When you go to Montreal to play the Canadiens and leave your special teams and discipline at home, you're asking for trouble. The Caps did just that, ran into a brick wall of a goaltender and left the City of Saints with a loss. Some thoughts on the game:
- John Erskine as a third-pairing defenseman? Acceptable (perhaps). As a first-pairing guy? Not so much. Two delay of game penalties and a tripping call, a minus-one rating and a team-high three giveaways tell some of last night's story, but the bigger picture is more troubling - as we wait for the "pinch" in which Shaone Morrisonn will play, Brian Pothier's head to clear up and Tom Poti's shoulder to get better, the Caps have essentially one-and-a-half of their top-four defensemen healthy. This team needs to bolster its blueline and fast if it wants to stay in the playoff hunt.
- I love the Habs' logo and would would greatly appreciate it if, in the future, Caps shooters could try not to obstruct my view of that glorious mark on Montreal's goaltender's uniform by firing so many pucks directly into it.
- Tomas Fleischmann was credited with a team-high three takeaways and no giveaways, which is strange, because it was his pass that set up the 2-on-0 shorthanded break that ended up behind Brent Johnson for Montreal's second goal.
- Speaking of Johnny, 36 saves on 40 shots against and he probably didn't have a chance on any of the four Habs goals. Start Olie Thursday? Sure. But there should be no hesitation in giving BJ another start real soon.
- Matt Pettinger managed to get on the scoresheet... with a tripping call.
- It was a great night in the faceoff circle for the Caps, with Nicklas Backstrom leading the way with 65% of his twenty draws won. No Cap that took more than one draw was below 50% efficient.
- Milan Jurcina blocked four shots and was second on the team with 24:51 of ice time (four seconds less than Poti had). So much of Juice's game depends on his confidence level, and it's clear that Bruce Boudreau is gaining confidence in the big guy every game (that and he has no real choice in the matter - see bullet number one above).
- It might be expected that the Caps would be outshot by Montreal. But outhit? That's an indication that the team wasn't on its game. The abundance of odd-man rushes against was another indicator.
- Mike Komisarek was probably the better Number Eight on the ice last night. What a stud.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
"You've got to root for these Caps." Agreed (sidenote: are you sure that's the headshot you want to go with, Monty?).... Vogs on the future of the Caps between the pipes.... Another profile on the dues Gabby paid en route to his stint behind the Caps' bench....
- Hart: Glen Metropolit (2G, including the game-winner, +2, 3 SOG, 58% faceoffs won)
- Ross: Jason Pominville (3 points)
- Norris: Toni Lydman (2A, +3, hit, 2 BkS)
- Vezina: Cristobal Huet (35-save shutout win)
- Richard: Glen Metropolit, Keith Tkachuk, Ryan Malone, Michael Rupp, Peter Mueller (2G each)
- Calder: Peter Mueller (2G, including the game-winner, +1, 4 SOG)
- Aiken: Curtis Sanford (3 goals allowed on 12 shots against in just 24:31 of work)