Monday, November 06, 2006

Never Give Up, Never Surrender

Okay, I stole that from the classic Tim Allen movie definitely applies tonight, though.

I was lucky enough to be right up close to witness one of the more exciting games that I've seen in a long while. And with the amount of firepower they have lately and the amount of heart they've shown so far in the season, that's saying something.

I actually don't think they played all that badly in the first - I know, I know, they gave up 3 goals and that sucked, but they really spent a lot of time in the Ottawa zone during that first frame. That just shows how quickly goals can pile up in the semi-new NHL - three defensive blips and they're trailing just like that.

By the way, good for Hanlon for doing the right thing and getting Olie out of there early. The first two goals weren't really his fault, but the third was a bit of a softie and it looked like Ottawa had gotten in his head a bit. It just wasn't his night, and it would have been embarassing for Olie to stay in. It's okay, he's allowed to have a bad game - he's certainly pulled the Caps through their fair share of bad games over the last few years...

I was very proud of the way the Caps clawed their way back into this game. It was frustrating to watch them try at times, because they seemed to be throwing a lot of shots on net from the perimeters and most goalies will stop those 99% of the time. But as the game went on they got muckier in front of the net and started laying some huge hits on the Senators - you could just feel the energy start to shift.

The Bad:
- Another slow start for the Caps, as they dug themselves a 3-0 hole just barely past the halfway mark of the first period. Luckily they came back in style, but you can't give a dangerous offensive team like the Senators any room to work with a lead, even when they're slumping a little bit.
- Olie - I hate to say it, because I love him and I think there have been many nights this season and last that he's kept the Caps in games they should have been out of long ago. This just wasn't his best night. I know he'll be back strong for his next meeting - we all know Olie won't let himself off easy for this one.
- Semin's Passing - don't get me wrong, Semin makes some very pretty passes and is a heck of a playmaker when he wants to be, but he needs to put a little meat on some of those cross-ice feeds. Too many times tonight I saw him hurl a puck across the rink only to have a Senator just waiting to pounce on the slow-moving puck, resulting in a turnover.

The Good:
- Brian Pothier. The guy is simply a beast - he seemed to be on the ice the entire game and made some great plays, both defensively and offensively. He's really a beautiful skater to watch, too - very smooth and quick, even skating backwards.
- Brent Johnson once again came through for the Caps, stemming the tide of a potential Ottawa blowout after coming in for Olie halfway through the first period. He stopped all 21 shots he faced and got a big hug from Olie after the game for his efforts.
- Power play - this was a low-penalty affair, but despite limited chances and a pretty good penalty killing team in Ottawa (currently 3rd in the NHL) the Caps were able to cash in on 2 of their 4 opportunities with the extra man. That's including the game-tying marker with 25.5 seconds remaining in the third period...
- Brian Sutherby - I'm falling more and more in love with his performance every single game. He's just everywhere, slamming guys into the boards, winning faceoffs, and getting some very pretty shots on net. It's nice to see Sutsy start to hit his stride.
- Shots on Goal - the Caps allowed the Sens just 26 shots on net, the first time it's been under 30 in a loooong time. They were only slightly outshot in the first and the second, then actually pulled ahead in both the third and the extra frame.
- Momentous Win - tonight's victory marked the first time this year the Caps have won consecutive games and, more importantly in my mind, the first time they've won in overtime. That extra point will come in handy, especially given the fact that both Atlanta and Tampa won tonight. With these two points, by the way, the Caps have again hit that six point mark with one game to go in Hanlon's 5-game plan...
- Attendance - it's listed as just under 11,000, but it definitely felt like more. I was happy to see so many people in the seats, especially given the fact that it's Monday and that means football. There were lots of Sens fans, there, too, but they tend not to be that obnoxious as a whole so that was fine. Everyone was standing during the final minute of play, and I thought the roof was going to lift off when Ovie scored to send it to overtime. Even louder reaction when the overtime marker was scored - just so exciting.

Funny moment of the night - we had two Senators fans next to us who wore brown paper bags over their heads for the whole game, not even taking them off to go get a beer during intermission. I was very impressed with their commitment :) We were across from the team benches - I wonder if the Sens could see them...

Washington Post recap
Associated Press recap
ttawa Sun

And there you have it...the Caps get a well-earned rest before traveling to Raleigh for a visit with our favorite windbags on Thursday night. Let's go for 3 straight, guys!

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