other side

Posted by: capscoach | December 13, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Who knows, maybe these days are off are to accomodate BB and his agressive shooting schedule. I'm with you VTDuffman, days off are earned, not given. If nothing else, come in to Kettler and watch some game tape.

I realize hockey coaches don't work as many hours as football coaches, but I assume these commercials take a significant amount of time to shoot.

Posted by: Fletch22 | December 13, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

The last 15 games however he has not been very good and neither has Chimera. Fehr has been stuck with those two and people said he has played awful, yet he got away from them last night and was probably our best player.

ThePat

agree about Fehr, but honestly...almost everyone else has looked bad these last few weeks, so I can't really pin point a player that "should go" except maybe steckel!

Anyone think we could have used Bradley's heart last night?

Posted by: capscoach | December 13, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

@capscoach

I agree hard to tell about Fehr, but just thought it was interesting. He gets away, plays well. A. Gordon gets stuck with those two and is invisible.

Not sure Bradley would have made any difference last night. But I agree I would have rather had him in the lineup and BB scratched Semin for his penalty the night before or Laich for his ineffectiveness.

Posted by: ThePat | December 13, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

@ThePat

The Laich situation is really disapointing. He seems like such a good guy and has a great attitude. I really think this team will turn it around. Practice tomorrow will be very important.

Posted by: capscoach | December 13, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Who knows, maybe these days are off are to accomodate BB and his agressive shooting schedule. I'm with you VTDuffman, days off are earned, not given. If nothing else, come in to Kettler and watch some game tape.

I realize hockey coaches don't work as many hours as football coaches, but I assume these commercials take a significant amount of time to shoot.

Posted by: Fletch22


Thats really just rude and stupid. The arguments about BBs ability have merit (don't necessarily agree) but all this nonsense about his work ethic and stupid commercials is ludicrous. Those commercials were probably all shot before the season anyway. I am not saying that you should like BB, but show a little respect.

Posted by: capscoach | December 13, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

OV makes a horrible give away then a brutal line change that leads to a goal....next shift he goes after somebody's knees then jumps a guy ...should get instigator and fighting with a visor on..........and on this blog people are saying how great he played....absolutely clueless commentary

Posted by: wendel2 | December 13, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

"If nothing else, come in to Kettler and watch some game tape."

How do you know that they're not? Just because there is no on-ice practice does not mean that the team, including coaches, aren't working today. In fact, I believe that Bruce said yesterday that he will be going over one-on-one reviews with players today (strengths, weaknesses, breakdowns from this past week, etc).

Posted by: sabredc | December 13, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I HOPE BACKSTROM IS SICK. HE CLEARLY GAVE UP ON THE 2-ON-1 SHORTY. ANYONE ELSE NOTICE THAT?

Posted by: kkd76 | December 13, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

next shift he goes after somebody's knees then jumps a guy ...should get instigator and fighting with a visor on..........and on this blog people are saying how great he played....absolutely clueless commentary

Posted by: wendel2

Don't know what u are reffering to with the knee, as for the visor...it came off very quickly so maybe thats why.

As for your clueless commentary...I think it is really funny when someone disagrees with everyone else and thinks everyone else is dumb.

He played with heart, he hit, he tried to amp up his team, and he was only a -1 for a game with 7GA. No one is saying he was awesome or anything...just noting that he played better than most everyone else, and did some things right.

I get it...you are angry so nothing I say that is positive will be right.

Posted by: capscoach | December 13, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

"If nothing else, come in to Kettler and watch some game tape."

How do you know that they're not? Just because there is no on-ice practice does not mean that the team, including coaches, aren't working today. In fact, I believe that Bruce said yesterday that he will be going over one-on-one reviews with players today (strengths, weaknesses, breakdowns from this past week, etc).

Posted by: sabredc

Per Katie's prior thread: "If nothing else, come in to Kettler and watch some game tape."

How do you know that they're not? Just because there is no on-ice practice does not mean that the team, including coaches, aren't working today. In fact, I believe that Bruce said yesterday that he will be going over one-on-one reviews with players today (strengths, weaknesses, breakdowns from this past week, etc).

Posted by: sabredc

Per Katie's prior post: With a host of injuries and illnesses the Capitals are taking Monday off before starting back up on Tuesday.

Posted by: Fletch22 | December 13, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

...next shift he goes after somebody's knees...

Posted by: wendel2

What game were you watching?

I can only assume you are referring to his well timed hip check which is a legal move. Maybe you should learn about hockey before commenting on it.

Posted by: LloydChristmas | December 13, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Crap, messed that up. @sabredc, I was going by Katie's post, as noted in that mess above.

Posted by: Fletch22 | December 13, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Who cares about winter classic when our team is at 6 game loosing streak!!!?!?

Posted by: beforeitstoolate | December 13, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

capscoach,

There is no use in trying to be the voice of reason on this blog today, everyone is just coming to the realization that the team is not as good as they were hyped.

Thing is, that has been apparent for well over a year now but it took this type of play to open some peoples eyes and now they are standing on the ledge, ready to jump. Quit trying to talk them off the ledge, this system is broken and needs to be fixed starting with the removal of BB.

I say again, this team is WAY too talented to let this season go to waste. Change the system now with a veteran coach who will force the players to be responsible for their actions.

Posted by: PhilR | December 13, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

wendel, that was a legal check. And in fact Dubinsky didn't attack him which I think he would have if the hit had been more egregious. Ovy chose to initiate the contact with Duby. He got lucky he didn't get an instigator on that play.


either way, Ovy's effort last night was exactly what I would expect from a captain and it makes me sick to hear Bruce's comments postgame when he minimized that effort.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 13, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Phil, this org will not treat this situation with the urgency it deserves. Part of it is because the folks in charge would be admitting their own miscalculations if they took some drastic steps.

I think the Caps,even under Bruce, will get this thing turned around to an extent. But they'll still be a far cry away from a championship team. And to get to that level, drastic steps are required. Some trades, some new hires.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 13, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Thats really just rude and stupid. The arguments about BBs ability have merit (don't necessarily agree) but all this nonsense about his work ethic and stupid commercials is ludicrous. Those commercials were probably all shot before the season anyway. I am not saying that you should like BB, but show a little respect.

Posted by: capscoach

You vehemently respond this, but ignore my post directed to you about our bottom 6 players compared to other teams. I was being somewhat sarcastic, which I realize now doesn't translate well on a message board. The bottom line is when a team loses a game in embarassing fashion, along with two other 5-0 losses in the same time period, it's my opinion that they should be on the ice.

Posted by: Fletch22 | December 13, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

either way, Ovy's effort last night was exactly what I would expect from a captain and it makes me sick to hear Bruce's comments postgame when he minimized that effort.
______________________________________

What did Bruce say? I remember him praising Green for fighting.

Posted by: ablake70 | December 13, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

@capscoach i have watched every caps game for the last 2 years and ov performance is greatly diminished ....could be being capatain...could be lack of interest...but what ever the reason the result is obvious...he is playing the worst hockey of his career on a team designed around him....no easy fix exists

Posted by: wendel2 | December 13, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

can we go back to the useless Brooks Laich for a second ? how did this guy fall so far ? there was a time he was our most consistent two way forward. Now he shows no leadership, he's not fiery or fiesty, he doesn't try to change the momentum of a game with an impact play. He's living in the shadows.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 13, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Who's the guy who comes on here and says we need Clutterbuck?

I agree with that guy.

I've been impressed with MP, though. Aside from our top two lines, everyone is on the block if I'm GMGM.

And Poti is seriously dragging. Who knew that Flash was the glue holding this thing together?

Posted by: Jordan_Kitts | December 13, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

cstanton,

Absolutely agree that they will not do the things that are needed but it has become apparent to even the biggest koolaid drinkers that this system is flat broken and quite frankly there are a few of us (including you) that can say I told you so.

Agree that trades need to happen as well, they still do not have that shutdown third line that is needed, they are short at 2C, and the defense STILL needs a lot of help. The extension of Poti for two more years still has me scratching my head.

Posted by: PhilR | December 13, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

What did Bruce say? I remember him praising Green for fighting.

Posted by: ablake70

i got it 2nd hand but it amounted to him saying he didn't want Ovy engaging in rough play

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 13, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

wendel2,
I'm guessing you have never played hockey before. Ovie threw an excellent hip check. Dubinsky challenged Ovie and Ovie decided to go. He was trying to lift his team. Also, noticed he got nailed by Semin while trying to screen the goalie.
My biggest problem with Ovie last night was that horrible turnover and line change. The team needs to go back to basics. When your changing, get the puck deep and go to the bench. I agree with the comment on Backstrom and the 2 on 1 break. I don't care if your gassed, give it all you have getting back on that play. Basic hockey, the Caps should consider playing some, it works.

Posted by: chriscaps | December 13, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Can we forfeit the Winter Classic and SPARE OURSELVES THE HUMILIATION we'll undoubtedly endure w/the likes of Godard, Rupp, Engelland, Asham, Orpik, Cooke, Talbot, Lovejoy, et al....

The team response to Ovi's fight, AND I THINK IT NECESSARY HE DID FIGHT, suggests to me that they're either UNWILLING or UNABLE to follow their coach or CAPTAIN.

cstanton: you did well contrasting how the Pens would've responded to Crosby last night...did you ever read my post about Holt/Rissling? Thought you'd get a kick outta it......

Posted by: vermontcaps | December 13, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

The extension of Poti for two more years still has me scratching my head.

Posted by: PhilR

which is why i want mcphee out of here asap so he can't do any more damage that his replacement will have to mitigate.

my feeling is, no drastic changes will occur this season. They'll cross their fingers and hope this recent stretch is an aberration. They may make a minor tweak here or there. They'll look for one more playoff performance to validate their direction for this team. And then next offseason they'll look at this thing a little deeper and do some soul-searching.

but this front office has shown me little evidence of courage and vision to take the right steps with the right level of urgency. They're about as smug as smug gets.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 13, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

On Laich, either he's been neutered by his coach's passive ways, or he refuses to waste his leadership skills and his once feisty play on a team that won't back him up. There's guys on this team that won't even stand up for they're teammates. That's hockey 101.

If the players on this team not named Hendricks or Erskine don't get inspired when their superstar and Captain initiates contact, drops the mitts and points to his bench, then they're not going to respond to anything Laich does.

Pittsburgh has now gone on a tear after they're captain fought. When Mike Richards fights with a purpose, he knows his team will back him up with physical play and rally as a team. This team is soft and neutered, with the exception of a few players.

Posted by: Fletch22 | December 13, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

With a few exceptions, such as the clueless shot at Ovi "going for Girardi's knees" (BS)--go watch some old tapes of Larry Robinson or the Secretary of Defense a/k/a Rod Langway making their hip checks--Ovi's was clean and classic, lots of good stuff on here today. Glad to see CStanton1 back on the board. This team has been pretty psychologically fragile for several years now...who knows why? I get into a chicken and egg thing when I look at their inability to play big when the rubber really meets the road--game 7 against the Pens, games 5 and 6 against the Habs. In Game 7 against the Rangers in '09 we got some breaks (Semin's incredibly lucky goal) and Fedorov scored the GWG. Otherwise we lose to a very inferior (at least to us, on paper) Ranger team. All of this suggests to me that some kind of major change is needed...maybe at the coaching level.

As to BB's commercials, please give the guy a break. He has toiled in the minors for years, and this may be his one chance to put enough $ away for retirement. Good for him. Would you do any differently, given the opportunity? Honestly now.

Posted by: NorthFork1 | December 13, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

cstanton: you did well contrasting how the Pens would've responded to Crosby last night...did you ever read my post about Holt/Rissling? Thought you'd get a kick outta it......

---------

missed it but i'll go back and try to find it. Randy Holt was right before my time. I started watching the Caps around the time Dwight Schofield was laying out Craig Coxe :)

just give me a team that competes as hard as the Pens do and i'll be very happy. We won't win a Cup every yr but we'll not be classic underachievers either. And provide a very entertaining brand of hockey that combines some old school concepts with the new. I love that the Pens can walk into Philly, outhit them, beat em up in fights, and still walk away with a victory. That's balance.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 13, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

For all of you wanting a new head coach that will fire up this team, it won't happen. The GM has built a soft team with a lot of skill. When it was 5-0 last night and BB was upset, I thought I saw him look down at his bench to send out someone that could stir things up but there wasn't anybody. Hendricks was already off the ice for fighting.I was expecting one of these rookies to maybe do what OV had to do but no one stepped up.The Caps will be fine, Just need them to be in the playoffs and work from there. GM has heard all along that we did need grit and toughness but he doesn't want a team like that. We must be one of the only teams that doesn't try to screen the goalie on power plays. Probably because we don't have that type player that will do it on a consistent basis. Good things happen around the net but we don't have that philosophy. Things don't get any easier with our next couple of opponents. GO CAPS!!!

Posted by: jmcale57 | December 13, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

can we go back to the useless Brooks Laich for a second ? how did this guy fall so far ? there was a time he was our most consistent two way forward. Now he shows no leadership, he's not fiery or fiesty, he doesn't try to change the momentum of a game with an impact play. He's living in the shadows.

Posted by: cstanton1

Yeah, as much of a disappointment as the rest of the team's been, Laich is especially so. I don't know what's going on with him. It's things like this that make me wonder whether it's Bruce. After last year's loss, I immediately wanted to get rid of Bruce, but then aftera a bit of reflection, I realized that might not be necessary. Well, it's certainly looking more and more necessary now.

I'm actually glad for this losing streak. I hope the slump continues. I've resigned myself to the fact that they're going to lose some games now, and I don't get that angry. Last night, normally I would have just been yelling and screaming the whole game, but I was very calm. I can stand watching them lose a bunch of games if it means the necessary changes happen to make this a real cup contender.

Posted by: TheDoubleAlex | December 13, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

The extension of Poti for two more years still has me scratching my head.

Posted by: PhilR

Everybody is scratching their head on that one.

Posted by: capscoach | December 13, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

they're = their. Poor english today.

Posted by: Fletch22 | December 13, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

@JordanKitts

It's tominsocal that mentions wanting Clutterbuck all the time.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | December 13, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

we lose to a very inferior (at least to us, on paper) Ranger team
--north---

i think there were a few factors that contributed to our win. The Rangers were in a bit of disarray at the time because they had a new coach in Torts, once he took over he cut the ice time of their checking forwards who frankly had been the driving force of that team that year when their top liners were underachieving. Then there was the Torts-Avery fiasco that rendered Avery useless in that series.

And i give our team credit as well. We played a pretty gritty overall series led by our D (ShaMo, Ersk, Juice). So I do think we earned that series win but I think the Rangers hosed themselves in many ways. They seemed confused about their own identity under their new coach.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 13, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

On Laich, either he's been neutered by his coach's passive ways, or he refuses to waste his leadership skills and his once feisty play on a team that won't back him up. There's guys on this team that won't even stand up for they're teammates. That's hockey 101.

Posted by: Fletch22

When fans say BB is a players coach and doesn't hold players accountable, this is the first guy that comes to my mind. Laich has been playing like this for at least a year. I think he fancies himself a finesse/skill player and doesn't want to mess up his pretty boy face.

Posted by: ablake70 | December 13, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

can stand watching them lose a bunch of games if it means the necessary changes happen to make this a real cup contender.

Posted by: TheDoubleAlex

Brother, you have crystallized my thoughts.

I have ALWAYS felt that way. I am more than willing to suffer thru a miserable season if it means making the right changes as well.

If this team recovers just enough to keep Bruce's job (and GMs), then they go back out and have another series where they can blame a hot goalie, then next offseason we're in the same boat we were at this offseason. They'll just preach more patience. That would be my worstcase scenario

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 13, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

either way, Ovy's effort last night was exactly what I would expect from a captain and it makes me sick to hear Bruce's comments postgame when he minimized that effort.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 13, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse
----------------------------------------
I couldn't agree more. OV & Hendricks last night were the only guys with any passion. OV, after he fights signals to the bench to get goin and what happens? We give up a shorty 90 seconds later. Nice response team.

Something else that bothers me is BB's comments about Sasha being selfish. BB you played the game. You never lost it after a guy cross checks you 2x's in the upper body? I never had a coach call me selfish for stickin up for myself or team mates. What's his deal with Semin? He's always BB's target.

Posted by: pokerface1208 | December 13, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

@chriscaps...with your obvious knowledge of the game i'm shocked you think Dubinsky suckering Ov in to a fight is a good move by ov...actually a great move by dubinsky and silly by ov...we have others who are supposed to handle the rough stuff but they lack the heart to play the game 100%..this game has alot of confused talented and very underachieving floaters...and most nights as of late OV has been one as well...ps you dont live in western Canada for 50+years and not play hockey

Posted by: wendel2 | December 13, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

When fans say BB is a players coach and doesn't hold players accountable, this is the first guy that comes to my mind. Laich has been playing like this for at least a year. I think he fancies himself a finesse/skill player and doesn't want to mess up his pretty boy face.

Posted by: ablake70

Funny thing is, he started off as a finesse player. Then something "clicked" and he started to become a grinder. He said he knew what he had to do to survive in this league. Now he's reverted back.

At the very least, bringing in a new coach will light a fire under some of these guys' butts who will have to re-prove themselves to the new coach. And i'm betting Laich will be one of these guys who will elevate his game.

As will someone like Poti. Who even last night, after another lackluster game he actually started playing hard on the PK unit. He was aggressively moving towards forwards, giving them a little stickwhack, gave one guy a xcheck, etc. He just can't sustain that type of effort. And he'll only do it when he senses maybe a job security issue or we're getting totally embarrassed.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 13, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

@capscoach

I AM IMPRESSED WITH YOUR UNWAVERING OPTIMISM, and I'm sorry if ever I've been rude to you. That said, it's clear that many here have been following the team A LONG TIME and we're tired of seeing the same scenario play out OVER AND OVER.

Posted by: vermontcaps | December 13, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

@wendel2

The game was out of reach at that point. Ovie did it for motivation purposes. The Captain was trying to inspire the guys, but as pokerface pointed out...they decided to continue $h!tting the bed instead. :(

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | December 13, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Something else that bothers me is BB's comments about Sasha being selfish. BB you played the game. You never lost it after a guy cross checks you 2x's in the upper body? I never had a coach call me selfish for stickin up for myself or team mates. What's his deal with Semin? He's always BB's target.

Posted by: pokerface1208

Contrary to popular belief, BB has no love for Semin. Semin is probably the only superstar BB punishes on a consistent basis. Watch the PP sometimes and notice how often Semin is relegated to the "2nd unit" or not on the PP at all. Then read or watch BBs comments about Semin. Whenever there is an opportunity to bash Semin or use him as a scapegoat, BB takes it.

I knew BB would use the Semin penalty as a way to deflect attention away from his team's play. Someone should have asked BB why he blasted Semin for a heat of the moment crosscheck, but defended Green for his premeditated elbow to a player's head last season.

Posted by: ablake70 | December 13, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Something else that bothers me is BB's comments about Sasha being selfish. BB you played the game. You never lost it after a guy cross checks you 2x's in the upper body? I never had a coach call me selfish for stickin up for myself or team mates. What's his deal with Semin? He's always BB's target.


Posted by: pokerface1208

prolly the only time you'll see me defend Semin, but I made the exact same point yesterday. Guys like Briere and Sid would have definitely reacted the same way in that situation but yet Bruce holds Semin to a different (unrealistic and unfair) standard.

You can't create a team atmosphere where no one protects our skill players and then admonish these same players when they stick up for themselves. Bruce should try putting himself in that situation and then see if he can simply "suck it up"

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 13, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Someone should have asked BB why he blasted Semin for a heat of the moment crosscheck, but defended Green for his premeditated elbow to a player's head last season.
-------------

they weren't in the middle of a losing streak at the time ? lol

one thing about bruce, he'll throw anyone under the bus when he feels some heat.

in that sense, he's the furthest thing from a "player's coach" there is.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 13, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

"Funny thing is, he started off as a finesse player. Then something "clicked" and he started to become a grinder. He said he knew what he had to do to survive in this league. Now he's reverted back."

---

Brooksie hasn't been the same since that the article came out about how he helped that chick change her tire.

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 13, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

yeah wendel, i usually see your side of things but when a game is out of reach and you can sense that something, anything, needs to occur to show proof of some type of resistance, what Ovy did is exactly what I would have wanted to see. And he's by no means the first captain to react like that. Dale Hunter would probably do this 10x a season in his prime.

and from the replay, Duby wasn't going to really do anything, he just kinda skated over. Ovy was the one looking for a confrontation. Hats off to him. And I hope he doesn't feel bad that he reacted that way.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 13, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

BB hates Semin because it made Flush expendable. Flush was BB's favorite ginger. There I said it. =)

BTW, I thought Hendricks had an AWESOME game on Sat. This guy has been on heck of a pick up.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | December 13, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

@VTDuffman

Wrong...goes back to when he took the puck n the face at practice. Now he doesnt really go near the net unless the puck is on his stick and hes on the end line during the PP. He rarely is in front setting screens anymore, and thats how he got half of his goals last year. Setting screens, and getting tips and junk goals.

Posted by: ThePat | December 13, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

newsflash...Semin is selfish and is the poster child for selfish euro syle hockey..ask any of the team and they will tell u what a self centered lazy flake he is

Posted by: wendel2 | December 13, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

CStanton...I agree that the Caps deserved the Ranger series...I was only referring to Game 7, and the Caps seeming inability to step up in those situations...if my memory serves, we did not lead in that game until Fedorov scored with about 5 minutes left...again, given all that you said about the Rangers's situation during that series (and you're right), the Caps really didn't come up big, even in Game 7...glad that we won it (Verizon was deafening for the last 5 minutes), happy that we played well enough to win, but I still think we didn't come up big...

Posted by: NorthFork1 | December 13, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

has anyone mentioned that maybe one of the few positives to come out of last night's game was Carlson and Alzner stepped it up and got more involved physically than I've seen in a while. As did Fahey. Big John was a bit of a disappointment. He came across the center of the ice inside the blueline and put one hit on Boyle but aside from that he didn't do much. Esp in the Avery scrum or when Prust challenged him.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 13, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

NEWSFLASH: Semin is lazy... he is the poster boy for selfish,euro, often lazy self centered hockey...ask any player who is the least team orientented Cap and semin wins hands down..bb is right to call him out...it doesnt work so gmgm should ship him out

Posted by: wendel2 | December 13, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

they weren't in the middle of a losing streak at the time ? lol

one thing about bruce, he'll throw anyone under the bus when he feels some heat.

in that sense, he's the furthest thing from a "player's coach" there is.

Posted by: cstanton1

Losing streak or not, BB should have kept his mouth shut. There were plenty guys taking needless penalties during the losing streak, and Bruce found no reason to call them out.

My issue is that BB blasts Semin for a penalty and started the whole "reckless" controversy with Ovi, but goes out of his way to defend Green's elbow to the head. I thought that play was far more selfish than Semin's because it was pre-planned. Coach should have kept his mouth shut on all accounts.

Posted by: ablake70 | December 13, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

@Pat

good call on that play, i forgot about that. Lets face it, Brooks isn't an out-of-the-box gritty guy. He added that element to his game. And it can disappear under duress.

@Fork

Agreed about game 7. I thought both teams weren't trying to really seize that game. We played better earlier in the series than we did in that game.

lots of good comments on here today. Although I don't have the stats to back this up.

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 13, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

If this team recovers just enough to keep Bruce's job (and GMs), then they go back out and have another series where they can blame a hot goalie, then next offseason we're in the same boat we were at this offseason. They'll just preach more patience. That would be my worstcase scenario

Posted by: cstanton1

Yeah, that's my thing. I'm OK with them recovering. If this is just a bad patch, and they can recover and make a real cup run (going to the finals), that's OK. I just want whatever this is to be one way or the other, as you say. Either be bad enough to really make some changes, or recover in a way that makes us a better team without making those changes. I don't want to just start winning games like we did last year.

Posted by: TheDoubleAlex | December 13, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

"NEWSFLASH: Semin is lazy... he is the poster boy for selfish,euro, often lazy self centered hockey...ask any player who is the least team orientented Cap and semin wins hands down..bb is right to call him out...it doesnt work so gmgm should ship him out" - wendel2

A pox on both your houses...a pox sir.

Ask any d-man in the NHL if he wants to get tasked marking Semin. Hmmm, now lets count the number of hands that raised...0. Yep, I thought so.

I for one will continue to pimp my Semin jersey proudly.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | December 13, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

"If this is just a bad patch, and they can recover and make a real cup run (going to the finals)"

---

FWIW, I'm not selfish like you, I would accept just getting out of the 2nd round :)

To me, it's all about improvement. You have to improve every year.

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 13, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

@SAOTI
That makes two of us!

Semin's problem isn't that he is lazy or selfish. He's simply inconsistent. The guy has three hat tricks in the first 1/4th of the season! He just needs to bring it every day.

Posted by: sabredc | December 13, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

FWIW, I'm not selfish like you, I would accept just getting out of the 2nd round :)

To me, it's all about improvement. You have to improve every year.

Posted by: VTDuffman

Yeah, I guess I'd accept that, too. It also depends on how we play. If we play well in the ECF and lose, that's OK. More than anything, I just want to win a series in less than 7 games, for God's sake.

Posted by: TheDoubleAlex | December 13, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

@SAOTI
That makes two of us!

Semin's problem isn't that he is lazy or selfish. He's simply inconsistent. The guy has three hat tricks in the first 1/4th of the season! He just needs to bring it every day.

Posted by: sabredc | December 13, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

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