Friday, December 19, 2008

Caps survive the Blues and get 2 points in 4-2 win

The Caps, once again, played down to their competition and could have easily lost this game to a beat up team. They lost something more important though and that was Alexander Semin and Mike Green to injury although Green says he'll play against Philly tomorrow. Semin got cross checked in the back and crumpled against the boards and no call was made by the refs against the St. Louis Blues just against the Caps for abuse of the officials. Per Tarik's blog, Coach Boudreau mouthed off so that's why the penalty was called, but I couldn't see him from where I sat.

In the Caps blogosphere, many fans were wishing for serious retribution against that cross check coming from someone other than Alex Ovechkin who did stir it up right after the hit on Semin as he was angry. Ovie and Donald Brashear kept throwing Blues into the boards the rest of the game, but the Donald didn't drop the gloves much to dismay of many fans. The Caps have had some problems with letting other teams abuse their players...see last year's playoff series when the Philadelphia Flyers kept running their netminder Cristobal Huet so it is an issue. However, in this case, I side with those who also remember when Donald Brashear lost it against the Boston Bruins last year and the ensuing penalties cost the Caps the game. They didn't need that last night. If they were up 5-0 as they should have been, then fine, let Donald throw down. Otherwise, take the two points and move on.

The highlights:

  • Viktor Kozlov, first star of the game, scored 2 goals and had 1 assist. He played a good game.
  • Simeon Varlamov, second star of the game (that's 2 stars in his two starts), looked strong in net again, particularly when he robbed Keith Tkachuk on a breakaway late in the 3rd to keep the game at 4-2. Varlamov, now reassigned to Hershey, stopped 61 of 64 shots in his 2 wins for a .953 save percentage. The fans, myself included, are in love with this kid and his shifty eyes that track the puck and stalk skaters. I can't wait to see him in net on a full-time basis for the Caps.
  • Alex Ovechkin's shot 13 seconds into the power play that started the 3rd blasted past the goaltender and put the Caps up 4-2. He had 5 hits, most on the team again and got the third star of the game.
  • The grinders were all +1. Boyd Gordon, often underappreciated for his defensive forward play, played an awesome game last night with a 57% faceoff win and he assisted on Kozlov's first goal. David Steckel played much better than he has been, but his faceoff % was only 31% (yikes).
  • Tomas Fleischmann made his career record 11th goal in December, hmmm not bad at all. He was wide open waiting for Eric Fehr and Steckel to get it to him and they did.
  • Milan Jurinca, also had a good +1 game with 6 blocked shots and 3 hits while using his body to throw some Blues around, and Karl Alzner was the only +2 player for the Caps. These two are playing terrific defense together.
  • The rocking and packed phone booth for a Thursday night game against a West Coast team. Washingtonians are beginning to appreciate the team that's winning in this town. To all of you new hockey fans, welcome aboard to the greatest game around.

The lowlights:

  • Atrocious playing on the power play. The Caps couldn't keep the puck in the offensive zone. They played much better on the power play with the Hershey call ups because they were keeping it simple. Hmm, maybe time to go back to that game play.
  • Caps playing too cute again. They should have controlled this game and they didn't.
  • Michael Nylander...where in the world did your game go to? He's frustrating on the ice and I want to keep yelling "shoot the puck" into his ear while he's circling around aimlessly. He had 3 giveaways, a team high for the game.
  • The injury to Semin. He is guilty of playing too cute a lot, particularly with Ovie, but this team is far better off with him than without him.
  • The Caps need to stop playing down to their level of competition. The Blues are beat up badly and sit in last place in the Western conference. Consistently good teams, see the Detroit Red Wings, attack weaker teams because winning two points in this league on any given night is tough.
  • Varlamov made a rookie mistake in the 3rd by playing the puck outside the trapezoid which resulted in a late 3rd period play. It happens, but luckily the Caps overcame it.

The Caps visit the Broad Street Bullies tomorrow for an afternoon game. There's never been a lot of love lost between the Caps and Philadelphia Flyers so it should be an intense game.

Let's go Caps!

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