Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thursday Roundup/Caps 5, Rangers 4 (OT)

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

The promotional schedule read "80's night," but Wednesday evening at the VC could be more accurately described as "50's night," specifically numbers 50 and 52's night, as Joe Motzko and Mike Green combined for three goals, two assists and a plus-five rating in the Caps' highly entertaining 5-4 overtime win over the visiting Rangers. Some thoughts on the game:
  • The Caps went from October 8 through December 10 - a span of 26 games - without winning a single game in which the opponent scored the first goal and now they've done it twice in three nights. The difference? Confidence. Even down two goals in the first against a stingy Rangers team, the home team didn't for a second think the game was over. There's no chance the Caps would have won this game a month ago.
  • In 21 games under Glen Hanlon, the Caps were 6-14-1. In 10 games under Bruce Boudreau, the Caps are 6-3-1.
  • Donald Brashear had his best game in a year-plus as a Cap, beating the stuffing out of Colton Orr just 2:41 into the game, throwing a Ranger off the puck to set up the Caps' first goal, and sending a perfect cross-ice pass to Motzko to set up the Caps' second tally (by the way, was that Motzko or Alex Semin on that dangle?). That Martin Straka was given the third star over Brash was a miscarriage of justice of the highest order.
  • Matt Pettinger's string of bad luck continued with his puck that beat Henrik Lundqvist seven-hole but somehow managed not to cross the goal line. Still, he's playing his best hockey of the year by far on the top line.
  • Memo to Craig Laughlin: the expression is "Johnny on the spot," not "jolly on the spot." Oh, and while we're at it, not every call is "an easy call for the referee to make" (got a Locker pet peeve? Let's hear it in the comments).
  • Tom Poti looked pretty awful on the first two Ranger goals, allowing a pass to get under his stick on the Scott Gomez tally (on which Jeff Schultz also looked bad) and having his back to the puck and not tying up Martin Straka on the next score.
  • Much to my surprise, the eighteen first period shots on goal for the Caps wasn't a season-high (they had 19 in the first at Carolina on November 5).
  • I don't know what to say about Schultz's goal-scoring streak, but his latest tally - 1:18 after the Rangers had tied the game - was exactly the kind of goal the Caps used to give up (and more or less did three minutes later when Nicklas Backstrom tried to clear the puck rather than holding it against Olie Kolzig for a whistle).
  • The power play has gone cold, going 1-for-17 (5.9%) over the past five games. When you're winning, no one cares, but they'll need to right that ship in order to keep winning.
  • David Steckel had a couple of good scoring chances, but putting the biscuit in the basket isn't his game (neither is the minus-2 rating he had on the night) - the four hits, three takeaways and 60% faceoffs won are his game.
  • Backstrom (6-for-16) and Brooks Laich (4-for-15) continue to struggle in the faceoff circle.
  • Green's ice time was monstrous (30:05). His stickhandling at the end of regulation was simply magical. His goal was magnificent. His celebration was Ovechkinesque. I think he's aged five years in the past month.
  • Raise your hand if you thought the Caps could score five goals in a game on anyone - much less Lundqvist - with Michael Nylander and Chris Clark out of the lineup and Alexander Ovechkin, Viktor Kozlov, Matt Pettinger, Tom Poti, Tomas Fleischmann, Semin and Backstrom combining for two points.
  • I wonder what Brendan Shanahan thinks of the ice at Verizon Center.
The Caps are now two points out of fourth in the Southeast and six points out of eighth in the East. Next up? The Buffalo Sabres. I'd be willing to bet the 20 guys in red would play that game right now if given the chance. Friday night can't come soon enough.

Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

The NYT takes a predictable shot at the Caps' attendance.... According to the NYPost, Nylander's injury is a rotator cuff problem. Even though Nyls is supposed to play this weekend, the words you really don't want to hear here are "Dr. James Andrews."

Daily Awards
  • Hart: Mike Green (Game-winning OT goal, 2A, +3, 5 SOG)
  • Ross: Mike Green, Patrick Sharp, Dany Heatley, Jonathan Toews, Jason Spezza, Brendan Shanahan, Jason Pominville (3 points each)
  • Norris: Mike Green (Game-winning OT goal, 2A, +3, 5 SOG)
  • Vezina: Martin Gerber (31 saves on 31 shots against in 54:27 of relief work)
  • Richard: Joe Motzko, Martin Havlat, Mark Recchi, Dany Heatley, Martin Straka (2G each)
  • Calder: JonathanToews (G, 2A, +1, 4 SOG, 2 takeaways, 83% faceoffs won)
  • Aiken: J.S. Aubin (3 goals allowed on 9 shots against in just 14:06 of work)

27 comments:

FAUX RUMORS said...

1) So much for injuries being the cause the team wasn't winning in October/early November!
2) No way would anyone have thought the teams would combine for 9 goals. The over/under last night was probably 3!
3) Green is looking like the real deal! The points continue to pile up. At this rate he may actually get noticed by the rest of the league.

Rage said...

Green has looked sick. I got to watch the game in HD last night on FSNY, and the guy is nearly as fun to watch as OV right now. Loved him taking a page from Ovy's celebration manual.

Motzko's dangle was pretty (and useful). Semin's dangle where he beat 3 guys in the nuetral zone and offensive blue line was prettier (and useless).

Brooks Laich is having a strong year. Nice pass to Green for the win.

The commentators on FSNY were KILLING the ice, and lamenting the pathetic attendance. I can't say I disagree on either count.

Finally, I love Shanahan, and his goal was a beauty of a deflection. But I HATE Orr. I'm glad Brash KO'd him.

JP said...

They were probably killing the ice b/c it's the first chance they've ever had to criticize a sheet as being worse than MSG's.

tg said...

I'd like to update my post from yesterday: Mike Green now has MORE goals this season than Jaromir Jagr.

And was it just me, or did Jagr look pretty useless out there last night?

Paul said...

Poti was very good last year for the Islanders because he was playing with Brendan Witt. He needs to have the freedom to be an offensive-minded player and know someone has his back. Right now, he's not good offensively or in his own zone, because he doesn't have a strong defender to pair with.

Missing Gordon and Nylander really shows up in the faceoff circle.

Is Fleischmann as slow as he appeared on that OT breakaway?

Seems like Kozlov and Semin could be a good pairing, but they need a forechecker paired with them. Brash looked good in that role the last few games.

Focality said...

I knew you'd say something about Shanny and the ice, J.P., but Shanny fell because he's old. The rut was there all night and all the youngsters did just fine.

Did Ovie shoot at Hank's crotch? If he's not pasting you into the boards he's taking you out with the puck.

2 goals from Motzko, 1 from Schultz. Wow. Green's awesome!

Why did the Rags go all defense in the final minutes of the 3rd to force OT? They had plenty of time to try and finish off the Caps. Guess having a timid coach hiding behind his goaltender's prowess will do that. Good thing the Caps--and Shanny's oldness--made them pay! :) The Rags won't go deep with that system they're using.

I was hoping to see a ref get nailed again, but seeing Jagr's frustration was good enough.

Comcast: we don't care what Gomez does when he goes home to Alaska. Next time, show us what The Donald does back home (piano) or Ovie hanging out in a Siberian nightclub with Kovalchuk and Malkin.

Locker peeve: starts talking about something else, making himself laugh. You can hear Joe trying to get him to focus on the game.

DMG said...

You hit the nail on the head with the observation about confidence. Earlier this year if the team went down you could see in their body language that they expected to lose.

As for Laughlin, here are some observations I've made so far:

-Is it wrong that as soon as Craig Laughlin said "to me, that's not a kick", suggesting the Devils goal would stand I thought 'Oh, good, this is getting waived off'? Seriously, Laughlin has be awful this year at predicting when goals would be called off/allowed to stand. But then this is also the same guy who tonight said "getting that shot [from the point] through is a skill and the Caps' young defensemen have been able to do it all season long".

-I'm wondering if it would be worth it to start a section called "Laughlin's Laffers" where each game I'd chronicle the most absurd thing said by Craig Laughlin in the previous game's telecast. If I had such a section, tonight's would have been "I thought fans in Greensville were excited for hockey!" when he and Joe B. were discussing the move of the Hartford Whalers to Carolina. First of all, it's Greensboro, not Greensville. Secondly, the 'Canes played there for two seasons, in which they drew 9,086 and 8,188 fans per game.

-In non game-related thoughts I'd have to say that I'm pretty sure Craig Laughlin is crazy. He was saying in the game tonight (and has said in the past) that it's an advantage for a shooter to be the opposite handedness of a goalie, i.e. that a left-handed shooter will have an advantage over goalie who catches with his right hand. I'm usually ready to agree to disagree and accept that other people's opinions can differ from mine, but let me tell you here - Laughlin is wrong.

As someone who played goalie for years let me tell you that it's easier to stop a puck with your glove have. That hand is lighter, there's no stick to make it awkward, you can catch with it and it's easier to make the play with your palm facing outwards that in towards you. As a shooter it's easier to not have to come across your body; for a right handed shooter (like Ovechkin or Semin) to shoot high-glove on a left-catching goalie (like Kolzig). Thus if the blocker is worn on the opposite hand of the handedness of the shooter, it's an advantage to the shooter. Come on Laughlin, why do you think the majority of NHL players shoot lefty? Why do you think Canadian coaches and parents tech their kids to shoot left, resulting in ridiculously high levels of left-handed golf club sales north of the border?

DMG said...

Paul,

Flash isn't that slow - on that breakaway/ 2-on-1 he had been one the ice playing defense for a while and was tired out.

Charlie said...

Does anyone find it funny that the NY Post has a caption of the Orr/Brash fight that gives the impression that Orr won that scrap? Brash nearly killed that guy. I was half way wishing he'd go back to the bench and put the mullet back on before throwing down the gloves!

Focality said...

Charlie,

Nothing the NY Post does surprises me. This is the same paper that employs Larry Brooks.

The Caps could be the best team in the league, best attendance, and best ice, the NY media would still crap on them.

Next from Larry Brooks: Ovie, Semin, Green, Backstrom and Motzko should to NYR.

One of Eklund's fingernails will tell him Sather and GMGM are working on a blockbuster trade to get Green and Semin to NYR.

b.orr4 said...

NY announcers complaining about the VC ice is the ultimate pot calling the kettle black. And I actually thought the attendance was pretty good given the Caps are still a last place team and it was a mid-week game. If they can keep this play up and get into playoff position, I think we'll see a surge in attendance in late December-January.

Chris said...

I love everything about the Laughlin Experience. It's like the Keeanu Experience, only with ice and AO. I was actively engaged waiting for the next bad 80s pun. It's such a train wreck it's wonderful. It just isn't for everyone.

I hate to admit, it's taken this long to get into the season. Between my Sox romping through October, and the lackluster start of the season, I just wasn't that into the hockey season. Started thinking about not renewing the tickets next year. I think last night will mark the change of that.

Tyler said...

Oh. Was Jagr out there last night?

As bad as the ice was last night... it's been plenty worse at VC this year. (Le sigh.)

That Erskine-Schultz pairing is ready for a night off too. Not. A. Fan.

I like Laughlin. He has fun.

kb said...

NY Post production people, let's go to the videotape!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2_HEa4bUEA

Anonymous said...

Was at the game. Did anyone else catch that Steckel pickpocket of Jagr on the Rags power play? Right up at the point. A thing of beauty. And Motzko scores 2. Unbelievable.

Ogre said...

I've been telling people for a while that Erskine is what this team needs, and hopefully he keeps making me look good.

I think what's happening, not so much as Gabby's skill as a coach, is that the players who were Bears are just more comfortable with him there than Glen. They know not only that they can't slip up, but they know for sure who's giving their barking orders.

Green is/will be better than Sergei Gonchar. I'll say this now, and I'll repeat it often. He's just a phenom on D.

Brash destroyed Orr, and had a good game. Who wants to see him on the bench now?

Laugher is one of my favorite people on television. His joking around keeps me watching, even if the Caps are struggling. I don't care if he is good at predicting, or if he differs on a shooter or goalies approach to glove hand vs stick hand (I played Goalie for 13 years and I agree with you, to an extent, dmg), the guy tries his damndest to keep people watching and uses a unique comedy idea. He's your throwback funny hockey guy, the kinda guy who made Slapshot funny outside of the fighting.

Anonymous said...

OMG, I thought all you bloggers were in love with Laughlin. Thank God you guys don't drink the kool aid. I mute the television except for player interviews and I've hated him for years!

Ari said...

Locker says lots of ridiculous things, and it took me a few years to warm to him, but he and Joe B. are a great pair, wouldn't change anything. Locker's not serious and he doesn't take himself seriously. With the Caps so painful to watch at times, it's nice to have a broadcast team with a sense of humor and humility.

Anonymous said...

Locker may have attended my alma mater, but he's almost as bad a Denis Potvin on color commentary.

Peeves: "biscuit", "no white shirts in front of the net", no red shirts in front of the net", and any of his Keys to the Game.

And please find someone other than Al Koken to call the games when Joe is gone. Hell, even Jef Rimer is a better play-by-play guy than Koken.

Focality said...

"Ball hockey." -Craig Laughlin

sonia said...

since i live in NYC and have to watch the caps either on center ice or the local broadcasts, i can't say i have any :ocker peeves. in fact, i look forward to every broadcast i get to see with him and Joe B- much more interesting than most other game guys...

also i may or may not have waved my Mike Green jersey in my ranger-loving neighbor's face after the game. :D

Rage said...

Another Caps fan in NYC? And female? Hot.

Call me!

Anonymous said...

I love Locker. He reminds me of when I would watch "Iron Chef" in college and think "the Japanese are just like Americans, except really wierd." Listeing to Laughlin I think "Canadians are freakin' wierd."

sonia said...

JP: hook a sista up!

Scott said...

I love locker - like Chris said, it's a train wreck I love to watch. As I've had center ice the last three years and listened to pretty much every other broadcast team, I cherish the DC feed. For anyone that has had to suffer through a game listening to Trip(p?) tracy on the Carolina feed or those idiots in atlanta, locker is a welcome sound.

Jane said...

I think the Locker/JoeB duo is entertainment extraordinaire! You can count on them to wander off into the wilderness at least once a game and it's always hilarious. They seem to have a delightful relationship and to genuinely enjoy each other, which they manage to communicate to us. If it’s all fake, it’s very skillfully done. (Somehow I don’t think Mr. Sophisticated Nuance Craig Laughlin capable of such consummate faking. Thank goodness.)

I have no other TV hockey commentary to compare ours to, but I wouldn't change a thing! (Al is wet toast compared to JoeB, who seems to bring out the best in Locker, as well as being an excellent play-by-play guy. Oh and while we’re at it, please get rid of that shrieking blonde anorexic harridan who did the interviews during the Debbies game. Frightful! Embarrassing!)

Anyway, an example of a Lockerism (one of "Laughlin's Laffers"): During Monday’s game he was talking very seriously about the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championship, which he noted is to be held in “Czechoslovakia”. Hey, Locker! A minor detail, yes, but that particular country ceased to exist on January 1, 1993. About, give or take, fifteen years ago. Just a minor detail to be sure!

PS --- I HATE Shanny! Yipeee.

Sleepy Dad said...

Why does Laughlin refer to every stick handling move as a "curl and drag". AO, Semin, and Nylander are probably the only Caps who could pull off a real "curl and drag" during a game, but according to Locker, every time someone moves from backhand to forehand they've pulled one off.