Friday, November 5, 2010

Review of Last Night's NHL Games - Tonight Can the Capitals Solve The Bruins and Tim Thomas?

Tonight I'll be at Verizon Center in my trusty seat watching the Capitals take on the Boston Bruins. The Caps have jousted with the Bruins twice already this season and through six periods/120 minutes of play the Caps have managed to get just two pucks past Tim Thomas while the Bruins have been "The Killer B's" putting 7 pucks into the Capitals net and taking a 2-0 lead in their 2010-2011 Regular Season Series. More on that later but first a quick look at the six (6) games that took place around the league last evening.

San Jose @ Saint Louis: Sharks 0 - Blues 2
- This is the game that pretty much everyone is talking about because of the hit by Joe Thorton on David Perron and the subsequent 5 minute major and game misconduct issued to Thorton. The hit was judged as a hit to the head and a blind-side hit by the on ice officials and will be reviewed no doubt by the league for possible additional discipline. I've looked at the replay and I feel it is the type of hit the recent rule changes are meant to cover and punish. Interestingly it doesn't look to me like Thorton in any way "lined up" Perron and Perron now indicates he wasn't significantly injured on the play. That said, it seems to me that is by luck and if the rule is meant to make sure that guys in Thorton's position "pull up" and not blind side opponents, this hit proves a couple of things not the least of which is that action (pulling up) may well be impossible. Even if you are not skating with all out abandon as folks last year accused Alexander Ovechkin of doing on the Brian Campbell hit. Bottom line though is from all that I was able to see on the replay, despite what Bobby Holik was saying this AM on "NHL on the Fly", this hit should get Thorton a two game or so suspension and put him in the same category as Ovechkin relative to possibility of being dealt with as a repeat offender if another such incident occurs.
- All the above sort of eclipses the fact that last night's outing was Jaroslav Halak's third (3rd) shutout of this young season, and takes his record to 7-1-1 with a SV% of 0.940 and a GAA of 1.53. A pretty awesome start and I think given his $3.75 Salary Cap hit makes for a great comparison with Carey Price whose record is 6-4-1 with a GAA of 2.44 and a SV% of 0.909 though at a price tag of $2.75M and a contract term that is 2 years shorter than Halak's contract in Saint Louis. Watching this comparison throughout this season might be interesting if both goaltenders continue to perform for their teams the way they are now and backstop both their clubs into the post-season.

New York Rangers @ Philadelphia: Rangers 1 - Flyers 4
- The win by the Flyers has them now on a five game winning streak.
- Last night's game was the first of the season for these two division rivals and the first since their "elimination" game last April which the Flyers won to make the playoffs.
- Basically the Rangers scored the first goal of the game on a second period power play and from then on, it was "all" Flyers.
- After a tightly contested, scoreless first period, the second period ended with the Flyers up 3-1.
- The storey of the third period was the Dan Carcillo hit on Ruslan Fedotenko; it'll be interesting to see how the NHL Wheel of Supplemental Discipline sins on Carcillo vice how it handles the hit by Thorton.
- For us Capitals fans we'll be facing the Flyers on Sunday afternoon after they play the New York Islanders in Uniondale on Saturday evening.

Columbus @ Atlanta: Blue Jackets 3 - Thrashers 0
- Bottom line: Ondrej Pavelec started in goal for the Thrashers, stopping 39 of 41 shots … Mathieu Garon got the start for the Blue Jackets, stopping all 25 Atlanta shots on goal.
- Pavelec gave up two (2) of the three (3) goals, the final Columbus goal was an empty netter, but neither of the two that got past Pavelec were of the variety that a goalie would absolutely like to "have back."
- For Garon who is now 4-0-0 on the season, it was his second straight shutout. He got some help blocking by his teammates last night but either way two straight shutouts is pretty impressive.

New York Islanders @ Ottawa: Islanders 1 - Senators 4
- Forty One (41) year old Dwayne Roloson was in net for the Isles since Rick DiPietro has been so impressive of late.
- The Sens went out to a 3-0 lead before the Islanders scored a third period power play goal to get things going.
- Whatever energy and momentum the Isles were trying to get going from their power play score was sapped from them when Sens goalie Brian Elliott stopped them on two short handed breakaways on subsequent Ottawa power play.
- Final note: 36 year old Sergei Gonchar still has "it" and is discounted at opponent's peril.

Vancouver @ Colorado: Canucks 3 - Avalanche 1
- Corey Schneider got the start for Vancouver and Peter Budaj got the start for the Av's in this "Battle of the Backaups".
- The Canucks went up 3-0 before the Avalanche scored; all three Vancouver goals came off their power play.
- Vancouver's puck movement on the man advantage is a thing of beauty to watch.
- Note To File: The Canucks # 2 goal scorer at this point of the season is Raffi Torres who with seven (7). Torres a late pickup by Vancouver is playing on one year, $1M contract, his 7 goals have him sitting at # 13 on the leagues goal scorer list between #12 Phil Kessel (salary:$6M) and #14 Cindy Crosby (salary:$9M). Good pick-up by Canuck's President & GM Mike Gillis? I'd vote yes in that fan poll if there was one.

Tampa Bay @ Los Angeles: Lightning 0 - Kings 1
- A tight, well played game by both teams; Tampa Bay had 24 shots on goal while the Kings mustered 26.
- The difference in this goaltender's duel between Jonathan Quick of LA and Mike Smith of TB was a highlight reel goal by Justin Williams, his sixth (6th) of the season came off a an Smyth with just 5:20 left in the game.

Now about tonight's eight NHL match-ups, the only one I'll be watching will be the Capitals - Bruins game, live, in person from my normal vantage point in section 103 at Verizon Center. Based on Katie Carrera's notes from this morning's skate, it looks like Michal Neuvirth will get his 12th start of the season and that Matt Hendricks will be in the lineup tonight. It appears that neither DJ King, Tom Poti nor Marcus Johansson will play tonight. Still no word on what the final lineup will be but based on Brian Fahey's reassignment back to Hershey I'll go out on a limb and say the Defense pairings will be:

This should be a good game and I expect the Capitals fired up and ready to try and put a stop to what has been Boston's mastery of them so far this season. I'm expecting a big game from all four of the "young guns" and another solid night defensively from the Capitals rear guard. Hopefully that will be enough to get more than one puck by Mr. Thomas tonight.


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