Thursday, February 15, 2007

Shootout Shmootout

There was plenty of potential for doom and gloom tonight.

The Caps went in to this game as they frequently have over the last few months, as the underdog to a much stronger team. Their starting goaltender is out with an injury, the defense is being shuffled, they've lost all but 4 of their last 15...on and on and on.

So I think you'll forgive me for being pleasantly surprised at the performance I witnessed tonight. Of course there were issues and mistakes as usual, but I loved the gutsy play - the Caps were in this one all the way.

The first period had to be, as Locker said, one of the best periods I've seen the Caps play in a loooooong time. There were clean passes, there was good offensive pressure, Johnny looked solid; it was just a very exciting twenty minutes capped off with a lucky bounce that found them on the board first. Good to see Semin get on the board, even with a dribbly goal like that.

Then came the traditional crapfest known as the second period, which was no less than utterly predictable. Bad penalties, sloppy play (yet still better than anything we saw on the ice Saturday night) and suddenly it's 2-1 Bolts thanks to the 'Vinny Lecavalier special teams show'.

So the first period in the books, the second period history, we move on to the third - once again the Caps were, if not dominating, then at least controlling the play. Were it not for what had to be divine intervention combined with Denis' magic glove, this game would have ended very differently. Still, it was pretty darn exciting...and then with 15 seconds left Zubrus suddenly remembers how to hit the net at precisely the right moment.

Is it just me or have we had more of these last minute goals forcing overtime this season than ever before? Put another notch in the lipstick case, kiddies, we're going to...the OT Zone.

And then the Shootout Zone. Or what I like to call "hell".

And then it was over. One goal between the two teams and just like that, the Bolts get the extra point.

Thoughts and observations:
- For all the fear and hand-wringing among the Caps faithful about the goalie situation, give Johnson a lot of credit. He played great tonight...not counting that brief mental hiccup that led to the power play goal. I was very impressed with Johnny's performance, coming in under a huge amount of pressure and really rising to the challenge as he kept the Caps within one long enough for them to get the equalizer.

- The top line was finally playing like the top line, something we haven't seen in a while. Ovie was flying, Clark was playing the body and crashing the net, Zubie had some pretty slick hands...and lest we forget the tying goal that sent the game into overtime...

- Were the Caps going for a hat trick of the worst penalties tonight? Too many men, delay of game (playing the puck outside the trapezoid), delay of game (puck over the glass) - ARGH! All of them avoidable, dumb penalties. Although I had to laugh when Ovie got sent to the box to serve back to back penalties, and he and the guy in the box had a little chuckle. How do you not love this kid??

- Special teams...hmm. They need work. That power play goal by Semin was nice, but there's no excuse for a power play goal and shorthanded goal within the same period, let alone the same game.

- Ready? Deja vu time. Boyd Gordon played really well tonight. He is...the man. What more can I say.

- Period. Exclamation point. Close parentheses.

So a point. A point is good! It's not going to get them into the playoffs, but not much will right now. We take the good performance, we take the point, and we roll it all into Sunday's big game. It may not mean much from a standings point of view, and it may not even mean much to the Caps' players (since most of them weren't even born during the heyday of the Caps-Pens rivalry) but to us Caps fans, it's everything. We need this win.

We need Ovie to beat Sid the Kid.

On national TV.

It's going to happen. I can feel it.


Shelby said...


I don't know what Hugs was thinking, but, yeah, that seems like an obvious one. Maybe he was working a sort of reverse psychology?

I have to say, I think this game hurt more than a lot of other losses. We played well, considering, and it came down to the shootout, and we didn't come out on top. It almost seems like a waste of two good periods. I love these boys and I wouldn't give up on them, but its really starting to sting.

(Do you just love Ovie's haircut? I was waiting for him to get it cut. He was starting to look like a bum.)

Hockey Amor said...

The timing is impeccable for AO to break out of his Tarik-named slump.

Anonymous said...

Do you know where would be a good place in DC to watch the Caps v. Pens game tomorrow?

CapsChick said...

I'm sure most of the sports bars would have it on, especially around the arena. RFD (Regional Food and Drink) is always good, and if you're really desperate it's probably going to be on at ESPNZone. Keep in mind that tomorrow is the Daytona 500, so sports bars will be filled with racing fans as well...