I'm a bit conflicted about last night's game. In some ways, it was good that the Caps gave up the game's first goal. Along the same lines, it wasn't the worst thing in the world that they trailed by two heading into the third period. Why? Because it was important to see how this team would respond in such situations. And, for the most part, they responded pretty well. Outside of a couple of absolutely miserable turnovers around the midpoint of the second period, the Caps played well enough to be in the game until the end, dominating the game for stretches at a time (though I can't recall exactly how, given more than a few awful performances). I know that we're well beyond the point where "close" counts for much, but this dose of reality should clarify what - and perhaps more importantly who - needs work.
Some other thoughts on the game:
- If there's worse ice in the League than that at the VC, I haven't seen it.
- Alex Ovechkin's goal was another one for the highlight reel - what an individual effort.
- Speaking of sensational, Olie Kolzig's third period stop on Jochen Hecht might be his save of the year so far.
- Is Alex Semin's passing accuracy so atrocious because he passes so infrequently or vice versa? Someone ask the owl.
- Five bucks says Matt Bradley is wearing a suit and not a sweater for Wednesday night's game.
- Then again, the entire second line had scratch-worthy games themselves. How Michael Nylander, Tomas Fleischmann and Semin were credited with only three giveaways among the three of them is beyond me (and when is last year's Semin going to show up - this year's stinks so far).
- Nicklas Backstrom was awesome again last night. He might need to scoot up to the top line again soon.
- The John Erskine-Steve Eminger pairing made me shudder every time they took to the ice, and it wasn't because of Emmy (who notched his first assist of the season on the Ovechkin goal).
- Andrew Peters is quite the tough guy, challenging Donald Brashear when the latter was at the end of a long shift and begging off when they were both fresh.
- Tom Poti played 31 very solid minutes on the blueline. As I said the other day, new coach, new Poti.
- AO had nine shots on goal and only three that were blocked or missed the net. He's locked in right now, which is amazing considering how little help his linemates are providing.
- The Caps won 40 of 66 draws (61%) and out-hit Buffalo by a similar ratio, 15 to 10.
- The third line had a pretty solid night, as evidenced by the fact that the top line of Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy and Ales Kotalik was held off the score sheet.
- For a Cornell guy, Versus' Darren Eliot sure does say some stupid things.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
On this date in 1985, Bengt Gustafsson set a team record with an assist in a ninth straight game.... Another week, another Flyer likely headed for Suspensionville. Anyone want to guess on for how long?... The Rangers have dropped the team option on Jaromir Jagr's contract for next year, meaning the only way the Caps will be on the hook for a dime of his '08-'09 salary is if he hits his performance incentives (and check with The Peerless to see how he's doing on that front).
- Hart: Jochen Hecht (2G, including the game-winner, A, +2, 3 SOG)
- Ross: Marc Savard (4 points)
- Norris: Zdeno Chara (2A, +4, 3 SOG, 2 hits)
- Vezina: Dwayne Roloson (W, 36 saves on 37 shots against)
- Richard: Mike Modano, Jochen Hecht, Glen Murray (2G each)
- Calder: Andrew Cogliano (Game-winning goal, +1, 4 SOG)
- Aiken: Martin Biron (3 goals allowed on 14 shots against in just 23:42 of work, and he would've had the loss if NHL scorekeeping rules made any sense)