Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tuesday Roundup/Sabres 3, Caps 1

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

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.
So while Bruce Boudreau figures out which of GMGM's players are "his guys" and the team learns a new system, there will be some bumps along the way. Unfortunately, the Sabres are a team that makes you pay for your mistakes, and they certainly did so last night. Wednesday night's opponent, however, is much more forgiving, and that game against the Panthers is just about a must-win for this Caps team. And if they play like they did tonight (and the second line bounces back from this stinker), they should win.

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).

Daily Awards
  • 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)


Tyler said...

The Caps looked like a team playing its fourth game in six nights. Slow. Tired.

I think you're being a bit too hard on Semin. He looked tentative and worried about his ankle all night -- and given the lousy ice, who could blame him?

NS said...

The first Hecht goal was atrocious and Erskine is pretty much to blame. No one even touched Hecht.

Nylander needs to stop f'ing around in his own zone. Either that or get Flash off the ice. That kid is a mess if the puck isn't directly on his stick (and even then he usually loses it). BB needs to shape him up or bench him, sooner rather than later. He should have scored on that sweet Nylander pass right in front on the net...it was a slam dunk.

Backstrom needs someone who could score on his line....

Fell asleep after the 2nd, so thats all i got :P

ted said...

Not much I can add to JP's thorough review, except one...

Was it just me, or does anyone else think Versus showed way too many shots of Buffalo fans and their reactions. I was appalled last year when our own star player was vociferously booed in his own building by the massive Sabres contingent. I know there is no point beating the dead horse (opposing teams having too many fans at the game), but it just seemed blatant to me.

Tyler said...

Who cares what Versus does? How does that impact a hockey game or a hockey team?! (I mean, this isn't like Fox News being a GOP shill.)

b.orr4 said...

That ice last night was beyond autrocious. I've played on ponds that have better surfaces. Frankly, it basically negates any home ice advantage. We've finally got a team that can possess the puck and that ability is hampered by ice that a peewee team wouldn't play on. I know Ted has no direct control over the VC but he's a major tenant and should start demanding some action.

b.orr4 said...

By the way, here's alink to how Tampa Bay maintains their ice.

Focality said...

Agreed on the ice. It looked worse than the ice down here at the Norfolk Scope where the Norfolk Admirals play. Even after the zamboni goes through, the ice is full of ruts and puddles and depressions, and players skate carefully to locate any problem areas, pointing them out to the on-ice officials.

Darren Eliot's color commentary was worse than the ice. Is he able to form a sentence without tripping over himself? Maybe he's a Brooks follower--Ovie to NYR for the win! I actually sent a complaint to Versus about Darren.

As for the Caps, bad night for Nyles. The shot that didn't go in--sliding along the goal line--was actually a pass! Heh. Running into Flash and then "passing" to the D who looked poised to join the breakout only to see the puck go in.

Still, I'm looking forward to seeing just what BB can do with this bunch.

ted said...


Since Versus is the national outlet for the NHL, their coverage continues to put the team in a negative light by constantly displaying the Buffalo fans en mass at the game. Maybe it shouldn't bother me, but it does.

By the way, CNN/MSNBC/CBS/ABC/NBC are not shills for the DNC?

classic caps said...

What do you guys think of BB's move to use Backstrom more on penalty killing situations?

Tyler said...

I like Backstrom on the PK... though we've only seen him there in very limited doses. I'd still like to see the Caps' PK forwards be more aggressive in challenging the man with the puck.

If Ted thinks that MSNBC, home of Joe Scarborough and Chris Matthews, is a DNC shill, no wonder he's worried about what "bias" at Versus. Geesh.

Joe said...

Is it me or should they recoin an old phrase: "Ovechkin shoots, Jesus saves, and OV scores on his own rebound"

Shmee said...

I saw Green and Steckel giving Peters the green light as well, but he passed on both of them.

Tyler said...

Speaking of Mike Green: When the Caps are behind in the third he becomes really aggressive while carrying the puck. I think he's at a point in his development where he can do that a little more often throughout the game...

SV said...

Nylander sucks! Awful turnover on the 2nd Buff goal and he put everyone nearly offside with a move at the offensive blueline (you should never do that) and then threw an uncatchable pass to Fleischmann that led directly to the 3rd goal. Also, missed an open net from a foot (which happens). This guy is a selfish player. Watch how he cuts off his teammate with the puck and forces him to give it to him. Did it to Green, did it to Semin.

Steckel is an imposter. He runs at guys and then just misses. Makes a big bang against the glass. Watch him in traffic with the puck. He's pulling up.

The Caps best players are their young players (again). Ovechkin, Backstrom and Green.

Poor Eminger too. Finally in the lineup and they stick him with that stiff Erskine. Sure Erskine is competitive and tough and willing. He is also slow, dumb, slow and has no skill at all and slow.

DMG said...

I really doubt that Green would have challanged Peters. And if he did he's lucky Peters declined

Shmee said...

I wouldnt expect it of Green either but he gave Thorburn a few shoves and was trying to get something going during the Thrashers game as well. A little surprising, but interesting. Might just be frustration?

DMG said...

I think Green definitely plays with fire and he'd be willing to scrap with any middleweight in the league if the time was right, but I really think he'd be out of his league against a guy like Peters

Rage said...

Did anyone notice Ovy got time on the PK yesterday too? I'm not sure if this was a first, or how much he got, but it was at least 20 seconds, if not more.

NS said...


I actually think Steckel is becoming one of our better defensive forwards. I like him and Gordon on the PK, especially.

Tyler said...

AO often gets time at the very end of PKs.

DMG said...

I dont understand the issue with the scoring rules for W/L (re Biron). He didn't allow the game winning goal, so he didn't get the loss

JP said...

I just think it's silly that it's scored that way. When Biron left it was 3-0. Philly never got closer than 2 goals down. If any goalie lost that game, it was Biron.

You can argue that had Nitty not given up any goals, the Flyers would have tied it, but that argument doesn't hold much water with me, because teams play differently based on the score.

Bottom line to me is that if the team never pulled back even after the hole a goalie put 'em in, that goalie should get the loss. I'm pretty sure that's how baseball does it for pitchers and it would make sense to me for hockey to do it the same way with goalies.

Just my 2 cents.