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11-04-2006, 02:33 PM

Hercules Rockefeller
11-04-2006, 02:39 PM
War Caps. 4-4-4, Year #2 of the rebuild continues on.

Hercules Rockefeller
11-04-2006, 04:48 PM
Damn, the Flyers really are terrible. 4-1 Caps after 1, including 2 from Ovechkin.

11-04-2006, 05:15 PM
You know they hurting on the blueline...

The Flyers also recalled two defencemen

Hercules Rockefeller
11-06-2006, 05:05 PM
What a surprise, the Sens are already spanking the Caps. There's a trend they can't seem to break.

11-06-2006, 05:14 PM
The caps are a few years out IMO IF the gm works it right,

Hercules Rockefeller
11-06-2006, 06:35 PM
Holy ****. Caps go down 3-0 and pull Kolzig, then come back to win 4-3 in OT. Ovechkin with another 2 goals, included one with 25 seconds left to tie it. Semin has 3 assists.

11-06-2006, 06:41 PM
congrats Herc.

Hercules Rockefeller
11-06-2006, 06:42 PM
The caps are a few years out IMO IF the gm works it right,

I'm thinking they can make a run at the playoffs next year if they can get any sort of production out of Backstrom.

Clockwork Orange
11-07-2006, 12:47 AM
Holy ****. Caps go down 3-0 and pull Kolzig, then come back to win 4-3 in OT. Ovechkin with another 2 goals, included one with 25 seconds left to tie it. Semin has 3 assists.

Nice to see Alexander The Pretty Good snap that 5 game pointless streak he had going on. :thumbs:

Hercules Rockefeller
11-15-2006, 10:03 PM
18 games in and the Caps already have 5 losses in OT (4 are shootouts), but a point is a point.

Hercules Rockefeller
11-23-2006, 11:49 AM

Video of the Caps-Thrashers brawl in the last minute and a half of their game last night

Hercules Rockefeller
12-11-2006, 07:26 PM
Caps strike first against the Pens tonight. Beech on the PP.

Hercules Rockefeller
12-11-2006, 07:27 PM
and they strike again less than a minute later

Hercules Rockefeller
12-11-2006, 08:14 PM
3-0, Clark with his 2nd. Fleury absolutely stoned Ovechkin, but AO pushed the rebound to Clark and an open net.

Hercules Rockefeller
12-11-2006, 08:21 PM
Damn, 4-0 after Laich scores a shortie. Great play by Gordon to set him up.

Hercules Rockefeller
12-11-2006, 08:24 PM
Nice shot by Talbot to make it 4-1

Hercules Rockefeller
12-11-2006, 10:11 PM
That was a great game, Caps had their usual 2nd period complacency and the Pens deservedly made them pay.

Fleury was absolutely awesome tonight.

12-11-2006, 10:38 PM
That was a great game. Nothing pains me more than my team blowing a big lead like the Caps did tonight. Of course the Avs would never do that. ;)

That is a great rivalry though it seems.

Hercules Rockefeller
12-11-2006, 10:46 PM
That was a great game. Nothing pains me more than my team blowing a big lead like the Caps did tonight. Of course the Avs would never do that. ;)

I'm a Broncos, Nuggets, and Buffs fan, it's what I've come to expect from all my teams this year.

12-11-2006, 11:47 PM
Good game

Hercules Rockefeller
01-12-2007, 03:12 PM
Caps re-upped G Brent Johnson for another 2 years today. That should help the ease the eventual transition from Kolzig to either Varlamov or Neuwirth.

01-12-2007, 04:02 PM
Caps re-upped G Brent Johnson for another 2 years today. That should help the ease the eventual transition from Kolzig to either Varlamov or Neuwirth.

A few more goalies like brodeur, hasek ect retiring and the changing of the guard is almost complete.

01-12-2007, 04:17 PM
Brodeur is going to be around for a while

Hercules Rockefeller
01-18-2007, 09:41 PM
Ovechkin scores one late to move back into a 1st play tie for goals, and Semin with 2 more to put him at only 2 back of tying for the lead. How Semin didn't even make the Young Stars game is beyond me (unless he asked out).

01-19-2007, 11:13 AM
Is Semin on his rookie deal? That's why Fluery can't play.

Hercules Rockefeller
01-19-2007, 11:58 AM
Is Semin on his rookie deal? That's why Fluery can't play.

That might be it, they gave him a new deal to get him to come back over from Russia.

01-19-2007, 12:03 PM
That might be it, they gave him a new deal to get him to come back over from Russia.

Yeah i read something on the post-gazette about that -

02-21-2007, 10:51 PM
Herc, WTF is wrong with Ovechkin?

Hercules Rockefeller
02-24-2007, 04:57 PM
Herc, WTF is wrong with Ovechkin?

I believe they're playing a trap system now since they're so beat-up on the blueline and with Kolzig out too. Guess that has just been stiffling him. He finally had an assist today, and then also had Semin block an EN'er that was going in.

Hercules Rockefeller
06-23-2007, 02:16 PM
Former Cap Rod Langway said on local DC radio yesterday that he'd heard that the Caps and Ovechkin had agreed to a 9-year deal, can't be announced until after next week when he's officially in the last year of his deal though.

06-23-2007, 02:30 PM
Former Cap Rod Langway said on local DC radio yesterday that he'd heard that the Caps and Ovechkin had agreed to a 9-year deal, can't be announced until after next week when he's officially in the last year of his deal though.

Herc, maybe you can clear this up for me, but it is my understanding that under the new CBA, a player cannot take a percentage of the cap in lieu of a fixed number...so they cannot take advantage of the cap continuing to rise. If that is the case, why would anyone sign a long term deal, if he signed for the max, which is just under 10 million, over 9 years, in two or three years, as the cap keeps rising, he would start to really get hosed. So why would anyone sign a long term deal under this system?

Hercules Rockefeller
06-23-2007, 02:34 PM
So why would anyone sign a long term deal under this system?

It's guaranteed for one thing, so if hypothetically he's "maxed out" his production or gets hurt and is never the same, he's still going to get a boatload of cash. It does give him some stability.

This is only coming from one place so far, so I don't know how much stock to put in the report yet.

Hercules Rockefeller
10-08-2007, 05:04 PM

10-10-2007, 04:00 PM
the playoffs are a Capital idea

WASHINGTON (AP) -Alex Ovechkin is as enthusiastic as they come, whether the topic is scoring goals or his fancy car or his new gap-toothed smile. Still, it's striking to hear the star left wing discuss the Washington Capitals' strong start.

"For us right now," Ovechkin was saying the other day, "every game is like the playoffs."

Pssst, Alex. A friendly reminder: This is hardly the stretch drive. It's October. Oh, and another thing: Your team is 3-0. The NHL's regular season lasts 82 games.

Then again, five teams began last season with that record, and all reached the playoffs. Washington has started this well only three times in franchise history - and qualified for the postseason each time.

"We want to make the playoffs. We want to win," Ovechkin continued. "This is the big difference from last year to this year."

What a difference, indeed - in talent, in results, in outlook. With a regulation victory at the New York Rangers on Friday, the Capitals will match the best start in franchise history at 4-0, something they last did in 1997-98 en route to reaching the Stanley Cup finals.

Not that they're getting ahead of themselves.

"We have to ... not get too high, not get too low. Same level. We haven't won anything yet," goalie Olie Kolzig said. "All we've had is a good start."

Yet Capitals coach Glen Hanlon does not begrudge Ovechkin's playoff talk one bit. Washington hasn't reached the postseason since 2002-03, and it finished 27th of 30 teams in each of Ovechkin's first two seasons.

In other words, the excitement is overdue.

"He likely feels like the rest of the players: There's something special that's starting to build here," Hanlon said. "We all have spent a couple of years here where we've worked extremely hard to keep our heads above water. And he can see sort of some fruits for his labors, and he's having fun with it."
Click here to find out more!

Ovechkin's hardly the only one.

Kolzig peppers his sentences with references to the playoffs. So does captain Chris Clark. Team owner Ted Leonsis, too.

"That's the goal that we've set," Leonsis said. "We need 45 more wins."

The thinking around these parts certainly has changed, right along with the revamped red jerseys, team logo and team motto: "New Look. New Season. New Attitude."

"The last couple of years was all about playing hard and playing our best, and the outcome will be what it is," Clark said. "Now our outlook is, 'Win every game."'

Given where the Capitals were recently, it's fascinating to hear Hanlon trot out various statistics about trends among playoff teams. After beating the New York Islanders 2-1 Monday, he noted how the past three NHL champions were a combined 23-2-5 through 10 games.

"It seems like starts are so important in this league," Hanlon said.

Before beating the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 Saturday, the coach pointed out that no team that made last season's playoffs had a losing record in its division.

Sounds like someone's been studying up.

Perhaps with good reason, if three games can be considered indicative of anything. The Capitals have allowed only two goals, a 0.67 goals-against average that ranks second in the league; last season's 3.30 GAA ranked 26th.

They're 12-for-12 in penalty killing. They're 2-0 on the road. They've already produced more shots in a game (40 in a season-opening 3-1 victory at Atlanta) than in any game last season, while also figuring out a way to win with only 12 shots (against the Islanders).

And they've managed all of that while Alexander Semin, second on the club last season with 38 goals, missed two games with an injured right ankle.

"We know Washington from last year as a hardworking team. Now they have a combination of skill and good players and grit," Carolina defenseman Glen Wesley said. "They have all the ingredients now."

The main building blocks were Ovechkin - the 22-year-old, highlight-reel forward who was the NHL's top rookie in 2005-06 and already has more than 200 career points - and Kolzig - the 37-year-old goalie who has played for only one team.

So far, they've been as good as advertised: Ovechkin has three points, while Kolzig has stopped 53 of 54 shots in two starts.

But it's the offseason additions who really are generating enthusiasm. The team raised its salary-cap number from $30.4 million to $39.5 million - still well under the maximum of roughly $50 million, but a jump in payroll that appears to have been money spent wisely.

"Right now, the Capitals is not one player, not two players. It's a whole team," Ovechkin said. "This atmosphere is unbelievable."

Viktor Kozlov, a center brought in to pair with Ovechkin, has a point in every game, including two goals. Defenseman Tom Poti leads the team in ice time. Michael Nylander has a goal and assist. Rookie Nicklas Backstrom has two assists.

"They've all been a huge help," Clark said. "We have some added firepower we got over the summer, and we want to show other teams as well as ourselves that we are a playoff-caliber team."

See? There's that word again.

10-11-2007, 05:17 PM
OFB to the Airwaves

I’ll be joining Eric McErlain of Off Wing Opinion (http://www.offwing.com/) this Saturday night at 6:00, right before the Caps-Sabres’ game, on talk radio 3WT, with studio host Jonathan Warner. We’ll be discussing the Caps’ quick start and the state of the Nation’s Capital of Hockey Blogging. 3WT is found on 107.7 FM, 1500 AM, and 820 AM on your radio dial and streaming online at 3WTRadio.com. (http://3wtradio.com/)

10-20-2007, 05:05 PM
Link (http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071020/SPORTS04/110200065/1005/SPORTS)

Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins are in town tonight at Verizon Center, so Alex Ovechkin stood in his team's dressing room at Kettler Capitals Iceplex yesterday and fielded plenty of questions about the "rivalry" between the two phenoms.

Do you know who you are playing tomorrow?

"Uh ... probably Minnesota, no?"

Why does everyone ask about [you and Crosby] so much?

"Because they like us — we are cute and we have good smile."

Did you run into Crosby at any point this summer?

"Yeah, I call him every day," he said before rolling his eyes. "He's Crosby, I'm Ovechkin. I am here. He's over there. Why I have to call him in the summer and say, 'Hey, what's up buddy? What are you doing?' "

Ovechkin's smugness about the subject underscored the general theme from members of the Washington Capitals organization at practice yesterday. This will mark the ninth time Crosby and Ovechkin have faced each other and it is probably their ninth time answering some of the same questions.

The two teams are rivals, but they were long before the lockout wiped out a season and made the No. 1 overall picks in the 2004 and 2005 drafts rookies in the same season.

"We were past that after the second game that they played against each other," Caps goaltender Olie Kolzig said. "That's the media. They are two faces of the NHL, and that is what [the league] is trying to sell and when they play each other, they are the best players."

While the media may over exaggerate the existence of a rivalry between Crosby and Ovechkin, their importance to the sport cannot be understated. When the NHL returned from the lockout, they were anointed the future of the league.

Two seasons and two weeks in, Crosby and Ovechkin are no longer the sport's future — they are the present. Ovechkin became the second rookie to score 50 goals and ran away with the Calder Trophy. Last season he became the first player in 55 years to be named to the NHL First All-Star Team in his first two years in the league. With improved talent around him, Ovechkin could win the Richard Trophy for most goals in a season.

Crosby was the youngest player to record a 100-point season and the youngest to 200. He became the youngest scoring champion in major North American professional sports history last year and collected both league MVP honors (the Hart and Pearson trophies).

Still, for these two players to develop some sort of relationship that can be deemed anything more than just a friendly rivalry, these meetings will have to consist of more than just comparing their individual hardware.

"When you think of the games they have played, they haven't really meant a lot," Penguins radio analyst Phil Bourque said. "Every game means a lot, but in the big scope of things it wasn't like they were battling for a playoff spot or anything like that. I think it would bring more attention to the games if they mattered in the standings."

The big payoff for those league officials and members of the media who envision some type of transcendent rivalry, a la Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, won't start until these two teams meet in the postseason.

The NHL has never had the best of luck in that regard. Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux never faced each other in the playoffs. The league's postseason rivalries have always been team-based and there hasn't been a prominent one since the Colorado-Detroit battles of the mid-to-late 1990s.

But Crosby versus Ovechkin, with all of the other young stars on both teams, and the subplot of all the past postseason history between the two teams, would be exactly what people are looking for.

"It would be nice for the fans I am sure," ex-Caps and current Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar said. "Two exciting players playing against each other — it would be a great series. When you have two players of that caliber, people are always going to talk about them.

"I don't think they think about it that much. They are both very competitive, but I think they both concentrate more about winning hockey games than playing against each other."

11-08-2007, 08:15 PM

More Dark Clouds
By pucksandbooks

Igor Arkhipov, an Atlanta-based correspondent for SovetskySport, met up with Alexander Ovechkin after last night’s game. He asked about the left winger’s future. This exchange will run in the Russian newspaper tomorrow:

Do you plan on changing teams at the end of the season? Washington’s game looks hopeless.

“I don’t know yet where I will be next season. I am not negotiating my new contract. I want to stay in Washington. But who knows what is going to happen?”

11-14-2007, 04:09 PM
unconfirmed reports iam seeing are:

The Caps offered Ovechkin a five-year pact similar to the deal the Pittsburgh Penguins gave Sidney Crosby ($8.7 million a season), but the sniper is demanding more — between $9- and $10-million a year.

02-17-2008, 08:04 PM

02-18-2008, 09:19 AM
He is fricken awesome to watch.

02-26-2008, 04:46 PM
Caps got sergay federov from the jackets he should do well will number 8.

Hercules Rockefeller
02-26-2008, 06:24 PM
Caps got sergay federov from the jackets he should do well will number 8.

He's for Semin

02-26-2008, 06:27 PM
He's for Semin

You think hes knows he has to donate? :clown:

Hercules Rockefeller
02-26-2008, 06:30 PM
He dated Kournikova for awhile, I think he can manage.

02-26-2008, 07:35 PM
He's for Semin

So is Clayton Wendler. (Bad joke.)

02-26-2008, 07:47 PM
Alexander Semin.... That reminds me of the Cap's/Flyers game a few weeks back that I went to. There was a guy sitting a few rows in front of us wearing a Semin jersey. My brother yelled to him "YO BRO, YOU GOT SEMEN ALL OVER YOUR BACK". Funny stuff!

04-05-2008, 07:52 PM
There's a reason Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau's nickname is Gabby, and it makes him a great quote no matter the question.

Boudreau took some time out of his schedule to chat last week about Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and the team's incredible run toward the playoffs.

How has the fan interest grown in Washington since you've been there and what has it been like in the building?

"The fans are just as hungry as the players to have some success. They were very, very into the game, and it was quite exciting. I hadn't heard noise that loud I don't think since I was a Marlie. But I haven't been in buildings that big either. You could tell there was a buzz right from the beginning. It was just as exciting for the players as it was for the fans in the building.

"You can't hear anything. It's hard to communicate. If I was a player and I'd been in that situation I'd be very excited and very pumped up."

Why do you think Ovechkin has improved this season compared to Years 1 and 2?

"Number one, his maturity. It happens quite often when you have a great, great first season – the second season, knowing Alex the way I do now, he probably wasn't happy because he thought he could do more. I think the third season went right right off the bat.

"Two, he hadn't had a chance to play with Nick Backstrom either. Nick Backstrom is one heck of a player. We've kept that line together for the last 20-25 games, and they've really, really come on and played well.

"I think those are contributing factors. Alex also hasn't had the opportunity to play on a great power play, [and] we're sixth or seventh in the league right now, Mike Green has 18 goals – I think all of these things add up to Alex being a better player. I mean, he is a great player, but those things are contributors."

What was your approach with Ovechkin coming in?

"I was just hoping he would listen to what I said. Quite frankly. I was coming in, and not knowing what to expect, I'd met him and said hi to him in training camp. Probably the biggest thing was that quite a few players knew who I was, and those players that know who I was, he talked to, because they'd played with me for a year or more than a year."

And has he listened?

"I hope so. I think he has. The team has. He's played better defensively. He's got a lot of carte blanche; we don't curtail him too much. But he's the first one to come up and ask on the board if he doesn't know a drill, he's the first one to ask 'is this what you want, is this how we do it?' He's really attentive in all meetings and everything. I think he's finding that the team is having success, he's having success."

Have Ovechkin's numbers surprised you this season?

"It doesn't surprise me because you see him every game and it just sort of grows in expectation. Even in his worst games, he's got at least one chance to score. The biggest surprising factor is when you look and hear that someone has their 33rd goal, 'this guy's having a great year,' and then you look and say, 'well Alex has got [65].'

"I don't want to take anything away from [Alexei] Kovalev because he's having a fabulous year and he's a great player, but he scored his 35th the other night and they're really making it a big deal. And maybe rightfully so because no other Montreal player has done that in eight or 10 years."

How do you weigh in on the Hart Trophy race?

"I'm like a parent when you're talking about their kid. I think there's no question this year. If you look where we are and you look what he's done and you look where our next leading scorer is, Alex is the straw that stirs the drink on this team. Just as I think Nick Backstrom is the best rookie and Mike Green is the best defenceman, but I mean, that's from a prejudiced point of view before.

Nicklas Backstrom wasn't playing with Ovechkin to start the year and he's really taken off since. Was that a conscious switch on your part, when Michael Nylander went down, that you wanted to see him in that spot?

"Nick was finding his own way in the NHL at the beginning of the season, and when I got there, I still thought it was an awful lot of pressure 21 games in, putting Nick Backstrom with Ovechkin. I mean, we started him right off on the fourth line and just let him get his confidence, play the power play, get some points there, and when Nick started to get going and feeling his way, we put him with Alex. As a player, I've been in a situation where I remember being called up and being thrown with established players, and boy it's difficult, because any time there's a mistake made, you think it's your fault and nobody elses'. And you don't get to play your game."

Has his improvement come as a result of playing with Ovechkin?

"I think it's a case that they've both complemented each other really well. I don't think Alex would have the numbers he's had without Nick and vice versa."

What was the adjustment period like for Backstrom this season?

"I think it's him just growing. I mean, you're a European player, and you're coming over to America for the first time, there's a learning period, there's a learning curve and there's a getting used to culture curve, and [there are] expectations from the media. Unfortunately for Glen [Hanlon], I'm the beneficiary. Glen was the one that taught him how to handle all of this stuff and by the time I got him, he was [finding] his way around, he was starting to get the odd point here and there, and great players sometimes take a little bit of time, and he just took a little bit of time to get used to everything. And playing with Alex, after the 30-game mark, really started to come along.

What makes Ovechkin's other linemate, countryman Viktor Kozlov, effective?

"(A) They speak the same language, which really helps, and (B) he's so big and strong and he can make the plays. He sees the ice; Viktor is a very skilled player and he sees the ice and Alex gets open for him. You know we've used Viktor a lot at centre, a lot at right wing on other lines, but he has really come through now that he's playing with Alex."

04-17-2008, 07:18 PM

All you football-only diehards, sorry to disappoint you, but I'm gonna take a detour here. Been covering this Caps/Flyers series pretty closely and just figured I'd clear out my head and notebook on the offday before driving back up to Philly for Game 4 tomorrow.

I love that Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau is sticking to his guns in terms of his overall philosophy - rolling four lines, trying to play up-tempo, attacking hockey with an aggressive forecheck, allowing his defensemen to jump up in the play, letting the kids play. But it's also very dangerous this time of year to get too married to your personnel, to continue to view everything through the prism of that glorious 37-17-7 run, to believe that since it happened then it'll happen now. Were the 2007-2008 Caps really a 50 win team, as that record under Boudreau would point to if for a full season? Are they really so good and so deep as to be beyond the need for serious midseries repairs?

I've seen many, many,. many an NHL team lose it's identity, fast, in the postseason, and that's clubs way more experienced than this. Often, it takes a hard re-think, and sweeping changes, to usher in a transformation of sorts, and a new aura. You can't just assumed you'll get that potent power play back without altering the five-man units, or that your best player will just become the best player in this mini-series regardless of how effectively the opposition is matching up with him.

This Caps team became such a great story precisely because they were overachievers. They were confident and buoyant and played over their heads based on emotion and savvy coaching and young guys feeding off one another and an ubber-positive vibe. But that's no longer the case. The regular season is over, long over now, and you can no longer argue that goalie Cristobal Huet still has that certain mojo working, or the entire team for that matter. What worked against Atlanta and Tampa and the like during that 11-1 run ain't necessarily going to get it done against a Philly team that is now more confident and looser than the Caps, not to mention more physical and effective.

I fully appreciate how much credit this staff deserves for righting this ship and stabilizing this franchise, and to me there's no doubt Boudreau should get the Adams Trophy as coach of the year for what he did from Thanksgiving through early April. But the differences between playoff hockey and the regular season cannot be overstated. I worry that if he is truly as rigid in regards to his lineup as he said he would be following Game 3 that by the time he gets around to making major adjustments it will already be too late.

He blanched when asked about replacing Huet. I'd make the move, ASAP, for reasons I presented in the paper today. It's not like you're turning to the usual back-up here. Not even close. I tried to push Boudreau about adding Brooks Laich - whose screen led to one power play goal with the second PP unit and who scored late on a redirection to the top of the crease - to the top unit, and the coach rebuffed the notion, pointing to how great the first unit was for 40 games. Again, that wasn't against this Flyers team every night, not under the glare of the postseason, not with the season dangling now.

To me Backstrom and Fedorov are redundant - both man the halfwall and fill a similar role. I put Laich in for Backstrom and force him to get in goalie Martin Biron's face (when the Caps have pressed the smallish goalie he's looked very beatable - they just aren't getting nearly enough traffic or pucks to net). Plant Laich in the crease and the Flyers finally have to pull a forward lower in the circles, and get the defenseman closer to the crease. It opens up space for Green and Ovechkin on the point - and they make this thing go - and gives them more opportunities for the back door weakside plays as well, which Philly has keyed on taking away (and with no presence around the net, all the easier to do so).

Backstrom is struggling bigtime, and no shame in that. It happens to rookies in the playoffs. But he's being asked to do a ton, too. Taking a backseat on the PP could help refocus him at even strength. Boudreau seems married to his lines, but Kozlov and Backstrom have been passengers on the tip unit. I break it up, pronto, and try Fedorov with Ovechkin and maybe even Laich on the right side. Again, he could retrieve the puck - it's gonna take dump and chase to beat that Philly trap - and that's not Kozlov. Laich in front of the net makes Ovechkin's shot all the more deadly.

I think they need to infuse a new chemistry if possible and Fedorov should feed off the promotion. Backstrom can take a turn trying to breathe life into Semin, who save for that lethal release of his on a few wrist shots from the high slot has been very poor (his desire to compete has long been questioned by scouts and GMs, the one thing keeping him from being a true star in the league). You can slot Kozlov here on the second line if you must, and I guess there's no place else to put him cuz he won't fit with your checking line or fourth line. (Call me old school, but again, I'd consider sitting him and putting Cooke with this unit, and bringing Kozlov back in Game 5 might really light a fire under him)..

While the third line has been so-so, the Donald Brashear led fourth line deserves more minutes. Go back and look at their goals in this series. It's all textbook, simple, playoff hockey. Brashear just goes to the net in Game 1. Bradley wins a puck in the corner on a dump, draws to Flyers and Steckel's alone in the slot (and he attacks Biron's suspect glove hand high, something the Caps stunningly have gotten away from). Then in Game 3 Brashear is awesome behind the net, using that big frame to shield the puck and draw a forward deep, then finds Fehr at the top of the crease with space.

That's how you're going to beat the Flyers. That's how to exploit the underbelly of their third defensive pair, who get caught flatfooted in the cycle and make bad decisions under pressure with the puck.

When defenseman Mike Green is by far your best offensive thrust and Brashear is your most effective forwards, well, you've got problems my friend and it's time for big changes.

Also, Ovechkin needs to get looks against defensemen other than Timonen (and his injury could prove huge if it keeps him out of the lineup). Put Ovechkin with Gordon or Steckel as his center sometimes and give it a go. Give him more shifts, but demand that each shift be much shorter, not the 90-second marathons we've seen.

Rigidity can be crippling in a series, and simply stating that players need to battle harder to overcome the punishment they are receiving isn't enough, either. Tactical decisions and match-ups define the very essence of playoff hockey. Scotty Bowman, the best ever, was never afraid to tinker - he was also something of a genius at this stuff and it would unfair to try to compare anyone to him. But lines are made to be shuffled, and when I covered the Wings Scotty would often use 12-15 different combinations in the opening period of a playoff game ... and that's even when things are going good. It forces the opposition to react, and breaks up matchups that favor them. It gets them wondering and guessing at what look is coming next. Now, the Caps don't have to go to those extremes, but opening the game with a reworked top line would be a start.

As for the defense, the idea that Milan Jurcina is somehow a lock to play baffles me, and while I think Steve Eminger may well be another first round bust, I can't believe he isn't one of the six best options amid this group, especially with Schultz ailing. Erskine adds grit but he's struggled mightily too, and this is when issues in your defense really come to life. (Pairing Erskine and Jurcina together on the PK surprised me as well, that's a scary combination. The Caps need to add a top three defender with a nasty streak to take the next step, but that's not happening now so I'm giving Eminger a shot and hope that he keeps his feet moving and makes simple plays with the puck. (With Schultz out he's probably gonna play regardless. I know the Caps didn't want to call up Josef Boumedienne from the minors for fear he would be a waiver claim, but I also know he has skill and flair with the puck and plenty of experience and I say you gamble that he doesn't get picked up, because again you can't convince me he isn't one of their top six blueliners right now. And if he gets claimed, then so be it, but what have you got to lose now?)

In the end, this team has turned the corner and will be a playoff contender for years to come. It's been a marvelous rise, and it doesn't have to end. If it does, the Caps still deserve all the credit in the world for even getting here, and the experience these kids are getting on the fly will pay big dividends down the road. They are heading in the right direction, and I'll be very interested to see what new wrinkles, if any, are revealed Thursday night.