Saturday, December 22, 2007

Gameday Preview: Caps vs Islanders

We've been slacking off here in the Cheap Seats...many apologies and promises to resume the usual rigorous commentary and deep, well thought out analysis that has become our signature after the holiday season has concluded.

For now here is a somewhat abbreviated gameday preview...

Who: Washington Capitals vs New York Islanders
Where: Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
When: Saturday, December 22, 7 pm

Broadcast Info: CSN+, 3WT; FSN-NY, WBBR

Media Notes:
Caps' Site (Hey, remember the days when previews were done with a balanced look at both teams?)
Washington Post
Washington Times

The first game of the year between these two teams resulted in a win for the Caps that they probably didn't deserve. The second game gave the Caps a loss they definitely deserved. The common thread? For whatever reason the effort hasn't been there against the mighty Islanders, and they'll need to pick it up in order to grab another very important two points.

The Islanders are one night removed from a come from behind victory over Pittsburgh yesterday. As is always the rule with opponents in back to back games, the Caps need to jump on them early and take them out of the game. Considering the fact that last night was also the first time in over a month the Islanders have scored at least four goals, the Caps need to rediscover their scoring touch and put a big number up early. Taking a lead and holding a lead will be the tests for this Caps team.

This game, like the Habs game a few days ago, is one they have the ability to win and in fact should win. And you always want to go into a break on a high note, and the Caps don't play again until Wednesday. Nothing like a two-point night to add some spice to your egg nog (or for us non-Christmas carolers, a little kick to your Chinese food).

Let's face it, we're coming up on the halfway mark of the season and from this point on we have to look at the majority of games as must-wins. Points may count the same in November as they do in April, but they sure as hell are harder to get once the spring thaw hits. Kicking off a significant winning streak now will spare the Caps from having a nailbiter of a finish - or worse, a premature start to the golf season.


usually frustrated caps fan said...

We definately need two more points. We also need a solid second period to go with a good first one and a blow-out third period so the world knows the caps are a force to be reckoned with. I'm concerned about the Schultz-Erskine pairing against a pretty fast skating four lines for the Isles. A couple of even strength goals for Ovie, and a tally by Backstrom, Green, Semin, and Pettinger and the Caps leave Uniondale with a 6-4 win in regulation - that's all I want for Christmas. LETS GO CAPS

Shelby said...

That game was...ugh...just...agonizing. No one deserved to win and the goal in OT came basically because Sarge speared Greenie in the face (although it was a bit of a soft let in for Olie).

On a more hopeful note, any chance you'd be willing to give your readers a little Christmas present? Tell Santa that the old school list of nicknames in a game preview would be nifty. ;)

DMG said...

A bit of a softie? Though the legs, from a bad angle, no screen, not a rebound, not off a nice pass...they don't come any softer than that.

CapsChick said...

Shelby: Agreed. There's something about the Islanders - they just suck the life out of me (and the Caps of course) and I don't know why. Glad to get one point out of that disaster, but that's not how you want to go into the break.

DMG: You're not going to get me to hang Olie out to dry - you keep trying and I've seen you bashing him on your blog, but I'm sticking by him ;)

That being Bad goal for Olie to give up after what was frankly a good game for him. He looked very sharp throughout regulation and unfortunately only opened up that five-hole when he really needed to close it up.

DMG said...

Hey, I figure if I'm going to criticize Kolzig I'm not going to have a lot of company. But realistically I think Kolzig's potential at his age, with the style he plays, in the post-lockout NHL is capped at average-slightly above average. And if you're going to be at that level you can't allow as many soft goals as Kozlig had. As I wrote:

This Capitals are currently seven points behind Florida for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. In the ten days alone Kolzig has cost the Capitals at least two points (from the Buffalo game) and legitimate chances at two more (against the Isles and Red Wings). With solid goaltending the Capitals could be in the Panthers' rearview mirror by this point. With good goaltending they could be knocking on the door, three points (or less) out of a playoff spot. Instead they're still seven out, with a huge hill in front of them.

I hope he turns it around though because (1) he's been loyal to this team and deserves to enjoy some success (2) he's a great guy and has always been a class act and (3) the Caps have no shot at the playoffs if he keeps letting in one goal per game he shouldn't - they've already played 18 one-goal games this year.

DMG said...

Now, credit where credit's due: Kolzig did have an okay game through regulation tonight. He didn't have to make any big saves but he didn't let any through either. But when you count that overtime....

Ugh, what does it say about his play though that fans (or at least I) am thinking "pretty good game for Olie - he didn't let in any soft ones until the overtime".

CapsChick said...

I'm the first to admit that in the past few weeks he's been shaky at times. What makes me believe he's capable of more, though, and the reason I stick up for him, is that we saw so much more out of him in the beginning of the season.

Remember, he was the reason the Caps were even in a lot of the games during that rough stretch. I think there was maybe one game where he let in a bunch of softies (against the Isles, if I'm not mistaken) but other than that he was one of the strongest players on the ice night in and night out. Like Boudreau I think he's not playing up to his potential and he needs to if the Caps have any shot.

DMG said...

That's true, Kolzig had a pretty solid start to the season, actually better than I expected. Coming into the year, I didn't expect him to be any better than average and if he just goes out and keeps his team in the game, stops the shots he should and is a solid force in net I'll be happy with him even if he doesn't make a ton of great saves or steal games.

The biggest part of my frustration with a lot of Olie's mistakes is that they have been mental. The play against the Sabres that led to their first goal was a mental error, getting beat three times in a row on the same move in the shootout is (at least partially) mental error and getting beat through the five hole is a mental error because you don't have your stick down or have otherwise bad technique. Physical mistakes will happen, and everyone sooner or later trips over their own feet, missing a wide open net (*cough*Plekanec*cough*) or fans on a pass and that's okay, that's part of playing sports and it's forgivable. But the mental errors are what frustrate me because they shouldn't happen given Kolzig's age and experience.

I've been hard on him recently but I didn't mean to be disrespectful to him - he's been a consummate professional his entire career in Washington on and off the ice and has probably meant as much, or more, to this organization than any other player in the last 20 years and showed loyalty during the rebuild.

Shelby said...