Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Shootout Schmootout

I made a last-minute decision to blog from the press box tonight (and special thanks to Nate Ewell and the whole media relations crew for being amazing and on top of things as usual so that could happen). I was all set to bring you updates, witty candor and deep analysis during each intermission.

But for some reason the wireless in the press box hates me.

Such is life, I guess, but for that reason I'm simply giving you my rambling thoughts of the evening and turning in - losing in a shootout always makes me a little bitter and cranky about the plight of the Capitals fan, and losing to the Panthers does the same. That's right, twice the bitter cranky CapsChick tonight, you lucky people you.

1st Period
- Oh, thank god. We get Semin’s requisite hooking penalty out of the way early.
- There's some aggressive penalty killing going on by Clark, Steckel and company but the Caps take a too many men on the ice penalty negating any momentum.
- Zednik makes them pay with an easy tap-in goal off a rebound. You know, after he signed with the Panthers people laughed at me because I said he would score nonstop against us.
- A great save by Olie on one end leads to an odd-man rush the other way but it's the fourth line and either Bradley or Brashear puts the play offside.
- Pettinger gets a good whack at the puck right in front of Vokoun - since it’s Pettinger, though, of course it doesn’t go in.
- We get a good scoring chance by the BBB line - they seem to be flying again tonight, bouncing back after a somewhat forgettable outing on Monday.
- Zed takes a tripping penalty with about 5 minutes left in the period. Now that's the Zednik we know and love, right?
- So much for this newfangled power play that has the boys always moving their feet - they look pretty stationary out there.
- Listless period overall, although there was some jump out of the third and fourth lines throughout the first, with the Laich-Steckel-Gordon line even getting a little feisty in the last 30 seconds.

Thoughts After 1:
The Caps no longer seem to be coming out in the first period with energy – while that could bode well for the rest of the game (since they like to take a period off every night), Florida is a team that you need to take out of the game right away or else they’ll simply lull you to sleep.
Stat of note: 6 giveaways by the Caps in that first period. That’s not good.

2nd Period
- Slooooooow start to the period. I'll alert the media. Oh, wait...
- Brash takes what looks like a reputation penalty but probably was a good call - thankfully the penalty killers come through yet again and there's no harm done.
- The Ovechkin-Nylander-Clark line is causing problems, and sure enough they draw a penalty
- The Caps' 2nd power play looks slightly better than the first but still no shots 90 seconds in…
- In fact the Caps have no shots in this period at all and we’re almost halfway through.
- Bradley tries to spark the team a bit by dropping the gloves with new Panther Garth Murray. We'll see if it provides the kick in the pants the Caps need to pull even.
- Ovie gets two great shots in a row but Vokoun has the answer for both. Could he be the second coming of Luongo?
- Pothier makes a great play to dump the puck in and then collect his own rebound behind the net. This results in a flurry at the net that would have continued if the Panthers weren’t dirty cheaters. (I kid, I kid…the net was knocked off. You know, by “accident”.)
- A great keep in by Clark results him in being left all alone in the slot and he buries it - tie game, 1-1.
- Great save by Olie on Zed, who was in all alone.
- Aaaand Clark takes his requisite hooking call for the night.
- Caps are forcing lots of shots from the outside, perimeter shots that Olie sees all the way. He's looked sharp for most of the night.
- Laich gets about a 10 second rest on the bench beore he’s right back out there – good pressure on the PK by Steckel, Laich, Schultz and Morrisonn. Penalty killed and the Caps got more chances than the Panthers did on that one…that’s rare.
- There’s a bird in the rafters. (Boy, life is exciting high atop Verizon Center! Popcorn popping, pigeons roosting...this is the good life, folks!)
- We have a Russian line – Ovechkin, Kozlov and Semin. There’s a lot of firepower out there. And a lot of potential turnovers.
- Pressure by the Laich-Steckel-Gordon line draws a penalty in the last minute of the period. Those three are really having a strong game.
- Caps will start the third with the extra man.

Thoughts After 2:
MUCH better period, at least in the second half (once they actually took a shot on goal) by the Caps. That Bradley fight actually did seem to do the trick and it woke the Caps up. If they can carry the momentum into the third and maybe even get a power play marker this becomes a whole new game. Only 3 turnovers that period, too…

3rd Period
- The Caps start the period with 1:23 left in the power play.
- Beautiful keep in by Greenie followed by a great pass to Ovie, but Vokoun has the answer yet again.
- Florida doesn’t have a shot in the first 4 minutes of the period…
- Here's something shocking - Semin almost forced a turnover in the Panthers' zone instead of creating one himself…but he fell down in the process. Par for the course.
- Somehow Mike Green is all alone and just rifles it - right under the cross bar. Do you get the feeling that the Caps are just not getting the bounces?
- Gordon puts in an extremely hard-working shift that results in a pretty good scoring chance, deflected by a flying Panther.
- Horrible penalty call on Pettinger for a “trip” – aka one of the Panthers falling down over his own feet.
- Poti continues to play much better under Boudreau than he ever did under Hanlon – not really sure why but it makes you think what could have been had the coaching change happened earlier…but that’s a game for another day.
- Zednik takes yet another penalty, and the mighty power play gets yet another crack at putting this one away as the remaining seconds of Petty’s penalty are killed off.
- The natives are getting restless on this power play…lots of pretty passing but not much in the way of shots...
- ...until now – Semin had a great chance in tight on Vokoun but he held the post.
- There was definitely one, maybe two blatant non-calls in the waning minutes of the period. I'm not sure when it became legal to crosscheck someone in the face, but apparently it is now.
- We're off to overtime.

Thoughts After 3:
Good sign? The Caps have played with increasing intensity every period and really dominated most of the final frame. Bad sign? They've still only scored once. Tonight I'm inclined to believe that Vokoun is holding the Cats in it because the Caps have had their chances. Olie has also come up big, but he's had to be less impressive than his Florida counterpart.

- What exactly do the Panthers do to just suck all the energy out of a game? Pit them in a game against the Devils or Wild and you've got yourself a surefire cure for insomnia.
- it still overtime?
- Wow. A bouncing dump-in by Nylander almost gives Vokoun (and the 3,000+ fans in attendance) a heart attack. It also almost ends the game. Note how I used the word "almost".
- Cullimore decides to exact revenge on Nylander for making his goalie wet his pants and trips him - not smart. Caps go on the power play for the remainder of the overtime.
- Can they score with the extra man for once?
- Can they??
- No. Good pressure in the final two minutes and one instant where Ovechkin should have shot the puck instead of passing, but that's it for the extra frame. Time for a shootout, the bane of my existence.

- After eleven rounds we discover that three very pretty shootout goals by the Caps (Kozlov, Backstrom and amazingly, Gordon) are not enough to top four fairly nice shootout goals by the Panthers. Final score: 2-1 Panthers.

Final Thoughts:
Good...god. Another loss to a lesser opponent. Another loss to the Panthers. And the Caps fall to 2-1-1 under new bench boss Boudreau.

There's not really a whole lot to say about this one - the Caps should have come out with more fire in the first instead of allowing the Panthers to dictate the very sloooooooow pace of the game. Zednik's goal should not have held up for as long as it did against a team with this much firepower and the offense and power play both continue to struggle, just like they did before.

Each period got better and there were some truly great moments, good scoring chances, wonderful saves and a bit of energy for a team mired in a very tough stretch of the schedule. In the end, though, it was too little too late and the Caps pick up just the loser point. I doubt it's any consolation.

Not to make the evening any worse, but both Clark and Semin were unavailable in the shootout because of injuries. Here we go again.


DMG said...

....well, I like the shootout. I think it should be a five-man one though.

CapsChick said...

Oh, no. DMG, I used to respect you ;)

But seriously, I'm always of two minds when it comes to shootouts. On the one hand, they're very exciting and intense and they get the crowd into it, all of which is great.

On the other, I hate that it determines the outcome of a game. I never minded when a game ended in a tie - if it was so evenly played that regulation and overtime had the same result, why not award each team a point and call it a day? This is a team game and teams shouldn't have to load up on shootout "specialists" just to eke out an extra point every now and then.

(I could have saved that rant for the recap, but what fun would that have been? :P)

malaisey said...

i like the tension of a shootout, but tonight's game was ridiculous. what, it took ten players from each side before the game was decided? the caps know how to toy with my emotions. that's for sure.

DMG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DMG said...

11 guys from each side actually tonight.

I agree with you to an extent CapsChick. I used to be gung-ho about the shootout until I saw an interview J.S. Gigure where he said that it was an okay idea but the idea of a playoff spot being determined by a shootout made him uncomfortable, which I thought was a great point.

Now I could go either way to be honest, but I admit that I personally find it more satisfying to have a winner at the end of the game.

...and anytime you start to lose respect for me just remember how I explained for everyone the juniors system and why the Capitals still have Neuvirth's NHL rights! Or wait until the Caps have those 4 or 5 days off - I got stuff planned about NHL attendance, Capitals attendance, the Caps advertising campaigns, Ovechkin's contract...all sorts of good stuff.

CapsChick said...

malaisey: Yeah, it probably shouldn't have gotten that far. I have to believe that either Semin or Clark would have scored, though, and that makes this whole thing completely different. As for toying with's their specialty.

DMG: It's true, having a winner at the end is more satisfying. But I'd rather it be a winner decided by actual hockey and not a skills competition.

And yes, you did point out the whole junior system/Neuvirth thing and for that you still have a smidgen of respect from me. We'll just see, though - you have a little work to do now ;)

DMG said...

I agree with your assesment that the Caps can't get bounces. Their luck all year has been terrible and after those first 3 games they haven't had any luck in terms of bounces, calls, or injuries. If they're having good luck, Nylander's bouncing dump-in goes in, Green's shot rings the bar and gets into the net, the Caps get a 5-on-3 to finish overtime and Clark and Semin can go in the shootout. If they have decent luck, at least one of those happens.

I really think that if you go back and look at it, if the Caps had been having averge luck this season they'd have 3-4 more wins. If they'd had good luck, I don't think it would be crazy to say they could have 7-8 more.