Saturday, December 16, 2006

All Men Present and Accounted For

The Caps admittedly came out a little flat tonight. Maybe a bit of fatigue from a hard fought overtime win last night, and understandably so. The Flyers seemed to have more jump, enlivened by the return of their captain upon completion of his worldwide skate search.

But a stronger performance in the last 5-10 minutes of the period and a late goal by Dainius Zubrus to cap off the frame would propel the Caps towards one of their finest performances of the season. Semin's goal, his first of two, would give the Caps the lead and control of the game - and they wouldn't let go for the rest of the night.

That's right, they actually played the second period, and the third period too. I'd say that's a good 50 minutes...getting closer, boys!

You have to love the low shot count - 22, which must be some sort of low for the season (any of you stat geeks out there can look that up, I don't know if that's right). You have to love the performances of Alex Semin, with 2 goals and an assist, and Alex Ovechkin, with 1 goal and 2 assists.

But most of all you have to love the way the whole team just stayed in there and played a tight, controlled game. They picked up two points against a team they need to be able to beat, in decisive fashion no less, and have officially won the season series with Philadelphia. They'll get a chance to sweep the series for the first time ever when the Flyers return January 9.

There's really no need to breakdown this game all that much. If you disregard the first half of the first period, everything else seemed to be clicking - power play, penalty killing, offense, goaltending, defensive positioning, faceoffs...and it was against the Flyers. Doesn't that just make everything seem ten times sweeter?

The Caps are playing some seriously great hockey right now, which is good because the next three games come against teams jamming up the Eastern Conference - Tampa, New Jersey and Toronto. These are of course followed by the much ballyhooed rematch with the Sabres in Buffalo. (Ah, hype - I'm sure that will play out exactly the way people are predicting it will...)

With the win, the Caps move into 5th place in the conference and maintain 2nd place in the division, but with the Thrashers getting creamed tonight they are now only 5 points back of the division lead. They also earn wins in back to back games for the first time since this point last year and are 7-1-1 in their last 9 games.

Now I know we were all offended by the predictions during the offseason about the Caps finishing dead last, and I know it's probably too early to get overly cocky about this, but 5th freakin' place - did anyone see this coming?

Now here it is, your moment of zen...I mean, here are your recaps:
Washington Post

Happy Caps Fans:
Kevin Hatcher Fan Club
Bleatings from a Caps Nut
Off Wing Opinion


Tyler said...

Semin's game was a carryover from Friday night. He played really well in ATL with nothing to show for it, winning battles in corners, on the boards, back-checking well, etc.

Olie has never done less for a third star.

Was Simon Gagne on the ice? Wow, the Flyers are a deeply flawed, talent-lacking, all-around bad hockey team.

CapsChick said...

It's true - I've actually been really impressed with Semin this whole season. Even when he hasn't been scoring, like Friday in Atlanta, he's been working the walls and getting some nice scoring chances, and his defensive game has improved as well.

Of course, he still needs to learn how to keep the puck in on a PP if he's going to play the point...

I thought Olie looked pretty solid, but you're right - he was napping most of the game thanks to a combo of the Caps efforts and the lack of talent on the Phantoms, er, Flyers.

Anonymous said...

The predictions for the Canes were low last year too and look what they did.