Saturday, October 11, 2008

Saturday Roundup/Thrash 7, Caps 4
Gamenight: Hawks @ Caps

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

What, did the Thrashers not get the memo? How dare they show up on Friday night and try to stand in the way of the Mighty Capitals of Washington?

Some thoughts on the game:
  • Alex Semin was the best player on the ice all night, but did misplay a puck in the neutral zone that led to Atlanta's sixth goal (the Armstrong blast over Brent Johnson's left shoulder). His dangles around Garnet Exelby and Eric Boulton (a pair of traffic cones, to be sure), were among his more dazzling highlights, and while it's easy to say now, I thought at the time that he should have taken that penalty shot.
  • The power play looked good (and finished 2-for-7 thanks to Mike Green's penchant for pinching) and fired 12 shots on in 8:45 of extra man time. But wouldn't you expect the $4 million second-line center/seventh defenseman to be higher than ninth on the team in PP time?
  • The penalty kill, on the other hand, was atrocious (6-for-9). Tomas Fleischmann (who had a good game in the offensive zone, but finished a team-worst minus-two) had more PK time than Matt Bradley and Chris Clark combined. Brooks Laich led the entire team (including defensemen) in shorthanded ice time. Think Boyd Gordon might dress tonight?
  • The Swedes got slaughtered in the faceoff circle, combining to go 10-for-29 (34%). In fact, the entire team was bad, winning only 40% of their draws on the night (the exception to the poor performance was Brooks Laich's 7-for-10). Even Sergei Fedorov (6-for-17) and David Steckel (6-for-15) failed to take command of the dot, and the Caps were 8-for-21 (38%) in faceoffs when shorthanded and 7-for-23 (30%) in the defensive zone. Not good.
  • Where was Nicklas Backstrom?
  • Forty-three shots on goal for is a crapload. Thirty-one against is a few too many, especially given the location of most of those shots:That's 19 shots - and all seven goals - against from between and below (give or take a foot or two) the faceoff dots. The Caps blueliners have to do a better job of keeping that real estate clear.
  • Jose Theodore can "only" be blamed for two, maybe three of the goals he allowed (the first wasn't his fault and the third deflected off the defenseman's stick), but he looked shaky (is "reboundy" a word?) all night. Well, until he was yanked, that is - he looked calm and under control on the bench.
  • What was Donald Brashear doing throwing with a kid who only had four fights in his entire junior career (I didn't see how that one started)?
  • GMGM must be counting down the minutes (and dollars) until he can replace either Milan Jurcina or John Erskine with Karl Alzner. It's probably time to go back to pairing the two of them together and try to sneak them out for some shifts while riding a good top-four.
  • I'd like to see more of The Captain.
So there goes 82-0. Next up, Chicago, and perhaps our old buddy Cristobal Huet (who got beaten down by the Rangers last night).

There are plenty of subplots here - recall the last time Huet tried to stop Alex Ovechkin and the last time the Caps faced the 'Hawks (a.k.a. Olie Kolzig's last game as a Cap); tonight's game will also showcase all three of 2007-08's Calder Trophy finalists as well as the summer's top two free agent defensemen (Green and Brian Campbell) - but the big story is two teams trying to avoid falling to 0-2 on the season.

A loss like last night's definitely takes away from tonight's banner raising a bit, but hopefully the ceremony will serve as a reminder of what this team needs to - and can - do to be successful in this League, because last night's effort was light years away from that standard.


dbf8 said...

Brash was defending Steckel because the kid checked him from behind. It was a valid fight even if people on the WPost boards were whining about it.

MacVechkin, fka JR said...

Okay - I'm trying to resist panic mode here. BJ is what we thought he was, so no panic there - just abdominal discomfort. Theodore though - at least two of those goals were horrible. I mean, could a platoon of Varlamov and Neuwirth be any worse that what we just saw? Serenity now.

Reed-CK said...

JP - It looked like Bogosian was running his mouth off to Brash. So Brash taught him a lesson about respecting your elders/other teams enforcer.

Brash made a hand motion of "talking @$#!" to the ref as to why he started it.

Anonymous said...

OFB has a pool where you vote for the storyline of the year. Among them is "Can Jose Theodore carry the Caps deep in the playoffs?"

I might amend that to 'Can Can Jose Theodore carry the Caps deep into the season's FIRST WEEK?'

Maybe I was just expecting the worst, but by golly he sure as heck provided it. This may be Brent Johnson's big year. [shiver]

Anonymous said...

I'm not too pleased with Brash pummeling a rookie, even if he was defending Steckel (and I couldn't tell from the tv coverage). And Stecks is by no means a small guy. Just added insult to injury last night, I thought.

Anonymous said...

Brashear is a sad sad player. I wonder if he stopped by a local teen hangout last night and picked a fight with some other teenagers as they were wrapping up their evening. What was he thinking going after a #4 with less than 2 minutes left, did he need to feel like he actually contributed in the game and the only thing he could do was go after an 18 yr old rookie in his first ever game? Sad, he should quit and get a clue.

Unknown said...

John Erskine is a very slow hockey player who doesn't always make the right decision. That can be a dangerous combination.

Lots of players, on both teams, looked not-yet-in-the-flow. Players rushing plays, not recognizing how much time and space they had, etc.

TV coverage: Obviously no one told CSN about the new icing-before-a-TV-timeout rule. And CSN still refuses to make sure we see faceoffs.

NS said...

We all expected Jurcina and Erskine to be atrocious, didnt we? i just think mgmt needs more proof. no way both one of those players is wearing a sweater by game 6

Green looked a little shaky in the D zone as well. he was doing his best Semin impression in his own zone instead of making the safe pass to Morrison. I have a feeling BB will be doing a "back to basics" speech and drill quite soon. Lepisto/Alzner first call ups of the year.

On the bright side, kind of, it was good to see Poti stepping up. We need that with Pothier out. Oh, and Morrison was hitting pretty hard out there...

i think Clark is still trying to figure out his role and place on this ice. understandable since he has come back to a totally different monster. he will be fine in a few games. happy he didnt take stupid penalties.

Nylander takes a lot of hooking penalties....we're going to see quite a few this year.

Semin - even the announcers were making rabbit references. from what i recall, he did not fall down.

COMPLETELY agree on the penalty shot, JP. Semin is superior to Ovi when it comes to that.

Anonymous said...

Honestly? Where was Backstrom, and where was Ovechkin?

macvechkin, fka jr: It's just one game. Don't throw in the towel yet. I agree with you both the D and goaltending need some work. Okay, a lot of work.

We have got to do something about our D. *headshakes* However, I still feel that those who are screaming that we should have kept Huet are wrong. GMGM made the right move there - he can't let Huet take him for a ride, and fact is that Huet's no better or worse than Theodore. We're stuck with the goaltending we've got, right now, but we can and should clean up the D and that should help.

Let's go Caps!

Anonymous said...

Here's the thing I still believe in Jurcina over Erskine. Erskine is an inconsistent disaster IMO, as demonstrated by last nights game. Jurcina even at his worst is still better than Erskine, and he needs to just start playing like he does when we play Boston. And the reality is that Theodore is a headcase, everyone knew that coming into the season, he can either be really good or really really really awful the bad news is you never know who is going to show up. And I will argue that because he is inconsistent it makes our defense end look even worse because his bad plays impact the d-men etc. etc.

Hooks Orpik said...

"Brash made a hand motion of "talking @$#!" to the ref as to why he started it."

@Caps Kremlin -- When Brashear made that motion it looked as if he was looking towards the Atlanta bench, who no doubt were chirping at him for fighting a rookie when the game was decided. I took that motion to mean Brashear saying "yeah, keep talking" to the Atlanta bench.

I think Brashear just went in and let some frustration out. I don't think Bogosian hit Steckel hard from behind, it looked like a fairly routine play of finishing a check when a guy enters the zone to me.

I think this could carry over but I'm sure The Don isn't really afraid of Eric Boulton or Exelby.

Anonymous said...

I think we're going to have to take Varlamov with us before we get that date with Lord Stanley. Thoughts?

Caps Dreamer said...

this space for rent - totally agree about needing Varlomov before a date with Lord Stanley.

B19 said...

It's only 1 game, Jose can turn it around real quick. Give him some time to get used to the team.

Anonymous said...

"It's only 1 game, Jose can turn it around real quick. Give him some time to get used to the team."

Fiddlesticks!! The margin between in and out can be just one game, as we saw last year. His time to "get used to" his team was the pre-season. He better friggin' turn it around real quick and STAY turned around. Or our goose is cooked.

Anonymous said...

Well, I think Jose can turn it around. It is only one game after all. But that sort of performance spells trouble if it becomes a pattern, and he was real shaky in the preseason as well.

Although, we didn't bring him into goal until like the third or fourth game of the preseason, did we, and not for the whole sixty minutes until the last two? That's not a lot of time.

Also, remember that this has been a year of upsets in sports in general. The Yankees under .500, the Dolphins beating the Patriots, the Redskins over Dallas on their own field, the Maple Leafs beating Detroit ... get the picture?

Whiter Mage said...

They looked nervous. You're gonna have bad games. Weren't the Caps in last place last year for a while? Didn't they still win the division?

I'm tired of this "Sky is falling" bullshit.

For the record, eff Bogosian. He isn't anything in this league, and I don't care for him at all. He didn't impress me any. I've a feeling Brashear wouldn't have fought him for no reason, as last year, he didn't fight a lot compared to most fighters.

I could care less about Atlanta too.

Anonymous said...

I sure hope the Caps worked on communication between the D and Jose in practice today. That really stuck out in the Boston and Atlanta games, along with Jose just not looking focused at all.

I guess having right-handed catching goalie is causing a bit more confusion than what it should.

It seems that the D aren't preparing themselves for rebounds to go to the left side due to his blocker and have to realize that they have to stand in lanes a bit differently because how Theodore is centered due to his catching glove.

But as we saw, it's more than Jose, it's the entire team. It's almost like the team didn't work together to try to click again during camp and forgot how to play. Plenty of no-look passes where at the end of last season, someone would have been there to pick up. But now, it just looks lazy and the team needs to keep it simple first at the beginning of the season before it can regain its passing mastery.

Though in all honesty, watching other opening night games this week, all teams look like they're rusty as teams looked to be scrambling a lot. Some more than others.

It's just game 1 out of 82+ and it wouldn't be a Caps season without a traditional slow start.

Here's to a better night.

Unknown said...

Overreaction generally seems to begin shortly after the tenth comment.

1 game down, 81 to go.

Hazardous said...

2 of each goalies' goals allowed were really, really shitty. But as far as I'm concerned, the real problem is the ridiculous amount of penalties. I counted at least 3 of the "penalties" we were assessed being times when an atlanta player simply FELL DOWN. This is the same garbage we saw all year last year, and god only knows how many seasons before. I guess actually having a contending team won't matter in that regard until we actually win a cup. Here's to another badly officiated season!

Anonymous said...

Bogosian took a questionable run at Steckel with his team up 3 goals and just over two minutes left in the game. The kid needs to figure out the game situation and who he's out there against. This lesson will help him with that. It's not all that different than when that Atlanta defensemen took a run at Greener two years ago when the game was out of reach. The same thing happened. Brashear can't allow guys to take runs at his teammates out there in out of reach games with no time left. That's his entire purpose in being out there is to keep the peace. Otherwise, he's not earning his living. I don't necessary agree with it, but everybody out there understood why that happened. And why Bradley had to fight right after that.

Hazardous said...

Oh and also, shut the hell up about Brashear. Could you possibly try harder to make it sound like he punched an infant? If he fought someone, I'm willing to bet it's for a good reason. And you know what? Even if it was just "to let some frustration out" I'm perfectly fine with that one, too. Welcome to the NHL, Bogosian.

Anonymous said...

What reasoning is there to justify having someone other than the league leader in goals, current Hart Trophy winner and the guy who scored more than twice the amount of goals as the guy you wanted, to take the shot?

Mark Bonatucci said...

The Brash bashing is just wrong headed. What was Bogosian thinking checking an opponent from behind, after the play with so little time left to play and a three goal lead. Brash just did his job and Bogosian apparently jabber jawed too so that probably made it worse on himself. Welcome to your first regular season game in the NHL, Zach.

Anonymous said...

"Overreaction generally seems to begin shortly after the tenth comment.

1 game down, 81 to go."

couldn't agree more. we'll be better tonight--book it.

3-1 Caps tonight, OV with the empty netter, and all is well

Unknown said...

There's no reason to panic, at all. We're 0-1. So is Detroit. We were 1-0 last year, and look where that got us around the time Thanksgiving rolled around. 0-1 means nothing unless the team lets the problems fester and deepen. I agree that 1 game can matter a lot later in the year, but you simply can't win em all.

It's going to take time for the comfort to develop between Theodore and the D, and the D was just horrible last night in general. Some of the goals were soft, but our defensemen need to be more responsible. Getting Erskine out of town will help, and that's only a matter of time (nothing personal, Johnny).

Here's hoping VC rocks the red and we go to 1-1 tonight.

JP said...

@ Hazardous: Glad you're back.

@ Fu: Semin had the puck on a string all night and Ovi was 0-for-3 on penalty shots in his career (and is only 9-for-31 in shootout attempts, including 0-for-1 against Lehtonen, while Semin is not much better at 5-for-17 in shootout attempts, but has beaten Lehtonen on one of three chances against him). Really, though, it was just my gut feeling. Those factors would have justified calling Semin's name, in my opinion, but I'm not the reigning Coach of the Year.

JP said...

Oh, and if you guys are calling this hit on Steckel checking from behind... I dunno. Looks more like Bogo is lining up a shoulder-to-shoulder hit and Stecks turns his back to him at the last minute to me.

Hazardous said...

Well, nhl gamecenter is worthless just as center ice was last year! Convincing me to buy, guys! Video feed won't show... but I managed to load radio in time to hear 1 shot, 1 goal, 20 something seconds in. I've already given up on Theodore, that's as bad as it gets. And I also heard "Erskine checked from behind... capitals penalty, Milan Jurcina." What?

Unknown said...

Well, Theo settled down a little. 2 periods without allowing a goal is progress. The better news is that the Caps dominated almost the entire game after the 1st and the PK got the job done. If not for a good game by Khabi and a little sloppy play, could have been a rout.

I dunno what was up with Gamecenter, I thought it was supposed to be free tonight but I couldn't get video of any game.

How did the ice look tonight? My online feed was choppy so it was hard to tell.

DMG said...


I don't think anyone would say Bogosian exactly took a run at Steckel but I also think he had time to back off but instead decided to finish his check on a player in a relatively vulnerable position in the last minute of a game that was already decided. Maybe boderline dirty, maybe just playing hard. But if you do that, you have to realize that someone on the other team is going to take exception to it.

I also really dont think the fact that Bogosian is 18 is relevant. If you're in the NHL, you're in the NHL, and the same rules (written and unwritten) apply to you whether you're 18 or 40.

Hazardous said...

It was free, but it wasn't working for a while. About halfway through the first it FINALLY loaded for me. Thank god I don't have to actually pay for this crap. Got a way to watch the games starting next week... :D

Also Theodore let in some really bogus shots the other night, a few i saw in the preseason, and again tonight. He better just be in a slump or something because I have no confidence that he's here to earn his money.