Friday, December 29, 2006

Devils Swamp Caps

It's hard to be disappointed with tonight's game.

Sure, it was a loss, and it was 2 points that the Caps needed.

But with 7 guys out of the lineup and a very inexperienced defense corps, I was expecting an absolute blowout - or at least a sloppy game by a patchwork lineup.

But the Caps have this tendency to rise above extreme hardship that you have to love, and that came through tonight. They put up a good fight and had a fairly solid game despite playing on the road in one of the hardest buildings to win in...and against one of the greatest goaltenders to ever play the game.

It's hard to really analyze this game using the usual criteria because of the unusual circumstances. Injury and illness like this are so rare that tonight's match can really only be judged as a learning experience, both for the team and the guys called up from Hershey. The Caps were never really out of this one, fighting until the last second to get the equalizer but just not getting the bounces tonight.

Nycholat continued his fine work, notching his first NHL goal and adding an assist to make tonight his first multi-point game. He wasn't bad defensively, either - a few minor missteps, but that's to be expected and he recovered well.

I thought Dave Steckel had a very solid game as well, showing why he is one of the top penalty killers for the Bears and sliding right into the lineup as if he'd been there all along.

I didn't really get a read on Jamie Hunt - I don't think he had too many shifts. But congrats to Jamie for appearing in his first NHL game. He's still very young and I'm sure he'll back up with the big boys soon enough.

Not much else to say about tonight other than the fact that I'm proud of the way they stayed in the game and really played well all night long. There weren't too many times where I felt like throwing something at the TV, which is in itself a pretty big accomplishment.

It was good to see Mo back in the lineup, although it definitely looks like he's nowhere near 100% yet. Talk about taking one for the team...Morrisonn certainly makes me look like a wimp for turning into a baby when I get the slightest touch of the sniffles.

And on that note, I'm bypassing the gameday preview for tomorrow night's game at the Garden so I can rest up a bit. I'll just say that it's a game between two slumping teams coming off of tight road losses, so who the heck knows how it will turn out. The Caps need a solid goaltending performance and strong team defense to shut down Jagr & Co., hopefully with the help of some returning sickies...

(Damn you, Clymer.)

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