Friday, April 15, 2011

The heart attack Caps

There is nothing more exciting than overtime hockey in the Stanley Cup playoffs.  The game moves so fast compared to other sports that in a blink of an eye a puck can fly into the net and the game's over.  But, if it's your team playing overtime in the playoffs, the stress can have you reaching for your phone to call 911 because your heart hurts.  So, of course, that's how the Caps started their Eastern conference quarter-final series against the New York Rangers because they never do anything the easy way.

I'm glad they won because the Caps needed this win psychologically (I know I needed it!).  They haven't won game 1 in a playoff series at home in the last two playoff seasons.  But, more importantly, I didn't want the Caps to lose this game and then start holding their sticks too tight wondering how they were going to score on the great Henrik Lundqvist in net.

What I liked:

  • The Caps blocked more shots than the Rangers 32-28.  That shows commitment to team defense.
  • Scott Hannan played a great game on the blue line and showed why the veteran defenseman was a key pickup for the Caps.
  • The rookie goal tender Michal Neuvirth stayed cool, calm and collected during his NHL playoff debut and made key saves, particularly in overtime, that helped the Caps win the game.
  • Alex Ovechkin not giving up on the play that resulted in that dirty goal that tied the game.
  • Nicklas Backstrom, the Caps ice team leader in game 1, played a smart hockey game.  He's struggled this season, but has recently gotten back to his game.
  • Brooks Laich crushed in the faceoff circle, winning 72% of his 18 faceoffs.
  • Marc Staal's mistake in overtime that led to Jason Arnott feeding Alexander Semin for that beautiful blast of a shot to win the game.
  • They won!

What I didn't:

  • Sloppy play in the offensive zone.  The Caps didn't take the time to set up offensive zone plays.  Ovie tried to do it all by himself a couple of times and that doesn't work in the playoffs.
  • Not enough traffic in front of the net.  You need traffic in front of the net to get those garbage goal rebound opportunities.  Garbage goals win playoff games, particularly, when the goal tender stands on his head to make outrageous saves.  Ovie's goal, where he kept jabbing at the puck until it squeezed through Lundqvist's pads, is a classic example of a garbage goal. The Caps need to park themselves in front of the net.
  • Ovie's stupid roughing penalty shortly after his goal.  That could have cost the Caps the game.
  • Giveaways - the Caps had 20 to the Rangers 13.  Not good.
  • The goal post.  That ringing sound reverberating through the phone booth on shots by both Arnott and Semin that hit the post made me want to tear my hair out.  It's hard enough scoring on Lundqvist and he was beat on both those shots if they were a tiny bit lower.
The puck drops for game two in about eight hours.  I've got 911 on speed dial.

Let's go Caps!

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