Never a doubt.
For one night, at least, the Caps found the balanced scoring for which they've been searching of late, as each of the four forward lines chipped in a goal and the team held on for a 4-3 win. Oh, and that win vaulted the Caps into first place in the Southeast Division. A few quick thoughts on the game:
- Just after I remarked about how nice it was to see the team able to score a few goals without Alex Ovechkin having a hand in any of them, he scored the eventual game-winner, his League-leading eighth GWG of the year. His 46 goals equal his total from last year as his ridiculous season gets even more absurd by the night.
- Further kudos to Ovechkin for goading Jim Vandermeer into taking a coincidental penalty with him (a tradeoff the Caps will take any time), as the extra space created by the four-on-four allowed Brooks Laich to show off his skill and deposit the first goal of the game on a beautiful backhander. Heh.
- Mike Green was a stud, registering two helper, a plus-two rating, three shots on goal, a pair of blocked shots and a takeaway.
- The Philadelphia Flyers only committed two penalties on the night. Okay.
- I didn't particularly care for how the Caps D allowed two homerun passes to connect while trying to defend a three-goal lead in the third period.
- Did the Caps get lucky on the no-goal that was reviewed? Yes (in fact, some had already marked it down as a goal). But they were due a break after that phantom Quintin Laing interference call led to Philly's first goal.
- Five games and counting without a power play goal.
- Viktor Kozlov had another strong game (everywhere but in the faceoff circle).
- There's a lot to like in Eric Fehr's game, and it's not far from all coming together.
- Tomas Fleischmann may or may not stink (and I'm pretty sure I'm comfortable letting another team figure out whether or not he does), but his tap pass on the Kozlov goal was money.
- John Erskine has significant issues with successfully clearing the puck.
- Boyd Gordon's unselfish decision not to throw the puck at the empty net while he was on the wrong side of the center stripe deserves mention, so there it is. Mentioned.
- Braydon Coburn led Philly in ice time (and was a team-worst minus-three, along with the pylon that is Derian Hatcher). His off night aside, I wonder how Atlanta's liking that Alexei Zhitnik trade now.
- Olie Kolzig was very solid when not hung out to dry (and was I the only one hoping he'd take a shot at the empty net on Ron Hextall Night?). Hopefully these last two games are a start to his resurgence - we'll likely get to find out on Friday night.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
Happy 40th Birthday to Peter Bondra, the Caps all-time leader in goals (472) and points (825). Enjoy those marks while you can, Bonzai.... For some reason I feel like thanking Glen Hanlon again for guiding this team through the bad times. I'm not sure they'd be where they are today without the culture he helped create in his time behind the bench.
- Hart: Mathieu Garon (W, 40 saves on 41 shots against)
- Ross: Mike Green, Mike Knuble, John Madden, Sam Gagner, Joni Pitkanen, Brett Clark (2 points each)
- Norris: Mike Green (2A, +2, 3 SOG, 2 BkS)
- Vezina: Mathieu Garon (W, 40 saves on 41 shots against)
- Richard: 20 players tied with 1G apiece
- Calder: Sam Gagner (2A)
- Aiken: Derian Hatcher (0 points, -3)
I don't know that Ovy's dust-up merited two penalties. But obviously Brooks Laich thought it did.
John Erskine cannot skate. But is it just me, or does it look like Jeff Schultz is skating better and better every week? (Maybe it's just that the Caps are away from the Slurpee Center.)
I'd like to see Tarik do a piece on how many home wins the bad ice at Slurpee Center may have cost the Caps. (LOL! Oh I kill me!) Skating is one of this team's strengths and VC really takes that away most nights.
Well, one could start that analysis with the fact that Chris Clark has missed 37 games (and counting) with his wonky groin.
Here's a question - how many teams in the Eastern Conference skate better than the Caps. Montreal for sure. Ottawa and Buffalo likely. A healthy Carolina, perhaps. Anyone else?
You know, the 3 goal lead with 10 minutes to go seemed too good to be true, and sure enough, it was needed.
When we got the break on the non-goal on the Gagne break-away, I felt no guilt at all. This game is always about winning some and losing some, and this team always (historically) seems to lose more of these calls. I'll take 10 more calls in our favor like that, please! :-)
Yes, Tarik could do that. Tarik should do that. But I have as much faith in Tarik doing an obvious story as I do in TB's ability to make the playoffs.
I'm not sure Buffalo skates better than the Caps anymore. (Last year: Yes.) I'd say MTL and OTT. Not CAR.
If I had to put a number on how many Ws the Slurpee Center ice has cost the Caps I'd guess 2-3. The team's home/road record is closer than it should be, and that's a big part of why.
Nice random Hanlon observation. The bad start and the collapse last season make it easy to forget the real effect Hugs had on this franchise. He's an excellent rebuilding coach; he simply wasn't the guy to take the team--whose roster had fundamentally changed--to the next level. But without the foundation he help create, I don't think you see this team respond to Gabby the way it has.
As it was Hexie night last night, all i kept thinking about was a t-shirt that damn near every kid that watched the Flyers wore back in the day when i lived outside of Philly:
"Lightning only strikes once, but Hextall does it twice!" or a logo to that effect.
Nice ceremony for Hextall, but wasn't he the guy that Hunter scored on in the famous Game 7 goal in '88 that capped that beautiful comeback?
Gabby is doing a Q&A on the Post's website at 130 today y'all. Don't miss it.
Very surprised to see Biron in the net against us. Expected Nittimakki for sure.
Setting aside the injury argument, enough with the bad ice complaints. Both teams play on the same sheet for all three periods. If anything it ought to be an advantage to WSH as they're used to it.
On the disallowed goal, the referee made the correct call per Rule 69.6: 'In the event that a goalkeeper has been pushed into the net together with the puck by an attacking player after making a stop, the goal will be disallowed.' Kolzig was clearly pushed back into the net.
John Erskine is a solid D-man, and I like the rough edge he provides to the team overall. He's not the fastest skater but neither was Brendan Witt. Would we rather have Erskine or Witt out there?
Very weak "hooking" call with 2 mins left.
Uh, Brendan Witt. No brainer. But why is that even an option?!?!
The poor officiating continues, but now the Caps finally have the skill to outplay it.
Does it surprise anyone that Hartnell thought he could score by Captain Caveman-ing Kolzig into the net?
Rule 69.2 was the right call.
However, the whistles on Brashear and Laing were just weak.
And sure... the Flyers committed only 2 penalties last night. Totally...
Even if there were any question about the disallowed goal, I think the phantom call on Laing that lead to the Flyers successful PP essentially balances things out.
As for Brashear's call - it was pretty obvious on the replay that he hit the other player above the shoulders with his stick, and that's high sticking, period.
Was watching the Islanders the other day and Witt's trade came to mind. (Of course, so did the Halpern trade). Both players are still playing well for their teams. I thought Erskine and Witt play a lot alike - they're rough players and they skate like old ladies.
I believe Halpern was signed as a free agent by the Stars.
Does anyone know who the Caps drafted with what they recieved from Nashville?
Okay, researched my own question and I think it was Varlamov.
'Further kudos to Ovechkin for goading Jim Vandermeer into taking a coincidental penalty with him (a tradeoff the Caps will take any time)'
Hart Trophy-60 goals / Vandermeer. Despite the fact they scored on that 4 on 4 you should change the Caps to Flyers in that statement.
I thought we traded that pick, but I might be mistaken. I'll look it up when I get down to Newport News (Going to the fiancee's place for the weekend.)
@ JR: That was a failed attempt at humor (they can't all be homeruns, I guess).
@ DMG: Halpy was signed as a free agent and the Caps did take Varlamov with the Witt pick (they also got Kris Beech from NSH along with the pick in return for Witt).
Thanks for the clarification. I was sure Halpy left as a FA (he was favorite Capital ever since he joined the team, him being a defensive center from the DC area I tried to model my game after his when I was in high school), but I wasn't sure about Varlamov because the Caps were making so many moves during that time I wasn't 100% sure.
And how could I forget the Kris Beech Era part: II!
Here are three reasons the the Gagne goal wasn't and SHOULDN'T have been a goal: 1: It was waved off and there was no conclusive evidence to overturn that call (you could assume the puck crossed the line but you couldn't conclusively know it). 2: It would be against the rule cited by hotdog to allow the goal. 3: the whistle had blown prior to the puck crossing the line. No luck involved.
There was no reason for the goalie interference call, ergo it is not logical to say one makes up for the other. In the end, the Caps got screwed.
OR... the puck couldn't be seen, the player would be ruled to have pushed Olie in and the whistle blew AS karmic payback for the Q call.
I'm not saying that the fact that they got one right balances out the fact that they got one wrong - they're expected to get every one right and nothing balances out getting one wrong. I'm just saying that it was nice to be on the winning side of a review that we'd be bitching about losing if the skate was on the other foot.
Two things about Fehr he has demonstrated in his first two games that really impress me:
1) He has demonstrated a willingness to go to the net.
2) He has a quick release.
That combination should result in a number of garbage goals off of rebounds and maybe a few goal scorer's goals for good measure. I agree with JP that it looks like he is getting acclimated quickly to the first line. I Look forward to seeing him get that first goal of the season in person on Friday.
Most important Caps note of the day, buried by Tarik: "*Brent Johnson will start in goal against the 'Canes tomorrow and Olie Kolzig will go against the Rangers on Sunday."
Uh, Saturday is the BIGGEST GAME OF THE YEAR. And 1 is starting in net. What does that tell you about who the No. 1 netminder is?
Oops -- I meant Friday.
Statistically, if I'm not mistaken, Johnson struggles against the hurricanes and Kolzig doesn't. Yet again I ponder BB's goaltending decisions.
Numbers vs. Carolina:
Kolzig (2007-08): 2-2-0, 3.01, .893, 1 SO
Kolzig (career): 26-13-8-1, 2.27, .922, 4 SO
Johnson (2007-08): 0-0-0, 0.00, 1.000
Johnson (career): 4-4-0-1, 3.03, .920
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