Neuvy & Brad's - heros from yesterday - and other thoughts
Michal Neuvirth gave the Caps the chance to earn two points against the Pittsburgh Penguins by making 18 saves in the first period, including some highlight reel saves. That period the Caps mustered a measly 7 shots on goals as they were outworked by the Wilkes-Barrie AHL baby Pen call ups in the first period.
Fan favorite, Matt Bradley, got the Caps going in the second period and fans hailed Brads as the hero of the night. He caught Matt Cooke, he of the slimy dirty hits like the knee-on-knee on Ovechkin in their last game, with his head down and slammed him into the boards. The refs called Brads for charging on what several of the broadcasters thought was a clean hit, but Jordan Staal also took a roughing penalty for going after Brads so no harm done and the Caps picked their game up after that.
Alex Ovechkin provided the only goal on a power play (shocker!) with a rocket shot that Marc-Andre Fleury had no chance to stop. Ovie seems to be finding his game finally as he's netted 9 goals and 8 assists in his last 15 games. He still needs to improve his defensive play and he needs to stop doing his signature move up the middle around the defenseman to try and score. Everyone knows what he's doing so he needs to change it up, but I'm more hopeful than I've been in a long time about his play.
The Caps survived their five game road trip with a 3-2 record, dropping two to the West's San Jose Sharks and Phoenix Coyotes and winning a wild 7-6 one against the Anaheim Ducks in between and then wrapping up their trip back East by beating the Buffalo Sabres and Penguins.
I still don't want to think about this team this season. Scanning my blog posts illustrates the roller coaster ride this team has been on this season. At this point, they've improved and it's clear they're trying to play better defensively and they're scoring more even on the power play but, it's the little things that drive me crazy that the Caps don't execute well. You know, those little things like hustling and sacrificing the body that win Stanley Cups more than offensive prowess. They let the AHL call ups outwork them for the first twenty minutes in their win last night then they picked it up in the 2nd and 3rd periods and played much better defensive hockey to preserve the 1-0 lead. But, they haven't been a first place team in a while so they need to hustle for sixty minutes every night.
The New York Rangers visit the phone booth on Friday.
Let's go Caps!