Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thursday Roundup/Leafs 3, Caps 2

Photo: Graig Abel
We're going to try our damnedest not to pile on. Really.

Eh, it's just not possible: if Britney wants custody of her children, she's going to need to learn how not to behave in front of a judge. We joke, of course, because if we didn't, thinking about the Olie Kolzig rebound that led to Mats Sundin's game-winning goal – with 29.2 seconds remaining in the game – would drive us to pull out our eye teeth.

Hyperbole aside, one wonders if the late game meltdown by Kolzig will lead to a loss of confidence not only by him and Bruce Boudreau, but by his teammates as well. (Interestingly, no players are quoted about the play in Tarik's WaPo story.) With Brent Johnson getting the start Thursday, and the upcoming 4-day All-Star break, Olie will be living with this game for at least a week.

Nearly as maddening as the rebound, was Alex Semin's play during the Leaf's rush. His defense was, well, indefensible. Is he really the player you want on the ice in the final minute of regulation in a tie game on the road?

Enough with the ugly. On to the good.
  • John Erskine had one of his best games of the season. He had great positioning, made smart decisions with the puck, and had two highlight reel checks (including an open ice hit on Darcy Tucker that knocked him flat on his tuchus). Erskine's play didn't go unnoticed: he logged over 21 minutes of ice time, well above his season average of 15.19.
  • The Caps were the more physical team from the start, outhitting the Leafs 20-12. With Jeff Schultz a healthy scratch, Steve Eminger made the most of his minutes with strong play along the boards. (Just ask Alexei Ponikarovsky, who left the game early in the 1st period after receiving an Eminger check into the dasher.) Tom Poti continued his chippy play of late. Good. Getting baited into a roughing minor by Dominic Moore? Not good.
  • Alex Semin's swimmer-like goal celebration in the 2nd period is the only kind of dive from him we can endorse.
  • Nicklas Backstrom is becoming quite saucy with his saucer passes. His 3d assist Monday night in Pittsburgh was pretty, for sure. Last night, during a 1st period power play, Backstrom made a cross ice pass to Mike Green that was a work of art: from circle to circle, through two defenseman, with one bounce and on to Green's tape for a quality shot on goal. (Somewhere Coach Bengt Gustafsson is smiling proudly. Backstrom's teammate from the '07 World Juniors team, Anton Stralman, had a gorgeous assist in the 1st period on the Chad Kilger goal.)
  • Speaking of Swedish things of beauty, Backstrom's hair is not one of them. We can admire and appreciate his fidelity towards his stylist back home in Gävle, but not the hårstrå. He's looking more like Chaka every day.
The Air Canada Centre was Nassau Mausoleum North last night; filled with resigned, despondent Leaf fans. (The first "Go, Leafs, Go!" chant wasn't heard until well into the 2nd period.) Game 1 of the second Cliff Fletcher era saw timely goaltending by Vesa Toskala and patient team defense. We'll see if the Leafs can maintain that defensive discipline tonight against a Caps team that has yet to lose back-to-back games under Boudreau.

Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

More power rankings love for the Caps....Alain Vigneault is not a fan of the Beech. Washington Hershey is. Again....The DC DMA is watching the Caps on TV....An 8-4 barnburner last night at the CHL Top Prospects game....Army, Air Force players to be mic'd up and heard live by viewers. "Let's go boys!"


Unknown said...

The Olie rebound was unfortunate, to say the least. His rebound control is this team's top second-half issue.

BB's choice of who to put on the ice in the last five minutes of a game is perpetually puzzling. Like the Brash line when the Caps are down a goal in the last five minutes. Or last night.

Hazardous said...

I didn't get to watch the game, because fuck the nhl network.

However, I streamed the radio of the game from the caps' site, and according to the announcer, the play that lead to that goal was offsides, and one of their guys was tackling gordon and laying on top of him. So in all reality, we should've had a power play before that goal ever happened. Not to scapegoat anyone's faults on bad calls, but you have to address bad calls when they're made. I mean, really, I didn't know tackling became legal. When did that memo get passed out? And offsides only counts when we do it (or don't and they call it anyway. that seems to happen a LOT)

Other than that, I can't say much at all, since I couldn't actually SEE it.

Hazardous said...

Okay, watched the highlights on center ice... and that second goal was bull, some douchebag runs over kolzig. I guess tackling really is okay these days. Get the fuck out of here, this isn't football. ._.

Paul Nichols said...

In defense of Kolzig, as excruciating as that last minute goal was, the only reason it trickled through is because Sundin basically "whiffed" on his rebound. If he'd have slapped it full, it would have ended up right in Kolzig's gut.

Either way, we didn't get the damn puck out of there, just like we didn't on the first goal.

But that's life.

Oh, and Erskine's hit was Stevens-esque. Yea baby.

NS said...

Toskala had a great game (he should have gotten the first star) and Olie came up with some great saves too. The game winner was so painful to watch, from the second the puck left the Leaf's zone. As much as I'd like to blame that last shift as to why we lost, it certainly was not.

our PP was horrendous and the real difference in winning and losing this game. Half the time was spent just trying to enter the zone. this is where Nylander will really be missed. he gets right through that neutral zone and gets in good position for the rest of the team to set up. that is fucking invaluable.

good physical play by nearly all our D. you have no idea how happy i was when Green decked Blake.

Anonymous said...

I wish Kolzig had made that save instead of setting Sundin up for the winner. The goal wasn't offside and no one was tackling anybody.

On the second goal Antropov was tripped into Kolzig. That's the defenceman's fault.

Poni wasn't hurt on a check by Eminger, he was hurt on a hit from behind by Eminger. Odds on a suspension are probably nil.

The Capitals did a great job cycling and would have won with a bit better finishing.

Anonymous said...

That last goal was Boudreau's fault for starting Olie and putting Alexander Knucklehead Semin on the ice in a tie hockey game on the road with a minute left. It's that simple. Semin was the first forward back (why, I don't know -- he's not exactly out there for his defensive conscience), and either didn't know to take Sundin, or didn't care to. Either way, a bad rebound and flop by Kolzig later and we lose a very attainable and necessary point. Knucklehead. Also, Kris Beech is slow? Really? I had no idea.

Anonymous said...

>Poni wasn't hurt on a check by Eminger, he was hurt on a hit from behind by Eminger. Odds on a suspension are probably nil.

I was surprised that Eminger didn't receive a major penalty for the hit. I was even more surprised that no Leaf took a run at him during the game.

Anonymous said...

I was surprised that Eminger didn't receive a major penalty for the hit. I was even more surprised that no Leaf took a run at him during the game.

I expected to see a major for Eminger but the Leafs are pillow soft. I am not shocked that no one went after him.

Anonymous said...

The knuckleheads on the message boards who are crucifying Olie for the last goal might want to check the tape. All six Caps on the ice and BB share equally in that fiasco. The forwards let themselves get pinned deep in Toronto's zone, the defensemen allowed way too much of a gap between themselves and Toronto's forwards, Olie gave up a weak rebound and Semin half-heartedly came back to cover Sundin. Not to mention BB for having Semin on the ice at that time. Boudreau's got to learn that pressing the attack is great, but when you're that late in the game you first and foremost have to secure the regulation point. The great thing is that we get to play them tonight. I'm looking for a blow out.

Paul said...

Didn't see the game, but I watched the highlights. On the ice when Sundin's goal was scored were Semin, Flash, Steckel, Poti, and Emminger. Are you serious? In a tied game on the road? Did someone think we were on the power play?

Did Steckel center Semin and Flash all night? Does that mean Gordon centered the checking line?

Hazardous said...

PPP: No, the tackling was before that play ever started. About 30 seconds before, if I recall. The commentator just kept mentioning some leafs douchebag kept tackling and laying on top of Boyd Gordon.

The second goal, there was not a trip, that guy flung himself on Kolzig. I'm pretty sick of seeing people "accidently" "pushed" into Kolzig when really they just leap and know that it'll look like a trip or something, so long as someone is near him. I've watched the replay of it many times, and that guy just flat out dove.

Deuce: He's a forward, and yes, his defensive play sucks, but that's not why we have him out there. That's a coaching mistake, not Semin's for being forced into a defensive play he doesn't really know much about. I'm not saying he should or shouldn't know how to play some 2-way hockey, all I'm saying is that we all know he's a 1-way player, so it's all on the coaches shoulders, there. Insulting the man doesn't really help. Get him someone who can coach him into playing 2-way better than he does, and maybe that'll turn around.

Anonymous said...

Canadian hockey broadcasts are top notch. They leave all others in the dust. The between period discussions aren't condescending like they are in the US.

Glen Healy pronounced it "seemin"
during the pre-game show.

Eminger didn't check Poni, he boarded him. Probably should have been a double minor given the resulting injury.

Thought the Caps looked all night long except for the Gordon line. AO himself had some awful turnovers. But the Leafs were auditioning for Fletcher.

Semin has to produce a LOT more goals to outweigh his negatives. Sundin was his last night on that game winner. I cringe every time he touches the puck.

Tuches? I spell the word "tuckus". Now I'm all screwed up. I don't know what looks correct.

Tough game for me to watch as I want the Leafs to do well but have been a Caps fan since 1988.

Anonymous said...

Left key word out:

Thought the Caps looked SLOW all night long except for the Gordon line.

Anonymous said...

The goy makes the edit. Wiki has it listed as "tuchus."

Anonymous said...

If you guys haven't seen the site yet, you can check out and get detailed stats on matchups and ice-time.

I think that the players deserve some culpability on the goal but Steen's shot was a floater. He could have caught it with his bare hands.

Whiter Mage said...

Had Semin scored with 29 seconds to go, you'd be praising Boudreau.
Had Sundin shot the puck in full, and it hit Olie in the chest, you'd be praising him.
Two people didn't lose the game last night.
Isn't Steckel one of our better defensive guys? So, you get 2 good score forwards, one good faceoff/d-guy, and when Hal Gill was all over Gordon (If you didn't listen to Steve Kolbe, like I did on my drive home last night, it was gold.)
He basically said "Gill is laying on top of Gordon! No call! Pass around, Gill is STILL on top of Gordon!"
About ten seconds later, "Leafs over the line, looked offsides, no call,"
I knew right then that the Leafs were gonna score. That kinda crap always happens.
Offside or not, it wouldn't be the first time the opposing teams have been offsides, and we get a goal allowed because of it (Re:Ottawa).

Anonymous said...

this game is still fuckin killing me

NS said...

i blame Kris Beech.

Anonymous said...

I agree completely. That's why I prefaced everything I said with "That last goal was Boudreau's fault." That was exactly my point. And I "insult" because I love. I doubt Semin is crying because I called him a knucklehead. But he does a lot of knuckleheaded things out there. That said, he has breathtaking moves and an unreal wrist shot, so I forgive him. But he's still a knucklehead.

Hazardous said...

Well, honestly, I think a lot of the fuss generated in Semin's direction is unwarranted. I know I'd look terrible if people were allowed to do everything short of literally jamming their dick into my anus and get away with it to take me out of the picture. (and who knows, that might be okay too!)

And thanks Ogre, I knew I couldn't be the only one who heard that. And if that were called, the play stops before they have a chance to do anything, and we get a power play instead. Quite a different ending to that game, then.

DMG said...


I fault Semin a lot less for Sundin's goal than I do whoever was the Caps center at the time. On a play like that Sundin came through the high slot to get into the play late - that's exactly where the center should have been and exactly the play he should have been looking to preventl; yet whoever the Caps had out there at center wasn't anywhere to be found in their own end.

DMG said...

I watched my DVR and:

1) Gordon wasnt even on the ice for the Leafs last goal - it was Green, Steckel, Poti, Flash and Semin. Steckel came out about 20 seconds before the goal so maybe Gordon had been held, but it didn't lead to the goal

2) The Leafs were onside

Anonymous said...

Um, I don't fault Semin, I expect that from him. I fault Boudreau. I don't think I can be any more clear on this point.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully Kolzig will shave that unlucky beard of his to start the second half. Couldn't hurt.

Whiter Mage said...

Gordon wasn't on the ice - because he got off 30 seconds before. The play was still moving.
It took him a while, because he was being held by Hal Gill. Look at 18:20ish. I dunno for sure. I know I heard "6'7" Hal Gill is STILL holding Gordon! No Call!"

Hazardous said...

Yeah, since it was radio, I can't really be sure, but maybe it wasn;t gordon. Either way, there was some definite tackling going on that wasn't being called.

bill ball said...

There weren't as many bad/missed calls last night as there were vs the Pens, but I can't help thinking we're already behind the 8 ball when McCreary is refereeing. Our record has been simply abysmal when he's on the ice.

Anonymous said...

At least I'm not a Leafs fan. Sure, they've got some good players, history, lots of hype/expectations, but to hell with all that baggage.

15 was held down in some sort of attempted anal intrusion. If he had stayed down any longer he'd have a sack in his mouth. It's good to see the NHL referees being consistent.

Loved 4's work out there. Good hits.

Now if they had some better plays, good D, could have won it.

At least I'm not a Leafs fan. Whew!

Hazardous said...


I'm glad someone else mentioned it. I was beginning to wonder if I was going mad.


Definitely. 100% in agreement on all accounts.