Saturday, November 18, 2006

Canes Capitalize

It's a darn shame that post #100 will be spent talking about a Caps loss, but what can you do...hard to believe I've rambled on about nothing 100 times, right?

I think what is most frustrating about tonight's game is not that the Caps lost (although that's bad enough) or that they lost to Carolina (also pretty annoying). It's that once again they failed to play up to the standard that they have set for themselves and that we as fans have started to expect from them this season.

Some might say tonight was a true test of how far the Caps had really come - it's one thing to beat slumping teams like Philadelphia or Ottawa, but it's another to face the defending Stanley Cup champs who are playing at the same level they were last summer. Because while there were things they could do better, the Caps actually didn't play that badly. Don't get me wrong, they didn't play great, either, but the bigger factor was that Carolina was able to just shut them down. I think that the game tonight should serve as a reality check that, while the season has thus far been a success, there is still work to be done and the rebuilding process is an ongoing one.

It's also important to realize that tonight was just one game out of 81. There will be more losses like this one, maybe even against the Canes...but there will also be good nights. Clark will be back, Semin will start to score, and those chances and unlucky bounces will start to go the Caps way again.

But I fear I have gotten too deep and sentimental about this one loss, so on to the good/bad portion of our evening -

- Pettinger really seems to be hitting his stride, something that has obviously not gone unnoticed by the coaching staff. Towards the end of the evening Petty was getting time on the top line with Zubie and Ovie, as well as minutes on both the power play and penalty killing units.
- After missing six games to injury, Richard Zednik returned to the lineup and got a power play goal to cut the Hurricanes' lead to 2...for a while, at least. He had some good puck possession and seemed to grow more comfortable as the night went on, although his lazy defense did cost the Caps another goal.
- Despite being outshot for most of the first period, the Caps did manage to limit the total shots on goal to 29 - hey, I'm just happy when it stays in double digits these days.

- 22 shots on goal against a goalie who has sat out eleven straight games just isn't going to cut it. Actually, 22 shots on any goalie regardless of rust just isn't going to cut it. There wasn't enough traffic in front of the net to collect rebounds and rack up the shots, so even the shots they did get were mostly not scoring chances
- Penalty killing was less than spectacular tonight, as the Caps surrendered 2 quick goals on back to back power plays. It turns out that was all the Canes would need - once again specialty teams would play a huge role in a game's outcome.
- I'm so rarely right about anything, so I was surprised that my nicknames actually came true for the Cole-Brind'Amour-Whitney line...sorry, folks!
- The whole first period was bizarre for both teams - neither seemed to really have a feel for the ice and the two teams combined for only 16 shots on goal total.

Tomorrow night the Caps get a chance for revenge as they travel to Boston for the second of home and home games with the Bruins. It's time to nip this little losing streak in the bud!

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