Friday, December 28, 2007

Friday Roundup/Penguins 4, Caps 3 (OT)

[AP Recap - Box Score - Super Stats]

Well that sure was a punch in the gut.

The Caps came into last night's game tired, having played the night before. The Pens entered the game rusty, having not played since before the Christmas break. Predictably, the game was ugly. Equally predictably, the tired team got more tired and the rusty team got less rusty. And while it's difficult to pin a loss like this on a coaching decision, you've got to question Bruce Boudreau sending Brooks Laich out to take the defensive zone faceoff at the end of the Pens' power play late in the third. Laich was 1-for-4 in his faceoffs up to that point (48.1% on the season entering the game) and lost the draw to Erik Christensen that Darryl Sydor sent bouncing off Milan Jurcina and into the goal to tie the game. The right call would have been to call a timeout and send Boyd Gordon back back out there for the draw. It would have meant Sidney Crosby in the dot for the Pens rather than Christensen, but Sid was only at 42% for the night and, more importantly, 0-for-3 against Gordon. The result may very well have cost the Caps a point and handed the Pens two, and the Caps simply can't afford a three-point swing like that in the Conference.

Some more thoughts on a heartbreaking loss:
  • Initial reports had Alex Ovechkin out for a week with a cut on his inner thigh, but GMGM said he won't miss a game. We shall see.
  • Brent Johnson is out two-to-four weeks. Maybe the Caps should sign this guy to back up Olie Kolzig for the next stretch.
  • Sergei Gonchar giveth, and Sergei Gonchar taketh away. Classic Gonch.
  • Nicklas Backstrom is so... effing... good (despite his misplay at the point that led the the Jeff Taffe goal).
  • Thanks to our buddy Hooks Orpik for passing along this vid of his pregame ritual. Good stuff.
  • From the "Stats can be misleading" file, Viktor Kozlov led the team with a plus-two rating.
  • Donald Brashear had a very effective night overall, as did Olie in relief of B.J.
Frankly, it's a hard recap to write after that game, so feel free to throw your thoughts out there on the game and where the team goes from here (other than "Ottawa").

Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

Even fancypants political commentators know that Wednesday night's crowd was awesome.... Sidney Crosby needs help. Clearly.... Vote Weagle!

Daily Awards
  • Hart: Ville Koistenen (Game-winning goal, 2A, +3, 7 SOG)
  • Ross: Eric Belanger, Ilya Kovalchuk, Ville Koistenen, Marek Zidlicky (3 points each)
  • Norris: Ville Koistenen (Game-winning goal, 2A, +3, 7 SOG)
  • Vezina: Niklas Backstrom (W, 46 saves on 48 shots against)
  • Richard: Ilya Kovalchuk, Joffrey Lupul, Bill Guerin, Valtteri Filppula, Nathan Horton (2G each)
  • Calder: Nicklas Backstrom (2A, 67% faceoffs won, 3 takeaways, 0 giveaways)
  • Aiken: Miikka Kiprusoff (L, 5 goals allowed on 20 shots against)


aldo said...

Don't forget that if Laing is dressed instead of Pettinger, maybe he gets out to block the Sydor shot.

Rage said...

+ Brash played great (again)
+ Kolzig made some huge saves
+ Potsy has unleashed his slapper
+ Steckel looks great
+ Nylander played well, I thought
+ Backstrom is also awesome

- What does Ruutu have to do before someone on the Caps fights back? Jeebus.
- Ovy missing the third and OT really really hurt. And not just offensively.
- Seriously, why didn't someone confront Ruutu? Even if those hits were clean (and they seemed pretty much clean), stick up for your freaking teammates.
- Agreed with JP on the Laich draw. That didn't make much sense.

ted said...

I am glad you guys ( JP & Rage) are not laying the blame on Kolzig for this one like a number of other posters on other sites are doing. I know Kolzig's play has slipped of late, but I thought he played very well in relief of Johnny. The Pens' first goal on him was deflected twice on its way to the net -- no chance for any goalie. And on the game winner, he had no choice but to commit to Crosby who had the puck right in front of the crease.

b.orr4 said...

A couple of mysteries from last night:
How does Ruutu not get a penalty for the late and high hit on Semin and Morrison gets a penalty for a far less flagrant hit against Malkin? And why does it take the Pittsburgh doctor ten minutes to get to the Caps dressing room to stich up Ovechkin?

Cullen's sister's brother said...

If BB made a mistake, wouldn't it have been metioned by Tarek or Corey or any of the parrots? Oh yeah, never mind.

JP said...

@ b.orr4: The Mystery of the Dawdling Doctor is a bit "tinfoil hat" for me, but if there's a legitimate question there, expect the team to ask it.

@ ted: If Olie is as good going forward as he was last night, the Caps will be fine.

@ CSB: To be fair, both Tarik and Corey alluded to it, but they've only got so many inches of space in which to recap the game.

NS said...

Kozlov did not earn that +2 rating. He is more of a disappointment, waste of ice time, and cap $ with each passing (emphasis on "passing" as he floats around aimlessly) game.


Hooks Orpik said...

Nice I made the recap! ;)

JP: Your faceoff argument could backfire too....If the timeout was called, Crosby would take the draw and probably the wingers would be Roberts and Malkin. If Sid (who's on the plus side of 50%) can at least manage a draw and tie up, there's the possibilty that a winger swoops in and gets the puck back to the point for the game winner that way.

Could BB have made a mistake? Sure. But given the situation (winning 3-2 on the road) if BB calls that timeout and the Pens top guns come out and score THAT would be a dagger to the team's morale and a very clear mistake.

Tough to say, either way I suppose. Now if you'll excuse me I have to start dancin my way to a New Year's game.

JP said...

Boyd Gordon is on this team for one reason, and that's his defensive play. Part of that is his ability to win draws. He was 3-for-3 on the night against Sid, 1-for-1 against Elbows and is 14th in the League in FO%.

Personally, I'd rather lose with my best out there, and I don't think anyone could fault a coach for doing similarly.

Hooks Orpik said...

In defensive draws though, Gordon was 50% last night (2 for 4).

I understand the point your making and it may well have saved the Caps..

But If I had to take my chances against Christensen and Sydor instead of Crosby and Gonchar, I'd do it every time.

If the timeout backfired, to me that would be very devastating for a team who's already been described pretty distraught in the lockeroom after the Tampa loss.

However if Gordon and co. hold you'd look like a genius. Tough calls indeed, I just don't think Boudreau necessarily made that big of a mistake with the non-timeout.

JP said...

Psst... Hooks... they beat Tampa on Wednesday night.

Maybe it's not as cut-and-dry as I think (though it certainly is with 20/20 hindsight).

Hooks Orpik said...

Oops, I was referring to the game against the Islanders.

Hey, it's not like it's my favorite team! :)

By the way I think everyone from yesterday picked the under for the inevitable Laraque/Brashear fight so the casino must pay up. Although I'm not sure that was really a fight, they were about as far apart as a 6th graders slow-dance for the most part.

JP said...

Caps recall Cassivi.

JP said...

I knew you meant the Isles game - just a little ball-bustin'.

And yeah, the fight was a disappointment (as most heavyweight bouts are).

Dan, Jr. said...

I'm sure BB was thinking of the previous night when Laich went to the circle. Going 9-2 (82%) will give a coach a lot of confidence in a player. Not saying that I agree with the choice, necessarily.

JP said...

Excellent point, DJr, and one I hadn't considered. It certainly supports Boudreau's decision.

AO's Sunshine State Fan said...

Do have to wonder if the Laing-Steckel-Bradley line could have made any difference. Love having Gordo back, but not sure at the expense of Laing and that powerful line from the Tampa Bay game. I guess I have to be happy with 3 points out of a possible 4 when thinking back on that winless streak...I remain a Caps optomist!