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Posted at 11:31 AM ET, 01/13/2011

Leonsis says Caps may be pacing themselves

By Dan Steinberg

(By Matt McClain - TWP)


You know it's getting bad for the Caps when the guy who parks my car in the 15th Street parking garage detains me for five minutes of angry ranting about Nicklas Backstrom and the power play before agreeing to park my car. Seems we all sort of thought the bad stuff was over earlier this month, but the bad stuff is back: back-to-back losses in Florida, three goals, a power play that went 0-for-7, a return to second place in the Southeast, and so on.

No, it's not time to panic, but sure, it's a fine time to try to figure out what it all means. Ted Leonsis offered one possible explanation Tuesday morning, before the Florida road trip began.

"My goal is I just want to qualify for the playoffs," Leonsis said on Mike Wise's radio show. "I don't think it matters how many points we finish with. I want us to enter the playoffs playing the right way and being healthy....I think our guys may be unconsciously pacing themselves a little bit, I do. I think that."

"Unconsciously pacing themselves" is certainly one explanation I haven't heard very frequently, nor do I imagine it's one that Bruce Boudreau would take kindly to. Leonsis went on to say that players are also playing for the team more than their own stats, which he seemed to suggest may have something to do with the struggles, in ways I don't entirely understand.

"The shared trophy is more important than the individual one," Leonsis said. "And I do think what we're seeing right now is guys who understand that a shared collective win is much more meaningful than individual stats, and that's one of the great things about giving guys confidence with these long-term deals: that they don't have to put up stats, they don't have to negotiate their contract, they can just be focused on team success."

The other newsworthy bit from the interview came when Wise brought up the December eight-game losing streak, and asked whether Bruce Boudreau's job was ever in jeopardy. Leonsis laughed.

"You know, I just have to chuckle at sometimes the world that we live in," he said. "Bruce has the best record in the NHL since he started coaching us, of any coach in the league. And we lost eight games; now we've I guess gotten points in our last eight games. And I believe in continuity. I believe in systems. I believe in philosophy. And I think we live in a world sometimes of quick-change artists, situational ethics. And I don't think that's how you build stability and build loyalty and trust in an organization."

So, Wise asked, how many games would the Caps have had to lose in a row before Boudreau's job was at risk.

"A lot more than eight," Leonsis replied.

By Dan Steinberg  | January 13, 2011; 11:31 AM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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Comments

Something hasn't been right with this team all year, and interviews like this aren't making me feel better.

Yes, Alex Ovechkin doesn't need to score 60 goals and Nick Backstrom doesn't need to get 100 points for this team to be successful. But they need to score more than once in an while. And the way that unlike last year, this team continually comes out flat in the first period is very disturbing. I don't know if it's a coaching problem, but there is a problem--despite the brief winning streak at the end of December.

Posted by: TheFingerman | January 13, 2011 11:58 AM | Report abuse

They aren't pacing anything, they just can't put the puck in the back of the net. The team still looks better than last year, but we have to find ways to bury the puck.

Posted by: richmondphil2 | January 13, 2011 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Caps play in a sloppy system. When they win either the skilled players make something great happen or the scrappy players get a greasy goal. But they always seem to be scrambling while the other teams are smooth and disciplined in their own systems.

Caps need more discipline in their system and everything will come together. Look at Pittsburgh and Detroit for examples of excellent systems. Caps need to emulate that.

Posted by: jmarks09 | January 13, 2011 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I've got a different perspective about how Dan leads into this post. I think it is great news that people in parking garages are talking about the Caps struggles--this means the sports landscape in DC is shifting.

All you hear on Talk Radio is retread shows on the Redskins. Who should they draft, blah blah blah. Clearly Washington cares about its other sports teams, and hearing people talk about the Caps casually is a great sign. Three years ago this wasn't happening.

Now if the Nats and Wizards could put something together, that would be even better.

Finally, Washington isn't a one-horse sports town anymore. Go Caps!

Posted by: rodeorob | January 13, 2011 12:42 PM | Report abuse

They're only seven points ahead of ninth-place Carolina. They could be pacing themselves to an early tee time.

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 13, 2011 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Come on Ted, the 'ole saying in the NHL is everyone makes the playoffs. The pressure is certainly on as the #1 seed but it is worse being the #8 seed as rarely do they succeed in the playoffs.

Posted by: PensRule | January 13, 2011 1:19 PM | Report abuse

C-A-P-S, Caps, Caps Caps.

Oh, and hello again Dan.

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | January 13, 2011 1:19 PM | Report abuse

[SIGH]

Joe Gibbs had just won Super Bowl XXVI. Three titles in ten years, almost one in three. He's in the limo, after the game. A fan RIPS OPEN THE DOOR. "You know you gotta get 'em again next year, right?"

This is the way it is. I think they're heading in the right direction. But sometimes, puckheads sound as if they're called that because that's where the puck hit them.

Posted by: poorskins | January 13, 2011 1:22 PM | Report abuse

[SIGH]

Joe Gibbs had just won Super Bowl XXVI. Three titles in ten years, almost one in three. He's in the limo, after the game. A fan RIPS OPEN THE DOOR. "You know you gotta get 'em again next year, right?"

This is the way it is. I think they're heading in the right direction. But sometimes, puckheads sound as if they're called that because that's where the puck hit them.

Posted by: poorskins | January 13, 2011 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Yet another reference to the "eight-game losing streak". In the streak referred to the Caps went 0-6-2. That's 6 L's and 2 OTL's. They are very different things and should be reported as such. But alas, I dream.

Posted by: tmcandrew2 | January 13, 2011 1:54 PM | Report abuse

We go from earning the Presidents Trophy to "we just want to make the playoffs"?...Is Ted serious?. That is defeatist talk, something is VERY VERY wrong with the Caps, and anyone who is a fan AND a realist as opposed to naive or a homer has to see it....BB, the insecure reactionary coach, heard all the talk about last year's loss to the Habs and suddenly we need a new defensive system. Newsflash, defense didnt cost us that series, the Habs could barely score 2 goals a game against us. What needed to be done was adjusting the offense to fact that Habs sought to block every shot. Now, with our "new" scheme two of the most dynamic players in the league in OV and Backs are simultaneously mired in slumps at the same time? Coincidence? PUUUUUUUUUUUUHLEASE....this system doesnt work, you cant win no matter how good your D is if you dont score goals. Another early exit coming in April, bank on it...this team does not ever win a cup with BB as coach, sorry.

Posted by: opticlguy | January 13, 2011 2:07 PM | Report abuse

@ tmcandrew2

The Caps lost 6 games in regulation, as well as two in OT. even though they got a point for going to the extra period, a loss is a loss no matter how you slice it.

Posted by: jmurray019 | January 13, 2011 2:07 PM | Report abuse

We go from earning the Presidents Trophy to "we just want to make the playoffs"?...Is Ted serious?. That is defeatist talk, something is VERY VERY wrong with the Caps, and anyone who is a fan AND a realist as opposed to naive or a homer has to see it....BB, the insecure reactionary coach, heard all the talk about last year's loss to the Habs and suddenly we need a new defensive system. Newsflash, defense didnt cost us that series, the Habs could barely score 2 goals a game against us. What needed to be done was adjusting the offense to fact that Habs sought to block every shot. Now, with our "new" scheme two of the most dynamic players in the league in OV and Backs are simultaneously mired in slumps at the same time? Coincidence? PUUUUUUUUUUUUHLEASE....this system doesnt work, you cant win no matter how good your D is if you dont score goals. Another early exit coming in April, bank on it...this team does not ever win a cup with BB as coach, sorry.

Posted by: opticlguy | January 13, 2011 2:08 PM | Report abuse

@opticlguy

Completely agree. Defense wasn't the problem against Montreal last year. It was lack of adjustments on offense, i.e. crashing net, screening goalie, getting dirty goals instead of weak unscreened point shots right at Halak's chest with no traffic in front of him. And also the atrocious power play which continues to be awful. Our defense is fine, it is OFFENSE we need to focus on!

Posted by: jmarks09 | January 13, 2011 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Ok Caps Fans first of all the caps record doesnt reflect thier play it has been horrible for a while not the last 2 games. They play a dump and chase mentality and that's why it's boring. Last year they carried the puck into the zone with tick tack passing and now dump chase fight in the corner if they win it goes to the point 1 shot that hits the goalie in the chest and done. They do this over and over and over it has not just started it's been going on for a while that's why when they win they barely win. Also since we started this type of play are european players have falling off, this is not their style of hockey, you don't want to get rid of any players except Poti who has suck every game out, the players have to much talent to trade away you just need a coach to lead them in the type of play that suits them all around and BB can't seem to do it. I said he needs to go for s long time now and now I see slot of others saying the samething his coaches days are numbered .

Posted by: fs02 | January 13, 2011 3:07 PM | Report abuse

I am surprised Ted would settle for the 8th seed, because not having home ice would likely affect his ticket revenues.

Posted by: JillC | January 13, 2011 3:14 PM | Report abuse

What does that say for those STH who pay week in and week out? We think every game matters. How about pacing yourself in the off season?

Posted by: mtaneyhill | January 13, 2011 3:15 PM | Report abuse

What does that say for those STH who pay week in and week out? We think every game matters. How about pacing yourself in the off season?

Posted by: mtaneyhill | January 13, 2011 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Actually, the team started off the first 20 games of the season as if last year had not ended.

But something happened after that and Ovechkin, Semin and Backstrom stopped scoring goals and using their athleticism.

It's great that the two young goalies, defense and 3rd and 4th line forwards have stepped up their game.

But you can't win a Stanley Cup with Eric Fehr and a 20 year old rookie like Johansson being the forwards that are scoring the key goals.

Posted by: RoyHobbs4 | January 13, 2011 3:33 PM | Report abuse

I'm taking M-W off from work from now on! Just pacing myself. I need to do a lot of work on Thursday's and Friday's. Besides I don't want to make my co-workers envious of me, nor do I want them to look bad if I do well. And fire me? Unthinkable. I've been a top performer in this organization for years. Maybe the best. So, I should ask from a long term deal. Build my confidence so I don't have to worry about my stats, or promotion, or finding another job: this way I can just stay focused on how well the organization does and not on myself nor how I contribute to the overall good of the organization. Team success. Yes!

Do you have openings at your places of employment. Count me in.

Good God man, do you think anyone buys this B#S?

Posted by: festus75 | January 13, 2011 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm taking M-W off from work from now on! Just pacing myself. I need to do a lot of work on Thursday's and Friday's. Besides I don't want to make my co-workers envious of me, nor do I want them to look bad if I do well. And fire me? Unthinkable. I've been a top performer in this organization for years. Maybe the best. So, I should get a long term deal. Build my confidence so I don't have to worry about my stats, or promotion, or finding another job: this way I can just stay focused on how well the organization does and not on myself nor how I contribute to the overall good of the organization. Team success. Yes!

Do you have openings at your places of employment. Count me in.

Good God man, do you think anyone buys this B#S?

Posted by: festus75 | January 13, 2011 3:49 PM | Report abuse

I'm taking M-W off from work from now on! Just pacing myself. I need to do a lot of work on Thursday's and Friday's. Besides I don't want to make my co-workers envious of me, nor do I want them to look bad if I do well. And fire me? Unthinkable. I've been a top performer in this organization for years. Maybe the best. So, I should ask from a long term deal. Build my confidence so I don't have to worry about my stats, or promotion, or finding another job: this way I can just stay focused on how well the organization does and not on myself nor how I contribute to the overall good of the organization. Team success. Yes!

Do you have openings at your places of employment. Count me in.

Good God man, do you think anyone buys this B#S? As Bruce would say "Just, F'ing pacing myself". Pass the biscuits.

Posted by: festus75 | January 13, 2011 3:51 PM | Report abuse

TED, For God sakes SHUT UP! The team better get its act together before the second season, or you'll disappoint us AGAIN.

Hey Mike Wise; How bout having an actual Caps player on the radio? Sick and tired of a businessman talking about hockey.

Posted by: caphcky | January 13, 2011 5:29 PM | Report abuse

The problems for Ovi started last year after his last suspension. He wasnt scoring as much but he was still producing enough to finish just behind Sidney and Stamkos.

What Ovi, Semin, and Backstrom are now going through is unacceptable for what they are being paid. Ovi is being paid 9.5 and soon 10 million. The caps can't have him play like a 4 million dollar forward scoring 20-30 goals.

As a fan, I want to see a cup, but if the Caps get just as far with this boring defensive quasi trapping, I would rather them go back to all offense and score like pinball machine.

The 3rd and 4th lines are playing into the system just fine. The top 2 lines have issues with the system.

Posted by: theAnswerIs42 | January 13, 2011 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Leonsis is such an overrated blowhard. First of all, the "pacing themselves until the playoffs" stuff is a bunch of crap. The way this team is playing, the playoffs are hardly guaranteed. Second, it is usually the GM's job to decide when a coach needs to go subject to the owner's sign off. Is Leonsis usurping McPhee here with his comments on Boudreau's status?

Posted by: poguesmahone | January 13, 2011 6:15 PM | Report abuse

It is absolutely the coach. He only knows one way to coach and when Montreal showed the league how to beat his system, the league all followed so we can't score. he doesn't know how to overcome the defensive response the league has come up with so he then says we need to play defensive. But he has never payed or coached defensive in his life so when they focus on defense, they still don't know how to overcome the other teams' defensive strategy so they become even more inept offensively. I wouldn't be surprised if they don't even make the playoffs but if they do, they will be out very early. There are plenty of teams that can pay both defense and offense well - in fact, they tend to win the cup. BB will never win the cup.

Posted by: thefingernator | January 14, 2011 7:46 AM | Report abuse

@jmurray019


@ tmcandrew2

The Caps lost 6 games in regulation, as well as two in OT. even though they got a point for going to the extra period, a loss is a loss no matter how you slice it.

Posted by: jmurray019 | January 13, 2011 2:07 PM | Report abuse
----------------------------------------

In essence, the NHL's perverted system allows one team to tie(1 pt.) while the other wins(2 pts.). You may slice it any way YOU like it, but an L and an OTL are not equivalent.

My preference would be for a 5-minute, non-sudden death OT, followed by a second such period if still tied. If still tied after the 2nd OT, then it's a tie - 1 pt. apiece.

Call me old school, but this business of a hokie 4-on-4 followed by a shootout starts trending towards WWE if you ask me.


Posted by: tmcandrew2 | January 14, 2011 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Well, Ted, if the guys are "playing for the team" as you say--and I'm sure that I can pretty much decode what "guys" means--then why is it that those "guys" still come up absent at every single optional practice? Especially when those "guys" are struggling so much, and especially since those "guys" are the team captain?

Posted by: aybee27 | January 14, 2011 9:02 AM | Report abuse

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