Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Wednesday Roundup/Sens 2, Caps 1 (OT)

[AP Recap - Game Summary - Event Summary - Recap]

Brent Johnson deserved better (42 saves on 44 shots against), but the team's effort on the whole was much better than Saturday night's, so there was a lot to like (and some things not to like) with the point grabbed in Ottawa:
  • The Caps won eight of nine faceoffs when shorthanded, including all four draws on the 1:57 of 3-on-5.
  • The Caps allowed 36 even strength shots - waaaay too many.
  • Of the three defensive pairings, only Tom Poti and Shaone Morrisonn were on the right side of zero in Corsi, but Mo's lack of coverage on the game winner wipes out most of any good he did the rest of the game.
  • Speaking of Corsi, Donald Brashear and Boyd Gordon were putrid. Jeff Schultz, too.
  • I'm not one to complain about officiating, so I won't. *cough* Koharski *cough*
  • Sergei Fedorov's unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was inexcusable.
  • Chris Clark played a team-low 7:58 (Brash had the same ice time) and skated only nine shifts. Is it ridiculous to think that things here are headed down a one way street? Somewhat related: Matt Bradley is not a third-liner.
  • How about that Tomas Fleischmann? I've always loved that guy.
  • Nicklas Backstrom (still without an even strength point or a goal of any kind), now has four assists in 11 games. Through 11 games last season, he had no goals and five assists. Could it be that he's just a slow starter? I don't think so either (by the way, fellow Calder finalist Jonathan Toews doesn't have a goal yet either).
  • Alex Ovechkin played.
So the Caps snag a point on the road and come home (where they're 9-0-1 in their last ten regular season games) for four of their next five games - time to make hay while the sun shines. Question of the day: who would you start on Thursday night?

Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

Three Caps are on the All-Star ballot.... Heading into last night's game, the Caps were in the middle of the pack in terms of crashing the net, but were near the bottom in clearing the crease at their own end - not good with a goalie who's giving up plenty of rebounds.... Power Ranking roundup: (down five to 15), The Hockey News (down six to 16), (down three to 14), (down three to 17), (down six to 18), (down nine to 23(?)) and The Detroit News (15), (h/t GJM).... Stu Hackel killed Jack Edwards (and Versus) in his column yesterday, and he was spot on.


this space for rent said...

I honestly don't see what Feds did to deserve the unsportsnmanlike conduct penalty. Hooking? Sure. The second one? No, and I watches the whole game. That was before the beer pong tournament started in front of me, too.

If you won't complain about the refing, I will. The ref'ing was atrocious, and thank God our penalty kill was humming along.

BJ was a beast out there. I haven't given up on Backstrom yet.

I'm really beginning to wonder if we need to pull some D from Hershey?

All in all, a stinker of a night for me on many levels.

Kim said...

I was not all that impressed with Kozlov last night. He seemed to turn the puck over and get out skated more than not. Was it his knee? The poor ice?

Was it just me, or were our guys stopping a lot and waiting instead of challenging the opposing players with the puck? Seemed like quite a few of those shots on goal took place with our D just beng spectators.

Feds got mad and flipped the puck. He knows better. However, when someone of his demeanor does something like that, I can't help but think the officiating played a role.

Someone really needs to show Jeff Schultz how to hit, and don't get me started on Mo.

b.orr4 said...

It's probably time to start addressing the 500-pound gorilla in the room. The Caps have lost four 1-goal games in which Ovechkin hasn't scored. We can rail all we want about the play of JT, Schultz (who looked worse than horrendous last night), ShaMo (who continues to make one bone-headed play after another), Clark, etc., but the bottom line is if Ovechkin doesn't start scoring the Caps will end up closer to the Tavares-Hedman lottery than the playoffs. That's the bad news. The good news is that I'm pretty sure Ovechkin will start scoring and then a lot of these defensive miscues won't seem so glaring. But if he doesn't and this slump continues for another 10-20 games, all bets are off. This is where Bruce has to earn his Jack Adams award and find a way to shake him loose.

Scott said...

That was a decent effort. About a 9th place effort. Morrisonn, Clark and Kozlov need to be woken up. At least Ovie still has his presence and changes what the other team does.

Buffalo looked urgent after getting it from their coach. The Caps looked average after getting it from their coach.

Spud said...

"This is where Bruce has to earn his Jack Adams award and find a way to shake him loose."
I'm not so sure I go along with this. Bruce can do only so much with regard to line shuffling and yelling at guys at practice on Sunday mornings and humiliating veterans in the newspaper, but what can he REALLY actually do to "shake loose" Ovie? Would you break up that so-called (ahem) "top" line? Move Gramps up there? Is the problem/answer/issue in the centerman slot?

I'm not sure about any of this.

Opposing defensemen are now (it appears to me) able to slow Ovie down and deflect his most spirited and determined rushes. Particularly what used to be those deadly lateral moves when he was able to lure a scared-cat defenseman into being his screen. Formerly they played him conservatively, stayed with him, but just off of him. Now they step up and get in his way, jostle him, angle him --- and it's working marvelously well. For them.

What can Bruce do about that? Really, what? Curious minds wanna know.

I will agree that, despite the date, the game vs Carolina is indeed a 'must win'. Or at least a "must stop sucking".

NS said...

at one point last night, Green got OUT of the way of a Sen, giving him a clear shot on BJ, and then pointed to the player trying to get someone else to cover him. my jaw literally dropped at how stupid and lazy a play it was.

Green is not a top 2 defenseman...not yet at least. his offensive upside is sweet but he is looking more and more like a liability in his own zone this season. this needs to be addressed...

Tyler said...

A point in Canada is a good point.

I thought Jeff Schultz was the Caps' best D D.

The Caps need to solve lines three and four.

b.orr4 said...

@spud: If I knew the answers to those questions, I'd be the coach. Seriously, there are probably some options for Bruce, although a lot of this is just going to fall on Ovechkin breaking out on his own. I'd probably take him off the PK and double-shift him with the third and fourth lines to get him away from the opposition's best defensemen. I'd certainly try bringing Feds or Nylander up to see if that helps. And maybe even create a super line for a few shifts (like Pittsburgh) of AO, Semin and Feds. The long-term center is still Backstrom, but since he's struggling now you move to Plan B. The idea is just to get him that first goal because once he gets that, he'll probably get two or three more.

HotDog88GT said...

Alex Auld was outstanding. Brent Johnson was better that that. Some bad bounces for Ottawa kept the game close.

AO played, didn't he? Ever notice he does the same thing over and over again? Shouldn't the center start carrying puck in while AO gets himself open?

Anonymous said...

Our D really needs some teeth to it. They are way too easy to play against in their own end.

Anonymous said...

Tyler Said "I thought Jeff Schultz was the Caps' best D D."

I just don't know how you can say this Tyler, Schultz was absolutely terrible, a complete soft turnover machine.

Tyler said...

Why are the least informed comments always from anonymice?

Jeff Schultz has the fewest giveaways per game of any Caps D. Last night: Zero giveaways. Other than that, really good comment.

b.orr4 said...

@Tyler: I don't know what constitutes a giveaway up in Ottawa, but he totally whiffed on the pass back to the point that allowed Alfredsson to go in on a breakaway. I don't think Schultz will point to last night as one of his better games (and this is coming from someone who believes that Schultz will become a very solid defenseman).

Spud said...

The idea is just to get him that first goal because once he gets that, he'll probably get two or three more.
Agreed, agreed! But oh so elusive a brass ring, at least from Bruce's vantage point. But all good ideas, especially the one about double shifting to get him free of those smarter defensmen. (But you would think that the Semin factor would have provided some relief so far . . . ) And I also agree that this gimmick of Ovie on the PK is done-like-dinner. The extra ice time (or whatever other jollies he gets out of it) are not doing Ovie's scoring stats any good. Enough already.

Tough gig all of this. [sigh]

Lisa said...

On the upside, the PK and goaltending were good, and they had to be. And they showed more desire than against Buffalo. However, I find it excruciating to watch them try to exit their own zone. If it's not a turnover or soft pass, they lose a board battle. This is Hockey 101 and we're sucking. Obviously, very few good scoring chances also.

If we'd won a couple more games, we'd all be saying the Caps got a point on the road so let's move on but it's hard to do that when they're stuck in this mediocre rut.

Tyler said...

I'll certainly concede that last night's scoresheet-keeper was... erratic. 26 had more than two giveaways. As I noted in an IM to a friend last night, there was one SHIFT in which he had two giveaways!

But overall I thought 55 was solid last night. Lots of stuff that doesn't show up on paper or stand out, but his positioning was good, he tied up his guy down low again and again and so on. He's never going to be Jeff Beukeboom and I know that some hockey fans think that's mandatory for a D, but I like his game a lot right now.

MacVechkin, fka JR said...

To answer your question, definitely BJ on Thursday night. What's done is done on the salary cap, that doesn't mean the hot goalie shouldn't play.

Tyler said...

FWIW, a 'here here' on the Jack Edwards note. I enjoy watching the B's play, but if CI has the NESN feed I skip 'em. He's the worst PBP broadcaster in hockey right now. (If only because Al Koken is a sub...)

dcrock said...

"Saved by Zero"

/slashes wrists

meep_42 said...

The Caps were absolutely awful at clearing their own zone. All night. Simply inexcusable.

Was it just me or did every rush from the Caps look the same, come through neutral on a decent pass, rush up the side, get angled off, circle back towards the blue line and either shoot (and get it blocked) or make a pass across that never completed? All the while every time Ottawa came in 2 on 2 they were making things happen, getting decent chances more often than not.

How can you have a faceoff in the offensive zone with 6 seconds left on a PP and let one of the top 30 players in the league behind you out of the box?

The 14-92-28 line was very good, especially in comparison to the rest of the Caps forward lines. The hustle by Nyls that set up the Caps goal was very nice.

I'm starting to worry about Ov.


Joe said...


""Saved by Zero"

/slashes wrists"

Great! Now it's in MY head! Thanks!

bigonetimer said...

I'm for Johnson in goal against the Canes. Theodore has not inspired any confidence in the team, so it's Johnny's time to show if he's got it.

We have a cavern on the right side of our offense. Notwithstanding Flash's pleasant start (all goals on the road I believe), we are getting locked down on RW with Clark and Koz not cutting it right now. [...paging Oskar Osala, Oskar Osala, please report to the big time, now!]

MacVechkin, fka JR said...

Maybe I'll win...
saved by zero.

/ban dcrock :-)

dcrock said...


Okay, back to reality. This team just seems so...mediocre.

JP said...

Not to be the shining ray of sunlight, but while this team has, no doubt, been mediocre, they've been mediocre with:

* The League Hart, Ross and Richard Trophy winner doing nothing;
* Their #1 goalie playing poorly;
* Their Calder Trophy finalist doing nothing;
* Their captain doing nothing;
* Their young stud blueliner (and the rest of the D, really) playing poorly; and
* A lopsided road/home schedule so far.

If they're mediocre with all that crap stacked against them, once some of it starts turning around, they ought to be pretty good, no?

Sam said...

At this point, even if he does pick up scoring at last season's race, I think it safe to say that Ovechkin is out of MVP territory. I also think we need to find a way to take Clark's salary off our hands, give the C to Feds, and with the extra cap space from Clarks salary call up Alzner.

meep_42 said...

I'm not on the Feds 'C' bandwagon... he's made a couple poor plays that a captain shouldn't (not hustling for an icing call in the last few seconds of a game down 1, the extra penalty last night, some lazy D work (which I understand isn't entirely fair of me)). Just because Clark isn't producing doesn't mean he's not a leader -- he looked a lot better to me last night even with the 4th line assignment.


MacVechkin, fka JR said...

JP, you are a shining ray of sunlight. And I could totally see this team going off and winning games in bunches. I hope so, I don't think we need another must-win month this year.

Hazardous said...

ThisSpace: are you kidding? Yes we need to pull up some D from Hershey. We just need to find out how to afford it.

Kim got it right on the unsportsmanlike to Feds. The reffing was so attrocious, they should've just been thankful he wasn't gunning for their heads.

B.orr4: Agreed, if we score more our defense doesn't have to be better, necessarily, but I think we ought to start doing SOMETHING about it now, because it shouldn't be allowed to sit and fester and rely on the offense to kick it up.

As spud said about Ovie, they have started doing some of that crap and it works fine. He needs to get on his game and work around it. However, everyone collapsing in front of the net and blocking all the shots doesn't help our scoring at all. And it seems everyone's aware of this. This is what the "new NHL" has spawned, I guess.

Tyler: did you watch the same game as the rest of us? Schultz is worthless. Are you now going to tell me Jurcina is all-star material? 0 giveaways doesn't mean he played defense well. It just means he didn't give the puck away. Don't rely on stats unless you want to look foolish. Watch the game, I hear it helps.