Tag Archive | "nylander"

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Caps Wisely Quiet on Day 1 of NHL Free Agency

Posted on 02 July 2010 by Ed Frankovic

NHL free agency began on Thursday, July 1st and the Washington Capitals did not make a single signing. Based on the dollars and length of contracts being inked on day one, it appears to me that Caps GM George McPhee was very wise to stay out of the bidding wars and prevented himself from overpaying for a player that the organization might regret acquiring in a few months or a year or so down the road (see Michael Nylander in 2007).

There has been a lot of talk about the Caps needing a second line center and some even want a physical defenseman to improve the back end. I have been an advocate of another player at center ice but given that the Sharks Patrick Marleua re-upped in San Jose there was not what anyone would call a blue chip player to be inked starting Thursday at noon. One of the next best options appeared to be Matt Cullen from Ottawa, but he hit the jackpot getting $10.5 over three years from the Minnesota Wild. At this late hour, not much is left on the center market, and the player some are calling the best pivot man available, Matthew Lombardi of Phoenix, is asking for $4M plus. In the immortal words of Jeff Spicoli and his stoner buds from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, I say, “No Dice!” to that figure.

On defense, there were some big signings, such as former Nashville Predators blue liner Dan Hamhuis cashing in for $27M over six years in Vancouver. In addition, the New Jersey Devils, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Ottawa Senators essentially “traded” defensemen with Sergei Gonchar going to Ottawa, Anton Volchenkov moving to New Jersey, and Paul Martin headed to the Steel City. The Penguins also gave former Phoenix Coyotes d-man Zybnek Michalek $20M over five years. In summary, each of these moves was for too much money and too long in terms of years.

Other acquisitions by some NHL general managers were bordering on ridiculous,  especially the Toronto Maple Leafs signing of third line forward Colby Armstrong for $9M for 3 years or the New York Rangers inking fourth line heavyweight Derek Boogaard for $6.5M for four years. Basically, it was a crazy day and those teams that didn’t spend a large sum of money or none at all, were the winners.

Back to the Caps. Just because McPhee did nothing on July 1st, and he hinted at that possibility when he was on the Comcast Morning Show on WNST on Wednesday morning, doesn’t mean the roster is set with what they finished the season with personnel-wise. There are still three more months before the season starts and seven months until the NHL trade deadline. Sure the team and its fans are disappointed with the round one playoff failure this past spring and there is certainly more heat on both McPhee and Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau for the 2010-11 season, but the bottom line is the Capitals still have a young team with a great deal of talent that should continue to mature and improve. 

Yes, the club needs to get tougher and grittier, especially in front of both nets, but to go out and throw caution to the wind in free agency would have been a ”panic” move. Looking inside the organization first for improvements, makes the most sense. Washington’s farm team, the two time defending AHL Champion Hershey Bears, definitely has some players up front that warrant further evaluation such as center Mathieu Perreault and wingers Andrew Gordon and Steve Pinizzotto. Jay Beagle and even Chris Bourque could be guys who have outside shots to make the club in training camp, as well. Both McPhee and Boudreau have already pretty much stated that d-men Karl Alzner and John Carlson will be up full time during 2010-11 and that instantly improves a blue line crew that had its issues, at times, this past season. Another player who the squad will keep an eye on at development camp and then in September is 2009 1st round pick Marcus Johansson (center), but given that he is only 19 and the Caps don’t like to rush young players to the NHL, that possibility appears to be a much longer shot.

The reason so many of the aforementioned players will get a good look in September is because Washington has already indicated that several skaters from the roster, such as Joe Corvo, Eric Belanger, Scott Walker, Brendan Morrison, Shaone Morrisonn, and Milan Jurcina will very likely not be back with the club. Therefore, just because there were no July 1 acquisitions does not mean McPhee and company are going with the same crew they had last season when they won the Presidents’ Trophy, change is going to occur by attrition and internal promotion alone. The question still remains, and likely will do so for several months, what will the Caps bring in from outside of the organziaton for 2010-11, if anything at all? That answer is as clear as mud right now, but McPhee appears to be sticking with an astute plan of “Right player, right price” at this juncture. Stay tuned.

Note: For all of my instant thoughts on free agency and the NHL, please follow me on twitter (@Emfrank123). I had several tweets this evening that formed the basis for this blog, all available at twitter now.

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Caps News: Nylander Loaned to Grand Rapids of AHL (Updated)

Posted on 13 December 2009 by Ed Frankovic

(UPDATED: This post was revised at 815pm on Sunday now that the Nylander loan is official)

Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee has finalized a standard loan deal that sends forward Michael Nylander to Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League. The Caps are still on the hook to pay #92′s salary ($5.5M this year), but they were already pretty much resigned to doing that, however, the big benefit is in salary cap relief and given that the Swedish forward carries a $4.875M cap figure and there are 49 games left this season that frees up over $2.5M of space.

Now that McPhee has that kind of financial room he can do a number of things, to include any of the following:

1. Permanently call up defenseman Karl Alzner and his $1.6+M prorated salary cap hit to the NHL for the rest of the season (Washington was 5-0 when #27 was up with the big club and the team played some great defensive hockey during that stint).

2. Acquire other players now or at the trade deadline to help with depth and put this team over the top for what promises to be a long playoff run (remember the Penguins added Bill Guerin at the NHL trade deadline after he was rumored to be heading to DC, and #13 played a role in Pittsburgh winning the Stanley Cup).

Possibilities for acquisitions include:

- Acquire an enforcer to help protect the Caps top players. Just last night and on Friday evening there were a few runs at defenseman Mike Green (including a punch to the head by Andrew Alberts of Carolina) and Alexander Semin is often targeted for rough play by opponents and his health is paramount to a Caps long playoff run. And don’t forget the cheap shots the Columbus Blue Jackets pulled on Alexander Ovechkin on November 1st that cost him 6 games in the line-up.

- Add another defenseman to their roster.

- Bring in a veteran goalie to go with Semyon Varlamov should Jose Theodore continue to struggle and Michael Neuvirth not learn to produce at the NHL level. Given Varlamov’s injury history relying totally on him in the playoffs could be a risk.

Of course McPhee, like he did last year, could do nothing at all. One thing is for sure though, the GM now has more flexibility to decide what could best help this team win a Stanley Cup with Nylander officially off of the salary cap books.

NOTE: Please follow me on Twitter (@Emfrank123 or search on Ed Frankovic).

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Caps Assign Alzner to Hershey

Posted on 07 December 2009 by Ed Frankovic

The Washington Capitals have assigned defenseman Karl Alzner to the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL), vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today.

Alzner, 21, is a second-year pro who stands 6’3”, 206 pounds. The Burnaby, British Columbia, native has two assists in five games with the Capitals this season. Alzner has played 19 games for Hershey this season and has one goal, three assists and only four penalty minutes. His +14 rating is tied for third in the AHL.

(Comment: With Tom Poti back and now Shaone Morrisonn’s likely return on defense plus the fact that Mike Knuble can come off of long term injury on Wednesday and add in no resolution to the Michael Nylander situation the Caps not only have roster problems but also salary cap problems. Thus they are forced to send down a defenseman that came up from Hershey and helped the team go 5-0 during that stretch. Hang in there, Karl, your day will come.)

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Caps Knock Off Islanders, 5-4, in Marathon Shootout

Posted on 11 November 2009 by Ed Frankovic

Wednesday night brought on another Capitals-Islanders battle and for the 7th time in the last 9 contests these two teams went to extra time to decide the outcome before a packed house (18,277) at the Verizon Center. When overtime did not yield a winner on came the shootout and it took 11 players for each team but Washington’s Chris Clark scored and Semyon Varlamov (25 saves), who was great in relief of Jose Theodore tonight, slammed the door on Mark Streit to give Washington a 5-4 victory. The win moves the Caps to 11-3-4 on the season, tops in the Eastern Conference, and they are now 3-1 this year with Alexander Ovechkin (upper body injury) out of the line-up.

The Caps, for the 15th time in 18 games scored first, and it took only 8 seconds as Alexander Semin took a Brendan Morrison pass in the neutral zone and blasted a rocket by Dwayne Roloson. The goal tied a team record for the fastest goal to start a game (March 14, 1987 at St. Louis). Semin, who Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau said on Wednesday morning was battling through an undisclosed injury, showed talent and determination on that early effort.

But the lead didn’t last long as the Islanders took advantage of a Washington offensive zone turnover and skated back the other way and threw what looked to be a harmless shot on Theodore. But Theo flashed his left pad erratically and threw the puck up the slot and right on the stick of Matt Moulson, who notched his 8th goal of the season to tie this one up just 62 seconds in.

A several minute horror show stretch for the Caps then continued as they made numerous mistakes in their own end, including a Mike Green golden giveaway when he and #60 couldn’t communicate properly on a puck behind Washington’s net, but Theodore did manage to make his only good stop of the night in that instance. Theo, however, then gave up a Streit point shot off of the face-off and it was 2-1 Islanders just 5:10 in. The blast appeared to be a very stoppable shot but it could have hit a Cap defensemen on the way in. Theodore’s night would end shortly thereafter as Semin made one of his patented offensive turnovers when trying to do too much. #28 tried to go horizontally across the blue line through several Islanders and Sean Bergenheim picked him clean. With both Caps defensemen in too far below the blue line (Shaone Morrisonn and Green) in bad position, #20 had an easy breakaway and he faked Theo to the ice and deposited the biscuit in the basket on the backhand making it 3-1 just 6:54 in.

With Varlamov in net Washington settled down and started finding their legs after the 10 minute mark. Then the line that Boudreau put together in the 3rd period explosion against the Panthers last Saturday night, Nicklas Backstrom-Mike Knuble-Tomas Fleischmann, got it going and they cycled the puck for over a minute before Jon Sim held Morrisonn behind the Islanders net and the Caps received what would be the only power play of the first period. The magic line of 19-14-22 went to the bench to rest for the first half of the power play but once they came out Backstrom took over and skated around the New York defense and fed Flash for an easy one timer to make it 3-2. It was Fleischmann’s sixth goal in just seven games this season since returning from injury.

Washington came out strong in the second period drawing two penalties and on the second one Green made a beautiful rush taking the puck around the Islander net and he fed a wide open Semin in the slot. #28 then buried it top shelf for his second goal of the night at the 5:35 mark to tie things up at three. The Caps were thoroughly outworking the Islanders and it finally paid off again when Mathieu Perreault made a nice back check at the Caps blue line that allowed Green to feed Eric Fehr on a rush. From there #16 fed the puck to Clark who then gave it back to Fehr. Fehr then put a nice backhand shot, that afterwards #16 said was intended to be a pass to Perreault, by Roloson to put the Caps up 4-3. Washington dominated the second period outshooting New York 14-8 and it was 12-3 in shots for the period, at one point.

Brendan Morrison took a lazy penalty (stick infraction) to start the 3rd period but the Caps killed it. Washington would then dominate much of the next 12 minutes of play and Semin had a couple of good chances to get the hat trick but Roloson kept the Isles in it. Dave Steckel took a penalty for holding at 4:50 and the Caps held strong with Varlamov making some big saves but then Milan Jurcina took a boarding penalty, and Boudreau said after the contest that the Islander forward embellished the hit, to give the Islanders another shot with the man advantage with 2:46 remaining. This one would cost the Caps a regulation victory as Trent Hunter fired a laser by Varly to tie it up at four with 2:08 remaining and send this contest to overtime.

The overtime did not have a whistle as the Caps controlled much of the play but could not beat Roloson. In the shootout, Backstrom went first and didn’t connect. Jeff Tambellini then led off for the Islanders and he blistered one top shelf by Varlamov putting pressure on the Caps to answer. Semin then came in with alot of speed and faked the Islander net minder to the ice and beat him with a backhand. From there we went to the “Twilight Zone” as numerous Caps and Islanders could not score with Varly having to make the tougher and more spectacular saves (and he showed off his amazing flexibility too). But finally, in the 11th round Clark beat Roloson top shelf and then #40 thwarted Streit to give Washington the victory.

“Once you go to overtime that much you always believe that you are able to catch up but I believe [the players] never thought they were out of it and even after we were down early I never thought we were out of it, it was too early. There were 50 minutes left in the game and we were down 3-1, I thought we had a good chance of coming back,” said Boudreau. 

Here are some quotes and post game analysis from this hard fought victory:

Boudreau’s line combinations seemed to gel tonight but the line of Perreault, Clark, and Fehr seemed to especially make things happen all night even though they were together just under 10 minutes of ice time for the contest. Had the Islanders not converted late, Fehr would have had the game winner.

“I thought we had alot of energy today and we had a lot of scoring chances. It was big for us when we were down, just keep pushing and put pucks on net, I think we had the will tonight to get to the puck and guys were competing hard. Every time there was a loose puck it just seemed that we were jumping on it” started Fehr on his line, “When I got it back from Clarkie I was trying to pass it back door to Perreault on the backhand and I guess the goalie thought I was doing that as well and it just snuck in,” finished Fehr on his goal that appeared to go in off of New York defenseman Jack Hillen.

“He’s a real spark plug. He makes some plays that are really nifty. I don’t want to, five games into his NHL career, make comparisons, but there’s a lot of small players that go side to side and make a great career being as competitive as they were. He looks like he’s got that little something that sparks any line he plays on,” added Boudreau on #85, agreeing that his line was good on Wednesday evening.

The Caps defenseman and Theodore were very shaky in the first 10 minutes but Washington got back to what made them successful on Saturday night after it was 3-1.

“We just wanted to outwork them. They are a hard working team, they’ve shown that against us in the past and it’s cost us. So we wanted to make sure that we worked it and tried to out work their team,” said Fehr who also mentioned “he feels great and strong and that he will be able to play the best hockey he has in awhile.”

“We had some lapses in our play. I don’t think we played our best game that we have in a while. But we showed a lot of character and fought and got the timely goals again and put ourselves in a position to win,” started Brian Pothier on the victory, “We should be closing teams out with a one goal lead with five minutes left in the game, we should be able to shut the door,” finished #2 on the recent trend of Washington taking late penalties in regulation to give up leads.

Theodore did not have a good night giving up three goals on five shots but Pothier said it was a team effort that led to the early hole.

“Unfortunately our goaltender getting pulled [turned it around]. We take that pretty seriously, he is one of our teammates, one of our brothers so to speak and he gets pulled and its embarrassing for him and it is not even his fault. The goals weren’t his fault, they were our fault. You get really upset with ourselves over that and we know we can play better and perform better and we didn’t want the same thing happening to Varly and we stepped up and performed,” finished Pothier on the team’s goaltending.

“He looked a little down and the last time he was pulled Varly came in and shut the door so I thought he would be able to do it again. But Theo’s played so well for us and he will come back this week, play another game, and he will be great for us,” said Boudreau on his goaltending decision tonight and going forward. Boudreau seems to have a pretty good pulse on his goalies and his switch tonight was a big reason why the Caps were victorious.

The Caps, as mentioned above, are now 3-1 without Ovechkin and I asked Pothier about it.

“It says we have a great team [that we are still winning], we have the best player on planet Earth and that always helps when he is in the lineup. When he is not we still have to have a good functioning team and we can score goals, we can prevent goals, and we have what it takes to win and I think we’ve shown that and we just have to continue that,” finished Pothier.

Semin had two goals but also had several missed opportunities and had the costly giveaway that led to the third Islander tally.

“He looked like he wanted to play and when he wants to play he can, he could have had 6 [goals] and he makes some moves and he can shoot the puck and he is scary good when he is motivated. There was the good and the bad, the goal, the giveaway, the miss. He is like alot of us in Washington, at least he is exciting,” said Boudreau on Semin.

The Caps outshoot New York 41-31 and they are 1-0-1 this season with 40+ shots on goal. Washington was 6-7-1 with 40 or more shots last season. Washington won the face-off battle 39-30. Dave Steckel led the way at 11-6 while Backstrom was 10-6 and Morrison 10-7.

It appears that Michal Nylander is destined for the Russian KHL league but nothing official has been announced. Clark did discuss the topic afterwards though when asked about it.

“We didn’t have much of an issue [in the locker room], he was a great guy, he did what he had to do, he worked so hard on the ice and he kept himself in shape. I don’t think he knew what was going to happen. He wanted to put himself in the best position and he wasn’t one of those guys that was sulking and getting mad or sitting in the corner and being that guy. He actually was very professional about it and I’m glad that he finally gets a chance to play because he is a heckuva a player. If he couldn’t play here I’m glad he is not going to another team in the NHL because he is such a good player so it will be good for him,” finished Clark on the Nylander saga.

The Capitals next game is Friday night at the Verizon Center against the Minnesota Wild.

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Ovechkin Update / Caps Supporting the Troops

Posted on 10 November 2009 by Ed Frankovic

Caps Update

Alexander Ovechkin skated today but he started much later than his teammates and he has been ruled out for Wednesday’s game against the Islanders. That makes 4 games missed since he was jumped by the Blue Jackets but so far Gary Bettman, Colin Campbell, and company have done nothing to publicly reprimand Ken Hitchcock and Columbus. Ovechkin is improving and is still week to week. There is a chance he could play Friday against the Minnesota Wild or Saturday in New Jersey.

In other practice news, Mike Green was back on the ice and he said the bruise he suffered should be healed up in time to go on Wednesday. Jeff Schultz did not practice while Michael Nylander, who cleared waivers on Monday afternoon, was not seen at Kettler Ice Plex. All of the injury info is courtesy of Tarik and Corey. We should have some answers on the Nylander saga tomorrow, according to GM George McPhee.

 
Clark, Knuble, Pothier, Steckel Volunteer with A Salute to Our Troops Program 

Washington Capitals forwards Chris Clark, Mike Knuble and David Steckel and defenseman Brian Pothier participated with WTOP 103.5 FM, Federal News Radio 1500 AM and the USO of Metropolitan Washington in Microsoft Corp.’s annual A Salute to Our Troops program with an Operation USO Care Package Day.

Capitals majority owner Ted Leonsis helped kick off the event at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va., by expressing how important these care packages are. There were five assembly lines with more than 100 volunteers and the four Caps players putting together 5,000 care packages that will be shipped to U.S. Troops oversees. The USO care packages included Microsoft Zune trial cards, prepaid international phone cards, sunscreen, travel size toiletries, lens wipe cloths, CDs, DVDs, playing cards, magazines and personal messages of support from the donors and volunteers. Microsoft provided two Xbox stations where the Caps players sang karaoke with the volunteers after the packing was done.

The Capitals players recorded video messages for the troops, sending best wishes to them during the holiday season on the Pentagon Channel. “It’s always special when you can help out the people who keep us safe,” said Clark, the Capitals’ captain.

“We all did video messages for the men and women serving oversees that hopefully can let them know how much we appreciate all that they do for us,” said Pothier.

As part of the program, the USO-Metro hospital services team brought the wounded warriors “Sled Dogs” team from Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center to Kettler Iceplex where they scrimmaged on the ice after the Capitals’ practice. The Caps players met and took pictures with the wounded warriors before heading up to pack the care packages.

This event launched Courage Caps, presented by Microsoft, which is in its third season and has raised nearly $70,000 in the first two years. Courage Caps are team-issued and branded hats that will be sold through December at Capitals home games, at Kettler Capitals Iceplex and online at WashingtonCaps.com with 100% of the proceeds benefiting USO-Metro.  

Two versions of Courage Caps – a baseball hats and a knit hat – along with t-shirts will be on sale at WashingtonCaps.com, Verizon Center and Kettler Capitals Iceplex beginning Wednesday night when the Capitals face the New York Islanders. Hats and t-shirts start at $20, while a limited number of autographed hats and t-shirts are available as well.

USO-Metro provides programs and services for active duty troops and their families at the area’s military hospitals, through its Mobil USO program; at six USO family support centers and four USO airport lounges. Every program and service that USO-Metro provides is centered around its desire to give back to the men and women who sacrifice so much for our country. Whether it is bringing in a celebrity to brighten the day of a patient in the hospital or a moon bounce at Deployed Family Fun Day, USO-Metro’s goal is to boost the morale of the military community.

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Knuble Leads Caps Past Panthers, 7-4

Posted on 07 November 2009 by Ed Frankovic

After Friday night’s contest in Sunrise, won by Washington, 4-1, the depleted Caps without Alexander Ovechkin, Mike Green, and Jeff Schultz took on the Florida Panthers in a rematch at the Verizon Center and after a horrible second period in which they gave up three goals and trailed 3-2, they exploded for five third period tallies to win 7-4. Give some of the credit to Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau for this win because he very smartly changed up his lines after the bad middle period and that got center Nicklas Backstrom going as he, Mike Knuble (two goals, two assists), and Tomas Fleischmann (two goals) caught fire in the third period. The Caps move to 10-3-4 and they now lead the Southeast Division by 7 points over Tampa Bay, but the improving Lightning have two games in hand.

The Caps came into this contest number one in the NHL in first period score differential at +14 and for the 14th time in 17 games they scored first. Brooks Laich made a hustling play in the slot to beat 3 Panthers to a tipped Shaone Morrisonn pass and he carried the puck into the left wing corner. #21 then fed Brendan Morrison behind the Florida goal and he found Mike Knuble on the right post, who one timed it home by Scott Clemmensen with 6:48 left.

Washington received a late power play with 1:46 to go in the opening stanza when Bryan McCabe boarded Quintin Laing but just 18 seconds in Alexander Semin took a lazy tripping penalty to take the Caps off of the man advantage. Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau’s frustration level with #28 likely continues to grow after that bad decision by the Russian.

After Semin and Keith Ballard went off for coincidental minors the teams went 4 on 4 and a very weak point shot by McCabe was not handled well by Theodore and Alexander Frolik outworked Tyler Sloan for the puck and put the rebound past #60 just 1:35 into the middle period. This was one shot that should have been played better by the Caps net minder and it resulted in a bad goal.

Washington then seized the momentum back as Milan Jurcina made a great breakout pass to Laich and #21 hit a streaking Morrison in front that forced Bryan Allen to hook him. On the ensuing power play Washington put on the pressure and they finally broke through when they cycled the puck along the boards to get Florida running around. Chris Clark received the puck below the goal line and he fed Laich (one goal, one assist) in front and #21 beat Clemmensen through the wickets to make it 2-1 Caps 6:17 into period two.

But the Caps lead would not last very long and on consecutive shifts they could not get the puck into the Florida end of the ice as the Panthers forecheck was strong and Washington broke down defensively. As a result Florida set up 19 year old rookie defenseman Dmitry Kulikov at the point and his shot eluded a screened Theodore. Sloan was in front with Radislav Olesz and he blocked #60′s view. This was a very bad shift by Sloan and one of the stars of Friday night struggled through the first 30 minutes of this one and was a -2 at that point, not good.

After Backstrom missed a golden opportunity in front, Florida kept coming at Washington and they outworked Washington down low to make it 3-2. Sloan and Jurcina were once again the culprits as Michal Repik tapped it home from the doorstep. #89 and #23 dropped to -3 at that point in the contest. Clearly that defensive pairing was not working for Boudreau and his forward lines were struggling to get it going too, particularly the Backstrom, Semin, and Tomas Fleischmann line.

But Boudreau mixed up his lines to start the 3rd period putting Knuble with Backstrom and Fleischmann and it didn’t work magic immediately as they struggled to get the puck out of their own zone to start the period. However, once they carried the biscuit out, dumped the puck in and changed, the energy line of Clark, Eric Fehr, and Mathieu Perreault came out and #85 was great outworking the Panthers behind their net, passed to himself off the back of the goal, and then he stuffed it home on Clemmensen to tie the game up. It was Perreault’s first NHL goal in just his third game.

Washington continued to pressure and they struck just 40 seconds later with the line of Dave Steckel, Matt Bradley, and Laing. Tom Poti made a great play dumping the puck to the right wing corner where Bradley gobbled it up and fed it in front where Laing was headed to the net and he put it by Clemmensen to give Washington the lead.

But Florida came right back and tied it at 14:45 on a Corey Stillman deflection of another Kulivov point blast. The tie didn’t last long either as Backstrom showed renewed life with the weight of having to play with #28 lifted off of his back and he and Knuble outworked the Panthers defense down low and set up Fleischmann for a tap in to make it 5-4, Capitals. Clearly getting away from Semin snapped Backstrom out of his funk and he, Knuble, and Flash then dominated another shift to give Washington some cushion. #19 gathered in a Knuble slot miss and fed Shaone Morrisonn at the point who fired it towards the cage and #22 deflected the biscuit between his legs and past a stunned Clemmensen to make it 6-4 with nine minutes remaining. That line was still not done for the evening and when Knuble outworked the Panthers behind their net and found Fleischmann in the slot, #14 blasted it by Clemmensen, who had one of his worst outings in the NHL, to give the Caps a 7-4 advantage with just 6:22 remaining.

Here is my post game analysis including some quotes courtesy of the Caps media relations department:

Wow, that was a wild game and the goaltending was not good at all, particularly from Florida’s Clemmensen. Theodore (24 saves) was struggling too and if the Caps had not totally outworked the Panthers in the third period Washington might have lost this one. Theodore continues to be unable to put really strong back to back performances together. Yes, he made some good stops early but the bad rebound goal he allowed that put the Panthers on the board woke Florida up and they took advantage of a tired and beaten up Capitals defense in that middle stanza. Theodore’s rebound control was not very good on Saturday and the head coach may have to reconsider playing him on back to back nights in the future, but he got away with it on this night thanks to a great 3rd period effort by his troops.

Semin, who the Caps expected to step up in Ovechkin’s absence, was pretty much a non factor once again. He had no points in both games with Florida. In fact, I am not sure his teammates have any confidence in him as Fleischmann elected to try a bad angled shot in the second period instead of passing to a wide open #28 at the top of the circle. Semin was in perfect position for a quality shot there, so perhaps Boudreau saw that lack of chemistry and decided to put #28 with a couple of hard workers like Brendan Morrison and Laich, who will not put up with a floater on their line (and Semin was clearly in the floater zone these last three games). Knuble clearly liked the changes in line combinations.

“We’ve got different guys that can play together. You try to fit in where you can and just play. Tomas [Fleischmann] – I’m really impressed with his hands around the net – his ability to finish. It just seems right when he gets the quality chance it’s going in and obviously Nick [Nicklas Backstrom] is a passer. They’re fun guys to play with. You know something good is probably going to happen,” said Knuble about his third period linemates.

Perreault’s goal early in the third period sparked the Caps. He has been a real fire plug and appears to have a bright future as has been suggested a couple of times in the past in this blog. #85 received a post game shaving cream facewash to go along with the red hard hat, awarded to a hard working player who made a major difference for Washington in that evening’s contest. 

“I was on the forecheck and I got the puck [by the net] and I knew the goalie was looking on the wrong side and I just tried to stuff it between his pads and it worked out. I had a lot of energy when I stepped on the ice. I felt I had a lot of legs because I was on the bench for a little while. So it was good, I felt good on the ice in the third period,” said Perreault about his game changing play.

Laing, who blocked a shot with his ribs in the first period and then apparently broke his nose in the second period, added to the energy with his goal shortly thereafter and credit to Bradley and Steckel should be given too because those guys, as a unit, play Boudreau’s system very well.

“Matty [Mathieu Perreault] got us going with a big goal in the third period. And then [Quintin] Laing follows it up. I thought the Bradley-Steckel-Laing line was due to score the way they played all night, just getting pucks to the net. Stecks [David Steckel] was around the net all night. They just kept going and got another big goal. It’s a cliché, but it was a good team effort and it’s nice to see the scoring spread around,” added Laich about the two lines that scored within 40 seconds of each other to open the third period.

Sloan, who Boudreau mentioned was banged up heading into Saturday, was terrible in period two going -3 with Jurcina but he did get a plus in the third to finish -2. Jurcina was on for the final Florida goal and was a horror show -4. Hopefully Green can return to the lineup on Wednesday when the Caps face the Islanders at the Verizon Center. 

Poti led the Caps in ice time with 24:34 and at forward Semin had the most with 19:10 of time, including 4:50 of power play time. #28 has to find a way to start producing and perhaps if his pal Ovechkin is back on Wednesday he can get going again?

For the first time in a long time Washington did not take a third period penalty, in fact, they only gave the Panthers two power plays and the second one was only 18 seconds long. The Caps are now 4-0 in Southeast Division play having beaten the Thrashers twice to go with this sweep of Florida. Boudreau was clearly happy with the third period effort, one of Washington’s best of the season.

“It goes to show, and I worked them pretty hard on Thursday, when you want to work, fatigue never is a factor. It is used as an excuse. We worked hard in the third period and the whole game, I thought…It’s all about the will, I believe. [The win] says we’ve got good players on this team. Both nights [Alexander] Semin didn’t get a point either. [Mike] Green and Ovi [Alex Ovechkin] are not in the lineup. It says something that these other players are good. People seem to forget that. We all know how good Alex [Ovechkin] and Mike [Green] and [Alexander] Semin are. And [Jeff] Schultz was playing very well for us. And how good a penalty killer [Boyd] Gordon is and stuff. But there’s a lot of depth on this team. You can throw Eric [Fehr] in and John Erskine in and they didn’t miss a beat,” finished Boudreau.

Michael Nylander was placed on waivers today and can be claimed by any team but they will have to pick up his large remaining contract ($5.5M this year and $3M next season). The significant thing about this development is that #92 was only able to be let go when he elected to waive his no movement clause. If noone claims him by Monday then Nylander can go elsewhere (such as Europe).

The Caps are off on Sunday and they next play on Wednesday against the Islanders, who they have split with in OT this season. New York lost one of their best defenseman, Radek Martinek, for the year when he tore his ACL in Friday night’s game against New Jersey. The Islanders (6-6-5) have been playing well lately and they blasted Atlanta, 6-3, on Saturday night. I have seen them play numerous times this year and they bring it under Coach Scott Gordon, and they have some firepower now with rookie sensation John Tavares (1st overall pick in 2009 NHL Entry Draft) leading the way offensively. The Martinek loss is a big one but the Caps will have to work hard, like they did in the third period tonight, to come out on top.

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Hat Tricks n Treats at Six Flags

Posted on 14 October 2009 by Chad Lamasa

Last night was the annual Washington Capitals season ticket holder party.

When I signed on to buy season tickets at the end of last season I didn’t know this was a perk that came along with it.

For the second consecutive year, the Capitals and their fans took over the Six Flags America in Bowie/Mitchellville. I didn’t have any expectations going into it. Although having gone to the first (hopefully) annual Capitals Convention a couple of weeks ago, I figured it would be a good time.

As an organization the Caps put some of the other franchises in the area to shame in terms of their fan friendliness.

From what I’ve been told by Ravens season ticket holders, they don’t offer anything like this. The Orioles version of this is to let the season ticket holders into Fanfest for free and earlier than non-season ticket holders.

I arrived to the park around 4:45 and had to wait about 45 minutes to get in. Once the gates opened we were given a free New Era Capitals hat. That almost would have been enough. However, that was just the beginning.

Only season ticket holders and their guests were allowed in. Hot dogs, chicken patties, potato salad, soda and ice cream, were provided at no cost. Beer could be purchased. Free food is always a plus to me, and it was pretty good.

The rides were all open (except the water park). I’m not really into rides so I didn’t take advantage of that. But there were people enjoying them, with virtually no lines.

The reason I went was for the players. Twenty-four of them were there signing autographs, including the four big guys, Ovie, Semin, Green and Backstrom.

Alex Ovechkin required a wristband to get an autograph. I passed on that as I got his in March when he signed in White Marsh. I got Semin’s autograph at the Convention so I passed on his as well.

The lines moved quickly as everyone was allowed only one item signed by each player. I took my son’s jersey and had it signed by Semyon Varlamov, Dave Steckel, Tomas Fleischmann, Milan Jurcina, Mike Green, Quintin Laing and Shaone Morrisonn.

Mike Green’s line was by far the longest line I got in, but it too moved quickly. I missed a couple of the guys because I was in line for Green.

I saw Milan Jurcina and Tomas Fleischmann wandering around the park earlier in the day and Michael Nylander was shooting hoops at one of the game stands.

It’s great to be able to get to say hello to these guys and spend a few seconds with them.

The entire coaching staff was there as well. I saw Coach Boudreau walking around and said hello to him.

A few minutes later we were in line for Semyon Varlamov’s autograph. Coach was ahead of us in line. I cracked a joke to my buddy about how he shouldn’t have to wait in line to get an autograph. But he was actually chatting with a family in front of us.

The mom grew up outside of Boston and was a converted Bruins fan. The son was a Caps fan. Coach asked if he made fun of his mom when we won the season opener in Boston. The boy said he would have but his parents went out that night and he was with a babysitter.

Coach then asked him why the Caps kept losing the last few games, unfortunately I missed the boy’s answer. Afterwards Coach took a couple of pictures with the boy and then walked off.

I hope he stays around for a long time. He seems like a genuine person and has done wonders for the team in the short time he’s been their coach.

I left the park around 8:30 after the autograph lines finished, but the park remained open until 10 o’clock and the rides were still available until the park closed.

I am six games into my first season as a season ticket holder, and after the great time I had at this event, I am already set to renew my tickets for next season. If for no other reason, than I would be able to attend this event again, whether it’s at Six Flags or another location.

GO CAPS!

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Wednesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 30 September 2009 by Glenn Clark

When will the Orioles win another game? Tonight. Eh. Maybe. Who cares?

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

Best of Tuesday’s WNST Blogs:

Drew Forrester wonders when Birds will win again

Tom Clayton says with win over Patriots, Ravens would be legitimate Super Bowl contender

Derek Arnold says defense “Played Like A Raven” against Cleveland

Ed Frankovic says Nylander situation affecting Caps’ roster

ORIOLES:

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Guthrie made nice start, but Birds fell to Rays for 12th straight loss

The Official Site offers numerical evidence of loss

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Brian Roberts broke Lance Berkman’s doubles record with his 56th in loss

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says David Hernandez takes Tropicana Field mound tonight vs. James Shields, Rays

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Felix Pie likely done for season

Rays Official Site’s Alden Gonzalez says Wade Davis strong as Rays topped O’s

The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Wigginton made costly baserunning error in loss

The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says MacPhail has decided Jim Johnson won’t close next season, Uehara might

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck says Birds should bring back Dave Trembley

The Sun’s Kevin Cowherd says Trembley must go, even if it isn’t ‘fair’

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck says Birds ‘really bad team’

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck says current Birds remind him of 4-32 team under Hargrove

The AP says Birds now 6-28 in road games against AL East teams

St. Petersburg Times’ Marc Topkin says 10,349 at The Trop say Rays drop Birds

Tampa Tribune’s Tony Fabrizio says Carl Crawford collected club record 60th stolen base in win

RAVENS:

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Brendon Ayanbadejo seeing more time on defensive side of ball

The Official Site’s Sarah Ellison says Patriots early favorites Sunday in Foxborough

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says L.J. Smith finally contributed in Ravens’ win over Browns

The Official Site says Flacco up against Peyton Manning, Kevin Kolb for Air Player of the Week

The Official Site says Jarret Johnson, Steve Hauschka think Herschel Walker should fight Haloti Ngata

The Official Site announces “A Purple Evening” women’s event

Patriots Official Site previews Sunday’s showdown with Ravens at Gillette Stadium

Patriots Official Site offers complete Pats-Ravens release (pdf)

The Sun’s Ken Murray says Matt Birk helping head trauma research

The Sun says Hauschka looking forward to kicking against Patriots after growing up rooting for them

The Sun’s Mike Preston thinks Ravens should blitz Tom Brady like Jets did

The Sun’s Edward Lee says players dancing to honor Brigance

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Ravens should put Brigance in Ring of Honor

Boston Globe’s Christopher L. Gasper and Monique Walker say Ravens will look like Jets defensively

Boston Herald’s Ian Rapoport says Pats trying to figure out how Rex Ryan frustrated them

Providence Journal’s Mike McDermott says Belichick doesn’t think Ravens have a lot of ‘weaknesses’

The AP says Pats CB Wilhite injured during incident at home

ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss says New England tried out 5 players Tuesday, including LB Bruce Davis

USA Today has Ravens 2nd in power rankings

Sporting News’ Clifton Brown has Ravens 4th in power rankings

Sporting News’ Albert Breer says Ravens have no layups coming on schedule

SI’s Don Banks buying into Ravens as AFC contender

CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco has Ravens 4th in power rankings

CBS Sports’ Lesley Visser says Harvard grad Birk returning to Boston Sunday

Fox Sports’ Adrian Hasenmayer has Ravens 7th in power rankings

Fox Sports’ Adam Schein says Flacco ‘budding star’

ESPN.com has Ravens 1st in power rankings

TERRAPINS FOOTBALL:

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Debbie Yow plans to evaluate Ralph at end of season

The Sun’s Sandra McKee says Friedgen plans to penalize players for turnovers in practice

The Sun’s Jeff Barker remembers last year’s win over Clemson-helping to pave the way for Tommy Bowden’s exit

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Friedgen’s future won’t be determined in season

The AP says Fridge bringing refs to practice this week to try to cut down on penalties

The Diamondback’s Greg Schimmel says Nolan Carroll should be healthy in time for pre-NFL Draft workouts

The Diamondback’s Adi Joseph says Chris Turner hoping to bounce back against Clemson

The Diamondback’s Greg Schimmel says Terps still believe they can win ACC, go to Orange Bowl

The Diamondback’s Michael Katz says Ralph wonders if he’s being punished by God

The Diamondback has Terps 11th in ACC power rankings

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell and Steve Yanda say James Franklin succession plan faces ‘serious challenges’

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says this is first time Travis Baltz has been hurt

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Phil Costa happy to have whole team held accountable for turnovers

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens breaks down numbers from Maryland’s loss to Rutgers

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Ralph defended himself in Tuesday press conference

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens thinks Terps may be channeling Green Day

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Ralph only ruled Baltz, Vellano, Porzel, Louis Berman OUT for Saturday’s game

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Don Brown thinks young players played well Saturday

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says James Franklin knows Chris Turner must be ‘tough’ under center

Washington Examiner’s Kevin Dunleavy says Ralph has history of bouncing back well after bad losses

Charleston Post and Courier’s Travis Sawchik says CJ Spiller nearing ACC career record in all-purpose yards

Columbia State’s Paul Strelow says Swinney’s Tigers struggling in close games

Sporting News’ Matt Hayes has Terps 11th in power rankings

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich says fumbles keeping Da’Rel Scott from being amongst elite backs

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich doesn’t think Ralph going anywhere

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich says Tigers should ‘expect’ win at Byrd Stadium Saturday

Terrapin Times’ Mark Clem says Hermitage (VA) LB prospect Curtis Grant visited College Park (must subscribe)

Terrapin Times’ Claire Knudsen profiles freshman DE De’Onte Arnett (must subscribe)

Turtle Sports Report’s Ross Leonhard says Terps will struggle with Travis Baltz hurt

Turtle Sports Report’s Ethan Rothstein checks in with ’10 prospect Ifill (must subscribe)

Inside MD Sports’ Jeff Ermann says Terps still ‘in the mix’ with J.R. Ferguson

TERRAPINS BASKETBALL:

Washington Post’s Steve Yanda says attorney Bill Stevens claims Jordan Williams only acted as ‘peacemaker’ in incident

Terrapin Times’ Dan Painter says New Egypt (NJ) prospect Desmond Hubert visiting College Park (must subscribe)

Turtle Sports Report’s Matt Birchenough gauges prospect Sterling Gibbs’ interest in Maryland (must subscribe)

TERRAPINS LACROSSE:

Inside Lacrosse’s Jon Brand says return of Brian Farrell helping Terps

NAVY FOOTBALL:

The Official Site offers gameday details for Navy-Air Force Saturday

The Official Site says Saturday’s contest with Falcons sold out

Air Force Official Site says Troy Calhoun’s team trying to snap 6 game losing streak to Mids in series

Annapolis Capital’s Bill Wagner says Niumatalolo doesn’t want trash talk before AFA game

Annapolis Capital’s Bill Wagner says Niumatalolo expects more from Clint Sovie, Ram Vela Saturday

Washington Post’s Camille Powell says Ivin Jasper helped Ricky Dobbs bounce back after poor performance against Pitt

Washington Post’s Camille Powell says coaches named Dobbs, Nechak, Middleton MVP’s of Western Kentucky game

Washington Post’s Camille Powell says Mids planning on facing Tim Jefferson at QB for Falcons

Washington Times’ Mike Fratto says Midshipmen have ‘no intention’ of giving up Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy

Go Mids updates season for opponents of Midshipmen in ‘09

TOWSON FOOTBALL:

The Official Site previews Saturday’s CAA contest with New Hampshire

New Hampshire Official Site previews Saturday’s trip to Unitas Stadium

New Hampshire Official Site offers complete Tigers-Wildcats release (pdf)

TOWSON LACROSSE:

The Official Site says Brock Armour, Will Harrington, Matt Vetter, Cameron Zook, Rob Wheeler all named Captains for Tigers

LOYOLA LACROSSE:

The Official Site says Federici honored at Honors Convocation

HORSE RACING:

Daily Racing Form’s Brad Free says Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird got first work at Santa Anita

Thoroughbred Times says Mine That Bird worked out in preparation for Goodwood Stakes

GOLF:

The Sun’s Don Markus says Baltimore Country Club course tougher this year for Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship

SOME QUICK THOUGHTS:

-Follow us on Twitter for updates from Owings Mills today. (@WNST)

Talk to you tomorrow.

-G

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Quick Caps Update: Nylander, Fleischmann, and the Forwards

Posted on 14 September 2009 by Ed Frankovic

I know it has been a purple Sunday for most of you and it was for me too but a couple of things of note happened in Washington Capitals land today that were worth passing along to you hockey fans out there ready to Rock the Red in the upcoming season.

First, forward Michael Nylander met with the media Sunday and says he wants to play in the NHL this year. This is interesting because both Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau and GM George McPhee told us on Saturday that there was a possibility of Nylander going to play in Europe (and hopefully his $4.875M salary cap hit for the next 2 years). Click for the transcript of Nylander’s interview from Sunday (thanks to Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post).

Second, apparently forward Tomas Fleischmann, who scored 19 goals last season and saw significant playing time on the second line and on the power play last season, has a blood clot and will not be practicing until early October. That puts him out until late October, at the earliest. The injury to Fleischmann, who was pretty much a lock to make the team and play 15 to 18 minutes a game, now opens up another forward spot in addition to the one talked about on Saturday. I see this development as an opening for either Chris Clark, Chris Bourque, Keith Aucoin, or even Nylander to take advantage of during training camp and the early part of the season.

Here are the top 2 lines as I see them right now (but this is just my take, not Boudreau’s or McPhee’s):

Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – Mike Knuble

Brooks Laich – Brendan Morrison – Alex Semin

Also, Dave Steckel, Matt Bradley, and Boyd Gordon will very likely be somewhere in the bottom six forwards.

Forwards Eric Fehr (behind due to a shoulder injury) and Fleischmann are injured.

That leaves Clark, Nylander, Aucoin, Bourque,  and Quintin Laing to fight for the final three forward spots. Forwars Jay Beagle, Matthieu Perreault, and Steve Pinnizzotto (for his grit and toughness) would be three additional guys who, if they really wow McPhee and Boudreau in training camp, could conceivably make the opening night roster, but those three seemed more destined for Hershey, at this point. The pre-season games now get more interesting with the Fleischmann injury and the Nylander situation. The first pre-season game is Thursday night at the Sabres and the first home pre-season game is Monday, Sepember 21 against Buffalo again (on Saturday night the Caps are in Chicago to face the Blackhawks).

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Caps Franchise at an All Time High

Posted on 13 September 2009 by Ed Frankovic

Having followed the Capitals as a fan, team statistician, and media member since their inception in 1974 there is no doubt in my mind that this franchise is currently sitting at an all time high in terms of talent and popularity. On a day when there would be no hockey played at Kettler Ice Plex in Ballston, Virginia, a very large throng of media were on hand to talk to Caps veterans, who officially reported to camp on Saturday. In addition, there were about a hundred or so fans who milled around the rink hoping to catch a glimpse of the team or get some autographs. Clearly the Caps are the story in Washington as they take aim at winning their first Stanley Cup in 2009-10 in a season in which every Capitals home game will be sold out for the first time in team history (not to mention TV ratings hit an all time high in DC and Baltimore last season and are expected to go even higher starting in October).

I asked Caps GM George McPhee, who took over in the summer of 1997 for David Poile and experienced early highs when the team reached the Stanley Cup Finals in his first season, then endured major lows when he and owner Ted Leonsis decided to tear the roster down and rebuild it in 2004, and now manages a deep squad that right now is clearly one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup this season, if he felt personal satisfaction in the clubs current position.

“It is great to be where we are now. We’ve developed this club into a good one and an entertaining one. It is a fun team to watch. To have all of the success we’ve had off the ice, as well, selling out the building, it is nice that we have the infrastructure in the organization on the business side to capture all of the great things that the team is doing. So it has been a lot of fun, it has been a fun team to watch, we’ve set some records for this club, done some things this team has never done before and ultimately we want to win the Stanley Cup to make it a great experience. We’ve had a couple of very good years but we want to continue to improve and hopefully the Stanley Cup is the next thing on the horizon,” answered McPhee.

The talent and excitement starts with Alexander Ovechkin, who has won the NHL MVP Award (Hart Trophy) the past two years and is quickly becoming the face of the NHL, and continues with superstars in the making in center Nicklas Backstrom and defenseman Mike Green plus the highly skilled and October 2008 NHL Player of the Month, Alexander Semin. Combining the skill of those four players with that of numerous others on the roster plus Coach Bruce Boudreau’s aggressive system has made the Caps a team to watch.

“I think it is fabulous. I think that our players are exciting and I think it is fun to go to a Washington Capitals game. I think we’re getting better, not sitting there and reached our peak yet. We’re still on the upswing so I think there is a good buzz in this city and hopefully that we are able to keep that buzz. Our expectations is as high as the people’s,” said Boudreau on the high interest in the Caps.

As I mentioned, there was a large contingent of media at the rink on Saturday and the very accommodating Capitals PR staff brought one player after another out for interviews. As expected, Ovechkin was the player of highest interest and when he was asked if he thought this season was Washington’s best chance to win the Stanley Cup given the contract situations of both Backstrom and Semin (restricted FA’s after the season), Ovechkin was quite clear that he did not think that anyone was going to leave the team after this season. Also, leave it to Alexander the Great to produce the funniest line of the day by joking about “injections” when Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post mentioned that his shoulders looked bigger. The interviews with Ovechkin, Green, Semin, Mike Knuble, and Brendan Morrison have already been transcribed and posted on the Capitals Insider blog so if you want to read what they had to say please click on their name (thanks Katie and Tarik!)

Speaking of injections and steroids, right out of the gate McPhee was asked about the story that came out last spring supposedly linking some Caps to a performance enhancing drug peddler and the GM provided the following response, which hopefully puts that item to bed for good.

“There was nothing to it, it has been vetted. The league looked into it and there was nothing to it,” stated the Caps GM.

The most telling and best quote of the day, in my opinion, came from forward Brooks Laich, who discussed last year’s seven game loss to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

“Last year was another step, we made it to the second round, but I think the other thing we learned last year was how good of a team Pittsburgh was and the changes that we need to make to be better. They beat us because they were a better hockey team and that is not something that is easy to say but I’m sure our guys have thought long and hard about that this summer and we are coming back and guys are excited to be back, hungry to be back, and we just want to get going,” started Laich.

“Pittsburgh’s success didn’t just come from what they did this past season. You look at their year before they learned alot going to the finals and losing to Detroit. There are certain things that they had to do to become better and the main thing, I think, is their guys they play the system no matter what, they never deviate from the way that their game plan is. I know it is sort of cliche but they are soliders, they just keep going forward, and they have belief in their game plan and that is going to help them win. I think in game seven they did that more so than we did and they took the play to us. I think that kind of humbled us a little bit and our guys are going to be better at that this year,” finished #21, who is definitely one of the team leaders in the locker room.

Here a few other notes and quotes from Saturday:

  • George McPhee on forward Michael Nylander, who was scratched throughout much of last season’s playoffs, and doesn’t seem to fit in on this team:
    • “He is here and in great shape. There is some discussion with some European teams. Something may develop there but we will see.”
  • Do the Caps have more flexibility with the Salary Cap this season than last year?
    • “Alot of teams go through this with the cap now. I think there is a lot more flexibility this year given that you have that bonus cushion back and it is a really convoluted, esoteric thing that most people don’t understand or care to but we have a cushion that we can work with this year that we didn’t have last year so there is some more flexibility,” said McPhee.
  • On the additions of forwards Brendan Morrison and Mike Knuble
    • “We lost a couple of veterans (Sergei Fedorov and Viktor Kozlov) so we wanted to replace them with veterans and I think we got two good ones in Mike Knuble and Brendan Morrison. It really seems to be a good fit for us. It looks good it feels good, let’s hope it works good,” commented McPhee.
  • Boudreau and McPhee were both asked about the roster and if there was only one spot available at forward:
    • “If you look at it that way by just who the incumbents are and everything else that is here, yes, but we want the best team we can put on the ice. Guys may come here and they’re “wowing” people and their job is to make it difficult for us. You can sit here, like publications do, and have what the roster is going to look like and everyone puts their own assumptions in but if somebody comes in here [and does well] we want them to make us change our mind. That is what is competition and that is what we are here for,” said Boudreau.
    • “That is the great thing about our game…you never know what is going to happen, there is no script and we’ll see how this thing develops. There are some assumptions you can make but let’s see how things develops over the next three weeks,” said McPhee.

Friday’s Rookie Game

For the past three years the Caps have concluded rookie camp with a game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Washington lost on Friday, 7-3, but still lead the series two games to one. I had a chance to talk with George McPhee to get his take on Friday’s loss and his overall thoughts on the series.

WNST: Please give us your perspective on the rookie games with Philadelphia:

McPhee: It is important to play games in training camp, it is one thing to watch practice and go through the drills, but you learn alot more about the players when you put them in a game situation. So it was a competitive game and it was the first pro game for a lot of guys. We learned a lot about every one of them. So with that we get to do this every year and we’ll keep doing it.

WNST: Last year, here at Kettler, you really ran Philly out of here (won 7-0) and you could see that Hershey was going to have something special. I’m not sure the guys you had on the ice yesterday are your Hershey team this season?

McPhee: It was a real young team, 18 and 19 year olds and Philly didn’t have alot of 18 and 19 year olds to play. They told us that before the game so I knew it would be a handful for our young guys that were playing against, basically what was an American [Hockey League] team. But you still learn things about the players, it is still helpful. So I’m glad we did it.

WNST: Did anybody really stand out in the game?

McPhee: [John] Carlson really stood out. He was our best and we knew that going in but actually you still learn more about a guy when you see a game that is not going well but he just keeps playing better than he was at the start of the game. I think we’ve got a real good one in him.

WNST: Anybody up front [forward] stand out?

McPhee: Nobody really stood out but I liked the way some of the guys played, disappointed in some, pleased with others. But you get more information about the players that you have and that is why we are doing it.

WNST: How about Braden Holtby in goal?

McPhee: He didn’t have a very good game. The quality of the shots are better, everything is a little quicker, these aren’t junior players that are shooting, they are American leaguers. So it was a little bit of an adjustment for him but it is the same thing the other goalies have been through whether it be [Michal] Neuvirth or somebody else. Hopefully they adjust and show you how good they are.

WNST: I heard that there was quite a bit of physicality in the game. What did you think of that and how did the team respond?

McPhee: That’s the game of hockey. You’ve got skill, you’ve got finesse but you’ve also got grit and physical play. It got physical at different stages of the game but that is allowed.

WNST: All in all a good experience playing these games?

McPhee: Yup, we like it and what we have, it works well.

One final hockey note: There was a big trade in the NHL Saturday night as the Ottawa Senators sent disgruntled forward Dany Heatley and a 5th round pick to the San Jose Sharks for forwards Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo plus a 2nd round draft pick. I give a big edge on that trade to the Sharks if they can make their salary cap situation work. Heatley gives them a proven goal scorer that they have lacked come playoff time the last few seasons.

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