On some nights, you're the big dog. On others, you're the fire hydrant. Thursday night at the VC was a bit more of the latter for the Caps as they ran into a hot goalie, had trouble on the penalty kill and missed converting a couple of chances of their own en route to a 5-2 loss. Some thoughts on the game:
- Jeff Schultz played the Alexei Kovalev/Tomas Plekanec first period 2-on-1 beautifully.
- Shaone Morrisonn can't leave his man alone on top of the crease with the puck behind the net on a power play, or you get what you got on the Habs' first goal.
- Chipchura sounds sounds like something I'd order at Taco Bell.
- The Habs scored on their second power play with Tom Poti in the box, but I blame the penalty on Tomas Fleischmann's brain cramp giveaway at the blueline.
- Was I the only one expecting Mike Green to stop to fix his hair after Mike Komisarek separated him from his helmet? Green had another solid game, finishing with seven shots on goal, an even rating and only one giveaway in a game-high 30:12 of ice time (nearly eight minutes more than any other Cap).
- Losing Brian Pothier for a few weeks with a broken thumb will hurt. Say what you want about him, but he's a 19-minute guy who can play in all situations, and the Caps sure don't have six more of those. Heck, do they have two? Sidenote: Here's hoping Steve Eminger gets a sweater tomorrow night and not John Erskine, though I'd be shocked if that's what happens.
- Apparently Locker's favorite new phrase is "soap on a rope." Personally, I'm waiting for him to drop "Soul on roll, but you treat it like soap on a rope 'cause the beats in the lines are so dope."
- Michael Nylander and Nicklas Backstrom swapped lines in the third period and the Backstrom-centered second line produced instant dividends (the Alex Semin goal). One wonders if the new combos will stick.
- Speaking of Backstrom, he's now only nine points out of the rookie lead in scoring.
- Alex Ovechkin seemed to be off his game a bit, especially after his third period tripping call. He whiffed on an open net thereafter and didn't exactly shine in his brief tryout as a blueliner. He finished minus-three on the night and had nine shots either miss the net or get blocked. Maybe Andrei Markov and company are in his head. Or, perhaps, the Matt Pettinger as a top line winger experiment just isn't working - AO is minus-eight in his last four games (Backstrom is minus-six and Pettinger minus-five - it sure would be nice to get Chris Clark back in the lineup or, better yet, a legitimate first-line right wing).
- Red, white and blue is still better than bleu, blanc et rouge.
- Fact: Guillaume Latendresse is the only player in NHL history to wear the number 84. For another bizarre Latendresse fact, check this out.
- A lot of bad news for scoreboard watchers, as the four teams directly ahead of the Caps in the Eastern Conference who played last night - Tampa, Atlanta, Florida and Pittsburgh - all won and the Bruins picked up a loser point.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
Let's give credit where credit's due, and it's due Sidney Crosby on the occasion of his first career Gordie Howe Hat Trick (and he handled himself a hell of a lot better when the rough stuff started than the Great One did).... Sure, you can play in the World Junior Championships at age 16 (and spell your name with almost as many umlauts as Mötley Crüe and Löwenbräu combined), Magnus Svensson-Pääjärvi, but Viktor Alexandrov would like to know where you've been the past two years.... I was catching up on my Mirtle and really digging this post when I recalled having seen this article in The Windsor Star - dated a day later - that had a handful of noteworthy similarities to Mirtle's post. Was it coincidence? Inspiration? Did Tom Layberger move to Canada and change his name to try to escape his shame?... Finally, on this date in 1929, the "NHL implemented the new 'offside' rule for the first time in league play. Forward passing would now be permitted inside all three zones, but not across the blue lines." At the time, Chris Chelios thought this would be a great way to increase offense, and, as it turns out, he was right.
- Hart: Marian Gaborik (5G, but not the game-winner, A, +2)
- Ross: Marian Gaborik (6 points)
- Norris: Ed Jovanovski (2A, +1, 6 SOG)
- Vezina: Karri Ramo (W, 30 save on 31 shots against)
- Richard: Marian Gaborik (5G)
- Calder: Karri Ramo (W, 30 save on 31 shots against in first NHL start)
- Aiken: Henrik Lundqvist (L, 6 goals allowed on 18 shots against in 52:04 of work)