Friday, October 13, 2006

Wild Shootout Loss for Caps, 3-2

Last night was an emotional rollercoaster ride for me. I went from cheering to slapping my hand on my forehead in disgust to covering my eyes in fear. It's a very confusing feeling to sit there after a game is done and not be able to pinpoint my exact thoughts about how the game went. I guess it depends on which period you were watching...

So today I'm going to break down the good news/bad news just that way, by period:

Period #1 (aka pleasantly surprised):
Good News - Caps got on the board first with a nice little shot by Zubrus that caught Fernandez out of position and everyone seemed to have a little jump. I loved seeing Ovie come flying in to Zubie at top speed - Zubrus actually seemed to brace himself for impact. It made me laugh...
Bad News - Minnesota got on the board with a power play goal by Kim Johnsson
Good News (again) - recovery time was much better, as the Caps bounced back to regain the lead with a power play of their own

Good News - Johnson stood on his head, turning away 12 of the 13 shots faced in the opening frame
Bad News - No bad news here; Johnny was fantastic, definitely the best player on the ice

Period #2 (cue ominous music):
Good News - Only 3 penalties in this period (does that count as good news?)
Bad News - More dumb penalties led to a second PP strike by Johnsson with only 3 seconds remaining in the 5 on 4

Period #3 (Zzzzzzzz):
Good News - No power play goals allowed
Bad News - No one was awake to see the penalty killing at work

Good News - We got a point on the road, which is better than nothing
Bad News - No goals in the shootout at all...oh, yeah, and they lost

Okay, so in all seriousness I didn't really think they played that badly last night. Johnson continued his shining performance from the end of last season and made some truly great saves, and there was nothing he could do about either goal. I also loved his long pass up the ice on a bad line change by Minnesota resulting in a 3 on 0 for the Caps...that was then fired over the net. Yay.

The power play looked pretty sharp at times despite registering only one goal (a gorgeous shot by Alex 2.0 - seriously, watch the replay from different angles to get the full magnitude of how good it was). They were able to position themselves well and avoid the breakout passes and odd-man rushes that make fast teams like Minnesota so dangerous. They actually did a decent job penalty killing, too - you just can't take 11 penalties against a good power play team like the Wild and expect to get out of it unscathed.

My biggest issues would be the penalties (no surprise there) and the overall energy level. Once again they failed to keep up the drive through the full 60 minutes; in fact, by the third period both teams were lulling me to sleep. I think I went a good 10 minutes without yelling at the screen.

Next up - division rivals and all-around bad guys the Atlanta Thrashers come to town. Atlanta is currently leading the division, losing only once in the shootout opening night and outscoring their opponents 13-3 in their first four games. Another performance like last night won't cut it against those guys if they come out firing...

Here's a slightly bizarre Southeast Division preview on featuring the Caps and focusing on Muir and Gordon...go figure. At least it wasn't a doom and gloom article this time.

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