Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Return of the Caps

How many people were watching the Caps and Habs tonight, saw the way the game started, saw the Habs get on the board first, and thought "Oh, crap...not again"?

Yeah, me too.

If this season has taught us anything, though, it's that...well, first of all, that no 4-goal lead is safe; I was not able to breathe easily until we hit the last two minutes of the game, that's for sure. But also that the Caps are nothing if not resilient. Just when you're about to write them off, they pull off a performance like this one. And just think, all they had to do was change everything about the way they've been playing over the last week and poof! It's like magic.

The first ten minutes of the game could have easily been just a rerun of last Wednesday's game against the Habs. Everyone looked slow. The Caps outshot Montreal only to fall behind in the first 10 minutes.

But then something happened.
They slowly began to wake up.

First Zubrus chipped in a rebound on the power play to tie up the game. If you've been following the Caps of late, you probably noticed some rarities in that sentence. Zubrus had an open net and actually buried it - that's one. The Caps scored on the power play against the top ranked power play unit in the league - that's another. The goal was a chipped in rebound, which meant that *gasp* guys were crashing the net and getting second and third shots - anyone sensing a theme?

Just under two and a half minutes later, it was Zubrus again, giving the Caps the lead for the first time since before Christmas, which incidentally was also their last win. Must be a coincidence.

So the Caps seemed to be headed into the first intermission with a safe lead until Ovechkin was called on a double minor for high sticking with just under a minute remaining in the period. Now, I don't want to sound like too much of a homer, but I thought it was a questionable call. I may have missed it though, I don't know. I'll have to see the replay - it's entirely possible that Ovie caught someone up high and I just didn't see it. I'd like to think they don't just arbitrarily hand out 4 minute penalties.

Anyways, miracle of miracles - the Caps killed off the whole darn thing, and in impressive fashion, too. It was probably one of the better penalty kills I've seen by them this season, with a particularly great performance by Boyd Gordon. He's just a killing machine, a true artist in one of the most underrated roles.

And from then on it would be all Caps. The momentum of that kill really drove them through the second period, with quick goals coming from Semin and Nycholat and just complete domination that resulted in a goaltender change by the Habs. Semin would add his second of the night in the final frame, capping off the scoring and a very complete and satisfying game overall.

What else can you really say about tonight? It's obvious that the sickies have now fully recovered and guys are returning to their pre-plague form. They were winning (some) faceoffs, they were generating traffic in front of the net, they were winning the battles along the boards. Ovechkin didn't score, again, but he did have 3 assists, and like I've said - I'm not worried. Just a very good team effort, with no particular individual standouts even with a handful of multi-point players.

Oh, wait. Except for Kolzig. Holy crap. Did you see the save, with the glove and the oh my god and the hoooooly crap and the how the heck did he do that???

See, when I start type-babbling, you know it was pretty sweet.

So the Caps finally crack the 40 point ceiling, and with losses for the Isles and Boston (10-2 to the Laffs...yikes) they move into ninth place and are just one point out of eighth. What did I tell you? Things move pretty fast in this here league. Don't start reserving those tee-times just yet, that's all I'll say.

Wow, it's been a while since I've been able to write this - Caps fans, it's been a 2 POINT NIGHT!


E said...

see, this is how self-punishing i am: after this game, i think to myself, "hey, why not go read the 8 million caps blogs out there?"

no, no, no, bad idea.

anyway, congratulations, you should be gushingly proud of your guys. i would be, if the roles were reversed.

on the ovechkin penalty, he really did hit markov in the face with his stick. i think it's pretty clear on the replay. not sure why it was 4 minutes instead of 2, though.

CapsChick said...

Nah, I do the same thing. I like to see what the other team's fans are saying, even if it makes me mad :)

Thanks for clearing up the Ovechkin penalty - like I said, I didn't want to assume it was a bad call just because I didn't see it happen. I think it seemed questionable at the time because from where I was sitting it looked like the Canadien interfered, but if Ovie got his stick up he got his stick up.

Markov must have been bleeding or something, that's the only reason I can think of for getting 4 minutes instead of 2...

I guess things are getting set up nicely for the rematch in Montreal, huh? :)

Reality Check said...

The call should have been 4 to Ovie for the high stick cut and two to Markov for interference.

The Habs deserved what they got in this one. Time for some tinkering.

CapsChick said...

Okay, so I was half right - I thought Ovie was interfered with, I just must have missed the high stick...

The Habs will be fine - they'll hopefully get upset about this loss and take it out on the Rags tomorrow night. If someone were to plant Jagr into the boards, that would be good too :)

Joe said...

Ovie gave him a high stick and cut him. I think Ovie was telling the ref that it wouldn't have happened though if he wasn't interferred with. Somehow, the ref wasn't impressed.

CapsChick said...

I agree that he was probably interfered with, but players are still responsible for their sticks at all times...I'll agree with RC that Ovie probably deserved 4 and Markov should have gotten 2.

What a way for good friends to act, huh? :) Guess it's true that all friendships stop at the edge of the rink!