Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2013 Game 2: Jets at Caps

Two games, two losses. Look, the Caps have been here before, it happens, bad bounces, bad refs, bad luck, etc. Not in Panic Mode yet. But I will start something new for the blog: Star and Goat. The Star will be the Caps player most deserving of my personal MVP, and the Goat will be the guy who may earn a kick in the gut from a goat. Following that, my five thoughts.

Star: An easy call here. I was tempted to title the post "Jets at Hendricks and some other guys wearing jerseys." Matt Hendricks is your star of the game. He was a force on the ice with the opening tally (fluky though it may be) and two(!) fights. Maybe that will be the Matt Hendricks Hat Trick from here on out. Solid all around, hitting, blocking, scoring, and bashing. Earn that paycheck and a bump up in the lines, Hendy.

Goat: The Real American Hero himself, John Carlson. The Jets' first goal deflected off his skate and through Holtby. He failed to stop his guy from making an obvious pass (which also should have been stopped by Karl Alzner) that led to a powerplay goal against. All around ineffective after a solid outing on Saturday. Hopefully it'll be the last time he or Alzner are mentioned in this section.
  1. Troy Brouwer, who was my personal preseason pick for the most disappointing player on the Caps, had a pretty good night, too. He scored the late powerplay goal for Washington just as I was questioning why he continues to get powerplay time. It ended a 17 game scoring drought (thus my questioning of putting him on the PP), and reminded us that sometimes these guys are good at the hockey.  The cross-checking penalty that was called on him earlier, which negated a Caps PP, was a weak call by the refs, a theme that sadly persisted throughout the game. All in all, this game's positive notes pretty much started and ended with last year's leaders in PIMs and hits.
  2. Holtby... again, not panicking yet. The guys in front of him are rusty, it's a new coach, etc. etc. I'll be straight up - I don't care how well or how poorly he does this year. I want him to be the #1 guy and to get 30 starts. If he bombs, he bombs. We know what we have in Neuvirth (~.900-.915 sv% and ~2.45-2.85 GAA), we don't know what we have in Holtby yet. That being said, I think he'll come back strong in February.
  3. The defense. It needs work. Holtby had to face 39 shots tonight. Against Winnipeg. That is unacceptable. Including injured players (Orlov and Hillen), there are nine NHL defensemen in Washington. Alzner, Carlson, Green, Hamrlik, Schultz, Poti, and Erskine. Kundratek appears to be the callup of choice, and he has performed admirably in his limited appearances, tonight included. I would certainly rather have him in a couple of the others right now. McPhee has made it known he would like Cam Schilling to make an appearance at some point, as well. Guys better shape up, or odds are they'll be shipped out.
  4. Ribeiro and Wolski look like they're really developing some chemistry. Ribeiro likely would have had a goal on a real slick pass from WW17 if the puck hadn't taken an extra bounce over his stick. Wolski had some really nice looks, but wasn't able to close the deal. Ribeiro got beat up and took some high sticks that ended up requiring stitches, but the refs cared not. Unless until Ribeiro called them on it, and he got an unsportsmanlike to close the game. Can't blame him.
  5. Jay Beagle played pretty solid, but just like Joel Ward seems to be in the right spot these days, Beagle looks to be in the wrong one. He is one of the best defensive forwards on the team, and is able to get a surprise shot off, even if he is not likely to get it past a goalie. But it is because of the fact that he is highly unlikely to score that he does not belong anything higher than the fourth line. Hendricks and/or Perreault should be move up in his place. But it's a young season and things can change. Beagle certainly had the opportunities, and Pavelec absolutely robbed him at one point. This is a story to watch, even if nobody else talks about it.
The Caps host the bottom of last year's Eastern Conference, the Montreal Canadiens, and their new old coach Michel Therrien on Thursday. If the Caps leave that game without a point, then we may need to start worrying. Until then, we just have to hope the boys brush the rust off sooner rather than later.

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