Monday, July 20, 2009

McPhee: "If we played a better game in Game 7, maybe we win the Stanley Cup."

George McPhee and Bruce Boudreau just took an hour's worth of questions from Capitals season-ticket holders, a wide-ranging discussion that touched on everything from last week's development camp to the upcoming season to José Théodore's apparent refusal to uncover his head during the National Anthem (paging Bill O'Reilly!). Any real news? Nah, not really, unless you're a founding member of the Brent Johnson fan club. Also, Boudreau said Théodore is still the team's No. 1 goalie going in to training camp, a sentiment that is (hopefully) nothing more than an attempt to publicly do right by the vet.

The starting goalie for the 2009-10 Capitals (for now) according to Bruce Boudreau.

Here are some highlights from the conference call, along with whatever I can remember from Saturday's development camp-concluding scrimmage:

On development camp: McPhee said the coaches agreed that the 'All-Camp' team would look something like this:

Stefan Della Rovere - Cody Eakin - Trevor Bruess
John Carlson - Dmitri Orlov
Braden Holtby

Della Rovere made the list despite missing the last few sessions of camp with a shoulder injury. Orlov, meanwhile, might have been the best player on the ice on Saturday. He's an extremely smooth skater and passer who possesses a low, hard shot and loves to throw the odd hip-check.

What's surprising here is the omission of two players who were near-consensus picks for the camp's three stars among this town's hockey cognoscenti: Mathieu Perreault and Michael Dubuc.

Perreault is a diminutive fella who has no problem carrying the puck into high-traffic areas. His involvement in the offensive zone was hard to miss at Saturday's scrimmage, and his speed and shiftyness are impressive. Dubuc, on the other hand, scored 7 goals in three scrimmages during camp. Last year, Jake Hauswirth had a similarly impressive output as an invitee and it resulted in a professional contract and a shot at making the team in Hershey. Will Dubuc, who spent last season with the South Carolina Stingrays, be similarly rewarded?

On John Carlson: "Carlson is going to be a really good player...he's going to contend for a job this year" - Bruce Boudreau

Carlson didn't have his best outing on Saturday; he got turned around on a second-period rush, recovered in time to take the puck back, only to throw the puck blindly into the slot, which resulted in a turnover and scoring opportunity for the white team.

On Anton Gustafsson: "I was really surprised by how big and strong and put together he is," Boudreau said of the 6-foot-3, 200 pound Swede, who was the team's first pick in the 2008 draft. Gustafsson suffered a concussion mid-week after crashing headfirst into the goal and sat out the final sessions of camp. "We don't know if he's going to crack the lineup this year but he certainly thinks he wants to."

On the team's recent success in the draft: "We weren't getting the results I thought we needed in my early years as a manager," McPhee said. "We kept the same personnel but we've changed the way that we've scouted and it's really made a big difference for us...the draft is our lifeblood."

On replacing Donald Brashear's
fists toughness: "At the moment we have to look at Detroit and say, here's a club that doesn't invest in [fighters] a whole lot." - GM

On free agency and the salary cap: "We do have room to do a few more things." - GM

On Mike Green's health: "I talked to Mike Green today and he's in incredible shape right now...He's in as good shape as he's ever been in, and healthy. As far as Mike Green is concerned, we're okay with that." - BB

On departing players other than Sergei Fedorov and Viktor Kozlov: "Probably Brent Johnson would be the other that [will] not return. - GM

On the goaltending depth chart:
"[Varlamov] did great in the playoffs but Jose won [32] games for us. Varly's gotta prove it again to me...To me, Varly and Michal [Neuvirth] still gotta knock José off his perch to be the No. 1 goalie on our team." - BB

On Joe Finley: "We're really toying with the idea of moving him up to forward." - BB

Good call. Finley skated on Hauswirth's line during Saturday's scrimmage and looked very comfortable parked in front of the goal on offense. His skating needs some work, but the guy's a mountain (6-7, 230+) and was at his best with his back to the goal, a la Tomas Holmstrom. With the team's logjam on the blue line, playing the wing is Finley's best path to the NHL right now. You're telling me his size wouldn't make a great addition to a second-unit power play?

Boudreau also singled-out defenseman Brett Flemming for praise. "
Flemming really looked like a hockey player. He looked really solid and came on and got better as the week went on."

On the team's crowded defense corps: "We are very deep on the blue line. It's a position of strength for us," Boudreau said. "You cannot ever have enough defensemen who can play at the NHL level."

On the team's captain: "Chris Clark is healthy. It's the first time in two years that he's been healthy." - BB

We've heard that before. Let's hope it's for real this time.

On the team's best attribute going forward: "Our ability to win the games against big teams in their buildings." - BB

[Mitchell Layton/Getty Images via ESPN]


  1. McPhee never lets on when someone is 100% out the door, let alone a solid goalie like Johnson...something smells fishy.

  2. It was uncharacteristically candid of him, that's for sure. But where does Johnny fit? Barring a trade of the No. 1 goaltender (ahem), it's mighty crowded between the pipes.

  3. If only we lived in a magical world where 10 million dollars wasn't tied up in backup goalies and healthy scratch centers...

  4. Imagine what the roster might look like with that $10M spent on things the team actually needs. The mind reels. Too bad, because by next year, that number drops significantly, just in time to pay Backstrom and Semin.


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