Saturday, April 12, 2008

Game 1 Recap: Caps 5, Flyers 4

[AP Recap - Postgame]

Despite a fairly awesome arsenal of firepower, the Caps aren't exactly known as a team that's going to storm back from a third period deficit, much less a two-goal third period deficit. In fact, the Caps had the second fewest wins in the NHL when trailing after two periods this past season, and an abysmal 1-25-2 record in such situations (and last season wasn't much better at 2-36-3).

But entering the third period of last night's Game 1 of the Patrick Division Semifinals Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, that's exactly what the Caps had to do. And it's exactly what they did.

Some thoughts on the game:
  • First and foremost, our thoughts are with Patrick Thoresen. Get well soon, kid (and kudos to everyone from Flyers bench boss John Stevens to the Flyers bloggers for not griping about the whistle not blowing).
  • That building was loud. And red. Honestly, the Caps could have been playing Phoenix and there wouldn't have been any fewer visiting fans in the house - I'd bet that was the fewest Flyers fans ever at a Caps game in D.C./Maryland. Seriously.
  • Once the Caps' weakside defensemen started pinching (i.e. in the third period), the Caps dominated.
  • Danny Briere is a great villain. My guess is Number Eight will be welcomed similarly in the MegaBank Du Jour Center for Game 3.
  • Better game to be at - last night's or Alex Ovechkin's four-goal game against Montreal?
  • If the Caps can win Cristobal Huet's worst game since being acquired (statistically, at the very least) and one in which Ovie is shotless through two periods, they're in good shape... because Philly won't get that combination of events again.
  • Despite the slow start, AO ended up with a fairly Ovie-like stat line: goal, assist, plus-one, three shots on goal, eight hits, one takeaway (I wonder when that was).
  • For all the talk of Flyer physicality, the Caps out-hit their visitors 40-36, with AO, Matt Bradley and Matt Cooke leading the way with eight, seven and six hits, respectively.
  • Speaking of Bradley, at what point in the last couple of months did I fall absolutely in love with his game?
  • And speaking of Cooke, I've said it before and I'll say it again - every shift is a bad penalty waiting to happen. Some might question his interference call last night, but from where I was sitting it was an easy call to make (to use a Locker-ism), perhaps only because one of his teammates prevented the puck from getting to him and his target. That penalty aside, Cookie had a strong game.
  • Part of Alex Ovechkin's failure to get going in the first two periods (offensively - he was hitting everything that moved) was due to Nicklas Backstrom's and Viktor Kozlov's play. Has Backstrom hit the wall? Was Kozzy a little intimidated? We should have a clearer answer to both questions on Sunday.
  • One of the great mysteries of all time - we're talking Stonehenge here - is why Steve Eminger hasn't gotten more minutes over the past two years. I firmly believe that if Emmy had gotten 65 games this year, he'd be a legitimate fourth defenseman. But what do I know?
  • Alex Semin had a very strong game, and his pass to Sergei Fedorov - a ten foot pass in traffic? - which Feds no-looked to Mike Green for the finish was one of the Caps' nicer three-way passing plays in some time.
  • Mike Green. Damn. After leading the League's defensemen in goals this year and last night's nationally (in the two countries that matter) telecast coming-out party, is he officially no longer under the radar?
  • The Caps dominated the faceoff circle (glad you're back, Stecks), winning 36 of 62 draws (58%). Caps pivots were 8-for-12 in the offensive zone and 16-for-23 at the other end of the ice - that's a whole bunch of instant offense created and opposition chances that never get started.
  • Jaro Modry was minus-four on the night for the Flyers. The Caps scored four even-strength goals. You do the math.
  • Tomas Fleischmann was the only Cap at minus-two or worse. If I'm Bruce Boudreau, I plug Eric Fehr in that spot for Game 2.
  • Tom Poti - and not Green - led the team in ice time at just 24:23. Fantastic player management in what promises to be a physical and perhaps lengthy series.
  • Some credit for Green's big game is owed to the return of his D-partner Shaone Morrisonn.
  • I can't wrap this up without mentioning Donald Brashear, so consider him mentioned. Way to get it started, big fella.
  • Finally, how about this brilliant picture of the game-winner by Ellen Blanchard of Off Wing Opinion?
Photo courtesy Off Wing Opinion

One down, fifteen to go. See you Sunday.


Anonymous said...

I don't know how accurate the HITS stats usual are, but it sure seemed like the Caps were nailing Philly a lot more often than they were connected against.

CP said...

Re: Eminger.
I agree, it's totally like Stonehenge -- Spinal Tap's "Stonehenge." But at the very least, Eminger has to be considered the equal of Erskine and, at times, Jurcina, but they've been routinely given a sweater before No. 44 in your program.

Have you asked Vogel about it? My friend said that during a podcast around the time of the trade deadline, Voges alluded to having a story about Eminger's situation, and he said he would tell it if Emmy were sent packing. Alas. I can't get the Broadcast 360 to work properly, so I haven't been able to listen to the podcast.

Also, there was this tantalizer from a Tarik chat:


I watched Coach B's conference today. I was surprised by his answer about Eminger when you asked him why he hasn't played more. He said I don't know. Do you think that's him not wanting to comment on Eminger in a negative way or do you think it's something bigger like having to do with GMGM?

Great question by the way.

Posted by: STEVE WHO? | April 2, 2008 01:25 PM

Paul said...

I've never understood the marginalization of Eminger. He's going to be a solid defenseman for a long time, whether for the Caps or someone else.

Cooke is a penalty waiting to happen, but I love the engergy he brings. He was a one-man wrecking crew last night.

Semin played an outstanding all-around game, including a couple of hits (and that follows his open-ice hit on Eric Staal in the biggest regular season game of the year). Maybe this rabbit has teeth.

I hope we don't have to listen to any more crap about how the Flyers are soooo tough and they're going to intimidate the Caps.

JP said...

Alex Semin

Rage said...

Cooke frightens me from time to time, but he brings a ton of energy to the team.

And Matt Bradley, what a guy. He goes all out for every second of his shift. I used to hate seeing him out there, but now I can't get enough.

JP, if you DVR'd the game, look in the crowd right after either Green's first or second goal. It's about 100 caps fans surrounding one Flyers fan who is sitting down and looking damn sullen. Amazing. Has the Verizon Center EVER (for ANY event) been that loud and raucous? Excluding, of course, Hannah Montana.

Rage said...

JP, one slight change to that McErlain photo:

Image Shack

Sergio said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sonia said...

it was nice to see so few flyers fans in the building last night, but i'm pretty sure half of them were sitting in the row behind me. that sucked.

also i'm glad you have come to realize how awesome matt bradley is. i've never seen him take a shift off. i just love his game. and his offensive game has gotten better in recent months- hopefully some of those chances he's had will start going in!

algoon said...

Biron is looking positively Chemanik-esque in that photo. Lets hope the similarities continue!!!

OV's goal was all the more inhuman when you consider the history of the club he plays with. Caps fans are used to being on the receiving end of such displays, NOT the the other way around. And so few Philly fans? All of this has my head we re in some bizarro world!!!!

me likes bizarro world!!!!!

Bret said...

Mo might have been back, but he didn't look like he was hitting anyone. It looks like he might be one touch-up check away from being out for the postseason.

b80vin said...

How many of those hits came in the third period? I'd guess a majority. Bradley had THREE in one 10 second flash of brilliance in his own end.

Backstrom may have been intimidated by the glare of his first NHL playoff game, but he's way to cool to let it continue. Kozzie seems to get flustered by physical play and that has me worried.

Anybody see the look on Green's face just before the post-game interview? He was smiling and looking around the arena. We have definitely boosted the players with our energy.

The absolute fewest Flyers fans at a Caps game ever. But I know one who was there if you'll indulge me in a quick story:

A neighbor of mine is a Flyers fans and has passed this malady onto his children like a bad gene. One of those offspring plays hockey here in Southern Maryland and was asked to be one those kids who come out during the commercials to clean the ice. His plan was simply and nefarious: wear Flyers gear under a regular shirt and rip off the regular shirt when he hit the ice to expose Flyers logo. They made these kids wear the "ROCK THE RED" t-shirts, and I suspect his plan was discovered when he had to put that on. So he was foiled AND spent the night cleaning up our ice, wearing OUR colors. It's a wonderful world.

Scott said...

I'll tell you exactly when I fell in love with brads - in the down in the dumps period between the first three games and thanksgiving. Many nights it seemed like he and AO were the only ones playing 100%. Brads is a hockey player's hockey player.

I've seriously never been this excited about this team. I can try to pretend I was excited in the 98 cup run but I knew impending doom awaited in the finals. Anything can happen with this team now

b.orr4 said...

That photo of Biron should be handed out to every would-be goaltender with the note "Do not do this when trying to block a shot." Absolutely priceless.

Brunella said...

Indeed --> Patrick Thoresen, we are thinking of you and hope the news is all good. [shudder]

Anyway. Excellent wrap-up, JP! All my thoughts and observations exactly. Even with the Flyers playing very well and even with those 1st game willies, the Caps did a very good job. For the most part.

I'm not worrying about Backie -- he is almost robotic, inhuman even, in his level of cool. He'll get his sea legs, not to worry. Plus don't forget, the third guy on that line, his trusty sidekick, was distracted (being roughed up and roughing up in return), to say the least. Same for Kozzie. No wonder the two of them looked a little confused, not sure where to turn. Not to worry! It'll come together. (I assume someone will stick little post-it notes on the inside of each of their visors saying: "You CAN shoot the puck yourself too, for heaven's sake!")

What a treat to finally have our arena all to ourselves! I have never, in my eighteen years of season tickethood, seen the like for a philly game. Quite remarkable. I love it. Tomorrow? I wonder.