Monday, April 30, 2012

The Caps got lucky

In staying with my "thinking positive" theme, I'm not going to talk about game 1 against the Rangers in the second round of the playoffs.  It's better that way.  Instead, I'll focus on what I liked about tonight's game, starting with the fact that the Caps got lucky tonight.  They don't often get lucky.

They got lucky when John Carlson's "what just happened here" moment, at the end of a power play, almost cost the Caps a goal as Carlson lost the puck to the rookie Chris Kreider (the one that got the GWG for the Rangers in game 1 coming out of the box.  Instead Braden Holtby made a great save and then the puck went back the other way.  Matt Hendricks got the puck, put it between his legs and tried to slide it past Henrik Lundqvist.  Lundqvist lost the puck, Jason Chimera shoved at it as he's draped around the goal post corner and it deflected off a Ranger's skate into the net.  That happens against the Caps not for the Caps.

The Caps got lucky because the Rangers hit a goal post and a crossbar.  On the last scoring chance near the end of the third period, the puck bounced off the underside of the crossbar and popped back out.  I watched that slow motion replay and thought, wow, that is usually a goal against for the Caps.

They also got lucky despite some early officiating that went against them.  How Marian Gaborik doesn't get a penalty for slamming Matt Hendricks into the boards headfirst by the team doors continues to make me shake my head. But, I'm getting used to this kind of officiating in the NHL.

Other efforts to applaud:

  • Old man Mike Knuble winning the foot race and stretching out his stick to prevent the icing very late in the third.
  • Mike Knuble/Joel Ward connecting again for the first goal on a pretty passing play by Ward.  He's earning more of his paycheck with every playoff game.  
  • Alex Ovechkin blasting a beautiful game winning power play goal past Lundqvist.  
  • Jay Beagle bringing it every night and getting rewarded by Dale Hunter with the highest forward TOI tonight.
  • Karl Alzner burning out time on the clock at the end of the third by trapping the puck during a scrum with the Rangers behind Holtby.  Awesome.
It's an interesting strategy Coach Dale Hunter is using, but I'm willing to see where it takes the Caps.

Game 3 returns to the phone booth on Wednesday.

Let's go Caps!

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How sweet it is

To watch the Caps win a game 7 in overtime against the defending Stanley Cup champions.  And, of course, it had to go to overtime.  But, it's over and the Caps prevailed to move on.  I decided to take Mike Wise's advice and think positive today.  All day, I kept telling myself that the Caps were going to win tonight.  That's tough to do that when you're a Caps fan and have seen more playoff misery than you care to remember.  Yes, there are highlights, like the current coach's game winner in overtime against the Flyers, but those moments are easily outnumbered by the failures.

Not tonight though.  Instead, Joel Ward earned his paycheck by cashing in on a Mike Knuble rebound in OT.  Knuble deserves tons of credit, too, for getting that puck to the net first.  I don't think he'll be watching any more playoff games from the press box.

The other player I have to commend is, of course, Matt Hendricks.  He potted his first playoff goal in this game 7 to put the Caps up 1-0.  He continued to play his gritty and aggressive game throughout the game.

Braden Holtby, the 22-year old rookie goalie, played a stellar series against the Bruins.  There may be something to the rumor that the youngster needed his next challenge.  He had his weak moments and scared me early on tonight, but he's got confidence and is withstanding the pressure of the playoffs, so far.

And, then there was Dale Hunter's series strategy.  He matched up against Claude Julien quite well.  Whatever anyone thinks about Alex Ovechkin's lack of playing time in a series where it's hard to get him space against Charo/Seidenberg, it worked.  I don't think it will necessarily be that way against other opponents, but I'm not going to question it now.

The Caps won't know their second round opponent until tomorrow.  Tonight, it doesn't matter anyway.  I'm a happy Caps fan, for once.

Let's go Caps!
p.s.  This was the first time in NHL history that a playoff series had all 1-goal games.  As a Caps fan, I hated it.  But, for fans of hockey, this was a great series.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fun in Philly

I'm still stunned at the Caps "shock and awe" 5-2 performance against the Flyers in Philly last night.  With two goals in 1:08 to take the lead at the end of the first, after the Flyers scored first, and three goals in 2:25 at the beginning of the third period, it was a night of goals in bunches.

For two games in a row, the Caps have played hard for almost 60-minutes (that ridiculous last goal against being an exception to the playing hard theme) and that's a huge difference from last year, particularly, this early in the season.  Maybe it's the new guys, maybe it's the new "seriousness", maybe it's Tomas Vokoun standing on his head again, maybe it's Coach Bruce Boudreau matching lines when he can, maybe it's parking guys in front of the net, maybe it's Nicklas Backstrom (2nd star tonight) and Alex Ovechkin (1st star) starting to find their games again and maybe it's all of the above.  I don't care what it is, I just hope they keep it up. 

Any game the Caps play in the state of Pennsylvania that makes the fans leave early, like tonight, puts a big grin on my face.  But, I can't get too excited because it's way too early and the second season (the only one that counts in hockey) is months away. 

Players I'd like to call out with an emphasis on the 4th line:
  • Matt Hendricks - loved his game against Florida and tonight (assisted on Hamrlik's goal, played +2 hockey).  That guy his hustling, as is the whole fourth line...which leads to...
  • Mathieu Perreault - scored an unassisted goal and played +2 hockey.  He played a great game tonight.
  • Jeff Halpern - good to see him back in a Caps uniform, especially, when he's 86% in the faceoff circle on 7 attempts, like he was tonight.  Caps faceoff win percentage is ranked 20th in the league...ugh, this is a problem that needs to be fixed.
  • Ovie - loved that vintage first period goal.  More, more, more, please. 
  • Tomas Vokoun - I'm so much happier seeing him a Caps uniform, than a Florida one since he burned the Caps so many times.  His laser focus on the pucks tonight was awesome.  Vokoun is playing great in net.
Detroit's coming to town for Saturday night's game.  Since my friend and fellow hockey fanatic, Steve, is a Detroit fan and is attending the game, I'm pleading for the Caps to bring some more shock and awe.   Sorry Steve :)

Let's go Caps!

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Matt Hendricks is the man!

I forgot to mention that I love Matt Hendricks. He's a hard working contributor night in and night out. Tonight, he escaped the Toronto defensemen and undressed Jean-Sebestian Giguere and potted a goal worthy of a highlight reel. Maybe Coach Boudreau should think about him for the next shootout the Caps have.

I hope I see him in a Caps jersey for a long time.

Let's go Caps!

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