Just when you think you've figured this team out, they go and do something like this... and totally redeem themselves. Last night's 7-3 whooping of Carolina in as close to a January "must win" as you could find, has to have the Caps and their faithful back in good spirits - at least for a day or two. Some notes:
- Eric Fehr's first NHL goal was a beauty - and he nearly had his second as well. When the Caps had goals from Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin and Fehr on the board, one couldn't help thinking about the trio in comparison to Pittsburgh's trio of young guns. And, oh yeah, the Caps still have their world-class playmaker waiting in the wings.
- Speaking of the Alexes, the fact that they jumped the Caps out to a 3-0 lead on three unassisted goals speaks to their desire and ability to carry the team. Not all leaders are vocal or have letters on their sweaters.
- Ya think the Caps' scouting report on Cam Ward reads "shoot high glove side"?
- Jeff Schultz played 19:20, was +4 and had 3 blocked shots. Probably his best game as a Cap.
- Schultz's minutes came at the expense of Mike Green, who's turnover that led to Erik Cole's goal resulted in Greenie getting only 8:22 of ice time (only Kris Beech and The Donald had less) for the night. Green has clearly hit some sort of wall, as his play has been subpar for a couple of weeks now.
- Shaone Morrisonn was a beast, hitting hard and playing well. Yes, he was minus-one, but I thought he still had a very solid game.
- The line combinations looked great - I love Matt Pettinger on the third line, giving Fehr a chance to succeed on the second and bumping Ben Clymer down to the fourth (giving him the occassional shift in Fehr's place on the second).
- Boyd Gordon won 7 of 12 draws from Rod Brind'Amour. Amazing? No, but worth noting.
- The Caps and 'Canes season series is tied a three wins apiece, and no game's final score has been closer than three goals. Odd. Olie Kolzig (who was solid, if unspectacular last night) has all three Caps wins, and one wonders if he shouldn't have started both games this weekend.
- The crowd of 16,924 (!) was one of the loudest of the year, and there was only a smattering of red in the building.
- Finally, I got the chance to meet another Rink Reader last night and it served as a good reminder of why, in part, I do this -
the free beermeeting nice new folks. Cheers, Jason (and Ken, as always).
- Hart: Ryan Smyth (2G, including the game-winner, 2A, +4 in 4-3 win)
- Ross: Ryan Smyth, Ales Hemsky, Sidney Crosby, Mark Recchi (4 points each)
- Norris: Pavel Kubina (2G, A, +1, 3 blocked shots)
- Vezina: Ray Emery (W, 29 saves on 30 shots against)
- Richard: Alex Semin, Ryan Smyth, Steve Sullivan, Pavel Kubina, Aaron Asham, Jochen Hecht, Martin Erat, Rostislav Olesz (2G each)
- Calder: Eric Fehr (1st NHL goal is the game-winner, +2)
- Aiken: Cam Ward (L, 7 goals allowed on 23 shots against)