- The Coyotes didn't make it easy that's for sure. They were disciplined, played a steady game for a full sixty minutes and were "in the hunt" until Ovechkin iced it with his empty-net goal at 19:54 of the third period.
- One might ask how I can characterize a game where the Coyotes took eight (7) and the Caps took 5 non-coincidental minor penalties as a disciplined game. Heck I'm asking myself that as I write this, but it was, trust me, it was. First realize the Capitals didn't take a penalty until 8:56 of the second period. Then understand that two of the Caps non-coincidental minors the Capitals did take were strange. Alexander Semin's delay of game while fighting for the puck on the tail end of a penalty kill was just weird and wouldn't happen again in 99 more similar situations. Nicklas Backstrom's non-coincidental roughing call in the third period, watch the 2 minutes prior to that call and tell me it's not "questionable" in your mind. Not questionable because of what Backstrom did or didn't do, rather questionable because of the two non-calls against the Coyotes in the minute or so prior to Backstrom being sent to the box. The other three penalties against the Capitals were all good calls by the referees and sure the coaching staff will go over them with the offenders but in a tightly played game against a team like the Coyotes it would be hard to imagine a penalty free game; add the fact the referees included Bill McCreary and the likelihood gets even smaller. The Coyotes seven (7) non-coincidental penalties. I'm not in the habit of making excuses for opposing teams but five (5) of the seven (7) were for hooking, tripping, or holding - all things you do when you are trying to slow a fast skating, talented high-octane offense down. I'm not saying they were "good hockey" but they weren't total bonehead penalties for no reason. In fact the only one of those was the Ed Jovanovski roughing penalty at 12:57 of the third period when he threw a punch into the pile up in the crease, pretty much right in front of at least one of the referees; fortunately for the Coyotes at that point they killed off that penalty.
- Neuvirth looked good and confident in the net. That's just a good thing after his prior two outings. He was positionally sound, not easily shaken, and the list goes on.
- It's nice to see other defensemen besides Mike Green joining the rush. Tom Poti has been much more active these past four games. Last night the guy who looked good doing it and who doesn't usually join the rush was Shoane Morrisonn. Sha-Mo had an assist, was +1 and had a team high five hits, that's an active night for a normally "stay at home" defenseman.
- Take Mike Green's 10:08 and Alexander Ovechkin's 10:28 of power play time off the score sheet and they each had 16:43 and 12:28 of ice time last night. Other than Green and Ovechkin, only Tom Poti had over 20:00 (21:58) of time on ice and 5:11 of that was on the penalty kill. Average shift time and shifts per game, discounting those three items, was very evenly spread around - that's a good thing.
- Final quick thought, last night Alexander Semin just had an awesome game. He was all over the place and was part of every Capitals successful scoring effort. He was solid all night, no matter what he was asked to do. It was a two point night for the Capitals as far as the standings go, it was a four point night for Semin - a goal, 3 assists, and +2. He was unselfish, played heads up hockey and did it with an energy level second to none. So I have to ask, where are all the naysayers now? I've been positive about Semin for years, I just hope he ends up staying a Washington Capital for a long time, like I have since I first saw him in a Capitals uniform.
Well next up the Caps travel to Uniondale, NY to take on the New York Islanders on Tuesday evening. The Isles have been a tough match up for the Caps this season. The Islanders have beaten the Caps once in regulation and taken the Caps to overtime and the shootout in their other two meetings this season before falling to them. Additionally, the boys from Long Island are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games, and are one of eight teams now fighting it out for the last three playoff spots in the Eastern Conference with 54 points, an overall record of 23-21-8 and are 14-9-2 at home so far this season. This will be another good one to watch, I expect Jose Theodore and Rick DiPietro to guard the nets and the Islanders to come out hungry and with confidence since they a) need the points and b) have proven to themselves they can play with the Caps. I expect the Caps to be rested and also come out ready for the battle since they had a day off today, will have a full practice tomorrow, and hopefully getting to the Island won't involve any travel anomalies. All that said, the Caps will need to continue to play disciplined solid team hockey if they expect to extend their winning streak to seven on Tuesday evening.
LETS GO CAPS!!!