Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Caps lay a stinker of a game, but manage to beat Isles

Alex Ovechkin, 1st star of the game, scored in overtime with 11 seconds left to beat the New York Islanders, a team beat up as badly as the Caps and currently sitting in 14th place in the East without a win in December. If the Caps showed up for the 3rd period, they might have won a little easier.

Ovie's game winning goal came after he was denied on a earlier shot in overtime that everyone thought went in but caromed out of the side of the net. We Caps fans are used to seeing Alex's determination to win and it's a difficult thing to stop sometimes as it was for the rookie netminder Joey MacDonald tonight.

The Caps have to remember that, yes, they have talent, but they need to play for the full sixty minutes to win games consistently in this league. That will be especially useful during the playoffs, assuming the Caps are there and I don't dare to assume that in mid-December.

The highlights:
  • Boyd Gordon with the first goal sliding under the toe skate of MacDonald after a big battle behind the net. He displayed hard work and good effort on that play.
  • Mike Green effectively bringing the puck into the offensive zone, a skill sorely missed while he was out. Greenie had a good game defensively and laid out Ben Walter on a breakaway at center ice. That is not something you see Green doing very often.
  • Brooks Laich got the softest goal of the game to put the Caps up 2-0 right after the end of the power play courtesy of former Capital, Brendan Witt. MacDonald should have stopped it, but hey, I'm not complaining. Witt tried to play like he was hurt by Semin but the refs didn't buy it. This is the same Witt that didn't want to stick around for the Caps "rebuild" and, fair enough, but now he's stuck with a rebuilding Islanders team. Life's a bitch, huh?
  • Karl Alzner, 3rd star of the game, played solid defense again and continued to help his partner, Milan Jurcina look better. According to Tarik's blog the other day, Alzner challenged Jurcina to shoot in practice and he shattered two panes of plexiglass with his powerful shot. He showed us tonight how nice that shot looks from the right point near the blue line when he rocketed one past the goalie after a pass from Alzner. Caps have to find a way to keep Alzner in Washington. He makes Jurcina play better and they're a strong defensive pairing for the Caps together.
  • Brent Johnson made some terrific saves from the 39 shots thrown at him, one in which he managed to get the puck underneath him after a scrum in front of the net. I guarantee you the Isles thought they scored on that one at first.
  • Matt Bradley rarely wins a fight and didn't tonight with Tim Jackman although he landed a couple of good punches. He'll thrown down with anyone and, for that, his heart is amazing even though I can't stand seeing him get beat up.
  • Alex Ovechkin's goal on a sick back-handed pass from Alexander Semin in front of the net to hit Ovie with a wide open spot on the left side of the net was a thing of beauty. The Ovie, Nicklas Backstrom, Semin line continues to produce points.
Okay, way too many highlights for a bad performance from the Caps.

The lowlights:
  • The entire third period of hockey. The Caps had 5 shots on goal and ZERO scoring chances compared to 17 shots by the Islanders. The Islanders scored 2 goals to tie the game at 4-4 the last coming from the Caps killer, Jon Sim. He scores against the Caps a lot (7 points in 7 games two years ago - can't find the stats from last year...odd)
  • The Doug Weight power play goal on the Sean Collins penalty deflected off of Tom Poti's stick and snuck under Brent Johnson. Yuck. And, the Isles got chippy after that. The Caps still had 18 shots on goal in the second.
  • Richard Park's goal, the 2nd power play score by the Isles, came when David Steckel didn't have his stick.
  • David Steckel didn't play a good game. I'm not sure where he disappeared to when Mike Green made a great pass from behind the night that would have been a goal if Steckel was positioned better. And, it looked like the game tying goal from the Islanders happened while Steckel was screening Brent Johnson. He was on the ice for 3 of the 4 goals scored by the Islanders.
  • The Islanders got physical in the second half of the 2nd period and during the 3rd. They threw the Caps around a bit.
  • The Caps played sloppy, lazy hockey against this team as was my fear from prior to the game. Coach Boudreau needs to whack them over the head
The St. Louis Blues come to the phone booth on Thursday. They're at 15th place in the West, but the Caps are playing at home where they tend to be more motivated. I'm looking forward to being there.

Let's go Caps!

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