To say that the referees "blew" last night's game would be a low blow. But since that's what we do around here, I have no problem saying it. With just under nine minutes left and the Caps trailing by one, Brian Willsie slammed a rebound past Ranger netminder Henrik Lundqvist to ostensibly tie the game. It wasn't to be, however, as some time in between when Willsie struck the puck and when the puck crossed the line, referee Tim Kowal's whistle blew, indicating that he had lost sight of the biscuit. Conspiracy? Bias? Of course not. But the Caps are now 1-5 in games Kowal officiates. Hmmm... (and great work by OldChelsea on the research).
At the end of the day, though, luck is the due reward of the skilled and the Irish and the Caps don't have enough skill, luck or Irishmen to win many games when they don't take advantage of the opportunities afforded them (such as a fruitless four minute power play less than a minute into the game) and/or can't kill penalties (New York was 3-for-6 with the extra skater). Last night's game was no exception to that very basic formula, and the Caps fell 5-4, done in by ex-wife Jaromir Jagr, who decided to skate hard for the first (and only) time all night on his game-winning rush.
The WaPo recaps the game here, the WTimes ici. As for the featured rookie matchup, Alex Ovechkin was held scoreless for the third time in his last four games (though he could have very easily had three assists if he was surrounded by some better finishers) and, despite a few beautiful saves early on, Lundqvist finished the night with a very pedestrian four goals against on 40 shots (but of course he also had the one stat that matters - the win).
Finally, of note in last night's game was referee Kerry Fraser wearing a helmet (I mean aside from the fiberglass shell he calls a hairdo) for the first time since he started calling games back in 1975. Fraser wore the lid so he could don a sticker recognizing the Rangers' late head of security Dennis Ryan, who recently passed away. It was a nice gesture, but I'm sure the eblem would have stuck to his hair just fine.
Thread of the Day: Two Things Bug Me About Hanlon
Elsewhere 'round the rinks:
- The Philadelphia Phantoms (the Flyers' AHL affiliate) will be sporting these lovelies for tonight's St. Paddy's Day festivities. Hopefully their fans have strong stomachs, because a day of drinking plus those sweaters might be a recipe for disaster.
- Hart: Patrice Bergeron (Goal, assist, game-winning shootout goal, +1, 7 shots on goal, hit, takeaway, no giveaways, blocked shot in 3-2 win over Ottawa)
- Ross: Justin Williams (4 points)
- Norris: Tom Preissing (2 goals, assist, +2, 6 shots on goal, 2 blocked shots)
- Vezina: Tomas Vokoun (24-save shutout win)
- Richard: Justin Williams, Ray Whitney, Jason Arnott, Chris Drury, Tom Preissing (2 goals each)
- Calder: Ryan Miller (Win, 27 saves on 28 shots against)
- Aiken: David Aebischer (Loss, 5 goals against on 41 shots)