Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Farewell, Game in Hand

It was a nailbiter for sure towards the end but when all is said and done what matters is that the Caps got two points - and they did it in that coveted game in hand, drawing them even with Carolina and Florida in games remaining.

Frankly after last weekend's losses it's nice to see that the Caps still have two viable options left for a crack at the postseason. The win propelled them over Buffalo and kept them on pace with the Flyers for 8th, while also moving them within three points of Carolina.

Other thoughts on the game:

- Matt Bradley has been playing some stellar hockey lately, and his finish on the lovely Brooks Laich pass was just another reminder of that fact. When he, Gordon and Brashear are on the ice the shifts have been packed with energy and, amazingly enough, a few scoring chances as well - but it all seems to start with #10.

- All three of the Caps goals last night had something in common - they all involved the Caps driving the net in some fashion or another, something that seems to be missing when the offense sputters. Amazing.

- Scary moment #1: Alex Ovechkin taking a shot off his boot and getting up slowly, then walking with a pronounced limp back to the locker room after the first period.

- Scary moment #2: Cristobal Huet taking a slapper to the chin, sending his facemask flying.

- Scary moment #3: The last five minutes of the third period.

And around the league:

- It's a wonder that Kari Lehtonen and Johan Hedberg haven't been sized for straitjackets just yet. The (useless) Thrashers were outshot by the Flyers 47-19 last night, making that the 10th game this year in which they've allowed 40+ shots. In only 19 games have they allowed fewer than 30 shots on net, and Atlanta has outshot their opponents a mere nine times (tying another five). And of course, they're 30th in the league when it comes to shots against per game.

- You have to have seen that goal the Islanders scored - shorthanded, no less - in last night's loss to the Maple Leafs, but if you haven't do so immediately. 190 feet of slow, bouncing rubber that just kept bouncing slowly...right over Vesa Toskala's glove and into the net. The scary part for the Leafs? Up until the third period that goal was holding strong as the potential game-winner. That would have been a story.

- The Penguins lost to the Rangers last night - and their dads were there to see it. (Of course maybe someone can explain why their father-son trip was newsworthy and the Caps' trip a few weeks ago wasn't...)

So the Caps look to extend their winning streak to five, the first time they would have accomplished that feat in seven years. Ouch. And of course they'll attempt to do it while playing their third game in four nights and the second of back to back games...but at least their opponent is in the middle of a slump of sorts, with the Hawks going 1-4-1 in their last 6 and having likely fallen out of the playoff pictures.

Watch out for the twin teens, though. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews haven't slowed down much despite their team's recent woes and they're always dangerous, as are a host of others on the Hawks roster. This'll be our first look at them against the Caps and it'll be interesting to see how well the Caps defense, so strong lately, can shut them down - and how well our own rookie phenom, Nicklas Backstrom, matches up.

Oh, and if you're keeping track, Ovechkin is sitting two goals shy of 60. Ho hum.

Your standings as of this morning:

Tonight Tampa takes on Buffalo and Atlanta hosts the Hurricanes - looks like we're picking the underdog in both of those. Hey, the Thrashers have to win one eventually, right?

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