Friday, December 22, 2006

Marty Doesn't Fear the Visor Enough

So let's start with the good stuff first.

Excellent turnout for the first ever "Mirrored Shades for Marty" night! It was a great job by everyone who organized this and who showed up for a little pregame taunting. I especially liked the signs, and the chants were great, something you rarely hear during warm-ups. "Fear the Visor" and "Maaaarty" - awesome! And was it just me or were some of the Devils, including the man himself, stifling some giggles?

(Oh, and shooting pucks directly at us, by the way...okay, maybe they were just missing the net, but it certainly seemed like more pucks than usual were hitting the glass in front of me...)

Other good stuff - honestly, I thought the Caps looked pretty darn good tonight. There were some pretty passing plays and the power play, although failing to connect, looked very sharp. I thought Clark and Brashear had great games, especially considering the fact that they are banged up, and I loved the play of the Brashear-Sutherby-Clymer line tonight - they had some good jump and had some decent scoring chances. The Caps even outshot the Devils (what?!?) and seemed to be controlling the play for most of the game. It wasn't coma-inducing hockey by a long shot.

But this was a Caps team with only 5 defensemen dressed and two Bears having to fill the void on the blue line and up front. So as expected there were those moments, the plays that made me slap my hand to my forehead in disbelief - the turnovers, the odd-man seemed like all four Devils goals were a combination of defensive lapses and subpar goaltending.

Johnny just really didn't look solid tonight, and when you're going up against Martin Brodeur you have to be solid if not spectacular. Run support just isn't going to happen against him - you need to make it a goaltenders' duel, and it simply was no contest tonight. That's not to say he played badly, either, but he didn't look too comfortable in net and maybe let in a few he should have had.

The Caps may have outshot the Devils, but it seemed like the majority were coming from the perimeter. A good goalie, as I've said before, will stop those shots 95% of the time. A goalie like Brodeur? Forget about it, none of those are going in. There was very little traffic in front of the net and no screens, no sticks in the way to catch deflections, until late in the game when Marty did have to make an amazing save or two.

So we go from Tuesday night's game, in which the Caps barely mustered an effort yet lost by just one goal, to tonight, when the Caps played a good game but lost by three. Strange world. Still at the end of the day, both equal two points down the drain, two points against teams battling it out in a very tight conference race.

And it doesn't get any easier for the Caps (hey, I think I've said that before!) - they travel to Toronto tonight and will now have to try and get two points on the road. They'll need a win to avoid a very dangerous and costly slide that could send them packing to the Eastern Conference cellar once more. I know, the playoffs are a long way off - but the Caps need to stay with the pack all season if they want to have a shot at a postseason.

Hopefully they'll start to get some of the walking wounded back over the next few days, although this rough schedule is not going to help the ones who are playing hurt. There was a lot of good stuff tonight - the Caps just need to carry that energy and that work ethic over into tomorrow night's game, and Olie needs to shake whatever has thrown him off these past few games.

More to come on the game in big TO...

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