Saturday, November 03, 2007

Saturday Roundup/Flyers 3, Caps 2

[AP Recap - Game Summary - Super Stats - WashingtonCaps.com Postgame]

To me, the most amazing thing about last night's 3-2 loss to the Flyers is that as the last seconds ticked off the clock at the end of the third period, the Caps still somehow had a chance to tie up the game.

In many ways, last night was a tale of two games, one in which the home team dominated and one in which they were dominated. Vogs points to the Mike Richards/Brooks Laich scrap as the turning point between the two:
In the first 17:34 of Friday night’s 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, the Washington Capitals dominated the ice. They outshot Philly by a 14-3 count, and outplayed, outchanced and outskated the Flyers all over the ice....

Flyers alternate captain Mike Richards got his teammates started when he dropped the gloves with Washington’s Brooks Laich at that 17:34 mark. At that stage of the game, the Flyers had gone more than seven minutes without a shot on goal. Less than half a minute after that bout, the Flyers had a shot on goal and they had drawn a penalty.

From the 17:34 mark of the first period to the 13:24 mark of the third, Philadelphia dominated. The Flyers outscored the Caps 3-0 and outshot Washington by 24-7.
And yet, there the Caps were at the end with a chance to steal a point.

But this team is beyond the point where "close" counts for much, especially in a game in which they were thoroughly throttled everywhere but on the scoreboard for two periods. The game - the only home date in a seven game stretch - was a chance to get some confidence back against a good team's backup goalie and the Caps failed to, well, capitalize. Some thoughts on the game:
  • The team really misses Chris Clark.
  • The Caps were horribly undisciplined, and while the officiating didn't help them out, when you put yourself in a position that allows the refs to make questionable calls, you're asking for it. Matt Bradley's roughing penalty that negated a Caps power play was about as boneheaded as it gets.
  • Shulthierskine had an atrocious game with eight PIMs, seven giveaways and no takeaways.
  • Stop me if you've heard this one before - not enough of the shots attempted were getting on goal. Last night the Caps had 26 shots on goal and 25 that were blocked before getting to a very shaky Antero Niittymaki.
  • Call me crazy, but I prefer Mike Green rushing the puck end-to-end over Alex Ovechkin doing so. At one point, Green carried the puck from behind his own net, around the opposing goal, and when the puck was sent back down towards Olie Kolzig's end of the rink, chased it down at full speed to touch up the icing. It looked like he was competing at the All-Star Game's fastest skater competition.
  • Speaking of AO, it was another night of him carrying the puck too much. I'm convinced that's because he doesn't have a top-notch passer on his line. Why Glen Hanlon still refuses to break up the Swedish National Keep-Away Team is beyond me.
  • Michael Nylander won 12 of his 16 faceoffs and had two assists, but I didn't think he had a great game. How he was credited with only one giveaway is beyond me. Why Hanlon still refuses to give him the sniper he so desperately needs is beyond me.
  • David Steckel continues to prove he belongs (though both he and Boyd Gordon had a tough night in the dot, combining to go 14 for 36 on the night).
  • Shaone Morrisonn was repeatedly beaten along the boards when the Flyers were entering the zone on the power play. Mo is usually much more positionally sound than that.
  • Mike Richards is everything I wish Brian Sutherby was.
Don't look now, friends, but the Caps are tied for 26th in the League in points, and only Atlanta, with four wins, has fewer victories than the Caps. Welcome to Lotteryville, population: crap.

The injuries hurt (take Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson and Wade Redden out of the Ottawa lineup for a stretch and see how they do), the coaching is becoming increasingly suspect, and the talent at certain positions isn't what the team may have hoped for at this point. But with all that said, the Caps are a team that's a couple of bounces away from .500 (or better). Unfortunately, the NHL schedule-makers have done them no favors as they leave town for another three-game road trip, and I don't think it's overstating things to say that how these next three games go could go a long way towards determining what the rest of the season looks like. And it all starts in Carolina on Monday, which is, perhaps, not a bad place to look to get back on track for the team with the best intra-divisional record in hockey.

Daily Awards
  • Hart: Richard Zednik (2G, including the game-winner, +2, 4 SOG, 3 hits)
  • Ross: Michael Cammalleri, Shane Doan (3 points each)
  • Norris: Nick Boynton (2A, +1)
  • Vezina: Mikael Tellqvist (35-save shutout win)
  • Richard: Dustin Brown, Richard Zednik (2G each)
  • Calder: Matt Moulson (G, 3 SOG, 2 blocked shots in the Cornell alum's first NHL game)
  • Aiken: Mike Smith (L, 2 goals allowed on 9 shots against in 13:49 of work)

14 comments:

Tyler said...

There is no other way to put this: In the second and third periods last night, the Caps lacked effort, passion, interest and intensity.

JP said...

All of which are coaching-related issues, no? Obviously it's on the individuals to perform, but the absence of those attributes, to me, speak to a lack of proper motivation.

Tyler said...

Yes. I agree.

And while we're on coaching, the power play was incompetent last night.

DMG said...

The powerplay that was 1-2?

The Cap seem to be in a pattern where they'll clearly be the better team in the first period, clearly the worse team in the second and play about even in the third. I don't know if it's because they think they've got the game in hand after the first or if it's the coaching staff failing to make adjusts or a bit of both.

I've always supported Hanlon and his staff for standing behind their players and getting them to work hard every game, but I'm starting to worry about their of common sense. If everyone is healthy maybe it's best to have Kozlov, Clark, and OV on the same line but with the injuries the team has right now I can't fathom why Nylander isn't skating with Ovechkin. Unless they're really scared to have Backstrom play center...but even then they could have Sutherby, Steckel and Gordon as the other three centers couldn't they...?

Christopher said...

I agree with JP. I did not see the game, but the first thing that Green mentioned in a post-game interview that I did see were penalties. I am sick and tired of seeing this team take itself out of the game with stupidity. This team is not as bad as its record and I think we had better start taking a serious look at the coaching.

NS said...

Backstrom seems like one of the smarter players on the ice every night. the last thing Hanlon should be worried about is sticking him in the center position.

keef said...

The PP was not just incompetent, it was non-existent.

I stopped caring halfway through that second period and if that's the intensity they're going to play their games with, I'll find something else to do with my Friday nights.

keef said...

"The powerplay that was 1-2?"

While scored on a PP, that was not a PP goal IMO. It was a slap right off the face off and could have come at any other point in the game.

JP said...

I stopped caring halfway through that second period...

Congrats, Keef - you outlasted the Caps by 15 minutes.

keef said...

I just looked up the scores of the past few losses and if you take out the shutout, we've lost our last five games by a point. A single point.

The team obviously has the talent, the gameplan just isn't changing up enough to get that tying goal (or yeah, they're receiving no inspiration).

The three injuries are definitely bad, especially Clark and Semin, but they've been winning without Semin this year and Clark wasn't scoring until he moved up to the first line.

...I'm done venting today. :)

DMG said...

Keef:

I concede the point about the powerplay, but it's now over 25% for the last few games and I don't think it says much that it didn't get going last night since the Caps only had one PP that last longer than 3 seconds.

Those one goal games are a killer like you mentioned. To me the most frustrating part is losing by a goal with the three significant injuries the Caps have had. You have to think they pick up points in most of the five games you mentioned if they're healthy. The Caps picked up 0 points in those games; I don't think it'd be crazy to say they could have had 10; with Clark, Semin and Poti in you'd have to think they'd have picked up at least five.

jmf said...

How many of you truly feel we lost by one goal last night? OV scores late in the game to make it a one goal game, but I don't care about the final score, we lost by a lot more than one goal last night.

JP said...

Yeah, that game wasn't as close as the score.

bobs said...

All,

Agree on the coaching issues, but why are we letting GMGM off the hook? His D move was to get a guy more known for his O (Poti)...guys like Vanannen and Markov were out there, not top four maybe but better than what we're running out there right now.

Offense - shift Backstrom to C, Kozlov to a wing, Nylander with Ovie, bring up Bourque and see if he's something resembling the 2nd coming of Brian Gionta.