The truth about Tuesday night is it was a pretty ugly second period sandwiched between a good first period and a respectable third period. But the second period was ugly for both teams. Just take a look at the statistics and the "game tape." During the 'eventful" second period the Caps gave up 4 goals on 15 shots, they also took 6 minor penalties, during which the Flyers scored 2 power play goals. Over the full game and overtime, the Caps gave up 6 goals on 41 shots, took 9 minor penalties, on which the Flyers capitalized three times. In the end their second period performance resulted in Semyon Varlamov being pulled at the midpoint of the second period after having been in what looked like it could have been a goaltender's duel with the Flyers Ray Emery through a scoreless first period during which he stopped 11 shots and Emery stopped 14.
The Flyers for their part have had better home opening games for sure as well. They took 6 minor penalties, yielded one power play goal and five goals in regulation on 36 shots. The Caps were outscored 4-3 in the second period but outscored the Flyers 2 - 1 in the third, while the first period was played to a 0-0 stalemate. That the Capitals were still in the game after allowing the Flyers to have the man advantage 9 times during regulation play is a testament to just how flawed this game was on both sides of the ice. In fact, the Flyers had to come from behind to tie the game at 5-5 with just 4:15 left in the Third Period.
However, if either of these two games deserved to win the game it was indeed the Flyers. They were the more disciplined team on the ice Tuesday night; that's probably the only thing the Flyers team is happy with, even though Mike Richards scored a hat trick. So while Flyers fans can point to Richards' hat trick and Caps fans can point to Oveckin and Semin's two goals apiece, the only consolation both teams can take away from this game is the Flyers captured 2 points and are 3-0 on the season; and the Capitals captured 1 point and are 2-0-1 on the season. The interesting thing is if I had to guess, I'd say I expect each of the three remaining between these two "Beasts of the East" to have similar stories. The other thing that is for certain is these two teams love to play all out against each other. The story when they get together is "Go Big or Go Home." Unfortunately for the Caps, on Tuesday night even though the Caps went big, the Flyers went slightly bigger. When that happens the difference is, as it was, just the "little things/differences." In Tuesday's case that was three less minor penalties and two more power play goals.
If you're wondering here's some interesting projections based on the first three games of the season for the Capitals:
- The Capitals have been playing 0.833 hockey with their 2-0-1 record, that puts them on pace for 132 points. That's not going to happen, but some projections are just fun. Oh if they win on Thursday they will be playing 0.875 hockey and on pace for 143 points and that isn't happening either.
- Alexander Ovechkin has now scored 5 goals and 9 points in 3 games. That puts him on pace for 136 goals and 246 points. Neither of those are probably going to happen either but that projection is why folks around the NHL are starting to murmmer about "50 in 50". Ovie is currently on pace for 83 goals in 50 games right now, so the possibility of 50 in 50, even with a slump in early season production seems plausable. The compressed season for the Olympics Break this year also may actually enhance his chances.
- Brooks Laich is on pace for 82 goals as he has scored 3 goals in 3 games. He has looked solid in all three games and clearly has an icreasingly better nose for the net, great hands and the drive to make this his first 30+ goal season.
- Alexander Semin, the his just keep coming eh? Sasha has 4 goals and 7 points in 3 games. That has him on pace for 109 goals and 191 points. Like Ovie's production and pace, that can't continue but this year could be his first 50 goal and/or 100 point season.
- Nicklas Backstrom has 8 points in 3 games, all assists. He is yet another Capital on pace for 218 points. That isn't likely to happen but he too could have a 100+ point season.
How's that for some fun season long projections. As amazing as those personal statistics could or would be, the way the Caps are all playing, it's clear they would all give them up so they could have a shot at Lord Stanley's Cup. That's what makes this team look like they might do it; it's also why they (and we) feel taking a point on the road against a good Philadelphia Flyer team, isn't good enough.
Next up, Thursday night, the NY Rangers, aka the Blueshirts, at Verizon Center. I expect we'll see Jose Theodore in the net for the Capitals and Henrik Lundqvist in the the net for the Rangers. Otherwise I expect the Capitals to be looking to improve their record to 3-0-1 and to rebound from Tuesday's game against the Flyers. The Rangers will be looking to improve their record to 3-1. I'll be Rockin' the Red in Section 103, hope to see y'all there.
LETS GO CAPS!!!!