Sunday, March 13, 2011

Recap: Caps 4, Hawks 3 (OT)

What a game. Not so much the first (outside shots, with two or three somewhat weak goals given up, plus another early in the 2nd), but about halfway through the second, the game, as the talking heads on NBC noted, started getting nasty. Jason Chimera and a couple of other Caps ran Corey Crawford, Alex Ovechkin ran over Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson, and the game began to open up a bit more. Both teams were cycling, both teams kept the other out of the middle defensively, both teams hit the post, scored, and got excellent saves by their goalie.

  • The Caps generated 42 shots to the Hawks' 30, 37-24 at ES, 48-32 in Fenwick, 61-50 in Corsi. This game wasn't slow by any means.
  • Brian Campbell was the only Hawk with a positive Fenwick, +2.
  • Alexander Semin was +11 in Fenwick. Umm, yeah, he had a good game. I don't think I saw him lose control of the puck or fail to come out of a board battle with the puck (save for when he lost an edge). He had a couple of great chances in front on which he missed the net, and set up teammates for great chances three or four times. Probably should have drawn a couple of penalties, too. Refs weren't buying. And 8.9 of his 14.6 ES minutes were against Duncan Keith, to boot. Keith didn't seem all that dominant defensively, though he was active and passed very well in the offensive zone. His vision is phenomenal.
  • Keith led all skaters with 25 minutes and change on the night. Brent Seabrook and Dennis Wideman were both between 21 and 22, Karl Alzner a bit over 20, and that's it for guys over 20 minutes. Considering the game went to OT--Mike Green sometimes sees 34 minutes in such games--both teams were clearly not going all in. Chicago played the first leg of a back-to-back (San Jose comes to United Center Monday night), and Washington seemed content to let them distribute the minutes and match accordingly. I did see John Erskine against Toews or Hossa more than I would have liked, though.
  • Brooks Laich and Jason Arnott also had strong outings, both picking up a goal, winning a lot of faceoffs (W-L 7-1 and 8-5 respectively), and playing well along the boards and below the goal line.
  • Strong penalty killing by the Caps, and good puck movement on the power play. While on the first the Hawks were leaving Arnott and Wideman open at the points, they played closer to those two the second time, allowing Semin to work a lot down low. I was expecting someone to lose control of an easy pass at the blueline, given how Green and Ovechkin have looked on the PP point this season, but thankfully that hasn't happened. It's like Wideman got the guys some new sticky stick tape.
  • Speaking of Wideman, I think he made the right play by sliding to try and block Toews' shot (the eventual game-tying power play goal in the final minute), but I can't help but feel Holtby made that save and the rebound hit Wideman and back into the net through Holtby's five-hole.
  • Braden Holtby had a good game. Not great, but good. 3 GA on 30 SA is decent.
  • Jason Arnott may have had a chance to end the game when Alexander Semin fed him a saucer pass on the rush, leaving #44 alone in the slot. He lost the handle, unfortunately, but I couldn't help but feel like at that point, with all the momentum on the Caps' side, a goal would've deflated the Hawks entirely.
  • Marcus Johansson continues to improve, proving me wrong again and again. He still looks a little lost offensively without the puck, but now looks like he knows what he's doing with the puck on his stick, and defensively, even won the puck from Marian Hossa in a 1-on-1 board battle.
  • Edzo: Erskine didn't dive, his skate got dislodged. It was a trip called as a hold.
  • I didn't believe Bruce Boudreau when he, in a first period interview with Pierre McGuire, on a question about his team's intensity, replied that the Caps were plenty intense, but apparently he was right.
  • Classy move by Tomas Kopecky to check up on Dennis Wideman after he realized he'd boarded the Caps defenseman.
  • I honestly thought Nick Leddy was Duncan Keith for a large part of this game. Both skate extremely well, both are left handed shots with long sticks, both like to carry the puck on the breakout, both play on the power play and were active offensively (Leddy with a goal, Keith with an assist). Neither made any egregious miscue defensively. Watching the highlights, Keith lost the puck to Fehr on the endboards, leading to Laich's goal, and was slow to pick up Knuble on the game-winner. Tough night for him.
  • Brent Seabrook looked like he was trying too hard at times, actually, though all his physical play on Alex Ovechkin more than made up for it. Maybe AO uses that cut-to-the-inside move so much to make his move to the outside and backhand all that more effective. Oh, and that new shiny spinorama.
  • Kudos, though, to Patrick Kane for hustling back on that rush, even if, in the end, he just found a different way to get embarrassed.
  • John Carlson was very, very good, and I thought the best defenseman on the ice, easily (shutting down Ovechkin-Johansson-Knuble < shutting down Sharp-Toews-Kane). The only Caps D I thought had a slightly rough outing are Dennis Wideman (a couple of defensive zone turnovers, trying to be too cute) and Jeff Schultz (if only he were faster...).
  • Jonathan Toews played 15.1 minutes at ES, Carlzner were on ice for 12.5 of them. And shut him down, again, coming out positive in Fenwick despite being laced with positive zone starts (+3 each, Caps were -7 as a team, no other Cap was positive).
  • Just imagine if Backstrom and Green were playing.
  • Marco Sturm continues to be invisible.
  • After Chris Stewart in St. Louis, I think Scott Hannan has been the best trade acquisition so far this season. +3 on the night, led all skaters.
  • Brian Campbell only played 4 minutes at ES. Why, I don't know. I think he was returning from injury (it was "news" that he was playing, per the comments at Second City Hockey). I don't think he would have altered the result, though.
  • Maybe the Capitals do get better as the game goes along. Certainly seems like in "big games" in the third, they have more jump, regardless of score. Like last year (the Caps outshot the Hawks 11-1 in the 3rd, outscoring them 3-0), the Caps dominated late in the game. In overtime, the shots were 6-0 for Washington.
  • Final note: Michael Frolik and Marian Hossa were +10 in zone starts, with 11 defensive zone starts, 4 and 3 neutral zone starts, and 1 offensive zone start. How the hell does Hossa end -1 in Fenwick and +1 in Corsi? By being awesome.

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