Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Caps-Ducks Recap

Power outages and FCC blackout regs have left me with a broken ability to watch all of the past three games, which is why I haven't done a recap lately. But I was able to see all but ten minutes of the second period tonight, so here ya go. My five thoughts on tonight's game:
  • I don't know who was
    Personally, I think he is a Highlander. Ageless Scandinavian
    guy in peak physical condition? Just saying, don't be
    surprised when they find him headless in an alley or mountaintop.
    better tonight, the Caps' third line or Teemu Selanne. That's a lie, the ageless wonder was of course better (two goals and an assist, just an incredible player), but the meat-and-potatoes line looked damn good after a couple games of looking not-so-much. Combining for one goal and seven points overall, Laich, Ward, and Chimera all finished +3 to boot. If I had to pick my three stars, it'd be Selanne, M-n-P Line, and Backstrom. Backstrom, of course, got the 6-on-5 game-tying goal at the end of regulation, and then potted the winner in OT. He's obviously woken up this year and is back to form (other than those pesky faceoffs). I'm feeling good about Ovi and Backstrom this year.

    • While nobody was surprised that Boudreau did his line change shuffle tonight, seeing Knuble on the fourth line and the Carlson-Alzner pairing broken up was pretty surprising. It's been weird enough, for me at least, to see number 22 on the second line this season, but the fourth line? Man, I thought Perreault didn't belong down there. Thankfully, by the end of the game Knuble had moved back up the ranks and even got ice time with his old pals Backstrom and Ovechkin. Boudreau may have wanted to shake things up tonight, but all that really happened was he confused players by putting them with unfamiliar linemates. Just like the old days.
    • Roman Hamrlik was signed in the offseason to bring a veteran presence to the blueline,someone who could block shots, generate offense when needed, mentor the kids, and generally be one of the most defensively responsible guys on the ice. So hopefully there won't be many (any?) more games like this one. Playing a part in the first few goals scored against, with some saying he deserved some assists on the Anaheim goals, he finished with no points or shots on goal and a team worst -3, despite having the third-most ice time behind Wideman and Carlson. Hammer needs to put tonight behind him, shore up his game, and move on. But still. Yikes.
    • Defensive breakdowns and bad communication early on gave the Ducks an early 2-0 lead, and really none of the four goals Anaheim scored could be blamed on Vokoun (which is the kind of thing I don't say very often at all), and could probably be blamed on Boudreau as much as the players. Despite that, the Caps showed some of their best defensive play this season, holding the highly skilled Ducks to a mere 15 shots (6-5-4-0 by period). Not good for Vokoun's stats, but good news for the team. That effort, with a healthy Mike Green and familiarity amongst linemates again, is what they needed to carry over from last year.
    • On the opposite end of the ice, Jonas Hiller allowed five goals on 40 shots (9-12-18!-1 by period). They weren't all pretty, but that is still five goals for the league's leading offense, giving them an even 4.00 goals-for average. That's the kind of play they need to carry over from 09-10. Put 'em together and whaddya got? Bippity-boppity-winning. 
     Your Washington Capitals are now 8-2-0 through the first ten games of the season. It hasn't always been pretty, with four of those games decided in OT or the shootout, the ugly game in Vancouver, and the return of PK woes, but you don't have to win pretty for it to count in the end. I'll have more tomorrow on my thoughts of what lessons can be learned from these games, but for now, let's revel in the fact that the Caps are leading the league in point percentage and are perfect at Verizon Center. Let's keep winning, boys. And, of course, here are your NHL.com highlights:

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