Saturday, October 20, 2007

Where's Your Seeing Eye Dog, Ref?

Losses like this one, even against the Penguins, are always a little easier to swallow than the parade of horrific hockey we've been subjected to over the last few games. The Caps were dominant, outshooting and outplaying the Penguins for most of the night.

The difference? The combined forces of Marc-Andre Fleury and some of the worst officiating I've seen in a good long while.

We'll start with ol' Flower - there were a few saves where he looked shaky, even in the waning minutes, but for the most part he was a force in net and made the big saves when the Penguins needed him to (which was often). I'd even say he was the player of the game if it weren't for the not one but two swings he took at Caps players for having the audacity to get shoved into him. No call on either, of course.

Which brings us to the refs. Wow. I'm sure there were a few plays that we Caps fans in attendance thought should have been called that really weren't penalties - after all, it's the natural inclination of a fan to take umbrage with any sort of manhandling of their players, legal or otherwise. But there were several blatant non-calls as well as several penalties that had no business being called - including a 5 on 3 that led to a Penguins goal as the second penalty expired and one that resulted in a power play goal.

Some thoughts:
- Welcome back, Boyd Gordon - he slipped back into the lineup without missing a beat and really played a good game considering the fact that he's been out with back spasms for over a week.
- Brent Johnson was an unexpected choice for tonight but I thought he was fantastic, making a series of spectacular saves (and effectively shutting up the Caps fans behind us who were ragging on him all night).
- The Caps once again failed to connect on the power play but it looked much better than it has the last few games. They got someone to the front of the net and even picked up a few shots - still needs work, though.
- Yes, there were lots of Penguins fans in attendance...I expected nothing less. But it was a sellout (even though all the seats weren't filled) and there were many more Caps fans than in the last few years. When the Caps scored the volume was much higher than when the Penguins scored, just as it should be, and the crowd was raucous and into the game all night - so great to see even with the excess of yellow and black sprinkled throughout.
- Joe Motzko has been recalled to Hershey. Thank god. Think he'd be willing to take Schultz and Fleischmann with him? I'm done with all three of them.
- Hit of the night: Ovechkin leveling Crosby as #87 was coming up through the neutral zone with the puck. The crowd went wild. I smiled like an idiot.
- Brashear and Laraques may have exchanged punches, but the fight of the night was Matt Pettinger and Jordan Staal - for sheer entertainment value alone.
- Backstrom is getting scrappy and learning to throw his body around, which is for some reason always funny. Good to see though.
- I really thought Nylander played well tonight, doing just enough stickhandling and serpentining to throw off the Pittsburgh (and I use this term loosely) defense without turning over the puck.
- Kozlov had no such luck.
- Do I need to say that Mike Green looked good out there? Another great job by Greenie - he's really perfected that rush up the middle, too. He's rapidly becoming very fun to watch.
- Ovechkin...always, always amazing.
- The Caps outshot the Penguins 31-22, but there is an even more telling stat. 20 shots missed the net completely and another 17 were blocked, compared with 9 missed shots and 11 blocked for the Penguins. The Caps were firing from all over the place - the next step? Hitting the net. We'll work on it.

So the Caps don't get the win but it looks like at the very least the team is starting to remember how they played to start the season. A couple more bounces in their favor and this one goes the other way. Next test comes Wednesday as the Caps continue their 4-game home stretch with a visit from the Tampa Bay Lightning.


Murshawursha said...

That first penalty on Green was complete BS... He was cross-checked into fleury. And the high stick that started the pettinger/staal fight...

Friggin refs.

Ron W said...

I believe every call (well maybe 1) against the Caps was from Hassenfratz and he did not call one penalty of those given the Pens.

Tyler said...

You guys are going to get all "Seattle" on us, I see how it goes. Nice try with the whiteout... it's October, usually you save those for the playoffs.

The only stat of the night that counts is the final score!