Friday, November 23, 2007

Clean Slate

Well, that's a hell of a way to welcome the new coach, isn't it? An overtime victory on the road in Philly, off the stick of our rookie phenom, to snap a five game losing skid. Excellent.

This game, while more interesting than it had to be, was really entertaining from start to finish and just a great 60 minute effort by the Caps. Everyone had a good game, as is usually the case when the team gets a win like this.

The Flyers did a pretty good job of keeping Ovie fairly quiet (or as quiet as you can keep someone like Ovie) and that meant everyone else had to step up. And step up they did - we get a goal from Brashear (deflected from a Morrisonn slapper), a power play goal from Green off a beautiful Backstrom pass, an equally beautiful play by Kozlov to set up Clark, and of course, Nicklas Backstrom with the overtime winner. Happy Birthday to Nick, indeed!

The power play looked good and connected, but the real special teams success story was the penalty killing, which was really phenomenal today despite the two goals during Clark's double minor (one of which shouldn't have happened had the whistle blown in time). Anytime you can kill off an extended 5 on 3, there's a good chance you'll come out on top. We saw it against Ottawa a few weeks ago and once again today it was guys like Gordon, Steckel, Laich and Pettinger stepping in to keep this game competitive.

Going back to that double minor, good for Chris Clark for stepping in to defend Boyd Gordon. I was surprised there was no call on Hartnell for that hit at center ice, but since there wasn't it was the captain's job to make things right. I'm sure we all would have preferred he not pick up a truckload of penalty minutes and put the team down a man for four, but that's one of those "good" penalties that, especially with the win, are easier to swallow.

And then there were just strong performances by Kozlov, Nylander, Morrisonn, Bradley, and everyone else in a white jersey to cap off Boudreau's first career NHL win as a coach.

It's hard to judge this team, and this coach, by one game. We've certainly seen them come out and play like this on isolated situations this season, and with a new coach I expected nothing less. We know they have it in them. What we haven't seen is this kind of effort in back to back situations and that's what is needed at this point - a string of wins to get them out of the cellar and back into the mix where we all know they belong.

But for now let's just enjoy this win (made that much sweeter by happening in Philly, which is always a fun place to win) and look ahead to tomorrow night's game against the Canes. Back to back games against tough teams is the first test for this new coach and the new phase for the Capitals.


smitty said...

Clark's double minor, though excessive and unnecessary (on the ref's part, not Clark's... if they had called the dirty hit on Gordo it wouldn't have happened), was the right penalty to take, and the goals that resulted from it just have to be dealt with.

I've heard that Boudreau believes very strongly in good penalties vs bad ones. He doesn't like to see lazy offensive zone infractions, but he has no problem sending someone like Clark of Brash out there to defend their teammates if that's what needs to be done. I like this guy.

smitty said...

er... *Clark or Brash*

CapsChick said...

Totally agree - I was angrier at the refs for both the non-call on Hartnell and the gratuitous minutes handed out to Clark then I was at Clark for taking the matter into his own hands. That's just what he does and what I would expect any of the boys to do.

Of course, we missed the initiation of the fight so maybe Clark tried to bite him or something, I don't know...somehow I doubt it.

DMG said...

A lot of the minutes Clark got were automatic. It was a pretty clear case of an instigating penalty which carries the automatic 2 minutes minor; additionally there's an automatic extra 2 if you pick up an instigator while wearing a visor.

You can make a case there shouldn't be the instigator penalty but given that it's in the rule book I think it was the right call on Clark.

CapsChick said...

Ah, got it - it was the unsportsmanlike that I was unsure of and therefore considered gratuitous, but I had forgotten about that extra penalty for the visor.

Saying that, I have to say that getting extra penalty for protecting yourself is stupid - is it harder to fight someone with a visor? Sure. But why should someone get penalized for protecting their eyes? Stupid stupid stupid.

Actually it's even dumber that they're not all required to wear one at this point. (I'm not a fan of Don Cherry, if you couldn't tell...)

Rant done. :)