Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday Roundup/Caps 2, Leafs 1

Photo: kb

A visibly tired Caps team did all of the little things right Thursday night, beating the Leafs 2-1. Heading in to the All-Star break, the Caps are now just three points away from the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and one point behind Carolina for the Southeast Division lead. (Curiously, the Caps were in a similar position at the break last season: three points out of the eight spot and behind first place Carolina, by nine points.)
  • David Steckel's boarding penalty with just over two minutes remaining in a 2-1 game was the cause of great agita. With no Steckel available on the PK and facing a 6-4 man advantage, Brent Johnson came up big with several stops in those final two minutes, earning him the #1 star of the game. (It's fuzzy, but I remember once hearing Chico Resch claim that, "a goalie is your best penalty killer.")
  • Once again, the Caps defensemen took it to the Leafs. Steve Eminger got things going five minutes in to the first period with a crushing check on Tomas Kaberle. Then Poti on Blake. And Green on Tucker. (Shaone Morrison, a healthy scratch, was quite probably checking Kyle Wellwood, somewhere in the press box.) The Caps registered 22 hits, with Milan Jurcina responsible for six.
  • Jurcina has become a monster of late. The hesitancy which marked his play not so long ago is now gone. Winning breeds..., a rising tide..., and all that.
  • Have yet to crunch the numbers to verify this, but it seems that in the last few weeks Caps defensemen [Mike Green, aside] are taking more shots and getting more shots on net. Stats, to come. As will comparative numbers on blocked shots. The Caps added 17 more Thursday night, Jurcina and Quintin Laing (Q!) each with four.
And in your daily update on Capitals-related grooming habits, Olie Kolzig's beard is no more. You were dead-on, anonymous commentor from yesterday. Or should we call you Nostradamus?

Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

The 2008-09 NHL season to open in Stockholm and Prague....And play an 84-game schedule?....Brian Burke to the Leafs?...Sid's Winter Classic jersey sold for $45,000 at auction. His game-worn jersey for the Hockey Fights Cancer fundraiser is a bargain at $14,100. And Ovechkin's is a steal at $7500. Bid early and often....Happy 46th, Cheli.


Nostradamus said...

The Capitals will make the playoffs.

Rage said...

I think Beech is listed on the roster until he clears waivers on the way to Hershey. I recall reading that somewhere else.

Paul Nichols said...

Two big penalty kills - last night against the Leafs and Monday in OT against the Pens.

The Caps of yester- two months ago would have coughed up a goal in both cases.

Nice to go into the break with a win. And Brent's GOT to get the start coming out of the break. He's looking really good these days.

Snktimoniuz said...

It seems Jurcina has returned to the bone-crushing form he was in when originally joining the Caps. Bout' time. I was thinking of chipping in some money to buy Laing some ice packs, anyone else in?

kb said...

Righto, Rage. Thanks.

Ice packs would be good. A couple of front teeth might be welcomed too.

PPP said...

Big win for the Caps. I like Ovechkin so I hope that they make it but damn, could your team level a few more dirty hits?

Again, gutless Toronto doesn't respond.

b.orr4 said...

Yeah, Erskine was definitely handing out some cheap shots, particularly that last one on Blake as time expired. But like it or not, that's his game.

PPP said...

I loved his hard hitting game but when he crossed the line on Antro and Blake it's a little disappointing.

I have to agree with nostradamus. I think if Johnson can give them better goaltending than Kolzig they have to go with him. If they do they can win the division.

HotDog88GT said...

Caps went into pretty much a lockdown in the last three minutes. No charges up the ice, nothing. Coupla bad penalties last night - other than that it was fairly decent game that could have gone to either team.

Steve in Jersey said...

JP: don't forget to add that the Caps are six points out of last in the Southeast. To make the playoffs they've got to keep the foot on the gas all the way to April, with 14 "four point" games in the remaining 32 contests left in the season.

Hazardous said...

The caps are not known for being cheap shotting pricks. You're thinking of Philly.

Half the "cheap shots" I saw were only so because it seems these days that turning to the boards when someone's gunning for you is the "correct" course of action, because it's a penalty. Pft.

PPP said...

The Caps are definitely not known as a cheapshotting team but the three hits from behind were not cases of players turning their backs to try to draw penalties. On the three hits the Capitals players had the option of not hitting a player in a vulnerable position and decided to lay the hit.

Ogre said...

I would disagree with Emy's.
Erskine's was more defined (And my eyes are going bad, I swore up and down it was Fleischmann who hit him, no 3, I guess.)
Not sure I saw the third. Regardless, 3 hits does not define a team. And if one of them gets suspended, we'll know how Bettman feels about it. Also, I think Beech already cleared waivers.