Sunday, October 26, 2014

Game 7: Caps At Flames, A Two Point Night; and a Few Other Blog/Hockey Musings

Well I've been back blogging pretty regularly and I guess thanks to a few links over at Japer's Rink I'm getting a fair amount of traffic, not bad for a fanboy blog, IMO.  In any case sorry for the last post/rant but as those who are Caps fans know, I wasn't the only person who avails themselves of these outlets to feel Glen Healy's comments were way over the top.

Before going over the recap of tonight's #CapsFlames and my thoughts on it a few other random
musings on the topic of hockey blogging.  When I started doing this blog in November 2007 there were a fair number of pretty good blogs out there and many like mine were independent.  Since that time a lot have been assembled into various outlets such as Japer's Rink and their affiliation with SB Nation, while other really, really awesome blogs like The Peerless Prognosticator have stayed "independent."  A few of the bloggers whose contribution to the hockey blogsphere inspired me regularly to add to the content out here on the interwebs in a manner I still aspire to have opted to "hang up their keyboards" and revert to their day jobs.  I myself certainly took a pretty solid hiatus from pretty much April 2012 until again in September, feeling I really had nothing to add to the conversation, and blogging had stopped being a place to release some of my creativity in a manner I enjoyed.  In any case it was with some trepidation that I decided to start doing so again a little over a month ago, so its really pleasurable to note that since I started blogging again I've had a fair amount of traffic and folks reading my blog and musings.  Hopefully it's as entertaining for people to read as it is for me to write again, and that remains the same for both you the reader and myself the writer.

Now to musings about this evening/morning's game in Calgary.  As most Caps fans know from various CSN comments, as well as a quick run through the Caps roster, any trip to and through Western Canada means more than a few Caps are likely to spend a chunk of change for friends and family coming to see them play nearer to their "ancestral homes" than at Verizon Center. In Edmonton, Jason Chimera and Braden Holtby were the ones, Chimera playing in his hometown and Holtby playing but a couple of hours from his in Lloydminster, SK; in Calgary, Mike Green and Jay Beagle are "home"; and when the team gets to Vancouver tomorrow, Troy Brouwer, and Karl Alzner will be playing in front of a number of family, and close friends form their youths.  Additionally, as I noted before this three game road trip though Western Canada is likely as good an early measuring stick as any for the Caps progress in adapting to the team's new system and their discipline in playing that system.  The game in Edmonton on Wednesday Evening was executed almost perfectly by the Caps in every way but one - the scoreboard. 

Last evening in Calgary, the Caps played a very good game both on the ice and on the scoreboard.

They came out strong in Calgary and though it took 11:17 for Joel Ward to score the Caps first goal on a powerplay that really wasn't looking very "awesome" to that point, the Caps did control the game through the entire first period.  Unfortunately the as the first period came to a close Dennis Wideman of the Flames tied the game with a PPG for the Flames at the 19:50 mark of the first stanza. The first period ended with the game tied 1-1 but with the momentum still really tilted the Capitals direction, IMO.

In the second period the Caps did cede some of the game's control to the Flames, however thanks once again to a goal by Joel Ward, this time a 5 on 5 goal at 5:41 of the period assisted by Michael Latta and Brooks Orpik.  Despite being pretty stymied by the Flames from mounting much other offense during the middle period, the Caps did not commit any glaring mistakes of their own and went into the final intermission leading the game 2-1 and playing smart, disciplined hockey.

The third period started just the way you wanted it to if you are a Caps fan.  The Capitals came out of the dressing room ready to play.  In fact just 41 seconds into the period, Nicklas Backstrom scored an even strength goal after a really crisp stretch pass from Karl Alzner sprung him on a 1-0 breakaway. Tonight Karl Alzner was clearly one of the best players on the ice as was Brooks Orpik who showed why he was sought after by the Capitals this off season. Another thing to note is while Ovechkin wasn't on the score sheet with any points, he was a force on the ice throughout the game.  His play when he doesn't have the puck just keeps getting better and better in this system, though he does need to go back to shooting the puck some more as he hasn't been as effective these past three games as he was during the first several of this young season.  Also in addition to Ward's scoring which merits mention in any recap of this game, rookies Andre Burakovsky and Evgeny Kuznetsov also looked extremely solid tonight as did Nate Schmidt and Mike Green.  Finally, despite only facing 21 SOG, anytime Braden Holtby posts a 0.952 SV% the Capitals are going to be a very hard team to beat.

Next up the Caps take a quick hop over to Vancouver to take on the Canucks (4-3-0; 7 points, 0.572)at 6:30 PM PDT and 9:30PM EDT tonight. They will likely be facing a well rested Ryan Miller along with the rest of a hungry Vancouver lineup coming off a 7-3 loss in Denver on Friday evening.


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