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Caps Have Cup in Mind as Training Camp Set to Begin

Posted on 06 September 2009 by Ed Frankovic

Hockey is officially back starting tomorrow, September 7th as Washington Capitals rookie camp opens and then is followed by the veterans joining the action on Saturday, September 12th at Kettler Ice Plex in Ballston, Virginia. The Caps, who have made the playoffs the past two seasons as Southeast Division Champions, are looking to avenge last year’s second round seven game series loss to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins and get their hands on the cup themselves next June. As I blogged on many occasions during last season, the Caps became legitimate Stanley Cup contenders in 2008-09 and this year they appear to be even closer to reaching their goal. The Capitals continue to be a young team, led by soon to be 24  year old Alexander Ovechkin (9/17), and should mature even more this season as superstars in the making Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green are about to embark on just their third full season in the league.

Caps GM George McPhee has put together a very solid team that is deep on defense and Coach Bruce Boudreau’s aggressive style is exactly the type of system that fits the personnel McPhee has assembled. In short, this is a competitive and exciting team to watch and Caps tickets will continue to be tough to obtain.

So after losing an ultra close series to the Penguins and watching them host Lord Stanley’s Cup, just where do the Caps stand now in relation to the rest of the league? Well, I had a chance to catch up with an NHL scouting director recently to get his take on the off-season and he made a point of saying that he thinks that the Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings have lost ground since the Stanley Cup Finals. He felt that the departures of Rob Scuderi and Hal Gill on defense would hurt Pittsburgh and said Detroit is an aging team with shaky goaltending (but they still have Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, and Pavel Datsyuk). He also criticized the moves made by the Chicago Blackhawks (he is not a Marian Hossa fan and going with Cristobal Huet in net is risky) and felt that the hiring of Brent Sutter as head coach in Calgary would really help them considerably.

So given that the Pens needed seven games to dispose of the Caps and Washington has improved despite forwards Sergei Fedorov and Viktor Kozlov heading to Russia (but McPhee added Mike Knuble and Brendan Morrison) you could make an argument that the Caps are the favorites to win the Eastern Conference in 2009-10. I’m sure the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, and Carolina Hurricanes (along with the defending champs) would beg to differ with that statement. For Washington to win the East they need to have the every day mind set that they are the team to beat and conduct themselves accordingly, starting this week in training camp, so that when April comes around they are ready to roll and not endure the bumps they faced early in last seasons playoffs (lost 3 of the first 4 opening series games to the Rangers).

It is a long way until April but as I alluded to above, everything the Caps do now sets the stage for the playoffs in April so here are some of the things I will be watching closely this next month in preparation for the start of the regular season:

1. Goaltending Battle – Back during development camp in July Boudreau announced that Jose Theodore, who has one year left on his current contract, was his #1 goalie heading into training camp. 21 year old Simeon Varlamov stole that job from #60 in the playoffs last spring and he is clearly the netminder of the future for Washington. In addition, 21 year old Michal Neuvirth led the Hershey Bears to the Calder Cup (AHL Championship) in June and is in the mix. Also up and coming is 19 year old Braden Holtby who looks to play in Hershey this year after a strong junior season in Saskatoon in 2008-09. By the way, Varlamov, Neuvrith, and Holtby all take the ice on Monday, September 7th when rookie camp commences.

2. Top Six Forwards Cohesion – Boudreau routinely shuffled his lines last season often putting Ovechkin and Backstrom with Alexander Semin when he needed scoring. Will that be the top line or will Knuble with the Great #8 and Backstrom work better while Semin plays with Morrison and either Tomas Fleischmann or Brooks Laich on the second line? Boudreau has mentioned he would like more stability with his top six forwards.

3. Which 7 players on D make the team? – The Caps have a lot of NHL caliber defensemen starting with Green, then you have veteran Tom Poti as the likely #2 defensemen. After that it gets interesting. Brian Pothier, who is an unrestricted free agent following this season, claims to finally be healthy and in shape and seeks to become a top 4 defensemen but he will battle the likes of 20 year old Karl Alzner (turns 21 on 9/24), Shaone Morrisonn, the much improved Milan Jurcina, the physical John Erskine, 23 year old and former 2004 first round pick Jeff Schultz, and 19 year old potential star John Carlson. That is 9 guys clamoring for 7 slots and as we all know, competition typically makes guys get better, so this will be fun to watch.

Other interesting stories will be:

– The return of team captain/forward Chris Clark, who claims to finally be healthy again. Can he regain his skating ability and scoring touch (he had 30 goals playing with Ovechkin in 2006-07)?

– The progression of Fleischmann (19 goals in 2008-09), who improved despite battling a severe case of pnuemonia last season. Will the 25 year old become a consistent top 6 forward?

– The impact that the loss of Donald Brashear will have on the team. Do the Caps need a tough guy? Can Matt Bradley and Erskine handle that role? Or will a potent power play be enough of a deterrent to other teams?

– Can forward Chris Bourque finally make the Caps or will he be traded? Bourque may get caught in a numbers game in DC.

– Will 2008 first round draft pick Anton Gustaffson make it through training camp without getting injured?

– How close are young guys like Matthieu Perrault (21) and Oskar Osala (21) to becoming the call ups of choice from Hershey this season?

We will see how things unfold these next several days and weeks. If you want to get out to Kettler and catch the practice sessions they are FREE and OPEN to the public. Click to get the complete team roster and training camp schedule. As always, please drop me a comment if you have a question or something to say about the Caps.

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Caps Sign Knuble; Brashear to Rangers (Updated with Interview Quotes)

Posted on 01 July 2009 by Ed Frankovic

TSN is reporting that the Washington Capitals have signed free agent forward Mike Knuble from the Philadelphia Flyers for two years at $2.8M a season. Knuble is a big forward who excels in front of the opponents net, something the Caps really need. In addition, TSN is reporting that former Capitals enforcer, Donald Brashear, has gotten big money, $1.4M a season for 2 years, from the New York Rangers.

I’ll have more on this as details come out.


We just finished the conference call with both Caps GM George McPhee and Knuble. Here are the highlights:

– It appears Knuble will be on the Washington top line as McPhee said that the Caps needed a player that can go the net with Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Ovechkin. George commented, “Mike has made a living there going to the net.”

– On the process and why he picked Knuble, McPhee said, “We had 4 or 5 wingers identified and we rank them internally. We went through everything and found he is the right guy for us and it was the right deal for him. We wanted to add a guy today and we replaced a 13 goal scorer (Viktor Kozlov) with a 27 goal scorer. All of the research we’ve done said this is a real ideal free agent signing for us.”

– When asked if the Caps were now done in free agency McPhee replied, “Probably, but if something makes sense then we’ll do it. We’ll probably talk over the next couple of months with other teams to see if there is anything else we can do.”

– George was also asked if because of the salary cap situation that Brooks Laich would now be the #2 center going into the season and he said that was the case and that Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau had discussed it with #21. McPhee also said that Laich had asked to play that position before with Washington.

– I asked McPhee about the Colton Orr (4 years at $1M per season) and Brashear signings and if you just need a tough guy/enforcer for the regular season and not the playoffs. Here are some of his quotes on that topic: “Those are good deals for those guys. Brash did a great job here for us for the last 3 years…salaries for tough guys have gone down…Sometimes in parts of the season, in about 10 games, you need them but most parts of the season, in the big games, you would rather have talent.”

– Mike Knuble indicated that he was negotiating right up until yesterday with the Flyers in the hopes of staying in Philadelphia. “The Philly thing didn’t end until yesterday so you just pick your head up out of the sand and look around. I wanted to stay on the east coast and [DC] is a good city, one of the teams in the Eastern Conference, and a team on the verge of something great, so Washington is a good fit.”

– Knuble, who has played on a line with the likes of Peter Forsberg and Joe Thornton, was asked about playing with the Great #8. “It is a great chance to play with that guy and there is no guarantee that I will mesh with him but I have confidence I can.”

– The 6’3”, 230-pound right wing, who will turn 37 on Saturday and has scored at least 21 goals in each of the last six seasons in addition to playing in 3 games for the Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings in 1998, considers himself to be a young 37. He said that he has “low mileage because he really didn’t start playing on a regular shift in the NHL until he was 30.”

– Finally, when asked how he would fit in with the Caps he said, “I’m not a solution, just a piece to the puzzle. I’m really looking forward to a great season and I think the team is ready to take the next step.”

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Caps Update and NHL News

Posted on 30 June 2009 by Ed Frankovic

Caps Update

When the clock strikes midnight tonight it is Canada Day and with that comes the start of NHL free agency. Today Caps GM George McPhee mentioned that he didn’t see Washington as being a big player in that arena because of the lack of success the Caps and most teams have had in free agency as well as his team’s salary cap situation. The Caps do have needs going into next year if they want to win the Stanley Cup and I list them in the following priority order: second-line center, a first or second line power forward that goes to the net, and a physical defenseman.

Last weekend the Caps drafted Swedish center Marcus Johansson with their first round pick, 24th overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. This was the third time in the last four years that Washington has selected a center from Sweden with their first selection. Last year they took center Anton Gustafsson, son of former Cap Bengt-Ake Gustafsson, and in 2006 they selected Nicklas Backstrom with the fourth overall pick in the draft. Backstrom is already one of the best centers in the NHL while Gustafsson has struggled to get onto the ice back in Sweden due to injuries.

I spoke with another NHL team’s scouting director this evening and he said that he thought Johansson was a good pick by the Caps and will likely be a 3rd or 4th line center in the NHL. Considering how much of a crap shoot the NHL draft can be this doesn’t seem to be a bad scenario for the 24th overall pick. The scout also said that Johansson is definitely better than Gustafsson.

Forwards Sergei Fedorov and Viktor Kozlov are already gone from this past season’s Caps roster and it appears enforcer Donald Brashear won’t be back either. The Caps also qualified eight players yesterday in Chris Bourque, Eric Fehr, Boyd Gordon, Milan Jurcina, Shaone Morrisonn, Steve Pinizzotto, Jeff Schultz and Kyle Wilson while they did not extend offers to Andrew Joudrey, Daren Machesney, Travis Morin, and Sasha Pokulok. Pokulok was the 14th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft so he has definitely reached bust status.

NHL News

Last Saturday morning the Calgary Flames traded with the Florida Panthers for the right to negotiate with superstar defenseman Jay Bouwmeester sending the Cats unrestricted free agent defenseman Jordan Leopold and a 3rd round pick. That move has definitely paid off for both the Flames and Bouwmeester as they have agreed to a reported five year deal worth $6.6M per season. This certainly gets Calgary back in the elite category in the Western Conference just like the Chris Pronger acquisition has shifted some of the power balance back to Philadelphia in the East.

Another big trade occurred today with the New York Rangers shipping center Scott Gomez and his huge contract to the Montreal Canadiens for Long Island native Christopher Higgins. The Rangers also receive former Montreal first round draft pick Ryan McDonagh and Pavel Donatanko while the Habs got forward Tom Pyatt and defenseman Mike Busto in return. With the acquisiton of Gomez, who has 5 years and $33.5M left on the deal he signed with the Rangers in 2007, any talk of Vincent LeCavalier being moved from Tampa to Montreal now goes out the window.

The NHL scouting director I spoke with today said that the Canadiens benefit because Gomez is the best player in the deal despite his high salary while the Rangers were clearly looking to get some salary cap room. He also said that the only real prospect in the deal was McDonagh. I’m giving the nod on this one to the Rangers for clearing major salary cap room but given Glen Sather’s free agent acquisition history he could easily put his team back in the same boat with another high priced signing. We’ll see if the New York GM has learned from some past mistakes.

The Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed free agent forward Bill Guerin to a one year $2M deal as they attempt to make a run at repeating as the NHL champions. Guerin was a big factor in the Penguins resurgence from the trading deadline all the way to their title run. GM Ray Shero will now turn his attention to resigning forward Ruslan Fedotenko, who now has two Stanley Cup rings (Tampa in 2004), and defensemen Rob Scuderi and Hal Gill.

With the Pronger, Bouwmeester, and Gomez moves happening the domino effect could start taking place on Canada Day and there are some big names still available in forwards Marian Hossa (Detroit), Marian Gaborik (Minnesota), Daniel and Henrik Sedin (Vancouver) not to mention Ottawa’s Dany Heatley, who says he wants to be traded out of Canada’s capital city.

I asked the NHL scouting director if the salary cap was slowing down movement (there surprisingly weren’t many trades at the NHL draft last weekend) and he said that was true. I then asked him if we will see some crazy signings like we saw last year, such as the Leafs giving defenseman Jeff Finger for four years at $3.5M a season or Columbus inking defenseman Mike Commodore for four years at $4M annually, and he said that definitely will occur because there are some teams with lots of salary cap space available.

Check back for news and analysis over the next several days as things in the NHL get really interesting.

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Thursday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 25 June 2009 by Glenn Clark

Do you want me to say something about Felix Pie? I already have. He has no business here. It’s borderline embarrassing. Joey Gathright can do the things Felix Pie does (and Joey Gathright is not a particularly good player either).

Do you want me to say something about Koji Uehara? I’ve already said plenty. The guy should go to the bullpen. It is tough to pay someone $5 million and then use them in relief; but it is tougher to watch a guy who physically can’t pitch the number of innings that are required from a pitcher.

Do you want me to say something about the Orioles? I’d much rather talk about soccer or Transformers.

Let’s see what everyone else has to say…..

Best of Wednesday’s WNST Blogs:

Luke Jones says Birds’ talent ‘improved’, but team still making ‘mistakes’

Thyrl Nelson wonders if O’s ‘owe’ Roberts anything

Drew Forrester not surprised to hear Uehara dealing with ‘fatigue’

Jason Jubb says Birds’ recent moves appear to set up Aubrey Huff trade

Bob Haynie says Birds stockpiling “Aubreys”

Marco Romanell says Adam Jones mired in funk

Keith Melchior wonders if Trembley has ‘earned’ right to return to Birds

Ed Frankovic says Brashear apparently not in Caps’ plans for next season


The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says errors, defensive mistakes cost Birds in loss to Marlins

The Official Site provides numerical evidence of loss

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Rich Hill toes mound for Birds in attempt to avoid sweep against Sean West, Marlins

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Salazar showing value at big league level

Marlins Official Site’s Joe Frisaro says Nolasco dazzled for Fish in win over O’s

The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Trembley appeared to be ‘losing patience’ with Pie after mistakes in loss

The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Markakis picked up AL-leading 8th assist in loss, throwing out Hermida at plate

The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Birds worked out 16 year old SS prospect Sano in Dominican Republic

The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Uehara could miss next start with ‘elbow fatigue’

The Sun’s Kevin Cowherd says Birds bad, but not as bad as Nats

The AP says Cody Ross, Hanley Ramirez each drove in 2 as Marlins topped Orioles

Miami Herald’s Clark Spencer says Fish back over .500 after win

South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Juan Rodriguez says Dan Meyer pitched 9th for save with Lindstrom on DL for Marlins

Palm Beach Post’s Joe Capozzi says Bonifacio showed off hustle in scoring run on Pie’s blunder

USA Today has Birds 23rd in power rankings


Norfolk Tides Official Site says Brandon Snyder lead Tides with 3 hits, 2 RBI in win over Pawtucket

Bowie Baysox Official Site says Perrault blew save as Binghamton rallied to top Baysox

Aberdeen Ironbirds Official Site says Garabez Rosa tallied walkoff hit in 10th in win over Staten Island

The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr. says David Hernandez went 4 perfect innings, got no decision for Tides in win

The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr. says Shorebirds’ Zagone promoted to Frederick

The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr. says Birds trade for Indians prospect Aubrey, expect to assign him to Norfolk

The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr. says first round pick Hobgood honored by USA Today

Frederick News-Post says Keys’ Florimon tripled, scored run in Carolina League All-Star Game

Virginian-Pilot’s Rainer Sabin says Hernandez pulled after 4 in case O’s need him to make Uehara’s next start


The Official Site’s Mike Duffy breaks down competition for CB jobs

The Official Site says Ravens, M&T Bank team up for annual Honor Rows Program

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Ravens fans pocketing profit from PSL sales

ESPN.com’s James Walker says Flacco ‘better’ this season


The Official Site checks in with former Terp, Seahawks UFA Dave Philistin

The Sun’s Matt Bracken says commit Delic improved stock by putting on weight

Yahoo! Sports’ Charles Robinson says former Terp Merriman ‘on mission’

Terrapin Times’ Mark Clem says Milford Mill WR Cheeseboro ‘really likes’ Terps (must subscribe)

Terrapin Times’ Mark Clem breaks down LB’s with Seamonson (must subscribe)


The Sun’s Jeff Barker thinks Terps ‘could be’ Top 25 team

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Steve Francis 8th best player of Gary’s 20 years

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Johnny Rhodes 7th best player of Gary’s 20 years

Inside MD Sports’ Seth Hoffman says Stoglin finally made first visit to future home College Park

Scout.com’s Evan Daniels says not everyone surprised with rise of target Justin Coleman (must subscribe)


The Official Site offers opportunity to camp with Frese, players

The Diamondback’s Brian Kapur says former Terp Langhorne improved in 2nd season with Mystics

The Diamondback’s Brian Kapur says Langhorne, Toliver, Coleman, Frese were all reunited last weekend for WNBA game at Verizon Center

The Diamondback’s Michael Lemaire says Mincy joins Alyssa Thomas, Natasha Cloud in Terps’ class of 2010

Washington Post’s Camille Powell says Mincy ranked 13th best prospect by ESPNU

Terrapin Times’ Dan Painter says two years of recruiting finally landed Mincy in College Park (must subscribe)


The Official Site says trip to Ohio State gets noon kickoff, ESPN treatment

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Mids have just two games left on schedule without kickoff time determined


The Official Site says opener at Northwestern gets noon kickoff, Big Ten Network treatment


Examiner Jeff Hemelt says Val Teixeira honored by USL-2


Daily Racing Form’s David Grening says Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra won’t run in Breeders’ Cup

Thoroughbred Times’ Steve Bailey says owner Jess Jackson nixes possible showdown between Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta on ‘plastic’ surface at Santa Anita

Thoroughbred Times’ Mike Curry says after skipping Belmont Stakes, Rachel Alexandra makes track debut in Mother Goose Stakes

The AP says Borel supportive of Jackson’s decision to keep Rachel Alexandra off synthetic tracks


The AP says Phelps nominated for 4 ESPY Awards


The Sun says Fred Funk commits to Constellation Energy Classic

Washington Examiner’s Kevin Dunleavy says Funk finished 2nd at last year’s Constellation Energy Classic


-I’ve never been to the Horseshoe before. I doubt that will change when Navy visits Ohio State; but I’m certainly tempted. A trip to Berkley probably will be out of the question given the expenses I’ve taken on in buying a new whip (thanks Koons Ford); but a trip to Columbus sounds like a lot of fun.

Talk to you tomorrow.


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Caps Update and Pre-NHL Draft Thoughts

Posted on 24 June 2009 by Ed Frankovic

So it appears that Donald Brashear is not in the plans for next year for the Washington Capitals (check out more on that and an update on the Sergei Fedorov situation here). While Brashear did serve a purpose the last couple of seasons in DC by protecting Alexander Ovechkin and many other Caps players he is now 37 years old and following a knee injury he suffered in a losing fight to Nashville’s Wade Belak his value has drastically diminished. The question GM George McPhee has to answer is:

Can the Caps go forward with defenseman John Erskine and forward Matt Bradley as the guys who will take on opponents players and tough guys when they start taking liberties with the Great #8 and some of Washington’s other highly skilled players next season?

Here is my answer: No, I think McPhee needs to add a guy to try and fill the Brashear role next season because Erskine and Bradley aren’t good enough fighters to take on the league’s heavyweights plus both of them have other more important roles on the team than just being a fighter. During the regular season the Caps absolutely need someone who can fight and protect. Come playoff time that skill pretty much goes out the window (As an example of this, take a look at how little ice time forward and resident tough guy Eric Godard, who played 71 games and had 171 PIMs for the Pens in the regular season, received in the playoffs: 0!).

If one takes a look at the coverage and analysis from blogs and national publications about the Caps you will see various need assessments ranging from a second line center to a defensive d-man to a power forward who can go to the net and score the ugly goals. I’ll stand by my assertion that the biggest need is a second line center (I don’t think Fedorov will be back and if he does come back can he be counted on to play anywhere close to 82 games?).

Some of the other things McPhee needs to do this summer is solve the Michael Nylander (as in how can he get rid of this guy and his huge salary cap figure?) and Jose Theodore situations. I am 100% convinced that Theodore cannot be the #1 goalie for the Caps going into next year’s playoffs no matter how well he does in the regular season because the Washington players can’t possibly have any confidence at all in this guy after he opened the playoffs with one of the worst goaltending games in Caps playoff history. Rob Yunich over at Storming the Crease throws out some options on where McPhee could send #60. I think Edmonton or Colorado make the most sense but at $4.5M this might not happen until after the season gets rolling or even closer to the trade deadline. Bottom line in both situations is it doesn’t matter what the Caps get back  in return for these guys as long as they can unload the salary.

On to the 2009 NHL Entry Draft where TSN/NBC’s Pierre McGuire and former Flames GM Craig Button offer up their predictions. As I mentioned in my last blog, Button, who used to run the draft for the Dallas Stars back in the 90’s (he selected Jarome Iginla, Brendan Morrow, and Marty Turco) before moving on to Calgary, likes d-man Victor Hedman to be the first overall pick by the Islanders. McGuire and I see New York taking forward John Tavares.

Once again scanning the national publications and blogosphere several people have the Caps picking forward Landon Ferraro with the 24th selection in the first round on Friday night. Ferraro, who is the son of former Hartford Whalers and Islanders forward Ray, is only 5′ 11″ and 165 pounds. The younger Ferraro is reportedly very fast but given his genetics one can’t expect him to grow into the body necessary to be a power forward (next biggest Caps need behind a second line center). Since Ferraro is a right wing, is small, and the Caps have several other young, small, and speedy forwards in their system already (see Chris Bourque, Mathieu Perrault, and Francois Bouchard), I just don’t see any reason why McPhee and head scout Ross Mahoney would take him. McGuire picks him for the Caps while Button goes with defenseman Dmitri Orlov.

Another popular name associated with the Caps in the first round is Jacob Josefson. Button has him going in the top 10 while McGuirre has him taken by St. Louis with the 17th pick so it is unlikely he is around where Washington is currently slated to pick. However, you never know if the Caps will move up (or down) and last year there were over a dozen trades in the first round so trying to predict who Washington will select is extremely difficult. I would not be surprised at all to see McPhee trade this year’s pick for a player who can help the Caps next season. In fact, what will surprise me most is if McPhee and his staff leave Montreal without making a single trade that will immediately fill in some of the current needs for next season.

All players drafted this weekend will be invited to the 2009 Caps development camp which will be held July 13-18 at Kettler Ice Plex in Ballston, Virginia. Last year defensemen Karl Alzner and John Carlson and goalies Simeon Varlamov and Michal Nuevirth really stood out while we also got good looks at forwards Oskar Osala, Bouchard, Perrault, Jake Hauswirth and Steve Pinizzotto; defensemen Keith Seabrook and Patrick McNeill; and goalie Braden Holtby. The one player I will be looking at most during that time is last year’s first round draft pick (21st overall), Anton Gustafsson.

The son of former Capital Bengt-Ake Gustafsson did not attend the 2008 development camp and then after just one day of training camp last September he was done with another back injury. Anton, who was signed by the Caps to a three year contract back in May, hardly played at all this past season (27 regular season and 5 playoff games in Sweden) and his stats to date don’t inspire any confidence to me that he can play an 80 game season. Some have Gustafsson rated as the 5th best prospect in Washington’s system behind Alzner, Carlson, Varlamov, and Neuvirth. I talked with the NHL scouting director of one team last year after the draft in Ottawa and based on their due diligence he said there was no way his team would take Anton because they believed much of his injury situation was in his head. Clearly the book is still really out on Anton and he needs to show his skill and his ability to stay healthy at the development camp.

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NHL and Caps Response to Steroid Allegations

Posted on 27 May 2009 by Ed Frankovic

A man arrested (Richard Thomas) in Florida yesterday for possession of anabolic steroids bragged to law enforcement officials that he has sold the performance-enhancing drugs to professional athletes, including those on the Washington Capitals and Washington Nationals, according to a report from Tampa Bay Online.

Here is an official NHL response and one from the Capitals as well:


“The Washington Capitals have no knowledge of any aspect of this allegation. Capitals players were subjected to no-notice testing three times in each of the past two seasons pursuant to the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and there was no indication of any improper conduct or wrongdoing.

“Even though there are no specifics provided in the story and we have no reason, at this point, to believe the allegations are true, the National Hockey League takes all matters of this nature very seriously and will conduct a prompt investigation.”

— Bill Daly, NHL deputy commissioner


“We have no reason to believe there is any merit to this story, but the National Hockey League and the Washington Capitals take all such allegations seriously. Capitals players have fully participated in the NHL’s random drug testing program, and at no point has a Capitals player tested positive. In addition our players have been tested at international events, such as World Championships and Olympics. We welcome and will fully cooperate with the NHL’s investigation.”

— Dick Patrick, Washington Capitals president

Also, Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post has some feedback from Brooks Laich and Donald Brashear on the allegations. See http://voices.washingtonpost.com/capitalsinsider

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Caps: Playing George McPhee / NHL Conference Finals Analysis and Predictions

Posted on 17 May 2009 by Ed Frankovic

Caps Analysis: Playing George McPhee

Tonight, after hearing the words of Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau and General Manager George McPhee on Friday at breakdown day combined with the knowledge I’ve gained from watching this hockey team plus input I’ve gotten from other scouting and knowledgeable sources, I am going to play George McPhee as he heads into the off-season and try and predict some of what he might do and what I would do with this hockey club if I were in his position.

Before we begin, I agree with McPhee and Boudreau that this is a very good team right now and there are a lot of talented hockey players in the organization, many of them aged 25 and under. Clearly the future is bright. However, what the Caps need to do is finally win a Stanley Cup and not end up being a team that makes the playoffs 14 straight years without an appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals, like they did from 1982-83 to 1995-96 under GM David Poile. Washington is close to achieving their goal but if I am McPhee I need to really adhere to my evaluation process and look hard at the personnel from a players and coaching standpoint to decide if I have what it takes to win it all.

Let’s start with the head coach. Clearly Boudreau is a guy this team likes playing for and his uptempo system seems to fit the talent. Based on what Bruce said on Friday, he has some guys on this team that don’t do what he wants them to do, which is go to the net. This is a problem because I can’t remember a Stanley Cup Champion team made up of perimeter hockey players. Given that combination some personnel moves are in order, and we’ll get to them soon enough. However, during the Penguins series a comment was made to me by an NHL scout who said that the Caps do not play well away from the puck (for the record, the scout criticized the Penguins ability to do this as well). This falls on coaching and personnel. What I don’t know, and if I am McPhee I am finding out, is the team’s lack of ability to play well away from the puck a function of the players not buying in or does the coaching need to improve? In this regard, a head coach and his assistants are responsible for the system. Boudreau is a lock to come back but I am not so sure he and McPhee are sold on the team of assistant coaches (Jay Leach, Dean Evason, and Dave Prior).

Prior is the goaltending coach and Olie Kolzig practically swore by him. Prior seems to be doing things right given that rookies Simeon Varlamov and Michael Neuvirth have emerged ahead of schedule but my question to him is what the heck happened with Jose Theodore? Theodore was wildly inconsistent and a major argument could be made that he was the biggest reason Washington is out after two rounds of the playoffs. If he has any kind of a game one against the Rangers then the Caps win that contest, at worst, 3-2, and they probably knock off New York in five games. If they beat the Rangers in five games then some of the injuries we heard about on Friday probably don’t happen and it is more likely that a healthier Caps team would have beaten the Penguins. After all, the beat up squad that expended a ton of energy to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the opening round took the defending Eastern Conference Champions to seven games.

Granted the team in front of Theodore wasn’t totally ready for playoff hockey at the outset of the post season but the Caps played decent enough to win the playoff opener, if not for Theodore. Yes, good came out of that in terms of seeing the future in Varlamov but #60 was paid $4.5M this past season and next to try and help the team win a Stanley Cup. He has failed miserably and if I am Boudreau and McPhee I just don’t know how he could regain the #1 job because even if he plays well in training camp and the regular season next year, like he did from late December to the end of March, who is to say he doesn’t put up another clunker in game one of next year’s playoffs? Was Theodore’s problem technical or was it a mental thing? Prior would probably know best but I’m starting to think it might be mental and if I am the Capitals players, I just don’t have any faith in that guy anymore. Therefore, I think McPhee needs to move him before next season’s trade deadline. The problem, though, is that could be tough given his salary and you are really risking things going with two young goaltenders. All you have to do to find a situation where that didn’t work out was in Montreal this year with Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak. Of course the Canadiens don’t have Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Mike Green so that might not be an accurate comparison. If I am McPhee, a Varlamov/Neuvrith combo isn’t such a bad thing next year. Brent Johnson, who Boudreau called “A great team guy,” could be added cheap for insurance too but his durability could be an issue.

Questions were asked about the defense on Friday, specifically if McPhee was going to acquire a free agent to help keep the front of the net more clear. McPhee responded by saying he has alot of good defensemen but reading between the lines and based on what many of us have seen this year, they have a bunch of good defensemen but many of them are very much alike. Tom Poti, Karl Alzner, and Jeff Schultz all have similar styles in that they are good skaters and move the puck well but aren’t physical. Schultz is clearly the weakest of that trio. Green is the #1 defenseman and I see Shaone Morrisonn as being the odd man out because he isn’t a good buy given the money he wants (reportedly in the $3M range). One of my scouting sources does not see him as a good defensemen, and that is wording it nicely. So I think #26 won’t be back. As for Milan Jurcina, this guy really improved this season and deserves to return. He is turning in to a good #5 or #6 defensemen. John Erskine also had a good season but he is injury prone and some of that comes from his physical style and some of it comes from his subpar skating ability. The team has already committed to #4 for two more years so he is definitely back, plus he is physical and the Caps are weak in that area. Brian Pothier has another season under contract at $2.5M, which is too much, if you ask me. Assuming Mo is out, Washington needs another physical blueliner and therefore McPhee can either trade or go the free agent route. Schultz is clearly trade bait along with Pothier and I’d even put Jurcina in a deal with other players if I could get a top 4 defenseman to go with Green, Poti, and Alzner.

At forward, Michael Nylander is not back and he will either be waived or retire (McPhee said a buyout does not make financial sense), so that frees up money right there. The concern is the top 6 forwards of Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin, Viktor Kozlov, Sergei Fedorov, and Tomas Fleischmann are not exactly grind it out and go to the net type of players. I think Fleischmann, if he can build up his strength in the off-season, will score more next season (that pneumonia he had really sapped his energy). I don’t think I bring back Kozlov because he isn’t a big go to the net guy. Washington needs a #2 center, especially if Fedorov is not back (and even so he only played 52 regular season games this past year). There is talk of Brooks Laich jumping up to that role and that wouldn’t be bad but McPhee still needs another forward who can go to the net in his top 6. Do you trade Semin, who has so much talent but prefers the perimeter and appears to be easily knocked off his game due to injury?

Dave Steckel clearly is back and has upside as does Matt Bradley and Boyd Gordon. Eric Fehr needs to make the jump to becoming a 20 goal scorer but he can’t stay healthy. Apparently he draws the ire of the coaches too. #16 has the size and skating ability to be a go to the net player but I don’t think he will become a Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, or Bobby Ryan type of player that he was projected to be at one time. So McPhee needs to add another top 6 forward who is more physical and can get the grind out type of goals that a Bill Guerin is giving the Penguins since he moved over there at the trade deadline. Chris Clark is under contract for two more years but I have serious doubts about his ability to produce. His scoring touch seems gone (he did have wrist surgery) and he has lost a step. It is tough paying him $2.6M a season if he isn’t scoring at least 20 goals. I am not sold on Chris Bourque making it as a top 6 forward on this team but he might fit in elsewhere so perhaps he is part of a package deal for a defenseman or forward?

That leaves us with Donald Brashear, whose return Ovechkin lobbied for on Friday. I think #87 intimidated the opposition but he also was prone to bad penalties and his skating ability detoriated after his knee injury. I think McPhee needs a tough guy on the roster to prevent teams from taking liberties with Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Green but I’m not sure it is #87 anymore. Perhaps the top 4 defenseman that is added can be the physical intimidator that this team still needs? Or another cheaper tough guy could be added?

Whatever the case, I think McPhee is more active this summer than last but the salary cap will likely limit his options. One of the biggest questions he has to answer is on Semin, who is immensely talented but seems to lack the drive necessary to take the Caps to the next level.

NHL Conference Finals Anaylsis and Predictions

After going 7 of 8 in the first round (only lost with San Jose), I was only 2 for 4 in round two (won with Pittsburgh and Detroit). With four teams left we are pretty much guaranteed the rematch of a somewhat recent Stanley Cup Finals unless Chicago knocks off Detroit and Carolina beats Pittsburgh. Last year we had the Red Wings defeat the Penguins, in 2002 Detroit was victorious over Carolina, and in 1992 the Penguins knocked off the Blackhawks.

Western Conference: Detroit (2) vs. Chicago (4)

Detroit is the defending Stanley Cup Champions and they added forward Marian Hossa to the mix from last year. Chicago is an up and coming young team that clearly aided from the hiring of coach Joel Quennville and more importantly, Scotty Bowman at the executive level. Chicago is fast with forwards Patrick Kane, Martin Havlat, Kris Versteeg, Patrick Sharp, and Jonathan Toews. They have good goaltending in Nikolai Khabibulin and Cristobal Huet is the expensive backup. On defense, Brent Seabrook has really elevated his game and is logging over 26 minutes a night. Duncan Keith has been strong as well.

The Red Wings, though, are an incredible bunch and with Tomas Holmstrom and Johan “Mule” Franzen up front along with guys like Jiri Hudler and Daniel Cleary they score the ugly goal. The big question has been, where is Pavel Datsyuk? He only has 1 goal and 4 assists in 11 playoff games. I imagine he is nursing some injury. The other question on Detroit is can Chris Osgood hold up in goal? The two time Stanley Cup Champion always appears to be a lightning rod for criticism.

Prediction: The Red Wings are the men and the Hawks are the boys, Detroit in 5 games.

Eastern Conference: Pittsburgh (4) vs. Carolina (6)

This series sees two brothers, Eric and Jordan Staal, facing off against each other. The Hurricanes are the fastest team in the Eastern Conference and they used that speed and the superb goaltending of Cam Ward to knock off the Devils and Bruins in dramatic seven game fashion. Both of those teams did not match up well, from a skating standpoint, with the Hurricanes. However, the Penguins have speed plus experience. Sidney Crosby is the leading candidate for the Conn Smythe trophy right now and if Evgeni Malkin plays like he did in games three and five of the Washington series the Pens will be tough to beat. Their weakness is in goal with Marc-Andre Fleury plus the Sergei Gonchar knee injury has to be a concern. Staal and Erik Cole have been flying on a line together for the Canes and Ray Whitney has had a good playoffs as well. Carolina’s defense is a cast of no names that collectively play well together with Joni Pitkanen being the offensive qb.

Prediction: The Canes are fast but Pittsburgh has too much talent and can keep up with Carolina in the skating department. Penguins in 6 games.

If these predictions hold up, we will have a rematch of last year’s Stanley Cup Finals.

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NHL Referees Under Scrutiny/ News from Caps Breakdown Day / NHL Playoffs / Memorial Cup Thoughts

Posted on 16 May 2009 by Ed Frankovic

NHL Referees Under Scrutiny

We have seen three playoff game sevens take place in the National Hockey League this week and some of the big time hockey commentators are taking issue with penalty calls in both the Caps-Penguins game on Wednesday and then the Ducks-Red Wings game on Thursday. Don Cherry, Mike Milbury, and Ron MacLean, all of Hockey Night in Canada, have each separately blasted the slashing call on Shaone Morrisonn that led to the opening power play goal by Sidney Crosby in game 7 on Wednesday night. In fact, on Thursday afternoon (the day after the game) during the Hockey Night in Canada Radio broadcast on Sirius 122, MacLean was still adamant that what #26 did was not a penalty. MacLean, who was on air with host Jeff Marek and guest Paul Stewart (former NHL referee), went into great detail on why it should not have been called a penalty. Cherry and Milbury both said between periods of the game on Wednesday that the call had too much influence on the outcome of the game.

Then on Thursday night both Versus commentators, Keith Jones and Brian Engblom, took issue with the slashing call  made on the Ducks Ryan Getzlaf on Tomas Holmstrom that led to the first goal of that contest for the eventually victorious Red Wings.

Clearly slashing penalties, which seem to have gone up in correlation with the number of broken sticks (and that has increased due to these new flimsy and supposedly technologically advanced products), are one thing that needs to be looked at before next season. I asked both Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau and GM George McPhee about this today at Caps breakdown day.

“This is a really tough game to officiate, I think we have to say that, there is so much going on out there, it is so fast, it is not easy to officiate. What you want them to do is officiate and not try and manage the game and let each game take on its own identity and officiate it. I, like other managers and commentators, worry about some of the penalties that are called. And the first penalty the other night [on Morrisonn], for example, eight minutes left in the first period, there is no score, you got a player on their team that is trying to dump it in at our blue line. Our defenseman comes over and takes a hack at him, the puck goes in our end, that player is going off on a line change, his stick was broken, he drops it, and the referee calls it a penalty. It wasn’t a scoring chance, nobody was hurt, there wasn’t physical contact, but because there was a broken stick the referee called a penalty. Now that I don’t get in an NHL playoff game and it was game seven. So those kinds of things require more judgement and in fact, [the referee] didn’t even have his hand up until the player turned around and started skating to the bench without the stick. They get the first goal and score eight seconds later and it is over. So those things are going to have to be better, no question,” said McPhee, who clearly felt the referees had too much influence on the outcome of game seven on Wednesday.

“I was thinking this thought this morning. There are three or four penalties that they call all of the time because it takes the judgement out. The slash with the broken stick is one of them even though they didn’t call one against Pittsburgh the other night but they decided to call us but that is neither here nor there. The shooting over the glass, the hook on anything on the hands, no matter how slight. So those are penalties the refs know that if they see they can put their hand up and they can’t get called on it. All of the others are judgement calls and I would like to see some sort of variation of letting the refs have some judgement on how hard the slash was because some of these sticks can break if you breathe on them. Some you can use a sledgehammer on them. I wish the referees didn’t have the automatic judgement if the sticks breaks or if he knocks it out of his hands then it is a penalty. But that is not for me to answer, that is for [NHL Director of Officiating] Stephen Walkom to decide and [NHL Director of Hockey Operations] Colin Campbell and we’ll find out if there is a possibility if they could have a good middle ground there,” said Boudreau on how he sees the games are being officiated now.

Breakdown Day

Today was breakdown day at Kettler Ice Plex as the Washington Capitals were conducting exit interviews with the players before they head out of town for the summer. Boudreau and McPhee discussed alot of things about the team and the players were also available as they floated in and out of the locker room.

More Game 7 Thoughts

Here are some excerpts from Boudreau on Game 7 and not moving on to the Eastern Conference Finals:

“I’m not sure why we picked that night to have a clunker…only thing I can think of is it was our fifth elimination game and it was their first and their is such a different feeling of determination and maybe we were a little too complacent in game seven thinking, ok, we are going to stave off elimination again and didn’t have the same feeling as game six. It certainly didn’t feel that way in and around the dressing room before the game. You search for answers and you don’t want one game to ruin a heckuva of a good season.”

“I think we are all bummed out because watching last night we felt we certainly could have beaten either Boston or Carolina, you turn it on and watch it, then turn it off, then turn it on and watch it and get so mad thinking we are capable of beating the next next teams and then it would give me hope saying we are very close. I don’t know what has to be done but I think we are a real good team now with certainly the core coming back, if you look at the Alex’s and the Nicky’s, and the Semin’s and Green’s are under contract so there is high optimism for the future and beyond. At this point, I want to take a day off and then start again.”

“Every year your younger players are going to take lessons and be more mature. You look at Mike [Green] being 23 and Alex [Ovechkin] 23, and Nicky [Backstrom] being 21, and [Alex] Semin 25, these guys are going to take this as an experience and be more mature when the situation comes next year. They understood what it took to get beyond the first round this year, I think, because of the year’s previous experience. I think this experience is going to make them be better and be able to go further in the future.”

Injury and Contract News

Below is a rundown on the players as provided to the media by both Boudreau and McPhee today. Boudreau did comment that “All of our key players had an injury.”

Alexander Ovechkin: Injured his groin in game four of the Rangers series and also hurt his wrist sometime in the playoffs. Both injuries required pain injections before games. Can you imagine what Ovechkin might have done in the Penguins series had he been 100% healthy? The Great #8 had 14 points in 7 games in a losing effort.

Alexander Semin: McPhee said that #28 suffered a really bad sprained thumb in the playoffs and that it had to be frozen so that Semin could play some of the games. He had a tough time holding the stick so that explains a good part of the reason why he became invisible in much of the Penguins series after a decent first round against the Rangers. McPhee was also asked if he will be working on a long term contract for Semin this summer, since #28 only has 1 more year left on his current deal, and the GM was non-committal on whether he would be doing that. In fairness to Semin, he was non-committal on a long term deal for Nicklas Backstrom, who only has 1 year left, as well.

Goalies/Simeon Varlamov: The young goalie will not go down to Hershey to play because Boudreau said he is emotionally spent. He felt that perhaps the weight of five elimination games, and he won the first four, might have finally caught up to #40 in game seven when he struggled on the second, third, and fourth Pittsburgh goals. Boudreau also said it makes no sense to have him go down there and become the backup goalie with the way Michael Neuvirth is playing (had back to back shutouts in games 6 and 7 of the Wilkes-Barre Scranton series to carry Hershey into the Eastern Conference Finals versus the Providence Bruins). McPhee said the number one goalie job will be decided in training camp between #40, Jose Theodore, Neuvirth, and even perhaps Brent Johnson, although Johnson is the only one without a current contract for next season. Theodore apparently told the media (I had left by that point) that he plans to be the #1 goalie for the 2009-10 season. Boudreau says “he sees [the competition] as a great battle.”

Mike Green: He was a hot topic and both McPhee and Boudreau would not elaborate on his injury. They merely said he was having more tests but it appears the shoulder that he originally injured when trying to skate around Chris Pronger and three other Ducks back in November still has not fully healed. It does not look like #52 or any other Capital will need surgery based on what McPhee told the media. I asked Boudreau what Green had to do to avoid the big hits he took this year, especially when he became a big target of the opposition in the playoffs. “I think that is experience. He has seen it now, he knows what to expect and nobody likes to get hit so as quick as he is he is going to have to get quicker,” finished Boudreau on the Norris Trophy candidate.

Other defensemen: Tom Poti played with a fractured foot since game 1 of the Penguins series and John Erskine also suffered a fractured foot (missed two games). Morrisonn had an injured ankle that he suffered in game five of the Penguins series and also was dealing with groin issues. It is no wonder the Caps had a hard time getting the puck out of their own end given that four of their top six defensemen were badly banged up.

Sergei Fedorov: Both McPhee and Boudreau were non-committal on #91’s return but said a lot of that would be up to Sergei. Fedorov told the media that he wants to come back next year and had his agent seek out an extension back in January, which the Caps have delayed until the off-season. It will be interesting to see how much (or little) money the three time Stanley Cup Champion will take to come back and play next season. Boudreau raved about his leadership and apparently #91 still loves being around the younger players.

Viktor Kozlov: Another free agent who really wants to come back and play for the Caps next season.

Donald Brashear: Ovechkin said the Caps need him back or, at a minimum, someone who can fit his role as policeman.

Michael Nylander: Both McPhee and Boudreau described #92’s season as “A tough year.” It is clear Nylander does not fit on this team but McPhee did say it does not make financial sense to buy him out. He also said he wasn’t sure Nylander could come back and play for this team, therefore, the options left appear to be a trade (unlikely given the contract – 2 more years at $5.5 and $3M), send him to the minors, or ask him to retire.

Evaluation Process

McPhee said the evaluation process is that he talks to each player, the coaching staff, and then next week the pro scouting staff comes in to offer their perspectives on things. Once the GM has all of that info he then will start making his decisions on personnel, to include the coaching staff. Boudreau is a lock to be back but as for assistant coaches Dean Evason and Jay Leach there was no firm commitment given to them returning by either Bruce or George. As far as the system goes, Boudreau felt that what he asking of his players does not need changing but some of the guys aren’t getting the message.

“I don’t think it’s systems. We just have to get them to play the systems a little bit better. They’ve learned it for a year now. I’m not in charge of the personnel. But we’ll see what the personnel looks like next year. Sometimes you try to change people and sometimes they don’t want to change. Every team in the NHL would love guys who drive to the net. That’s one thing coaches love. But sometimes you have guys who you know are going to play a little bit on the perimeter. You can tell them until the cows come home but it doesn’t always work. But they have such great strengths in other areas. What do you do? That is not even a system thing because every team, that is what you preach going to the net, going to the net. You either go to the net because you don’t mind it or you don’t,” said Boudreau.

NHL Playoffs

The schedule for the Conference Finals has been released and the Chicago Blackhawks will meet the Detroit Red Wings in game one of the Western Conference Finals on Sunday at 3pm on NBC and on Monday night the Penguins will host the Carolina Hurricanes at 730pm in game one of the Eastern Conference Finals on Versus. I’ll have my series predictions up tomorrow night but given that I’ve been on the Detroit bandwagon all year you can bet I’m picking them.

Memorial Cup

The Memorial Cup, the Canadian Hockey League Championship, began today from Rimouski, Quebec City. All of the games are on the NHL Network so even down here in the United States hockey fans can follow the games. The teams involved are the host team (Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League), the Kelowna Rockets (Western Hockey League Champions), the Windsor Spitfire (Ontario Hockey League Champions), and the Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL Champions). Last year the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL won and in game one tonight Kelowna was quite impressive in defeating Rimouski, 4-1. Calgary Flames 2007 first round draft choice (24th overall), Mikael Backlund, had a superb game Friday and I was also impressed with big, mobile defenseman Tyler Myers (12th overall pick by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2008 NHL entry draft) and forward Jamie Benn (2007 5th round pick by the Dallas Stars). All of those players are with Kelowna. Windsor has a really good team as well so I expect them to battle the Rockets for the trophy.

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Caps Need to Capitalize

Posted on 11 May 2009 by Neal Bortmes

The Caps need to play better on defense.  Varlamov has been solid all series long except maybe game 4, however he needs some help. 


How in the world can Yanni be such a big draw?  Are there even that many folks of Greek origin in Pittsburg that he would sell out?  I know the NHL isn’t the most popular sport in America but it is certainly the most exciting, much more riveting than whatever Yanni is bringing on a nightly basis.  Also, Dane Cook hasn’t been funny since youtube first burst on the scene so you tell me what the people up the turnpike are thinking.


The key to a victory tonight will be not allowing Pittsburg to screen Varlamov so much.  Varlamov stopped 38 shots in game 5 but still could not come away with the victory.


The Caps will also have to look for their killer instinct having missed opportunities in the last two overtime games to win early only to be bested by the Penguins.


Ovechkin has been carrying the offense with some contributions from Backstrom.  However the other Alexander has been invisible.  Semin needs to step up his game and quick in order for the Caps to gain a more balanced attack.


Brashear should be back for tonight’s game so hopefully he will enforce the crease area a little. 


The Caps came back against NY so hopefully they can do it again.  Mellon Arena is a tough place but hopefully the Caps can force a game 7 where anything can happen. 


No O’s tonight so the Caps will get all of my attention.

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Tuesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 28 April 2009 by Glenn Clark

Do the Ravens have a plan for the wide receiver position?

I don’t know.

I’m baffled by the Ravens’ decisions at their biggest position of need; and I’m the biggest Derrick Mason fan on the face of the planet. In fact, I thought he was the MVP of the team last season.

If the Ravens go into the season with the same group of Wide Receivers, I just cannot consider them a Super Bowl contender.

But there’s plenty of time.

Let’s see what everyone else has to say…..

Best of Monday’s WNST Blogs:

Nestor Aparicio says O’s off to ‘strange’ start

Glenn Clark says Markakis 3rd best hitter in all of baseball right now

Glenn Clark says CAA Lacrosse Tournament amongst highlights of non-baseball week

Peter Dilutis thinks Ravens ‘must have plan’ at WR position

Glenn Clark says Gaither hires Rosenhaus, wants new deal

Glenn Clark says Western Kentucky OL Greg Ryan amongst undrafted signings

Drew Forrester thinks NHL did ‘right thing’ by suspending Brashear

Drew Forrester says Game 7 more ‘must win’ for Caps than Rangers

Ed Frankovic says Chris Clark likely to play tonight

Ed Frankovic says Caps don’t have great Game 7 history

Nestor Aparicio announcing KOBST Round 2 contestants today


The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Guthrie labors early as Birds fall to Rangers

The Official Site provides numerical evidence of loss

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Reimold hitting over .400 for Tides

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Rich Hill, Freel nearing return to big leagues

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Eaton, O’s open short set with Joe Saunders, Angels tonight

Rangers Official Site’s T.R. Sullivan says Matt Harrison gets first win of ’09 for Rangers

The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Albers saddled with loss in tough relief outing

The Suns’ Dan Connolly says Baez thinks being ‘healthy’ has helped him become successful

The Sun’s Dan Connolly says Sarfate gave solid relief innings in loss

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck thought Birds would be better defensively

The Sun’s Childs Walker says few young players better than Markakis

The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr. says Wilfredo Perez collected 4th save of season

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck says Guthrie’s pitch count more about Rangers’ ability to foul off pitches than lack of control

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck says Trembley expecting Mora to be called up Friday

Examiner Steve DeClue says Birds waiting on Matusz, Tillman, Arrieta, etc.

Examiner Jay Trucker says Eaton trying to ‘rekindle magic’ of last Thursday’s stellar performance

Examiner Jay Trucker says Jones MVP of week 3 of season

Carroll County Times’ Josh Land says Birds squandered 4-0 lead in loss to Rangers

Carroll County Times’ Josh Land says Cesar Izturis faces brother Maicer tonight

Frederick News-Post says Caleb Joseph had 2 doubles, 3 hits in Keys’ loss

Dallas Morning News’ Jeff Wilson says Harrison retired 16 straight hitters at one point in win

ESPN.com has Birds 25th in power rankings

Fox Sports’ Aram Tolegian has Birds 19th in power rankings

Sporting News’ Ryan Fagan has Birds 17th in power rankings


The Official Site’s Geoff Peckham says Newsome wouldn’t eliminate possibility of Ravens still trading for Boldin

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says VanDeSteeg, Gano reportedly sign as undrafted free agents

The Official Site’s Geoff Peckham says Ravens average ‘B’ grade for Draft

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Ravens improved in ‘toughness’ with Draft

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Ravens worst at WR, Tight End, Kicker

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says former Duke WR Eron Riley, former Maryland WR I. Williams also expected to be added by Ravens

The Sun’s Mike Preston says Ravens ‘better’ now than at end of last season

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley tells Rick Maese Ravens got ‘lucky’ to have Oher fall

The Sun projects Oher as starting RT

The Sun’s Ken Murray says Newsome believes in Demetrius Williams

Examiner Tony Wisniewski says Oher could be ‘steal of Draft’

Examiner Steve DeClue ‘not wild about’ Oher

Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says Ravens wanted to Draft players with ‘size, athleticism, and versatility’

Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says ‘highly regarded’ Georgia LB Dannell Ellerbe signed by Ravens

Frederick News-Post’s Stan Goldberg says Oher’s story to become movie

ESPN.com’s Mel Kiper says Oher gives Ravens ‘great flexibilty’

ESPN.com says Ravens got 3.04 ‘GPA’ for Draft

ESPN.com’s James Walker says WR still ‘need’ for Ravens

ESPN.com’s James Walker says Willie Anderson wants to remain starter

Fox Sports’ Alex Marvez thinks Ravens should still consider Boldin trade

SI’s Ross Tucker ‘loved’ Ravens’ Draft


The Official Site says Kyle Wharton scores 4 goals as Jays top Mountaineers


The Official Site says DiBartolo’s 15 saves not enough as Eers fall to Blue Jays


The Official Site says Finnerty, Hagelin honored by ECAC

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Toomey thinks Hopkins game like ‘Championship’


The Official Site says Ryan Smith honored by America East

Inside Lacrosse says Retrievers 11th in USILA Coaches’ poll


The Sun’s Ken Murray says former NT Lonnie Harvey signed with Panthers


Inside Lacrosse says Terps fall to 14th in media poll

Inside Lacrosse’s Quint Kessenich says Terps fans should root for Hofstra, UMBC, Notre Dame to help Maryland earn NCAA Tournament bid

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Carcaterra has Terps as last team IN

The Diamondback’s Michael Katz says ‘X’ man Bryn Holmes ‘tough’

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Terps ‘in for now’


The Official Site says former Terps Bullock, Burley, Navarre, Philistin, E. Williams, I. Williams all sign as undrafted free agents

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Chase Bullock signed with Cardinals

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Navarre signs with Jaguars

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich says Muhtadi, Randolph getting shot to make Packers’ roster

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich says Terps have ‘plethora’ of young receivers

Terrapin Times’ Mark Clem says QB prospect Meiko Locksley visited College Park again (must subscribe)

Terrapin Times’ Mark Clem catches up with CB prospect Cullen Christian (must subscribe)

Terrapin Times’ Claire Knudsen profiles pro hopes of RB Rashad Henry (must subscribe)


The Sun’s Matt Bracken says Painter also considering Virginia Tech


Inside Lacrosse’s Jon Brand says Mids’ first round game will be based on ‘geographic’, ‘financial’ concerns

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Meade knows Mids must still get ‘better’ for Tournament success


Annapolis Capital’s Bill Wagner says Kettani, Tyree Barnes have NOT signed with Pats yet


The Official Site says Gulls remain in Top 5 in country

The Official Site says Berkman named CAC Player of the Week


Daily Racing Form’s David Grening says Quality Road out of Derby, may return for Preakness

Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman says Square Eddie will miss Derby

Thoroughbred Times’ Jeff Lowe says quarter crack keeping Quality Road from first Triple Crown race

Thoroughbred Times’ Jeff Lowe says Todd Pletcher has 3 Derby shots with Dunkirk, Advice, Join in the Dance

Thoroughbred Times’ Jeff Lowe says Pioneerof the Nile looks solid in Churchill Downs workout

Thoroughbred Times’ Ron Parker says TT analysts now picking Pioneerof the Nile to win Derby

The Sun says Quality Road out of Derby due to blood on ‘newly patched’ quarter crack

Washington Post’s Andrew Beyer says with Magna’s downfall, Churchill Downs now ‘major force’ in horse racing

ESPN.com’s Jeremy Plonk says Quality Road’s scratch probably ‘best’ for horse racing


-Do any Maryland lacrosse fans really care whether or not this Maryland team makes the NCAA Tournament? I still want them to, but I find it hard to imagine anyone will care if they don’t.

Talk to you tomorrow.


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