Thursday, November 08, 2007

Last Place: The Ultimate Rope-a-Dope

You have to think that the Senators were coming in to this game feeling pretty good about themselves and their odds of winning. They had won eight straight games, a franchise record. They were playing the Caps, a team with the worst record in the East, in a building that has plagued the Caps for years and against a goalie that the Sens love to torture.

Every paper in Canada, every pundit with a microphone, every fan has been gushing about how fantastic they've been to start the season - and it was well-deserved, let's not kid ourselves. The Caps were not supposed to win. No one thought they were going to win.

Someone forgot to tell the Caps.

From the opening faceoff, where Olie made a breathtaking save nine seconds in, to the final buzzer, the Caps never let up. This was a perfectly played road game - they shut down the flow in the first period, never letting the home crowd get into it. They continued their pressure in the second, a period that traditionally has tormented them. They threw in the knockout punch in the third. And just like that, the Senators' winning streak and the Caps' losing streak are both over.

There were, as is often the case in a win like this, stellar performances up and down the roster tonight. Kozlov was dominant, with a pretty goal and two assists. Ovechkin added a goal and an assist of his own, Nylander had two assists, Fleischmann capped off what had to be his most impressive game this season with a very nice goal...and congratulations to Nicklas Backstrom who gets the GWG on quite possibly the ugliest goal I've ever seen, his first NHL goal.

Then there is the big man between the pipes, Olie Kolzig. Spectacular when he had to be, steady the rest of the way, and giving up only one goal that was really unstoppable (and quite beautiful). He is the anchor of this team and its always nice to see him rewarded for continuing to do what he has done night in and night out this season.

If you had to find a turning point tonight, it would probably be the prolonged 5 on 3 the Caps killed off halfway through the second. Not to say they hadn't been playing well before that, because they had - but when one of your penalty killers loses his stick and sacrifices the body and then stays out there, it tends to give the team a lift.

And say what you will about Hanlon's coaching prowess lately; it was a brilliant move to take a timeout and rest the PK unit, which then went out and finished the job in style. Four minutes later Viktor Kozlov broke open the scoring, two minutes after that Backstrom got the game-winner, and that was all the Caps would need.

There is the potential for people to say that the Sens took the Caps lightly, and maybe for a little while that was true. But you have to think that after goal #2 they maybe caught on to the fact that this Washington team wasn't going away - and yet they never stepped up. The Caps kept the momentum going and just dominated good portions of the game, and there were times when Emery (who looked great tonight despite the outcome) was all that was holding them in.

Terrific job by all the boys to really do something no one thought they would do - take down the mighty Sens. If this doesn't give them confidence going forward, nothing will! Time to turn this win into a winning streak, starting with the Bolts on Saturday...

On an admin note, I'll be out of town starting tomorrow but will hopefully be checking in occasionally throughout the weekend. As always my esteemed colleagues on the blogroll will be more than happy to fulfill all your snark-filled, Caps-centric needs.


Murshawursha said...

It hasn't really sunk in yet... When it does I'll probably scream like a schoolgirl.

Dan, Jr. said...

That was awesome! Finally, a win. And against the Senators! Can you beleive it? Somewhere, Joe B. is cursing himself for missing this one.

DMG said...

well I have a recap up already.... ;)

hopefully the Caps can take some momentum from this and go on a bit of a tear. As it is they're 2 points out of 8th in the East

Hockey Amor said...

They played a brilliant road game, very opportunistic.

Kolzig stood tall, Kozlov shone, Backstrom finally hit the board and OV finished them off.


CapsChick said...

murshawursha: I'm there already, hence the lack of coherent recap right now.

dan, jr.: Where WAS Joe B.?? It's not a VS night or anything...although Koken wasn't as annoying as usual, he seems to have toned it down.

dmg: Brat. ;) I'll have something up as soon as I can type more than a paragraph without descending into idgeripoghpoerifj;alkjdfhg;ael and multiple exclamation points, okay??

DMG said...

Sorry, couldn't resist!

I'm just glad to see there are other people as giddy about this win as me.

Dan, Jr. said...

Emery had to be "shittin' bricks" when Ovie scored the 4th goal.

Chris & Sarah said...

Ahhhhhh! It feels soooooo Goooood.

If that doesn't put confidence back into the team, I don't think anything will.

And Backstrom's first goal!! And a GWG to boot. Way to stick it to Emery. And the 3rd and 4th goals were icing on the cake.

Anyone got any of their liquor stock left from the hurricane to raise a glass in celebration or what?


Biff said...

Woo hoo!

I'm sorry, was I supposed to be adding some sort of coherent thought here?

CapsChick said...

Oh, the giddiness may be finally forcing me to write something about this game - everyone lift up your glasses of whatever is left after Monday/Tuesday and drink a toast to our wonderful boys!

Man, it feels good to win. Against a good team, too.

Shelby said...

Oh come ON! Why did I have to have a rehearsal tonight?! I can't believe I missed this gameeeeee!

WFY said...

Oh, but it was a Versus night for Joe B. In between periods, I surfed around and briefly stopped on BYU vs. somebody. Sure enough, Joe B. was in Utah calling that game.

Bradley said...

As ugly as Beckis' first goal was, I don't know if there can be any uglier (or flukier) than Giroux's last season against TO (the only thing pretty about it was the epic fumble by Raycroft). Good to have it out of the way now, should be many more to come.

CapsChick said...

shelby: Have I taught you NOTHING?? Hockey first, real life second...*sigh* still working out those priorities, I see. ;)

wfy: what sport are we talking about here? Football? Lacrosse? Field hockey?

bradley: True, that Giroux tally was pretty ugly. I actually felt sorry for Raycroft on that play, it seemed like a really unfortunate bounce rather than a fumble. I do think a puck bouncing off the goalie's head is uglier, though ;)

Sherry said...

Like I said: YOU'RE WELCOME. Now give me my team back please? Kthxbai!