Wednesday, December 06, 2006

4 Games, 8 Points - Life is Good

I just returned from the Caps-Sens game and I wanted to be sure to get this all down before my high wore off...

That was a hell of a fantastic game.

The momentum seemed to kind of build as the night went on, sometimes bordering on the ridiculous, sometimes on the frustrating - but most of the time it was downright exhilerating. To think, a team's winning streak came to an end tonight...and it wasn't the Caps!

First of all, I'm loving how the Caps have really come out storming against these teams playing the second of back-to-back games. The Caps completely dominated the first period, outshooting Ottawa 19-11, but Emery looked very sharp to start the game. That would all change when the Caps finally connected, first on the rare and elusive creature known as a Matt Bradley goal and then 35 seconds later from captain Chris Clark.

And the Caps never looked back - they managed to again hold the lead for the entire game, despite playing their typically sluggish second period (seriously, what are they doing in the first intermission - popping Tylenol PM? Napping? Eating turkey???). Clarkie's second goal of the game at 13:54 of the middle frame rescued them from completely falling apart and propelled them into the last twenty minutes, where they kept the gas pedal down and padded their lead nicely en route to a decisive 6-2 victory.

Bad:
- You know, I rarely ever complain about the officiating...especially when it goes in the Caps favor (as it so rarely does). But tonight's referees seemed to be watching a completely different game than I was. I'll have to watch the replay because maybe I missed it, but what were all those calls? The parade to the penalty box in the third period in particular, although great for Caps fans, seemed a little off.
- 4 shots in the second period. 4? That's it? Actually, I saw the period and I'm amazed they counted that many...and yet still no support for my petition to have the second period removed. Fascinating.
- The saga of Ovie and his sticks continues. He broke 2 in the first ten minutes, including once on a golden opportunity.

So-So:
- Ovie and Zubie - it's weird to say this on a night when these players had 3 assists apiece, but it didn't seem like either of them was playing his best...kind of reminds you what kind of night they could have when they feel great, right? Anyways, Ovie seemed (understandably) timid along the boards and wasn't hitting as much; of course, he didn't seem to have any qualms about going over or through guys in open ice, so that's good. In Zubie's case, he's just not 100% yet - whatever illness he had, and they're still not saying, it obviously threw him a bit off. He regained his feet a little as the night went on, so I think he'll be okay.

Good:
- 6 goals from 5 different players, none of them named Ovechkin. Don't get me wrong, I love when Ovie scores, but there's something warm and fuzzy about a lopsided score when the gr8 one isn't involved...aside from those 3 assists...
- Brooks Laich finally gets his first goal of the season, and it's well-deserved. His play lately has really improved in my mind, obviously factoring in to him getting the nod over Klepis tonight. He and Gordon and Bradley seemed to be clicking nicely and it showed on the scoreboard.
- Semin-Beech-Pettinger - I'm loving this line; they've really found their chemistry and are a different kind of energy line for this team. They mix grit with flair in a way that is nothing short of magical...and did everyone see Semin with his patented leaping catch/wicked shot/goal move?
- The Alex Show - Maybe it was me, but it seemed like Ovechkin and Semin were almost putting on a stick-handling clinic tonight. I lost count of how many times they were able to swivel, curl and drag around an Ottawa player before registering at least a shot toward the goal if not on net. It was like the Harlem Globetrotters on ice...there's an image for you.
- O-LIE, O-LIE - Yet another spectacular performance by Zilla, facing 37 shots and turning away all but 2. His best save had to be a flash of the right pad on Spezza (I think) late in the third period.
- Brian Sutherby - Poor guy can't buy a goal, but he played better than I've seen him play in a while, including one great scoring chance that I thought for sure was going to be a goal. Alas, Emery had the answer, but Sutsy was buzzing tonight. I'm predicting he'll connect Friday night - it's coming, I can feel it.
- And the rest...everyone to a man played a very solid game tonight. I don't think it was necessarily the best game of the season, but it was definitely up there, and the best first period I've seen them play in a long time.

So the Caps continue to fly through their scary homestand and have put together their longest winning streak at home, 3 big ones, since late Feb./early March of 2003. But of course, cautious optimism is ever present here in the cheap seats - the last game of this little stretch is likely to be the toughest, as the top team in the league flies into town Friday night.

No scheduling advantages here - the Ducks also played tonight and are off tomorrow, so the Caps will need to bring their top game. They'll have some help in the stands, though...according to the DC Sports Bog, Barra Brava of DC United fame will be in the house singing and making noise all game long. Hopefully it doesn't spook the Caps, they're used to playing in a graveyard...

Caps. Ducks. Crazy soccer fans. We got ourselves the makings.

(Of what, I'm not quite sure, but it's bound to be interesting nonetheless.) Sweet Dreams!

Recaps:
NHL.com
CBC.ca

7 comments:

Victor said...

Fun, fun game to watch--except for the officiating. I couldn't figure out Beech's 4-minute high-sticking penalty, until I saw on the scoresheet it was actually two two-minute penalties (called from waaaay on the other side of the ice). Totally bizarre, and if the eagle-eyed ref could see those, why didn't he see Heatly try to take off Zubies head in the third (leading to the Sens second goal)?

As for the crazy fans--during the first Atlanta game (second home), there were a bunch of fans in (roughly) 410, waaaay up high, doing the European soccer-fan thing: Singing, chanting, waving scarves and the foam Caps Claws at the opposing players...I was in 405 that night, and I found myself letting my eyes wander over toward that section to watch them. I've looked for them since but have yet to see them return.

WFY said...

Bad:

The Caps didn't even chase the starting Ottawa goalie.

CapsChick said...

Victor: I agree, the officiating was very strange. The Beech penalty was a double minor for high-sticking, but I have to say it happened right in front of me and it didn't look bad enough to deserve 4 minutes. There were lots of seemingly made up calls and lots of missed calls on both sides...I'll have to watch the replay to see if I can catch what happened.

wfy: I forgot about that! Darn it, our streak ends at 3...it would have been nice to get into Gerber's head yet again :)

FS said...

Highlight of the game: The crowd had to stop chanting "EM-RY!" in order to sing along with the hockey song. The hockey song ends, and the crowd picks right back up with the taunting. Now if only we had twice as many people there.

Victor said...

The Beech penalty was on the opposite side of the ice from me--while I might miss the little things I don't miss the big ones. Sounds like a cheap call to me--though Heatley's hit wasn't (it was right in front of me). I thought it was a cross check and my gf's mother thought it should have been elbowing.

Beat the snot out of 'em anyway :~)

Rage said...

The Semin goal was gorgeous. I am growing to be a huge fan of that guy.

And Boyd Gordon looked slick yesterday. He was skating fast, making a couple moves, and ... well... shooting wide of the net. But, hey, two of three aint bad.

CapsChick said...

I'm always up for a good goalie chant, and if you throw "The Hockey Song" in the middle, I'm a happy Caps fan! The best name to chant by far has to be Raycroft (from my Montreal days, his Boston days) - Raaaaaay-croft. Try it, it's fun!

The Beech penalty was definitely cheap - he got the stick up, but I saw no blood and it wasn't that bad. At least Ottawa put their foot in it with a penalty of their own. And yes, beating the snot out of them makes it all worthwhile!

Semin is amazing...I think that's what makes his last season here so frustrating. He's already surpassed his career highs in goals and points, and even during the dry spell earlier this year he was getting opportunities. That's how good he is.

And don't even get me started on Gordon - we're talking pure, unadulterated love for what he's done so far this year, especially on the PK. Goal-scoring, shmoal-scoring - hitting the net is overrated :)