Friday, January 05, 2007

Friday Roundup/Caps 5, Habs 1

[ Recap - Postgame Coverage]

At 19:01 of the first period of last night's 5-1 Caps win over the visiting Canadiens, Alex Ovechkin was nailed with a double-minor for unintentionally high-sticking Montreal blueliner Andrei Markov. Almost immediately, a chorus of "Ref, you suck" rained down from the rafters at the V.C. By the middle of the second period, the fans undoubtedly held the officials in much higher regard (though I didn't here any chants of "Ref, you rule").

Waving off the Habs' apparent game-tying power-play goal because Saku Koivu had gotten tangled up with Olie Kolzig, the ref (I forget which one) sent the Canadiens' captain to the penalty box for interference. The Caps scored twice (Lawrence Nycholat and Alex Semin) on the ensuing four-on-four and that was, more or less, all she wrote. A few notes:
  • I was wrong - the game didn't come down to special teams or which team started better (though the Caps did have the lead after one period). How 'bout that?
  • There's been talk that when Bryan Muir comes back, he'll be a man without a spot due to Nycholat's strong play. I'm fine with that, but wonder if when John Erskine comes back whether he or Jamie Heward will be the next odd man out - Nycho's been that good (not that displacing a Heward or Erskine is great measuring stick for competence).
  • AO had three assists (and on the second one, he really put the "ass" in "assist"), but is now goal-less in his last five. I'm not worried.
  • Steve Eminger had two helpers and continues his (dare I say?) stronger play of late.
  • It was nice to see Dainius Zubrus back in the goal column and doubly nice to see him there twice.
  • Speaking of two-goal getters, is there a more non-chalant skater in the League than Alex Semin? Everything he does looks effortless, and that's only partially a compliment.
  • Maybe it's the win talking, but I wouldn't be shocked if Boyd Gordon won a Selke Trophy some day.
  • Mike Green's defense on the Alex Kovalev partial-breakaway was beautiful and his rush earlier in the game was also splendid, though less spectacular.
That's it for now. Great to get back to .500, great to get healthier and great way to get ready for Atlanta on Saturday. The roller coaster ride continues...

Daily Awards
  • Hart: Alexander Steen (3G, including the game-winner, 2A, +4, 6 SOG)
  • Ross: Alexander Steen (5 points)
  • Norris: Ian White (2A, +6, 2 blocked shots)
  • Vezina: Curtis Joseph (29-save shutout win)
  • Richard: Alexander Steen, Martin Straka (3G each)
  • Calder: Ian White (2A, +6, 2 blocked shots)
  • Aiken, Pt. I: Tim Thomas (L, 8 goals allowed on 31 shots against in 47:54 of work)
  • Aiken, Pt. II: P.J. Axelsson (0 points, -5)
  • Aiken, Pt. III: Dominik Hasek (L, 8 goals allowed on 28 shots against in 51:38 of work)
  • Aiken, Pt. IV: Evgeni Nabokov (3 goals allowed on 12 shots against in 11:20 of work)


JP said...

In case you missed it, check out what former #1 overall (by Atlanta in 1999) Patrik Stefan did last night.

Fauxrumors said...

1) Have to agree with most of your ganme assessment. Huet definitly was not on his game last night which helped
2) The Caps again came out flat (again) the first 10 minutes, but were fortunate that the Habs didn't seeminterested in taking advantage of that
3) Nycholat has impressed, and if Heward was the odd man out at this point no one would miss him. Amazing that 2 guys that couldn't make the roster out of camp(Nycholat/Erskine)have played so well!

CapsChick said...

Isn't it an odd feeling to suddenly have some semblance of depth on the blue line? It's still a weak spot for the Caps, but I'm loving the fact that Nycholat is playing so well and the other healthy d-men - Pothier, Green, & especially Eminger - have picked it up recently as well.

That's the way it should be - guys should always be looking behind them. No roster spot is permanent, and Nycho and Erskine (when he returns) are making their cases for a permanent, or at least long-term, stay with the big boys...

Fauxrumors said...

1) At least it may push out the carear journey men like Heward and Muir
2) Next it would be nice to start to get some production from lines 2, and 3. Hard to be competetive with only 1 line scoring.

Rage said...

Couple of (possibly dumb) questions:

a) Looks like the puck rolled over Stefan's blade. Was he trying to do a show-boaty ENG?
b) Also, is Semin getting a rep for not trying that hard? If not, what did you mean by "that's only partially a compliment".

Thanks JP.

JP said...

Faux - Semin has 19 goals. How is that not second-line production? I agree that Pettinger needs to up the production, but Beech had a great December.

As for the third line... don't get me started. Maybe Bradley's return next week and the reuniting of the CBS line will get them all scoring a bit. Each of those guys (Sutherby and Clymer being the others) should be between 10 and 15 goals per year.

Rage - I don't know that he's earning that reputation, but just watching him (especially playing the point on the PP), sometimes he looks a little lazy to me.

Fauxrumors said...

1) Won't speak for JP, but last night on Semin's second goal he was clearly 'goal hanging', and not playing any defense
2) The caps were fortunate to get the puck out of their zone and Semin was there to pick up the mail and deliver a nice break away goal
3) We were a bit surprised he wasn't benched after this display of selfishness The kid clearly has skill, but also shows signs that he needs additional maturity

JP said...

Oh, and no clue what Stefan was trying to do - can't blame the ice in Edmonton (which is routinely hailed as the best in the League) can you?

Tyler said...

Oh my god, moron brought his first-person plural back. I thought that was over.

Eminger played with real spunk and grit last night, one of his best games of the year. He still needs to have a little more confidence with the puck though. Skate it out of the zone, lad!

I actually thought Huet kept the Habs in the game in the first, but that his team let him down.

Before we all get too excited about Nycholat, he was responsible for two horrid thank-you-Olie breakdowns in the first and another in the second. He had an average game -- at best.

I still don't understand why Mike Green maxes out at 17 mins a game. C'mon Tarik -- it's a perfect blog post.

JP said...

Hey, now - no name-calling.

I agree that Huet was borderline-great in the first.

Wrt Nycho, he brings something that not a lot of other Caps blueliners have and that is offensive upside. I think he's earned a spot (for now), but he can just as easily un-earn it.

As for Green, his ice is limited in part by the team not wanting to put too much pressure on him and in part by the team not wanting to put Jamie Heward, his partner, on the ice too much. The first two pairings are eating up a ton of minutes and playing well enough, so I don't see it changing much.

Fauxrumors said...

1) Also like Nycho's physical side. Not afraid to throw around the body. Hopefully this isn't just a flash in the pan and he keeps up his good play
2) Green's ice time is probably appropriate for a rookie blueliner, though we believe Hanlon should use him a bit more on the PP unit. Semin back there is a short handed goal waiting to happen

Tyler said...

Maybe you can just ban "them" if "they" insist on writing like monomaniacal twins. (Think about that for a second...)

I agree on Nycholat. How many assists does he have already?! I thought last night was a great example of how a blue-liner with a bomb of a shot forces a defense to react. Look at how the Caps played Souray and how the Habs played the Caps' D. They just collapsed on our Fs.

JP said...

I think that's as much respect for the shot as respect for the shooter. If the Caps let 'er rip from up top more often (and they got through), opposing Fs would have to come out higher regardless of whether it's Al Iafrate or his grandmother back there. You saw Clymer shooting from the point with the second PP unit quite a bit, and it was generating chances. It's cliche, but when things are going bad, get back to basics and just shoot the damn puck!

But yeah, those Habs blueliners - especially Souray - can flat out bring it.

Tyler said...

Souray skates... strangely, I guess you could say. His skating style seems to confuse the other team, especially the other goalie. Olie really fought one third period Souray shot, even though it was from beyond one of the circles.

JP said...

And, as we all know, goalies aren't the only people Souray likes to beat.

capsfan100 said...

I am not one for exaggeration and I have no tolerance for hyperbole. That said, this is the Greatest Web Site Ever. Thank you.

Next time the Caps are here in Denver (3+ years, unless they juggle the schedule yet again) I'd be honored to be your boots on the ground, reporting back comments like "The crowd was fired up to start the 3rd period, but then Ovechkin shattered the glass with a clean hit."

Thanks for a great site.

Michael Scanlon
aka Capsfan100
Thornton, CO

PS Gordon as a Selke candidate? Had never thought of that, but I can see that. Good call.

JP said...

Wow, thanks. Think you can convince Google to buy it for $1.5b?

Anonymous said...

what's up with the fact that there never seem to be any 10$ eagles nest seats available. it certainly looks like there are plenty left, and i'm stuck only two rows down from the nest, having paid 22$ for them. yikes.

Tyler said...

JR is invaluable.

I think Boyd Gordon's growth as a player comes from two (obvious) areas: Faceoff percentage, offensive contributions. If he can figure out how to score 15-20 goals a year and win 55% consistently, he's absolutely future Selke finalist (at least) material.

JP said...

This, from Tarik's online chat today re: Semin, is pretty much what I was getting at above:

Silver Spring, Md.: Alexander Semin -- he is as lackadaisical as he looks out there? Or is he so good, he looks effortless?

Tarik El-Bashir: I would say it's a combination of both with Semin. He is incredibly smooth, which sometimes gives the appearance that he's not working hard. But sometimes, he just isn't working as hard as he could.

He's still learning how to play the North American game and should afforded some slack. But his coaches' patience is going to run out at some point.

He needs to play with determination every shift, and stop taking some shifts off. His teammates have noticed and are starting to get annoyed. Trust me, I hear about it.

Pete said...

Kovalev looked like a cement bag in a wheelbarrow carried away by Green and dumped on a side. Awesome! Kovalev is a strong skater! At first I couldn't believe it was Green. Big big hit by Green and he is only gonna get better.

Nycholat should stay, I don't know where he's been before, hopefully not in coma :-), but he is very impressive.

All the talk about SidTheKid, and Ovie took a note too. As soon as Sid got 6 points in that one game (Flyers?) Ovie got the first place in goals. It's so great that those two exist in the same time space. I hope just like last year, Ovie will beat Sid and lead NHL in scoring by the end of the season. Tough, but can be done.