So first off, Wed night was a two point night for the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center in another three point night kind of way. I haven't read the other blogs, or Tarik or Corey's blogs or articles, I haven't looked over the Caps press releases, etc. on the game, even now (Friday morning). I was there and have my own, likely slightly contrary views to some about the night. After all, I've never been in the closet about my support and opinions for the play and potential of Alexander Semin, or for that matter Jose Theodore and what I write here about both will be my own views, the views of a person wholly unqualified to make judgements, assessments or pronouncements. At least no more qualified than anybody else with the price of admission to a game and who prefers to spend a disproportionate amount of his disposable income/recreation budget on "those things hockey". Here's the game I was at.
Eight seconds in just finished putting my jacket on the back of my seat in Section 103 and BAM! Brendan Morrison takes the opening faceoff puts the puck onto the stick of Alexander Semin "the other Alex --- really "The Unfairly Maligned Alex" --- he shoots and HE SCCOOOOOORRREEES! Caps up 1-0. The look on Semin's face - relief; the look on Semin's mother's face in the row behind me as we all do high fives, joy.
Unfortunately a little less than a minute later, Islander Left Wing and leading goal scorer Matt Moulsen returned the favor scoring for the Islanders. Game tied 1 - 1 at the 1:02 mark of the period's after goal number 1 that Caps goaltender Jose Theodore would like back but that frankly he didn't get a lot of help on. Then at the 5:10 mark of the period, Islanders' defenseman Mark Streit helps press the attack and is rewarded with his third goal of the season on the the fourth shot of the game for the Islanders. Wow these guys are real sharpshooters; of course it would help if the Caps, including Jose Theodore weren't all collapsing back and giving them room to roam. Then at the 6:54 mark, Mike Green in one of those "high risk/high reward" things ends up on the "high risk" side of things and yields a 1-0 breakaway to Islander Left Wing Sean Bergenheim who skates in on a less than then fully confident Jose Theodore. Theodore backed into the net quickly instead of aggressively challenging the 25 year old Finn who fired his second goal of the season past the Caps goalie to put his team up 3-1 at that time. Bergenheim's goal ended Jose Theodore's evening as he was pulled in favor of rookie Semyon Varlamov having yielded 3 goals on 5 Islander shots at that point.
Coach Boudreau's decision at that time to change goaltenders seemed to have the desired effect, a frustrated netminder was replaced with a young, determined one and the team also seemed to tighten things up a little. Also Varlamov made some solid stops over the next 8 - 10 minutes and the Caps blue line corps let the Islanders know they weren't going to tolerate them running into the Caps' goalies all night. Things went back and forth while the Caps edged their shots on goal total up slowly until the Caps had a good shift penning the Isles into their end and drawing a holding penalty from J. Sim at 12:14. On the ensuing power play Tomas Fleischman once again showed us all he definately has a nose for the net and Nicklas Backstrom showed us he may well be the consumate playmaker in the NHL today with a solid primary assist on "Flash's" 6th goal of the season at the 13:42 mark of the period, narrowing the Islanders lead to one goal. From about the 10:00 mark on the Caps took it the Islanders and Isles goalie Dwayne Roloson kept the Isles in the hunt; while Varlamov kept the Isles stuck on "3"...
The second period started with Tim Jackman taking an interference penalty to give the Caps their second power play of the night. The Isles kille that Penalty off and things see-sawed with the Caps having the "control" edge throughout the first period but once again the Islaes gave the Caps a power play when Josh Bailey got called for interferance. This one provided Mike Green a stage on which to work and setup Alexander Semin who scored his second of the night and 9th of the season at the 5:35 mark of the period to knot the score at 3-3. After this goal, there was actually a lot more joy vs. relief on Semin's face. It bears mentioning as well that the setup by Mike Green was patented Green and was a display of superior skating ability by him all the way into the zone and around the net while Semin went to the nt and got open for the setup. And in case you were pondering the question the tally did mean the caps went 66.6667% on the power play for the game. After tying the game the Caps kept the pressure on but Roloson hung tough until the 16:46 mark of the second period when Eric Fehr notched his second goal of the season assisted by Captain Chris Clark and Mike Green (that was Green's 13th assist of the season). The second period ended with the Caps up 4-3.
For the entire third period the Caps played hard and seemed determined to make sure the game ended in regulation with a 5 or more goal victory (can you say Wings!?!) by Dwayne Roloson had other ideas and wwas unfathomable at times. The Caps also took three penalties in the third period. I presonally didn't really think the infractions were something that should necessarily have been called but when I think in this day's NHL when you are up you need to play unquestionably clean hockey else everything seems to go against you.
For all intents and purpooses from the 15:10 mark when Dave Steckel was called for holding until the 17:52 mark when T. Hunter put a laser just past Varly's glove the Caps were skating one man down and looked like they were going to hold off the Islanders and end this game in regulation. Alas that wasn't to be, Hunter's shot was a rocket, I'm not sure Varly saw it so much as was playing the angle properly and that's why he might possibly have stopped it if his hand wes 3 inches high. However th reulst was the third period ended with the score tied 4-4. Was that such a surprise? It was a Caps - Islanders game after all.
Overtime, once again if not for Roloson and a few fortunate bounces. During OT the Caps got off 4 shots 3 of which I'd call scoring chances. The Islanders had one (1) SOG. Victory wasn't to come for the Caps yet, on to the Gimmick, urrh I mean shootout.
For the Caps Backstrom shot wide;
For the Isles Tambellini nic move scored;
For the Caps Semin, sick move puts a backhander into the roof of the net on Roloson's blocker side and scores;
Isles' Tavares, wide of the net (was he trying to do "anything you can do I can do better with Backstrom perhaps?" My perdication - these two guys will be the acknowledged best centers in the league along with that Crosby kid, before long.)
Caps' Bredan Morrison wrister saved by Roloson;
Isles' Schremp backhand stopped by Varly - never a doubt...
Next fourteen more shooters (7 from each team) are basically denied by good goaltending, the only close one was Mike Gren hitting the TOP of the crossbar duirng round 7 of the shhotout.
Then the 21st shooter, Captain Chris Clark, having watched 9 of his teammates fail, came in and as soon as Dwayne Roloson gave him an opening, sent a nice, quick release snapshot past him to put the Caps ahead and the next Islander shooter on the hot seat. The final attempt of the shootout was made by Islanders defenseman Mark Streit and Semyon Varlamov was "having none of it" he snuffed out Streit's wrister with determination and celebrated by banging his stick on both posts. If he was Johnny Drama we no doubt would have heard him shout "VICTORY!!!" all the way down at our end of the VC in section 103.
It was a sweet game for me in many ways. I attended with a good freind from college and we had a pleaseant dinner catching up before getting to VC and we had a great time at the game. I shouted myself hoarse and I';m ready to do it again tonight. One of my three favorite Capitals - Alexander Semin - was vindicated (take that you haters -yeah!). It was a two point night, I'm still perplexed as to how the press decided to make Mark Streit and not Dwayne Roloson the third star of the game, I know Streit had a goal and an assist and was +2 on the night but Roloson stopped 37 of 41 shots (0.902) to give the Islanders a chance at two points, some of his saves were pretty incredible. For the Caps I think they got the right two guys listed as stars Varlamov and Semin and I really don't care which was listed as 1st and who was 2nd. Do I think Semin's 2 goals in regulation and shootout goal along with 11 SOG, 3 A/B and 1 missed attempt while staying well away from the sin bin will get people firmly off his case and behind him? No not really but I'm sure he feels at least a little vinidicated. Heck I would.
Now it's time to start thinking about tonight's game against the Wild - hey you dudes from Minnesota - we'll be there, we'll be there 18,277 strong Rocking the Red and cheering for our guys? You where will you be? In front of your TV's out in the cold land of 10,000 lakes eh? FYI it won't be much different here than there - projected temp and conditions in St. Paul, MN at 8PM CST is 49F and raining - but oh yeah, we'll be watching our guys in person. All joking aside the Caps will need to play disciplined hockey and I don't expect the over and under to be greater than 6 goals tonight if Caps are to win.
LETS GO CAPS!!!!