Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A TWO (can't we get more for this) point night: Caps 10 - Bruins 2

Glen Metropolit couldn’t find the puck.

Less than half a minute into the game, Matt Bradley had already had a fine scoring opportunity. The puck came out of the Boston end to the Capitals’ line. Jeff Schultz swept it back into the Boston side of the ice, where it ended up laying behind Metropolit, who was facing the Bruin bench and could not locate it. Matt Cooke swooped in, collected the puck on the run, and wasted no time firing a shot off the far post and behind Boston Bruin goaltender Tim Thomas for the game’s first goal at 32 seconds.

That might have been the high point of the night for the Bruins…it was still a one-goal game. By the time the final horn sounded, the Caps had nine more goals – three of them by Alex Ovechkin, who certainly had a flair for the dramatic in notching his second 50-goal season in three years – and the Caps had a 10-2 win at the expense of the visiting Bruins.

We won’t describe the goals…you can go to NHL.com and catch the carnage on video highlights. There were, though, a lot of interesting numbers. It reads like “The 10 Goals of Caps-mas”…

On the 3rd day of March, my Cappies gave to me…

- 15 skaters with points
- 11 skaters with hits
- 10 skaters with blocked shots
- seven skaters with multi-point games
- six skaters with goals
- three skaters with multi-goal games
- two Donald fights
- and a hat trick in only 9:13

In case you’re wondering, no…

- Ovechkin did not set a record for fastest three goals by a Caps player (Ovechkin: 9:13, Peter Bondra: 2:06 in 1994 against Tampa Bay)

- Ovechkin did not set a team record for goals in a period tonight (Ovechkin: three; Caps record: four by Peter Bondra in 1994 against Tampa Bay)

- The Caps did not set a record for fastest five goals (tonight: 12:25 for goals two through six in the first; Caps record: 3:03 in 1987 against Toronto)

- Nicklas Backstrom did not set a rookie record for points in a game (1-3-4 tonight; Caps record: five by Greg Theberge in 1981 against Pittsburgh)

- Backstrom did not set a Caps rookie record for assists in a game (tonight: three; Caps record: four by Rolf Edberg in 1979 against St. Louis, tied by Backstrom this year twice against Pittsburgh and Florida in consecutive games)

- The Caps did not set a record for most goals in a period (tonight: six; Caps record: eight against Tampa Bay in 1999

- They did tie a team record – assists in a game (20, first set against Quebec in 1990)

It just seemed as if the Caps were setting records because of the stunningly swift and surgical way they dismantled Boston – who looked slow and out of sorts all night…


6-0 after one period. Wings for everybody, drive safely.

And it was great to see the guys who don’t get the ink making a splash on the scoresheet…

Donald Brashear had two scoops of Bruins on his way to a Heavyweight Hat Trick (a goal and two fights). He bull-rushed Zdeno Chara to the ice when Chara thought it might be a good idea to give his somnambulistic teammates some inspiration in the first period (and hey, big guy…wearing the “C” is not license to whine to every passing official) in the first bout, then pummeled Shawn Thornton into submission in the second.

Matt Bradley had a two goal/three-point night. It was his second three-point night of the season and his first two-goal game since October 2005. He tied Ovechkin for the team lead in shots with five.

Eric Fehr set a career record for assists (three) and points (three). It was his first multi-point game for the Caps.

Brooks Laich had two more goals to add to his career best season (he now has 15); it was his second two-goal game in the last four contests.

Matt Cooke was 1-2-3 and drew a penalty by annoying Glen Metropolit into a slash. Ovechkin capitalized 61 seconds into the penalty.

The Caps had four power play goals in seven chances, the four successes being their season high in a game.

This was payback for a lot of frustration over the past three years at the hands of the Bruins in general and Tim Thomas in particular. Thomas really never had a chance. Boston’s defense was slow to react when Caps were flying. Look at the goal plot…all were scored inside the dots and below them.

Two of the goals were clean breakaways – a nice symmetry of Backstrom sending Ovechkin free on one, then Ovechkin returning the favor. But the rest were just a case of the Capitals getting in tight into high-probability scoring areas for slam-dunk scores. Thomas (and later Alex Auld) never really had much chance on most of the goals. Compare that to the Toronto game, when the Caps simply didn’t play with enough urgency to create these kinds of chances.

For the Caps, they now have the league's top point-producer (Ovechkin), top goal-scorer (Ovechkin), top goal-scoring tandem (Ovechkin and Alexander Semin), top goal-scorer among defensemen (Mike Green), top rookie in assists (Backstrom), and top rookie scorer (Backstrom). Six goals in tonight's game were scored by players 24 and younger.

The only bad news tonight was on the injury front. Cristobal Huet was relieved by Olaf Kolzig for the third period when it appeared Huet took back spasms after making a somewhat awkward save against the post late in the second period. And Tom Poti took a puck right in the chops on an errant pass from a teammate. He skated off under his own power, which was encouraging.

You look at a game like this and think, “save some for next game, boys.” But the Caps have 20 goals in their last four games, 18 in their last three wins. They are capable of such explosions – not necessarily ten goals worth on a nightly basis, but they have a lot of bullets in their clip at the moment. The trick is bringing that level of effort and urgency every night for the last 15 games. Do that, and there will be hockey after the first week of April.


Hooks Orpik said...

The beauty of hockey is that it gives you a night or two like this when everything goes right in about the best way imaginable.

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