Friday, February 09, 2007

Caps Troubles Uncovered

It the mascot, stupid.

The Caps are 4-8-7 against clubs this year with "animal" mascots -- Thrashers, Panthers, Bruins, Ducks, Penguins, Coyotes, and Wild (a depiction of a bear's head). They are 0-4-1 against those clubs in their last five games.

The Caps are 19-17-1 against the rest of the league.

For the record, nine of the Caps' remaining 26 games are against these furry and feathered friends.

Blueberry, Bran, or . . . Boyd?


Not exactly the moniker for a strapping young piece of western Canada timber, but that might be the kind of nickname that sticks to a guy.

In the post-game interview after last night’s 4-3 overtime win posted by the Caps over the Los Angeles Kings, Olaf Kolzig was holding forth on the shorthanded goal scored by Boyd Gordon to tie the game 1-1 just 1:43 into the second period . . .

"I keep razzing him about how weak his shot is, and I just told him he went up in the rankings after that goal. ... Maybe [King’s goaltender Mathieu Garon's] scouting report on 'Gordo' was that he throws muffins and was just surprised at how fast it came."

Muffin . . . go figure.

The Morning After -- Caps vs. Kings

It was a TWO point night!!

A win is a win is a win . . .

. . . but boy, was it ugly. Watching that game left little to the imagination as to why these teams are fighting for seeding in the June draft instead of for the playoffs. Pity, too, since the crowd of 15,527 was among the larger ones of the season. It was a very quiet crowd, but frankly, the home team didn’t give them a lot to cheer about for very long stretches of the game (as in, “all but the first half of the second period and the last ten seconds of the contest” . . . the rest? It was a major yawn).

It was hard to figure out what was worse – the Caps power play (0-for-4 and now two for their last 30 chances) or Mathieu Garon’s ineptitude in the second period, allowing goals on the first three shots he saw in the period. One of the Caps’ major problems this year reared its ugly head once more – the inability to clear the puck from their own end. If time-of-possession was a statistic as keenly kept as it is in the NFL, the Kings probably would have been on the long end of a 40-20 split in minutes. You could argue – convincingly – that this is a product of the youth of the defense (five of the six starters combined had 531 total games experience coming into this contest – less than two seasons apiece), but the fact remains that the Caps routinely have difficulty getting the puck out of their own end.

But let’s not dwell anymore on the bad (we’ll have more to say about Brian Sutherby another time); what about the good?

No, really, there were some good parts . . .

- Let’s start with a win. That’s two in three games and points in all three of those games.

- The top line of Alex Ovechkin, Dainius Zubrus, and Chris Clark – while broken up at times tonight – did end the game a combined +7.

- Alex Ovechkin got off the schneid with an assist. He very nearly had the goal that was credited to Ben Clymer (who was on the ice for the Kings’ third goal – he did not return for the remainder of the game).

- Boyd Gordon scored the kind of goal a guy who doesn’t get a lot of chances gets now and then. Shorthanded, he took the puck through the neutral zone and instead of deking and circling and all that nonsense, he just . . . shot the puck. Garon just plain whiffed on the puck trying to secure it in his catching glove. Gordon also won 15 of 24 draws, including a whopping eight of 11 in his own end.

On the Kings’ side of the ledger . . . Rob Blake . . . yeesh. He was awful to the point of looking positively disinterested in lacing up his skates (well, he did come in a -19 and added to that statistic with another -3). He was in the frame for the video of Boyd Gordon’s shorthanded goal, so one knows he had a really good look at it. It seemed a little too typical of his evening.

Glen Hanlon mentioned in the post game that the Caps are not yet at the point where they can look at the schedule and say they should beat this team or that. But the Caps do have one fans might look at as a strong two-point possibility in the New York Rangers tomorrow night. They’ll need it, because after that the road gets hard – Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Montreal, San Jose, home-and-home against the Devils, and then the pesky Panthers to end the month.

Oh, and will somebody buy Don Van Massenhoeven a whistle? He seems to have lost his.