Sunday, April 13, 2008

Game 2 Recap: Flyers 2, Caps 0

[AP Recap - Game Summary - Super Stats - Postgame]

What was a positive for most of the sixty minutes of game time on Sunday - that despite being badly out-played and out-worked, the Caps were still within striking distance of the Flyers - quickly became a big negative thereafter, leaving Bruce Boudreau and his staff with fifty or so hours to try to turn things around after a series-tying loss that wasn't as close as the score.

Truth be told, through six periods of playoff hockey, the Caps have been the better team in just one of those stanzas. But as I've said before, this team struggles as a favorite and is at its best with its back against the proverbial wall, which is close to where they are right now (and that, my friends, is called putting lipstick on a pig).

A few thoughts on the game:
  • The Caps had 18 giveaways. The Flyers had just seven. Jeff Schultz had a rough return to the lineup, with a game-high three giveaways, but the entire team seemed jittery all afternoon.
  • Forty-one shots against in sixty minutes is wholly unacceptable. The last time the Caps allowed as many (and were outshot by a 17-shot margin) was in that egg they laid in Chicago on March 19 (which, incidentally, was their last loss).
  • The power play was way too cute and tentative, and became increasingly so as the game progressed. Martin Biron rarely had any traffic in front of him, so even when the shots finally did come, they were usually pretty easy stops.
  • At the other end of the ice, if the Caps' blueliners don't clear the front of the net and/or stick up for their netminder and the team goes 0-fer on the power play, expect the Flyers to keep running Cristobal Huet whenever they want.
  • Related - I'm by no means advocating a change in goal, but you know that if Olie Kolzig was in net Sunday, there'd be a few Flyers with bruises on the backs of their legs.
  • The Flyers obviously saw something on Friday night that led them to repeatedly try the homerun pass down the middle of the ice, and it was successful on the R.J. whooooooatahitbycampbell Umberger goal.
  • Including the playoffs, the Caps are 15-5-1 with Steve Eminger in the lineup this season. Just sayin'.
  • Encouraging stat alert: under Boudreau, the Caps were shut out four times during the regular season, and all four times they followed up the whitewash with a win.
  • Mike Green followed up Friday night's brilliant third period with one of his worst performances of the year. Trying to beat two Flyer forwards without a pass? That's vintage Sergei Gonchar, and a reminder that Green is, well, green.
  • Like Green, Alex Ovechkin tried to do too much by himself, which is partially his fault and partially the fault of his largely invisible linemates (the trio also was a combined minus-six on the night).
  • It's too bad Matt Cooke isn't a finisher, because he had two unbelieveable opportunities to erase the goose egg on the scoreboard.
  • Nicklas Backstrom threw an elbow at Mike Richards early in the third that went unnoticed (by the officials, at least).
  • No more Tomas Fleischmann, please. He now has just two (admittedly huge) goals in his last 21 games, but continues to get a sweater and more minutes than Matt Bradley.
  • The Caps' big faceoff advantage on Friday night disappeared on Sunday, with the Flyers winning 56% of the draws, including 13-for-22 (59%) in the offensive zone and 14-for-20 (70%) in the defensive zone. Like I said after Game 1, "that's a whole bunch of instant offense created and opposition chances that never get started." Unfortunately, this time that line applied to the Flyers.
  • Further to that last point, Sergei Fedorov got owned in the dot, winning just eight of his 25 faceoffs on the night (32%). It was his worst night in the circle, percentage-wise, since January 5, and making matters even worse, he was a horrific 1-for-10 in the offensive zone. Oh, and think that when things get back to Philly that John Stevens may put Mike Richards out for important draws against the Caps' #91? The Flyers pivot is 10-for-14 (71%) against Fedorov through two games.
Bottom line: this is a best-of-seven series, not a best-of-Sunday series, so let's wait until at least Tuesday night before pressing the panic button... but keep it within reach - there has been enough about which to be discouraged through two games that it's warranted.


hazardous said...

I disagree that Backstrom elbowed Richards. Was more of a shoulder, if his elbow hits Richards' face, it's cause his face was pointing down.

JJ said...

Amen to sticking up for our netminder. Watching Morrison's half hearted push at Hartnell after he obliterated Huet made me sick to my stomach.

Tyler said...

I think this is all spot-on, JP. Backstrom looks like he's hit the rookie wall -- he looked like that two weeks ago, too. (Heck, I'm afraid that the whole team looks a little... worn out. More mentally than anything else. No zest/desire for dirty or chaotic goals...)

I've said it fifty times: I don't get what they do with Eminger. I hope he gets a nice 2/$3M deal somewhere and gets 19 mins a night.

Caps have had the most trouble with teams that slow them down, that take away speed. BOS does it against the Caps (and everyone) and PHL did that today. The Caps' forward just aren't willing to dump-n-chase....

thedope said...

I agree on most counts except for the Backstrom hit on Richards - not an elbow, although a borderline charge since he kinda left his feet.

And the Caps got what they deserved, but Danielle Briere skating behind Huet in the crease and clipping him in the back of the head? He shoulda been checked so hard out of the arena that he had a VIP table at Tony Cheng's Mongolian Grill. Why didn't he have to pay for that? The Flyers seemed to be VERY comfortable in the Caps crease.

Hopefully we get on the Flyers early on Tuesday so the thankless Philly boo-birds come out early and razz their own team. Hopefully karma figures into this somehow...

moby said...

@ hazard (continuing from the last post)

I really have to disagree with you. I can't see how you're going to say Huet has had two terrible games.

First, he played well enough for us to win on Friday, that's all you really need.

Now regarding today, he only let in two goals on 41 shots. Last I checked, he'd been doing that for us all season, and the only thing different was that the offense scored three or more goals as well.

Now, granted that the first shot was weak, it spawned from a defensive breakdown, and when you're expecting a solid shot, those little flutterers are very hard to follow.

Respectfully, I think you're putting too much of a spotlight on Huet.

Marky Narc said...

Fehr shoudl take Flash's place in the line-up.

If Emmy goes into game three, so gets scratched? Erskine? Or Schultz?

Tyler said...

Erskine. Schultz'll be fine once he gets a game or two under his belt. He's a key guy for this team. That No. 6 spot has been in flux post-Pothier, alas.

Hazardous said...

"First, he played well enough for us to win on Friday, that's all you really need."

The team picked up his slack in game 1. A decent first and third. A horrid second. And his first period play in game 2 was atrocious. his second okay, his third was pretty good. We need more consistent goaltending than that, though.

Yes, I blame him for both of today's goals, because a consistently good goalie stops both of those. I'm not saying he's the sole cause for a loss. I think he was actually one of the best players on the team, today. But not good enough. No one was. Don't misunderstand me, please.

It's not the % of shots to goals that bothers me. It's the horrible quality of shot that got by him.

Anyway, I say fehr in for flash and see how it works. I also say schultz sits, because holy crap what a bad game. Yeah, Erskine can be a hothead and take dumb penalties, but he has plenty of times where he plays better than schultz, and today was one of those days.

dmg said...

The Umberger goal could have been stopped but it was a well placed shot. Not real hard, but right in the corner and on a breakaway, that's a tough stop for a goalie. As for the Carter goal: a player is wide open and gets a good whack at a rebound? You can't blame a goalie on that one.

In the first game, one of Briere's goals was weak but other than that: Prospal had one shot where Huet was completely screened and another where he was allowed to walk right into the slot with time and space; Briere's other goal was a layup that you can't have asked Huet to stop. To ask a goalie to stop a shot where he's completely screened or when a guy is left wide open is just unrealistic. Huet could have been better through the first two, but he isn't the reason the team was losing in the first game or the reason they lost today.

I say scratch Erskine. He's so slow and lacks agility so he's always getting beat, he can't handle the puck and he takes puck over the glass, hooking and holding calls all the time as a result. Eminger is a much better skater and has a lot more offensive talent. Schultz is normally pretty solid and I'd say he's a lot less likely to make a mistake than Erskine.

Tyler said...

BTW, with it 3-0 SJS 3:33 into the game in CGY, would someone please explain to me why SJS is so much better on the road?!!?!?

hotdog88gt said...

Funny how these two games are so similar to the Nashville-Chicago games. Caps played one of six stanzas.
I said before Game 1 the PP would make or break the post season. Caps PP has been woeful all year long. I don't care if we ranked relatively high. They pass the puck around all PP-long looking for the perfect shot. Washington looks better at even strength.

Love the asshole on NBC saying the goalie tackle was incidental contact. Nice dive on the Briere "hook" in front of the net - what a joke. Reverse angle on the Backstrom hit - pure shoulder. Tough shit for Richards. AO got beat by his guy on the second goal. Been a long time since they lost. I think the loss may help mentally, but if they don't start making the Philly D backup then this best-of-3 may end up Washington.

My guess is they'll split in Philly!

pplc said...

What. Did. Emmy. Do.

They won on Friday with him. They take him out. Totally perplexing.

dmg said...

San Jose's been labeled an underachiever in the playoffs for several years now. Perhaps they don't feel that pressure as much on the road, without the hometown crowd to please?

Briere actually was tripped by a Capitals defenseman as he was turning. I don't think there was any way he could have avoided falling like he did.

Tyler said...

Look at SJS' home record this year, then look at their road record. For whatever reason (?!?!?!??!?!) it goes deeper than that.

hotdog88gt said...


I was talking about him coming out of the corner toward the net. He got a stick in the shin and just collapsed. Splash!

And Calgary took a shot on goal on the PP and scored. Hope some of the Caps were watching.

ted said...

The lack of a PP doomed us in the first period. I don't like to second guess the coach, especially after the amazing comeback, but I am having trouble with Semin out there with OV on the same PP unit.

Why not put Laich or even insert Fehr back in the line up and let them post up in front screening Biron or looking for the rebound?

Semin has the wicked wrister, but for some reason refuses to shoot. By the time he makes a move, he coughs up the puck.

The Flyers pressure the points and cause turnovers too easily. They need to start setting up lower or behind the net and looking for the one timer.

Scott said...

Plenty of hockey left to be played, I trust that we will see a righted ship.

If not, it will be a first under the Boudreau administration.

Melvisdog said...

A couple thoughts...
1. Shultz looked shaky in the first but seemed to get it together in the second. Dunno if Eminger is the answer here...
2. Green was getting run early and often by Upshall and clearly lost his cool. How about Eminger for Green? Kidding, but something drastic is needed there.
3. Flash was terrible and I completely disagreed with BB's move bringing him up to the second line in favor of Cooke. I guess the thinking is that he could finish those items that Cooke missed? Flash can't shake loose the biscuit to get the chances. BB's trust in Flash is a problem.
4. Brashear should have put a stop to the Huet crashing in the first. An extra 2 minutes would have fine with me. The momentum, game, and possibly series were on the line. His job is to see the smart aggressive play, not just to dance at preset times in games.

ted said...

Not to dwell on the negatives from today, but does anyone know what our record is during afternoon games this year. Seems like the last three we've lost.

The fourth line has been our best in this series which should be cause for some concern.

Daniel said...

I think they need to shake up the PP -- the Flyers (and probably most of the playoff teams) are getting too much pressure short-handed and will eventually break through with a backbreaking shortie. Now, whether that's moving OV to forward (which will also keep him under 25:-- of playoff ice time), or getting Laich/Gordon in front of the net more is up for debate. I think the PP just works a ton better when there's a garbageman in front.

I'd have -
PP1 - 8-19-25-52-26
PP2 - 28-91-21-3-23/44
PP1 - 21-19-25-52-8
PP2 - 28-91-15-3-8/23/44

I know it's gotta be tough to change what brought them to the playoffs, but the Flyers are a good PK team and the weakness on the back end of the PP units scares the crap out of me.

I'd also through Fehr up on the 2nd line in place of Cooke, dropping him to play with the 3rd or 4th line.


b.orr4 said...

Let's be realistic. This was bound to happen. They'd won eight in a row and 12 out of 13. All that good luck was bound to run out sometime. The Flyers played a perfect road game; get the lead, then pack in the neutral zone and spend the night waiting for turnovers. Philly clearly was the more desperate team and it showed. Yet despite all the negatives, if Cooke converts one of his point blank shots or Semin somehow doesn't miss a totally open net in the second, this could have been a very different result. Let's see what Bruce comes up with for game three. I'll be shocked if we see a repeat of today's game. Hell, if Boston can beat Montreal, the Caps can certainly beat Philly.

dmg said...

Gotcha - I was thinking of a different play.

I don't see any reason to play Morrisonn on the powerplay, given that he doesn't have a lot of offensive upside.

I think, in general, there's an inordinate amount of concern over the powerplay. It's done well since Boudreau took over and the personnel are fine, IMO. It would be nice if Semin would shoot the damn puck sometimes though...

TJ (not tj) said...

Seriously. I'd give Thoreson's left nut to know why Eminger's being "used" the way he is. Raise your hand if you really believe Erskine's better than Eminger.

Like the 2nd set of PP units better than the first - in the 1st, you really don't have anyone to hang out in the crease on PP1.

Also - Fehr for Flash and Eminger for Erskine for game 3.

Disagree - the pp is wasting waaaaayyy too much time looking for the "perfect" shot. Need to get shots to the net and when someone's in front to clean up the trash...

Anonymous said...

That sucked!

Brunella said...

"Truth be told, through six periods of playoff hockey, the Caps have been the better team in just one of those stanzas."

I'm not sure I agree with this 100%, but it's so close to true that I won't quibble.

I disagree with b.orr4 -- in that I don't think this is a matter of their "luck" running out, but more like the energy tank just running to empty. As has been said a trillion times here and elsewhere, they have been in full bore playoff mode for two months. It was bound to come back to bite them mentally and physically.

I was talking with a friend of mine, who used to be a Cap, between periods 1 and 2 and he was pretty upset. He kept saying over and over that they looked like they were ‘afraid of the Flyers’. They were turning away from contact, not square or braced for dealing out or receiving checks, not digging in the corners, not accelerating to pucks, not doing any of the million and one little things that you have to do to avoid getting shoved around.

And – DUH! - if you’re not doing those things, any peewee league team can take advantage of your weak-assed play. Let alone the fly-droppings. Sunday was a rocking-chair game for them, despite having to kill off all those penalties. The fly-snot were the men doing the manhandling.

Anyway, it was impossible to dispute what we saw on the ice. But I disagreed that it was fear. I think it’s weariness.

I'm not at all sure what Boudreau can do to resolve this. This Malaise. No amount of line tinkering can help if this is indeed the case. It will be very interesting to see what happens.

I was so depressed after my friend’s between-periods outburst that I finally said ‘Well, at least we didn’t get swept.’ But then he quickly looked up with a wink and said ‘Oh no. This will be a long series.’


tj said...

Elbow was thrown by pro-flyers commentators, Backis had a shoulder on Richards.

I think the coaching staff slept well after game 1 while flyers coachign staff watched the tapes. They knew every freaking Caps move ahead. Time for BB to show what he is worth.

Semin just eats PP time standing there with a puck.

JP said...

I'll defer to you guys on the shoulder/elbow. I only saw the replay once up in the press box, and caught only the tail-end of it.

Either way, it was good to see Nicky standing up for himself.

~Mark said...

There's some good analysis in here, but I think there's two pretty simple reasons we lost. We got outworked, and guys were trying to do too much individually. If you correct that stuff, the Caps were in that game. I take some (small) solace in the fact that we cut our goals allowed in half (from game 1) in light of the otherwise poor performance. I expect a different team to show up Tuesday.

Shaggy said...

The Caps have 2 of the best finishers in the game and they couldn't get one through ; they simply let Philly dictate the play, even when the Caps had the man advantage. The Flyers were sitting back and waiting for Semin to tee it up.
I think Bouds is too good coach to let these things continue. Tuesday, I think we see a lot more chippy and less trippy out of our boys (Tomas, have a seat). There was bound to be a collapse of sorts and even then, the Caps had ample opportunity early to get it going.

grapejoos said...

Agreed. It's not nearly panic time yet. BB will need to earn that Adams yet again by refocusing the team and making counter-adjustments to Philly.

Also, I'm not sure how Semin didn't end up with the most turnovers on the stat sheet. He got robbed a couple of times in the first, but in the second and third, it seemed like every time he touched the puck the Caps lost possession.

We need to stop hitting Biron in the "P" with every shot. That game would have been much different if the Caps get one by on one of those first-period PPs. They got too discouraged. Time to regroup and recover. I think going on the road may be good for them right now.

ted said...


I think you nailed it. I agree and think there will be less pressure on them out on the road. They will try to simplify their game as they have been doing on their road trips of late.

algoon said...

Am I the only one who wanted to reach through the TV and stab the friggin color guy in the eye with a sharpened toothbrush?!?!?! He was stroking the FLyers all day. Biron managed to hold onto his stick and Olcyzk (sp.?) lebeled him phenominal. On one OV shot he looked like he was trying to get out of the way when it popped him on the shoulder. And the Briere tap was "Huet trying to draw something from nothing", but when they showed a replay he chuckled "heh, little pop to the back of Huet's head."

I'm a goalie myself and I realize that crashing the crease is part of the game and a ploy to get in a goalie's head. But once a team opens that door, the best way to deal with it is to flatten THEIR guy. In the 2nd, there was a "pop-up" that floated in on Biron that he stood there and tried to grab. Legal or not, cheap or not, somebody should have blasted the crease. Mayhem would ensue and wake up the goddam team AND the fans.

Huet played well and kept his cool. The second goal was a blast that he ate up with minimal rebound. Good hustle by the Flyers to get to it.

A very frustrating game to endure.

Brunella said...

Possible One-Timer: "We knew that these guys ... how much heart and character Philadelphia has. And so now we have to show Philadelphia how much heart and character that we have."

[from post game here.

Brunella said...

Sorry! From Bruce Boudreau: "We knew that these guys ... how much heart and character Philadelphia has. And so now we have to show Philadelphia how much heart and character that we have."

Daniel said...

I just decided that i'd prefer if Gabby used Feds on the point on the PP to spell Ov from time to time... (in fact, he could move Ov up to the front in that configuration late in the game) that would also open up a slot for someone to get in front of the net to collect the garbage.


grapejoos said...

I agree completely. It's time to run Biron. The refs are calling only about half of their runs on Huet (hey, playoff hockey), so it'd be well worth 2 minutes in the box to rattle Biron.

Hazardous said...

"As for the Carter goal: a player is wide open and gets a good whack at a rebound? You can't blame a goalie on that one."

Hypocritical, to say the least, if anyone bashed Olie's rebounds and has this stance right now.

Anyway, I suspect huge turnaround in philly. That's just how this club has operated lately.

JP said...

I've gotta agree with Hazardous on this one. As soon as that goal was scored, I turned to McErlain and asked, "Is that Huet in goal or Kolzig?"

algoon said...

Defending Huet, that was a blast to the far side from close range on a 2 on 1 with a shakey d-man trying to cover two guys on one knee. D should have tied up the open man and given Huet the shooter and a chance to eat the rebound.

Kolzig's rebound-amplifying leg pads probably would have helped in that situation (if he stopped the initial shot) because he would have kicked the thing right up through the hash marks before anyone could react. Maybe even catch Green for a breakaway by the time he got off his ass.

The Caps crease was open for business all day. The Flyers got their nose in there and made the Caps pay.

jh said...

While it matters not in the long run, since the Caps didn't support Huet with any offense, I gotta go with hazardous and jp that Huet's second goal shouldn't have happened. The D man was busy cutting off Knuble's angle, plus blocking the passing lane to the trailer. Huet saw everything right in front of him. If you ask me, he could have squared off better towards Knuble and absorbed his low percentage shot rather than kick it out in the hopes that it would get by Carter. There was clearly no Caps player there to clear the puck. A big stop keeps the game a one goal deficit and gives some energy to a mentally/physically tired team.

Bottom line, a team effort is the only thing that'll get the job done. Way too many guys trying to do stuff all by themselves yesterday.

The Peerless said...

"The lack of a PP doomed us in the first period. I don't like to second guess the coach, especially after the amazing comeback, but I am having trouble with Semin out there with OV on the same PP unit."

My beef is having Semin on the half wall...he's got the puck too much. He is a good passer, but this is not the same as being a good quarterback on the power play from that position. The power play looks slower when he's running things from there

b.orr4 said...

I find it hard to believe you guys are blaming Huet for that second goal. You all know that the basic rule is that the goalie has to make the first save and if there's a rebound, the D-man has to clear it. Huet handled that perfectly. There's no way that goal is his fault. And , while we're on the subject, can we stop bringing up Olie every time we don't jump down Huet's throat on a goal. The torch has been passed.

Scott said...

God...I'm ready for Tuesday night. Even the torrid pace of playoff games has me wanting more...

JP said...

Thanks for the One-Timer, Brunella - we're always open to good suggestions.

bigonetimer said...

if there's any fault of Huet's on the goals it was on the Umberger tally. He has to have that one. That said, I thought he played pretty well yesterday...

I think the key to tomorrow's game is making sure we are first to the puck on the forecheck. Too many times yesterday Biron or a D-man had all month to play it out with no pressure.

We just had no spit in our mouths yesterday; after a good opening ten minutes, we just stopped skating, which is inexcusable.

And not to jump in relentlessly on Flash, but the guy has not shown he is ready to give up his body to make a play...I agree with putting in Fehr at this point; he's a load and while he won't get a lot of scoring chances, he's going to clobber someone on the forecheck and force turnovers, set up shop in the crease, etc.

On the bright side, I think our PK has been very good so far...the PP, well, not so much.