Saturday, April 17, 2010

Capitals 6, Canadiens 5 (OT)

Writing before the end of the game: win or lose, Alex Ovechkin is back, and the Caps are right back in series, regardless of the Game 2 outcome. (Update: WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Quick recap:

Similar to the Super Bowl Sunday PIT matchup on NBC. Visitors jump ahead 2-0 early, Caps respond on a breakaway goal, visitors make it 4-1, Caps reply late in the second, Ovechkin starts contributing in the third to tie it up, Caps in it in OT. I was really scared when the Habs scored with about 5 mins to go in the third, but John Carlson is clutch.

Some thoughts:

  • Is Eric Fehr clutch or what? Breakaway goal in the first when it was 2-0 MTL and the Caps seemed down and out. Every goal of his seems to be big--with 22 so far, that's quite a lot.
  • Theo has gotta stop that second shot. His team down, not playing well, risking going down two...not the best time for a "B" game. If he's up more, then he stops it. Maybe he was watching the pass--in that case, Schultz and Green need to challenge Andrei Kostitsyn more. And sloppy passing in the neutral zone led to that 3-on-2. Bad plays by six Caps.
  • Unlucky for Theo on the first one. When will the weird bounces start going the Caps' way?
  • After one period: 

  • On Thursday, Alex Ovechkin played 26:26 and had zero shots and three hits. So far tonight he's played 5:49 and has two shots and seven hits. Here's hoping that's just the beginning.
  • That'll do. AO finished with a goal and three helpers on the night. Great. 6 shots and 8 hits too. And in "just" 21 mins of ice time. And his emotion is back. No more stoicism. Alex Ovechkin is back.
  • What a time for Nicklas Backstrom's first career hat trick. Assistant Captain clutch? Mean Lars Backstrom also got 6 shots and showed plenty of emotion as well. His goal celebrations, by the way, are teh awesome.
  • What's with the icings? The bad passing? The slipping? Ice bad or what?
  • Andrei Kostitsyn didn't have a dominant-type hat trick like Ovechkin and Crosby have. It was a sniper's hat trick. Whatever works, I guess. 
  • Nicklas Backstrom had a similar hat trick. Except he didn't disappear.
  • DUMP AND CHASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Seriously. Do it. (Note: looks like the Caps got the memo in the late second period). Do it for sixty minutes, and you can pull it out in five. Seriously.
  • Backstrom first goal: through a Knuble screen, Ovechkin also in front of the net. That's how it's done. 
  • Tomas Fleischmann: good game, especially in the third. Not too many bad passes, and he dumped and chased himself, setting the tone early in the third.
  • Ovechkin goal: through a Knuble screen, in front of the net. Two "dirty" goals from the top line. That's how it's done.
  • Backstrom second goal: centering feed, deflected in. Knuble also near the net. That's how it's done.
  • How nice is it to hear "Poti! Poti!" after his fight with Scott Gomez?
  • Too much space to Habs' forwards, especially on the rush. Take the pass or take the shot, but letting shooters into the slot is unacceptable. Make a decision. Especially Green-Schultz. Corvo-Morrisonn played the rush well in Game 2.
  • At least the Caps picked it up, making Theo's replacement by Varlamov not entirely worthless. Well, kinda picked it up. More shots against, but not as high quality. The second line was able to cycle a little and the top line got some chances too.
  • John Carlson is playing solid, but committing a few more turnovers than I'd like. But such composure. The Versus announcers were raving over his play all night. I'll take it. He eliminated the turnovers by the second period, too. And his goal? Completely Ovechkin-esque.
  • Tripping call on Eric Belanger was weak. So was the tripping call on Benoit Puliot.
  • Good aggressive PKing from the Caps. I loved the Semin-Backstrom-Green-Poti unit. Carlson was excellent in shorthanded situations. When he tries to clear off the boards, it gets out. Unlike some other American Caps with single digits on their backs...
  • The Caps need to study Montreal some--specifically, their puck support getting the puck out of the zone. The defenseman always has at least three options nearby. Studying their PK wouldn't hurt either. Well, at least when the power play is allowed to set up.
  • Did Mike Green and Marc-Andre Bergeron switch teams? One's forgotten how to play defense, and the other suddenly is really good defensively. Green needs to get his offensive game going--more pinches, more joining (not leading!) the rush, and so on. He's fast enough to get back. That's what he did two years ago in the Philadelphia series. That's what he needs to do now.
  • Green needs less ice time. He got over five minutes more than any other Cap. Read that again.
  • Carlson got more ice time than Corvo. I think Corvo could get some more in lieu of Green. He still should be the ice time leader, but 25+ mins in Round 1 when he's playing pretty poorly (at least, while not on the PK) is not good.
  • Could the power play be slumping at any worse time??? And why bump Alexander Semin off the top power play unit? Somehow, Semin makes that unit go. At least put Carlson out there. He's great at getting shots through.
  • More movement on the power play. Not necessarily puck movement, but rotations and such. All I saw was Ovechkin moving down the weak side when Backstrom had the puck. Not enough. Put out 2 defensemen if needed, but run pinches with Green, the ones that were so effective last season. Run give-and-goes with Backstrom.
  • Where was Game 1 Alexander Semin? Waiting until the third?
  • Brendan Morrison looked good and even landed a couple of big hits. But where was he in the third? He should've been on the power play, at least taking the draw.
  • Speaking of which--helps the power play to win the draw in the offensive zone. Backstrom, Laich, and Fleischmann just weren't getting it done.
  • AO down right wing: win. Maybe shift him to RW and Semin to LW?
  • Is Tom Poti "trending Sasha?" He made some good plays and some bad ones. Luckily he didn't have too many bad ones. And none I saw after the middle of the second period.
  • Jeff Schultz, don't try the stretch pass unless you have a teammate open. Please.
  • Theodore's unbeated run is kinda still alive. An OT loss in Game 1 and a no-decision in Game 2. Is he starting in Game 3? I think so. The Caps finally figured it out in the third.
  • Heroes of the night: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom. Oh, and the True American Hero John Carlson.
  • Alex Ovechkin is back. His physical game got him going, and though he wasn't getting shots through, he went to the front of the net, passed the puck well, and was a force. His shooting game will open up soon enough. Izvinitye Montreal, patamu shto ja bydy igrat kharasho. Or, извините Монреаль, потому что я буду играть хорошо (by the way, that's proof that you're not supposed to say the "t" in "Montreal.")

Capitals and Canadiens tied at one game apiece. Game 3, Monday night at Centre Bell, Montreal.

Rock the Red (and not the rouge).

Via Whiskey Robber from a Japers' Rink comment thread:

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