Some basic reflections and thoughts on last night's game.
- Both team's came out skating hard but the Hurricanes, particularly Cam Ward, seemed determined not to let the Caps get ahead. In the MSM Associated Press story it was noted "The Hurricanes played the Capitals as if their season was on the line. " Since about mid-January, it has been clear other teams in the league take the Caps seriously and with their recent record (January: 9-4-0) the 0.500 start to February seems anti-climatic, if not a little disappointing since in the two losses the Caps generally prolific offense has been shut down.
- Things got exciting real fast with a fight just 0:37 into the first period between Matt Bradley and Scott Walker. I'd have to call it a draw though it was pretty good to watch. At 5:25 of the first John Erskine took on Wade Brookbank and definately seemed to get the better of him but you can be the judge of that here at Hockey Fights.com
- I didn't see the first 'Canes goal (Erik Cole's backhand at 3:47) well because 1) I was a bit distracted and 2) it started with a play that orginated in an are of the ice I can't see real well from my seats but I did see the second goal really well and for Brent Johnson to have stopped it, he would have had to have been the Almighty; between Shoanne Morrison and Jeff Schultz, they both uncharacteristically were out of position allowing Rod Brind'Amor and Sergei Samsonov to set up Andrew Ladd, uncovered, on the doorstep with the whole left side of the net open. Overall Johnnie's save % for the night was a repectable 0.913 unfortunately Cam Ward's save percentage was an excellent 0.971.
- The Caps didn't pressure Carolina much at all - the powerplay was an impotent 0-7 including a 1:10 two man advantage where Carolina managed to sneak in a scoring chance of their own and even though they got off a total of 34 shots many were easily handled and Ward was exceptionally stingy with rebounds.
- The Caps one goal came from a spetacular, herculean one man effort unassisted goal by Alexander Semin at 9:44 of the third period; unfortunately Semin was only 1-3 in one man efforts. That sarcasm meaning there were at least two other occassions where "Sasha #2" came in the zone on a rush skated around numerous Carolina Hurricanes and took low percentage shots rather than looking to find the open man to pass off to.
- There were a lot of groans in the third period when at 19:32 with the goalie pulled Semin took a slashing penalty and in the second period when Brashear took two minors one for Tripping and one for holding but I actually don't fault the players for that these were not great calls by the Refs in my opinion , Brash's call for tripping was especially weak in that he was doing a one hand poke check from behind. The holding penalty should have been offsetting mutual roughing penalties and Semin's slashing call looked like just a mistimed/executed swipe at the puck.
- The Caps played a hard first period but the Cane's played harder and won the period 2-0; both teams palyed with the same intesity and results in the second period and ended tied 0-0 for the period; the Caps outplayed the Canes in the third period and won the period 1-0 but that wasn't enough to overcome the two goal deficiet they left themselves in at the end of the first period...
- For the Caps to make the playoffs and win the southeast division, they'll need to: a) play every period with the same intensity they played the third period last night; b) get the power play moving and productive; c) stabilize the lineup to something with three productive offensive lines; and d) stop leaving their goaltender naked and exposed so often.
- How's this for arrogant motivating quotes from opposing team players - per the Associated Press Wire Article on the game: "If you can shut (Ovechkin) down or contain him a little bit, you're going to be successful against these guys," (Erik) Cole said. The Caps other young guns will have to wait till the February 23rd when these two Southeast Division rivals meet at Carolina to prove him worng but they will certainly try to do so. So far this season the 'Canes lead 3 games to 2.
Next game tomarrow at the Phone Booth 1PM versus the Rangers. I won' be there one of my USMMA classmates (Tom) will be there in my seats with his 11 year old son Dylan who is now into hockey - LETS GO CAPS!!!!!!!!!!!!