Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A One Point Night - Rangers 5 - Capitals 4 (SO)

Tonight the Washington Capitals basically escaped from Madison Square Garden with a point. It was a bit of a weird game, even though there were 8 goals scored in regulation in some regards the game was about the goaltending. The game was back and forth through the first two periods and at the end of two the score was tied 4-4, on two goals by Defenseman Mike Green. With tonight's tallies by Green, his 20th and 21st, he tied an NHL record for goals in consecutive games by a defenseman - seven, tying a record that was set in 1984. However, that wasn't enough to sink the normally low scoring Rangers as they managed to score four goals themselves during the first forty minutes of regulation.
At the start of the third period, the Caps decided to make it tough for themselves - during the third period they took 5 minor penalties while the Rangers took none. Despite the fact the Capitals gave the Rangers at least a one man advantage for 9:43 during 6 powerplays throughout the game, all eight goals scored in regulation by both teams were scored at even strength. However, playing one or two men down for over 9:20 of the final period sure seemed to slow the Caps down in what is often their best period. Jose Theodore and Henrik Lundqvist kept their teams in the game, particularly during the third period. Theo stopped 28 of 32 shots (save % = 0.875) while "King Henrick" stopped 26 of 30 shots (save % = 0.866), so it's hard to call tonight's game a "goalie's duel" but watching the game, it didn't seem like a horribly bad outing for either netminder. When the game ended at the end of overtime, both men between the pipes looked pretty on their games, the shootout was it's usual "thing" - if you like the gimmick you like it and if you don't you don't. I won't "go there" re: the "rebound goal." It really doesn't matter, in the end neither team really deserved to win, the caps deserved the point or points less then the Rangers due to the undisciplined hockey they played and penalties they took during the third period. The final score means the Caps didn't "sweep" the Rangers in this season's series instead going 3-0-1.

There were some highlights for the Capitals, not the least of which was Mike Green's two goal performance, though I'd expect both he and the rest of the Capitals would like the two points and a regulation win. However, Mike Green is on "as good a roll" as you can imagine. He has 49 points in 41 games - 21 goals and 28 assists. Currently, Green leads all NHL defensemen in scoring by a fair margin. He leads in overall points by six (6) points over Brian Rafelski of the Red Wings. He leads in goals by seven (7) over Sheldon Souray of the Oilers and Shea Weber of the Predators. He is also currently tied for third in overall +/- with the Bruins Zdeno Chara at + 24. Despite all these facts, amazingly, there are still some Caps fans who question whether he should be considered for the Norris Trophy. From my perspective there is no doubt he has scaled the ascent and reached the heights of the group of players who are in the top echelon of defenseman in the NHL.

The "energy line" tonight was "The Killer Bees": Left Wing Donald Brashear and Right Wing Matt Bradley were centered by Hershey Bear call-up Jay Beagle. Beagle has been out a while down in Hershey due to a concussion earlier in the year but he had a great training camp before going to "Chocolatetown." Tonight he played well, despite an anemic faceoff percentage, he had 3 shots (including one great scoring chance that almost beat Lundqvist), 2 hits and 2 takeaways. during 15 shifts and 7:41 Time On Ice.
Eric Fehr and Tomas Fleischmann each had another good game. Each had a goal and an assist; on the night "Flash" was +3 while Fehr was +2. The first line - Ovechkin - Backstrom - Nylander played pretty well and further improved their timing. Well with tonight's final score the Caps are 3-1-1 so far in February and appear poised for their next two games on the road in Florida - it's a father-son trip so let's hope the Capitals aren't too distracted as they are now tied with the New Jersey Devils for second in the Eastern Conference.

Next up the Lightning in Tampa Bay on Saturday Night.


1 comment:

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