With all due respect to The Captain's hat trick and The Phenom's vintage shootout goal, the most spirit-lifting aspect of last night's 4-3 shootout loss to the Bruins was the return and stellar play of netminder Olie Kolzig. The team simply plays with more confidence and accountability in front of him, and though the song remains the same in the results column, I now firmly believe the Caps will actually win another game this season (and soon).
On the other end of the spectrum, however, was the return of the stupid penalty, including four different stick penalties (for ten minutes in the box, since it includes Shaone Morrisonn's high-sticking double-minor). These penalties took their toll on the team, leading to three Boston powerplay goals in a span of just over three minutes of game time sandwiched around the second intermission and that, as they say, was pretty much the ballgame.
Some thoughts on the game:
- Kolzig was great for 65 minutes. You could have had Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo in net and I'm not sure they would have stopped the three Bruin goals. In the shootout, however, Olie looked a little rusty (maybe the result of the Zdeno Chara shot to the knee cap at the end of overtime), and was beaten twice.
- Alex Ovechkin's shootout goal was a flashback to early in the 2005 season. It was breathtaking. Alex Semin's effort? Not so much. And when you play a full game and one player has accounted for 100% of your three goals, why not let him take a shot in the shootout, if for no other reason than to reward his contributions? Besides, could Chris Clark have done worse than Brooks Laich?
- Speaking of the shootout, I'll have to check, but I think that only Alexander Hamilton has a worse shootout record than the Caps.
- According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Clark was the first NHL player to score the first three goals of a game his team did not win since Dec. 11, 1996, when the Blues' Al MacInnis did that in a 5-5 tie at Dallas. On a sidenote, I can't decide whether being a researcher at Elias would be the best job in the world or the worst.
- Steve Eminger rebounded from an awful game to have a very good one (with the notable exception of his high-sticking penalty.
- Morrisonn and Milan Jurcina continue to just crush people (though last night had to be one of Mo's worst games of the year).
- Only 6:52 of ice time for Mike Green after his rough game against Atlanta. That'll help the confidence.
- Ben Clymer left the game with a groin injury.
- I've said it before and I'll say it again - Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron are a joy to watch.
For some reason, last night's loss - despite it's 3-0-lead-blowing atrociousness - left me encouraged, as you can tell. Was it Clark's hattie? Ovie's deke and finish? Olie's play? For sure. But there was more to it than those individual performances, something cosmic, and I have finally put my finger on it. The fact of the matter is that one can't help but have a restored faith in the universe and everything therein on a night when Duke is bounced from the NCAA Tournament in the first round - it's truly soul-refreshing.
Anyway, the Caps return home to face Toronto, another team desperate for points and a playoff berth, tonight at the VC, and I'll be doin' the press box thing so if you've got any (legitimate) questions for any Caps or Leafs let me know and I'll try to get 'em answered. But be forewarned: I will not ask Darcy Tucker how he sleeps at night (because I already know the answer - on the crushed bones of little children).
That's all I've got for now, unless you want to see a picture of Carmen Electra dropping the ceremonial first puck at last night's Kings game. Enjoy your Friday, all.Daily Awards
- Hart: Chris Clark (3G, +2, 7 SOG)
- Ross: Joe Thornton (4 points)
- Norris: Brian Campbell (3A, +3, 6 SOG, 3 hits, 2 blocked shots)
- Vezina: Niklas Backstrom (W, 22 saves on 23 shots against)
- Richard: Chris Clark (3G)
- Calder: Drew Stafford (2G, +2, 3 SOG, 2 hits)
- Aiken: Ed Belfour (L, 5 goals allowed on 20 shots against)