Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I Believed You Jose

The quote of the night last night after the Caps 4 - 2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers came from Jose Theodore who stopped 41 of 43 shots on goal, including all 20 he faced in the third period. Theodore told the media:

"I said during training camp that this is the best I've felt since the lockout, and sooner or later people are going to realize that I wasn't just saying that for fun."

As regular readers of this blog will attest I've always been happy that the Capitals choose to sign Theodore as a Free Agent in 2008 and I've always been rooting for him. As I watched last night's game from my seat in Section 103 I couldn't help but think how underrated and over-critiqued I feel both Theodore and Flyers goaltender Ray Emery are at this juncture of their careers. Both had early successes and then a series of let downs. Yet this season both seem to be on track and recovering their flair and getting solid results from their intensity. Last night to be sure Jose Theodore out dueled Ray Emery, hands down. However, Emery isn't the reason the Flyers lost, in fact the Flyers did not loose the game. Flyers fans and bloggers in fact have been quoted as saying they feel their team won 55 of the 60 minutes. To be sure it didn't look that way from my seat. The first period ended in a tie game 0-0; I didn't feel either team overwhelmed or won that period by any significan margin. The second period - the Flyers won the first 15 minutes of it 2-0 then the Caps won the last 5 minutes 2-0 as well causing the game to be knotted 2-2 at the end of two. So using Buffalo scoring at the end of two period the game is still tied after two periods.

The third period the Caps scored two goals, the Flyers 0, the Caps sure weren't outplayed by much in that period, yes they were outshot 20 - 10, but given the Caps went up by a score 3-2 at the 5:24 mark of the period, and the Caps took two penalties to the Flyers 0 in the period, is that all too surprising? No doubt about it, Jose Theodore was "lights out" all night long so if you want to conclude that Theo stole a game from the Flyers I'd be hard pressed to argu. However, the Caps also had 36 SOG for the night, so it's not like the Flyers shut the Capitals offense down all night, or even 55 minutes of it, IMO.

This was a well played game by both teams. On the defensive side of the ice Theodore had a 0.953 SV% while the Capitals had 20 blocked shots, 7 takeaways and 24 hits. Emery posted a 0.914 SV% while the Flyers had 13 blocked shots, 4 takeaways and 19 hits. In the Faceoff Circle, the Caps won 59% of the 69 draws. So even discounting the Capitals stats by some percentage for some sort of home team bias, the Capitals sure seem to have played a lot more of last night's game to better than a draw for more than 5 minutes of it. However, if you are predisposed to decide that Jose Theodore stole the game from the Flyers for the Capitals, as I said I'm more than fine with that, he deserved the game's first star of the night, and I actually like the idea of knowing he still has the ability to do that (steal a game). I've been intimating it for some time now, and I definitely felt that last night I got to see the guy who won the Hart, Vezina, and Crozier Trophies in 2001 - 2002 play at his highest level. Like I said last night Theodore was "lights out'. Yes I know the Flyers hit the post three times, but good goaltenders have a way of making good forwards do that, the fact that the Flyers had 43 SOG, 20 attempts blocked and 19 misses while Theodore allowed only 2 goals against ought to tell you just how good he was last night. From 2000 through 2004 Theodore averaged 62+ games played per season and had a combined SV% of 0.924 for those 4 seasons - my point - when he's in the zone, fit and healthy, he's capable of being a real workhorse AND he's scary good! A few more games like last night and I'm thinking I won't be the only guy in the "blogsphere" who is a big fan of his and a believer.


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