Saturday, October 11, 2008

Caps overcome a slow start to beat Blackhawks 4-2

After celebrating the raising of the SE Division Champion banner, it only took 26 seconds for the hometown crowd to collectively gasp as the Chicago Blackhawks potted their first goal past Jose Theodore.  Their second goal came at 11:41 in the first period and I have no doubt that many fans and the team thought what in the world did the Capitals get when they signed Jose Theodore.  To be somewhat fair to Theodore, the entire Capitals team looked as sluggish in that first period as they did on Friday night in Atlanta.

Finally, Matt Bradley scored at 13:26 in the first period and hope returned.  The grinders, including David Steckel and Donald Brashear played better hockey than the rest of the team, particularly, in the first period of this game and against Atlanta.  Coach Boudreau rewarded that line, rightly so, with more ice time than usual.  David Steckel impressed me last night, and on Friday, as he seemed to be everywhere making his presence felt so he deserved the 3rd star of the game.  Donald Brashear showed bursts of speed on occasion to disrupt a play that I didn't realize he had in him.  

During the second period, Theodore settled down, made some good saves and the Caps started playing their game overall.  Alex Ovechkin scored his first goal of the season at 5:07 in the second to the delight of the crowd.  And, once the crowd serenaded the team with "unleash the fury", Brooks Laich netted the game winner off a rebound from Alexander Semin and Ovie scored his 2nd goal, a beauty, with less than two minutes left to seal the win.  

Other observations:
  • Tomas Fleischman seems to be a different player out there this year, playing with more aggression and better puck handling, even though it hasn't converted into points yet.  The shot he blocked in the 3rd where he then got up and deflected the puck off that same shooter was a great play. But, Japers Rink talks about his poor statistics along with those of his current line mates, Chris Clark and Michael Nylander.  That trio has been on the ice for a lot of goals against the Caps.  It sounds like that line combo may need to be changed.
  • Nicklas Backstrom has been nearly invisible in both games.  Is this a sophomore slump or what is going on with him? 
  • Jeff Schultz scares me every time he's on the ice.  And, I'm not the only one as the fans sitting next to me felt the same way.  He's been on the ice for 5 goals against the Caps in his first two games and is playing -1 hockey.  When is that guy going to learn how to use his 6'6 body and play with some aggression?
  • John Erskine played a good game last night.  He's relentlessly bashed by the Caps faithful as being too slow and out of position all the time and he frequently lives up to that reputation, but not last night.  He showed real effort out there and it paid off in a good game for him.
The most important thing is that the Caps won and came away with 2 points.  Vancouver comes to the phone booth tomorrow which means so does the net minder Roberto Luongo with his 10 game winning streak against the Capitals.

Let's go Caps!

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