Monday, November 30, 2009

Caps Earn A Potentially Expensive Two Points In Raleigh Tonight

It was a two point night on the road for the Capitals in Raleigh, NC tonight. With Jose Theodore returning to the nets and stopping 38 of 40 shots (SV% - 0.950) and Caps Center Nicklas Backstrom having a 2 goal/3 point night it should have ended in an outright celebration. However, the post game interviews and discussion were subdued, any desire to celebrate was tempered with the uncertainty surrounding the status of Caps scoring ace Alexander Ovechkin both from an injury and suspension perspective. War is indeed hell.

During the first period of tonight's game Ovechkin ended up with a 5 minute kneeing major when he apparently tried to line up Hurricane Defenseman Tim Gleason in response to a big hit on line mate Backstrom that ended badly for both when they ended up with a knee on knee hit, both men on the ice and Ovechkin with a 5 minute major penalty and game misconduct - his second major in three games. Gleason returned to the game after missing a couple of shifts but even if Ovechkin hadn't gotten a game misconduct he was done for the night, the Caps have said OV will get an MRI tomorrow back here in DC and after that they will issue a statement on his physical status. The Caps responded and killed off Ovechkin's 5 minute major to once again exert their dominance over the struggling Hurricanes.

As if to make my point, from earlier today, about the reactionary nature the DC Metro sports press and MSM some are already predicting gloom and doom and a lengthy recovery period. On both counts I feel these are things that must be kept in perspective and may well not be inevitable at all. To be sure the hit looked pretty tough and OV took the worst of it. Throughout the game both before and after the hit Gleason was on a mission as well, the lack of credible repercussions and retaliation in the game today is definitely a problem. I'm not making excuses for OV, but look at the hit, Gleason had the puck, the hit wasn't late, he turns and goes low to avoid the hit and Ovechkin follows through to finish his check but catches Gleason's knee. Later in the third period Gleason and Tyler Sloan got into it as well.

Ovechkin's 5 minute The Caps, the Hurricanes and the Referees sure seemed to let this game get a little out of hand in the third period. The third period both teams took a tremendous amount of penalties. The Caps took a total of 7 minors, one 5 minute major and a game misconduct throughout the game including 4 minor penalties in the third period alone. The Hurricanes took a total of 6 minors and a 10 minute misconduct including 3 minors in the second and 3 minors in the third period. There really was no reason for the Caps not to play more disciplined hockey in the third period and for the Hurricane's to play more disciplined hockey all night long. The Hurricanes out shot the Caps in both the first and second period 28 - 17. However during the third period the Caps out shot the Hurricanes 16 - 12. The three stars of the game were 1) Nicklas Backstrom (2 Goals, 1 Assist, +2, 22:05 TOI, 12 of 23/53% in the faceoff circle, 1 takeaway); 2) Jose Theodore (38 Saves on 40 shots SV% 0.950); and 3) Eric Fehr (1 goal, 1 assist, +1, 13:44 TOI, 2 hits, 1 takeaway).

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