Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cap vanquish a demon at Buffalo with 4-2 win

Being a Caps fan, I hate the Buffalo Sabres almost as much as I hate the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers.  The Caps don't win very often in the Sabres barn, only twice in nine games, so Tuesday's win was sweet indeed.  Jose Theodore also broke a five game losing streak in that building, according to Tarik.  

The highlights:
  • The Caps had the most beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play in the first period that ended with Brooks Laich dumping in the puck for the power play goal.  Those types of plays remind me of the Detroit Red Wings with their slick passing ability.
  • Chris Bourque scored his first NHL goal off a rebound blasted from David Steckel's stick.  That line of Bourque, Steckel and Eric Fehr played really well together.  After Buffalo scored their first goal in the 3rd period, Coach Boudreau sent that line out and they played a monster shift keeping the puck in the offensive zone and quieting the crowd after Buffalo scored.  I liked this line together and, apparently, Bourdreau used it often in Hershey.
  • Nicklas Backstrom, first star of the game, is turning into an awesome hockey player who is just 21 years old.  He had a goal on the power play in the 2nd period from another pretty tape to tape passing play and an assist on Laich's power play goal.  On another play, I saw Backstrom crunched against the boards in the defensive zone between two Buffalo players and he still managed to get the puck out of the zone.  Backstrom is now #10 on the leader board in points and #5 in assists.  Not bad for a player who is not even near his prime.
  • Jose Theodore gets his 4th win in a row and looked solid in net.  This is what the Caps pay him $4.5M for so I'm glad to see he's finally starting to play like he deserves it.  I enjoyed watching him send the puck Thomas Vanek shot his way down the ice with his stick.  He also made a great save on Ales Kotalik which caused Craig Laughlin to observe that he was "doing snow angels in the paint."
  • Viktor Kozlov continues to be quietly effective and had two assists and was awarded the 2nd star of the game.
  • Boyd Gordon also continues to play well.  His short-handed empty net goal from deep in the defensive zone put the game away.  
  • Mike Green's stick handling skills appear Semin-esque to me at times.  He's really gone to another level on that.  He also made some smart plays on the early power play to keep the puck in the offensive zone.
  • The Caps have won 4 of their last 5 on the road which is huge because their road record stunk it up earlier this season.  They need to keep it up.
The lowlights:
  • Caps didn't play with as much energy in the second period and this is maddening to me. They go up 2-0 and then sit back a bit.  This team has to play with intensity the entire game.  They ended that second period with an inexcusable too many men on the ice penalty, too.  Ugh.
  • Craig Laughlin mentioning a possible 'shutout' for Jose Theodore right before Buffalo scores.  Please, please, please don't ever mention the shutout again Craig.  Caps fans are superstitious and it seems like ever time you bring up the shutout the opponent scores.
The Tampa Bay Lightning head to the phone booth tonight. 

Let's go Caps!

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At 9:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once againi, a good blog. Although, I have noticed that in your past couple of blogs, you have been giving a fair amount of kudos to Theodore, who, has been playing sharper hockey lately. This must be causing you some pain since it is no secret that you do not like his play and was very skeptical about his joining the team. Any comment?

I also think that the defense has been stepping it up lately with the help of the Hershey boys, and that has to have a positive impact on Theodore's confidence. Maybe our defensive starters, no names will be mentioned, will come back with an extra step in their play due to the increasing competition from Hershey. I love those guys and they have done a great job at keeping this team going.

Let's go Caps!!


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