A month and change into the Bruce Boudreau regime, two major themes have emerged. First, the Caps are a team that will never give up on a game and second, that the team is still learning how to win, i.e. gaining that ever-elusive killer instinct. After giving up two quick goals to start the game, the former was put to the test - and the team passed with flying colors - and following a four-goal explosion, the latter also came into play - the team's first five-on-three goal of the season may have been a nail in the coffin on a big New Year's Day win, but with only 11 shots on goal over the game's final two periods, the Caps could have done a better job of keeping their foot on the proverbial gas (granted, there were injuries to consider). Some other thoughts on the game:
- Three of Ottawa's ten regulation losses on the season have come to the Caps, a team who has scored 18 goals against them in that trio of games.
- The Caps entered the game with a single double-digit goal scorer and left with a trio of 'em.
- Since Boudreau took over, Mike Green has seven goals, seven assists and a plus-seven rating. Also impressive is the fact that he's averaging less than one minor penalty every two games, despite getting huge minutes and tough assignments. Green's pace under Boudreau would project to 60 points over an 82-game season, which would have been good enough for sixth in the League last season. He and Shaone Morrisonn each had a team-leading plus-three rating on Tuesday.
- Alex Ovechkin has seven goals and 12 points in his last seven games and Nick Backstrom continued his point-per-game pace under Boudreau (6 goals, 13 helpers in 19 games) with a gorgeous pass that Viktor Kozlov actually managed to convert for his first goal since November 8 (and first at home this season).
- Alex Semin (injured ass) didn't play after around the 12 minute mark of the first period, and Tom Poti (upper body injury) skated his last shift of the game around eight minutes into the second. Both are listed as day-to-day. Incidentally, Tarik referred to Semin as "the Capitals' second-best offensive weapon" - agree or disagree?
- Michael Nylander had a goal and an assist, but he should have had two helpers - the second being on a giveaway in the offensive zone that led to an odd-man rush the other way and the Sens' second goal.
- Olie Kolzig was very solid. Martin Gerber was not. Ray Emery is also not terribly good. Despite his troubles so far this season, I'd rather have Olie than either Sens netminder right now. Am I crazy? Incidentally, the win moved Olie into a tie with Eddie Giacomin for the 25th most career wins for a goaltender (289).
- The Caps had their best New Year's Day attendance since before the lockout (nearly 2,000 more folks than last year and more than 3,000 more than 1/1/06), but you'd have to combine the Caps' total attendance from the last five home dates to eclipse (by 623) the number of folks who took in the Pens/Sabres live.
- Semin managed to be minus-two in just 1:45 of ice time. Impressive.
- Jeff Schultz looked terrible on the first Ottawa goal (but ended up with a team-high five blocked shots), and Milan Jurcina and Poti looked awful on the second. I guess no one told them about the early start time (and if Poti is able to go on Thursday, it might be time to sit Juice down for a game, though perhaps the opportunity to show up his former organization will inspire him to start playing like he did for the Caps last season).
- The Caps won 43 of the games 73 faceoffs (59%), led by Brooks Laich's eight-of-nine. That's fantastic, of course, but I'd trade any four of those wins for a win against Erik Christensen the other night. Laich's goal (the game-winner), assist and plus-two, in addition to that faceoff dominance, made him a very worthy second-star.
- At this point, I think I'd settle for Matt Pettinger or Tomas Fleischmann scoring. I'm not greedy.
- Wade Redden and Joe Corvo combined for 14 shots on goal... and a minus-six rating for the Sens.
- Brian McGrattan can run his mouth all he wants, but until he gets a regular shift, he remains a clown. On the night, he had three shifts and 2:04 of ice time and ran his goal-less streak to 68 games. Donald Brashear, on the other hand, had 16 shifts, 11:37 of ice time - and the primary assist on the game-winning goal, though, in fairness he has now gone two games without scoring a goal.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
I wasn't sure who to root for in the Tampa/Toronto game last night, but I was sure I wanted the game to end in regulation. Bastards.... Further to my point above regarding Brash, there's a short piece on his game in The Province.
- Hart: Ladislav Nagy (3G, 2A, +3, 7 SOG)
- Ross: Alexander Frolov, Ladislav Nagy (5 points each)
- Norris: Mike Green (2G, A, +3)
- Vezina: Ty Conklin (1 goals allowed on 37 shots against in shootout win)
- Richard: Ladislav Nagy (3G)
- Calder: Nicklas Backstrom (A, +2)
- Aiken: Martin Gerber (3 goals allowed on 8 shots against in just 7:34 of work)