Since you'd probably rather hear about my root canal than the Caps 5-4 shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, here's the low-down: it couldn't have been easier. The nurse asked me what DVD I wanted to watch, the endodontist gave me a shot of novocaine, and three episodes of Scrubs (Season 3) later, I was out the door. No pain during, no pain after (except for the forementioned Caps game).
As for the game, some observations:
- New guy Jiri Novoty had a bad turnover in the first period, whiffed on a lay-up in the second, but also assisted on the Alex Ovechkin goal. For the most part, though, he was invisible, ending the night at -1.
- Neither Boyd Gordon nor Matt Pettinger played a shift after around the mid-point of the third period. They'll be re-examined today.
- Kris Beech centered the two Alexes and didn't look awful doing so. Winning 15 of 21 faceoffs (71%) will help to keep him up there.
- The officiating was awful, though largely in the Caps' favor. John Tortorella should be having a canary about how the third period ended.
- I'm not sure what happened on the Bolts' second goal (the Ruslan Fedotenko tally at the end of the second), other than to say that Fedotenko was allowed an unimpeded path down Route 4 (John Erskine Boulevard... step up for cryin' out loud!).
- Milan Jurcina can flat-out hit. If it comes down to re-signing him or Erskine, I know who gets my vote.
- The Donald wore an "A" last night and got an attempt in the shootout. Hopefully those things won't mellow his mood too much.
- If Johan Holmqvist was half as good in regulation as he is in shootouts, the Bolts would stand a decent chance of winning more than maybe one round in the playoffs. As it is, though, they have three skaters, one defenseman and numbers 2 and 2A goalies - not enough to contend in the East.
- Speaking of the shootout, once it got five deep, and without Princess and Muffins able to take a turn (though I doubt the latter would have had much to add), it's obvious the Caps don't have too many of what you'd call "skill" guys. As Glen Hanlon alluded to post-game, headed to the shootout the Caps had a 38-goal scorer, a 33-goal scorer... and then Brooks Laich next in line with 8. Yikes.
- Former Cap great Bengt Gustafsson was in attendance and, speaking to Comcast Sportsnet's Smokin' Al Koken, apparently had great things to say about a Cap prospect, but not the one you're thinking of. Gus believes that defenseman Oscar Hedman (5th round, 2004) could be an NHL powerplay quarterback in the making. Obviously his comments are to be taken with a grain of salt, but if he pans out - and if Mike Green and Jeff Schultz continue to progress - the Caps may have gone a long way towards solving their long-standing blueline woes in one draft (and, oh yeah, they addressed another dozen or so needs with their first pick in that draft).
- Two points would have been nice, but given the choice between the Bolts and the Thrashers winning the Southeast Division, give me Tampa. Is that a silver lining?
- Here's an open letter to the fans from GMGM on this week's wheeling and dealing, and Vogs has a must read on the day, the deals and the players involved.
- I meant to post this a couple of days ago - an alternative take on the trade deadline (thanks for the pointer, JT).
- Since we're talking about next year, Mirtle has a list of the top unrestricted free agents. Who's on your wishlist?
- Jamie Heward (not on that wishlist) had an assist and was +2 in 17:20 of ice time in his Kings debut.
- RDS.ca (TSN.ca's French-Canadian sister) has an interview with Dainius Zubrus up that is worth reading if for nothing more than Google's French-to-English translation. Zubie says, translated, that he is "very enthusiastic with the idea to finish the season with Buffalo. Who wouldn't be happy to pass from a team of bottom of classification to a formation of head in the one day space?" Most of the translated quotes are absolutely a riot. (H/t to Spector).
And speaking of ex-Caps, next up for the current squad is the Long Island chapter of the Caps' Alumni Association (Richard Zednik, Chris Simon and Brendan Witt), Saturday at The VC.Daily Awards
- Hart: Josh Harding (30-save shutout win in Edmonton)
- Ross: Pavol Demitra, Marian Gaborik, Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis (3 points each)
- Norris: Jeff Finger (G, A, +4, 2 SOG)
- Vezina: Josh Harding (see above)
- Richard: Pavol Demitra, Marian Gaborik, Mark Mowers, Daniel Sedin, Bill Thomas (2G each)
- Calder: Josh Harding (see above)
- Aiken: Jussi Markkanen (2 goals allowed on 8 shots against in 20 minutes of relief work)