Sunday, April 24, 2011

An electric phone booth and the Caps move on

The Caps played the game they were supposed to yesterday and came away with the win, 3-1, and the series. The ringing in my ears finally subsided several hours after I left the Verizon Center.  The deafening cheers from the sea of red started before the Caps appeared on the ice and they rarely let up yesterday afternoon.   From the "we are louder" chant to the "hey, hey good-bye" chant in the last two minutes, Caps fans enjoyed themselves in the post season, for once.

Props to Michal Neuvirth, the first star of the game.  The 23 year-old rookie net minder played with confidence.  He showed that when he came out to skate for the first star by throwing his hands into the air as if to say, "NHL, do you know who I am now?"  The unheralded net minder won't be unheralded much longer.  Neuvirth has won every single playoff series he's played on North American soil and earned an MVP award in the AHL by leading the Capitals minor league affiliate, Hershey Bears, to the first of two Calder Cup victories. 

I love Neuvirth's cool, calm and unflappable demeanor in net, except when someone is crashing his crease.  Then, he gets ticked.  Ah, that brings back memories of Olie Kolzig for me and that's a good thing.  Neuvy's 1.83 GAA and .946 save percentage has him on the leader board for playoff goalies in the number two position behind Antero Nittimaki of the San Jose Sharks.

Thank you Coach Boudreau for having faith in Neuvirth.  I asked for him to be the goalie in my March 14th column and it was the right decision.  He's a winner and that's all that matters right now.

The Caps also crashed the net yesterday.  Yeah.  So simple, yet something the Caps forget to do time and time again.  Mike Green's first goal came on a net crashing scrum on the power play that ended up with him getting the puck into the net.  Greener also provided the most scary moment of the game when he blocked a shot with his head. Ahhhh.  The phone booth went silent.  Apparently, he's okay.  We'll see.

The game winning goal came courtesy of the Cap's game winning goal Russian machine, Alex Ovechkin and it was a beauty.  Ovie out smarted an overworked and tired Marc Staal and beat Henrik Lundqvist coming from the right wing side.  Maybe Boudreau needs to play Ovie on the right wing more often.  He said he might.

There are other Caps that played key roles in getting them through round one.  I'll talk about them in the coming days before round two starts.  In the meantime, I get to watch playoff hockey without really caring about the outcome.  That keeps my blood pressure down.

Let's go Caps!

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