Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Morning After -- Caps vs. Islanders

Two points, today, thank you very much.

photo: Getty Images

Well, that was . . . oops, hold on, gotta fix the glass . . . as we were saying, that was nice. The Caps . . . oops, there goes the glass again. The Caps might have won ugly, but the operative word there is “won.” When Matt Pettinger scored less than three . . . damn, there goes that glass again! When Pettinger scored less than three minutes into the . . . ARGHHHH!! Will somebody fix the #@%&ing glass?

OK . . . when Pettinger scored less than three minutes in, it looked as if the Caps might have one of those games when things click, and the opponent goes scurrying for cover as the good guys unleash a goal scoring onslaught. Well, that didn’t happen. But Olaf Kolzig almost made the singleton stand up. He did allow a shorthanded goal as the Caps played goofy with the man advantage, and Kolzig seemed to lack an awareness about who was lurking around his crease as Mike Sillinger pounded home the tying tally 27 seconds into the second period.

But that was it. No more soup for you. Take your fey little striped sleeve jerseys and go away. The Islanders tried to make an ugly game of it, and for the most part they succeeded. Between the Islanders’ painful approach to the game, the interminable stoppages for glass repair, the Caps’ own ability to take the most basic of plays – the pass from teammate to teammate – and turn it into an Indiana Jones adventure moment, this game would make the short list of ugliest NHL games of the year. You didn’t need a watch to time this game, you needed a calendar. The mites at the first intermission displayed more flow and cohesiveness.

But in the end, Alexander Semin scored a shootout goal – where else – over the goalie’s glove to give the Caps the 2-1 win and put to an end the three game losing streak.

If there were numbers of note in this game, they were those that reflectedwhat looked like a “short bench” strategy by Glen Hanlon:

- Brian Sutherby: 7:41 of ice time and only one shift in the last 27 minutes of regulation and overtime

- Donald Brashear: 4:40 of ice time and none in the last 31 minutes of regulation and overtime.

- Matt Bradley: 7:56 of ice time and one shift in the last 27 minutes.

Maybe they had Super Bowl party hors d’oeuvres in the oven . . .

On the other hand, the new kid got the most ice time again. Milan Jurcina had 25:47 and displayed a talent that Caps defensemen have not often displayed this year – the ability to actually get the puck to the net. He was credited with five shots on goal.

Richard Zednik did well in his audition for other clubs, almost stuffing the puck on a wrap-around in the first period (which led directly to Pettinger’s goal on the follow-up) and skating with energy in his 17 minutes.

The top line of Alex Ovechkin, Dainius Zubrus, and Chris Clark was held with out a shot for the first 41 minutes of the game. Hard to score that way.

Steve Eminger might have played his best game of the season. In almost 25 minutes, he was as steady and sound as perhaps in any game of his young career. He and Jeff Schultz made a good pair (Schultz chipped in with five blocked shots and used his reach to foil Islanders trying to maneuver the puck along the boards all afternoon).

This was not a game for the video highlight vault, unless you’re thing is watching guys repair dislodged panes of glass. But a win is a win is a win. And the Caps, not to mention their fans, will accept the two points gladly. It was a good start to a four game homestand. All of the games this week are winnable, and for the Caps to maintain even a glimmer of playoff hope, it is likely that all have to be won. But it’s one at a time, and this one was good for two points. Nicely done, guys.


Hockey Amor said...

Glad to see Jurcina is getting a tryout.

The Peerless said...

He's led the club in ice time in each of the games he's dressed. The Caps are just so green on the blue line (Eminger, Morrisonn, Green, Schultz, and now Jurcina) that he stands out in his play thus far, and I think he's going to get a long look for the rest of the season in just about all situations (by comparison, Mike Green gets no time killing penalties)

CapsChick said...

Oh, it's never a good thing when the Mites on Ice outshine the big boys.

Of course, as young as this team is getting I'm tempted to say sign them up. They'll be good in what, 10 years? Think Olie can hang in there that long?