Friday, October 05, 2007
It's a TWO point night -- Caps vs. Thrashers
If you’re going to start the year, that’s the way to do it. Come out smartly, get a lead, play intelligently, skate off with a workmanlike win that lacked flash but was very efficient.
The Caps did all of that in their 3-1 opening night win in Atlanta. The Peerless was duly impressed, recognizing that it is but one game of 82. But there were some things to note...
– The puck was not so much on Alexander Ovechkin’s stick as it has been usual. Yet, he was credited with six shots and, when attempts blocked and missed shots are factored in, had a total of 11. If he’s working less to get his shots, he just might find more of them going in, although he did not dent the twine tonight.
– Who led the club in shots?...Well, Viktor Kozlov had seven, but so did Matt Pettinger (see?...we told you he’d make noise).
– Nicklas Backstrom registered his first NHL point, getting the primary assist on Michael Nylander’s goal, the first of the season for the Caps. While he might have admitted to nerves, as was reported on the Comcast broadcast, you wouldn’t have known it from his play tonight.
– Only one Cap lost more draws than he won tonight...Alex Ovechkin, who lost a draw when Kozlov was tossed from the circle.
– No offense to Tobias Enstrom, who played a pretty good game, but the third star? I’ve have given it to Brent Johnson, who stopped 28 of 29 shots.
– Last year, Brian Pothier averaged almost 24 minutes of ice time a night. Tonight...12:18. Part of that was taking two minors, but still, he was last in ice time among the six defensemen.
– David Steckel had a solid game. His 4:34 in penalty killing ice time was more than any other forward, except Boyd Gordon.
– It is said that the most dangerous lead in hockey is a two-goal cushion. Teams often take their foot off the pedal and let teams back into it. The Caps did allow a flukish goal by Bryan Little, who had a nice game for the Thrashers, but the Caps did not panic. Last year, on the road with a loud crowd, that might not have been the case too often. It’s one game, but that was a nice test.
– Four power plays allowed (no goals allowed)...being able to keep the number under five, in this power-play driven league, will be something to watch.
– Think the Caps are playing “puck possession?” If you add up shots, attempts blocked, and missed shots, the Caps “out-attempted” Atlanta in shots, 66-43.
– If you wear a letter, you’d better do the little things well. Tonight, Alex Ovechkin (wearing the “A”) foiled a Thrasher scoring chance that might have put the home team right back in it, with a diving backcheck. It might have escaped notice to most, but it might have been the biggest play of the night.
– Brent Johnson came into this game with a 6-2-1, 2.53, .910 record against Atlanta...looks like it was a good move to start him.