And, we’re off!
The first game of the four game road-trip got off to a pleasant start with a 5-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche. It wasn’t without its moments, though . . . Alexander Ovechkin taking a Shaone Morrisonn shot to his right leg and crumpling to the ice in pain launched Capitals Nation into a spasm of panic. Watching him helped off the ice favoring his leg was seen as the mortal equivalent of a head of state felled.
Word in the locker room afterward? . . . “he’ll be okay.”
And Capitals Nation rejoices.
As for the game, this was one of those odd games that you look at and ask, “uh, how did we win that one?” Well, the old, broken-down, has-been, washed-up, best-days-are-faded-to-black-and-white goaltender kicked, blocked, gloved, deflected, smothered, or otherwise turned away 45 of 48 shots, that’s how. Olaf Kolzig was the difference, for which he should have been awarded the game’s number-one star, but wasn’t.
What shouldn’t get a star was the defense in front of him. A larger share than what one would like of those 45 saves were of the “not routine” variety. The Caps spent a lot of time running around, chasing the Avs all over the offensive zone. It was a game almost devoid of a physical dimension – 13 hits, total, by both teams – and looked more like a video game version of the sport. Mr. Commissioner, I find this sort of game rather kind of boring, despite the eight goals.
The two keys we cited in our last report here – staying out of the box and playing a more effective second period – loomed large here. While the Caps didn’t exactly stay out of the box (the Avs had seven power plays), they only allowed two man advantages in the last 40 minutes (one of which the Avs scored on to make it a one-goal game late) and none in the second period. The Caps also won the second period, 2-0, outshooting the Avs 13-8 in the process while going 1-for-2 on their own power plays.
Some observations . . . if one could transplant Andrew Brunette’s hands onto Rico Fata’s body, you’d have an all-star winger . . . what was with Marek Svatos? 15:29 in ice time and 11 shots? Pistol Pete Maravich didn’t put it up that often . . . Donald Brashear played his best six minutes and fifteen seconds as a Cap . . . your Caps leader in hits tonight? Richard Zednik, with two . . . on top of the 48 shots the Avs managed to put on net, they also had 15 shots blocked, and they missed 15 shots. That’s 78 shots taken in 60 minutes. NASA doesn’t do that many launches.
But in the end, a win is a win is a win. They all count for two points, and two points on the road is always a good thing. On to Vancouver!
-- The Peerless.