Friday, November 14, 2008

A TWO-point night: Caps 3 - Devils 1

Keep those two points rollin’

That’s five in a row for the good guys as the Caps defeated a gimpy but game New Jersey Devils team, 3-1 tonight at Verizon Center, or as it’s becoming known, “Bruce’s House of Horrors.” The win gave the Caps a 7-0-1 record at home (13-0-1 dating back to last season) and put them four points ahead of Carolina with a game in hand for the Southeast Division lead.

It was bobblehead night – the featured Cap being Coach Bruce Boudreau – although most of the bobbling of head was done by Devils goalie Scott Clemmensen, who saw chance after chance coming his way and skittering just past a post or just off the end of a stick in close. Clemmensen stopped 24 of 26 shots, but was more lucky than good on this night as the Caps seemed to get far more chances than usual against this team.

Brooks Laich, Tomas Fleischmann, and Alex Ovechkin did the honors – Laich redirecting a drive by Ovechkin in an example of the goal from “Dirty Jobs” area, Fleischmann making us look good by snapping a one-timer off a feed from Viktor Kozlov (his 500th career NHL point), and Ovechkin sticking the dagger in the Devils with an empty netter.

At the other end, Jose Theodore was staking a claim to regain his number one status with a 32-save effort, the only goal he allowed coming as the result of a ghastly line change that left Patrik Elias alone without a Cap within 20 feet of him as he converted a breakaway on Theodore.

If not a dominating effort, the Caps were clearly the better team and gritted one out against the plucky, throw-sand-in-your-skates Devils. What we saw…

-- Dainius Zubrus…two shots, two faceoff wins (in 12 draws). No hits, no blocked shots, no takeaways, no shots that were missed or blocked. Mighty skimpy score sheet. Want him back, Caps fans?

-- Alex Ovechkin had a difficult night on the score sheet, despite going 1-1-2. He was originally credited with the first goal, but the scoring was changed to credit Brooks Laich. Then, he was originally credited with an assist on the Fleischmann goal, but that was changed to credit Mike Green. There was no doubt who scored the third goal.

-- Give Paul Martin credit. He was out there toughing it out for the Devils (his playing was reported to be a game-time decision as he had an injury) with two hits, two takaways, and a blocked shot in more than 22 minutes.

-- Tom Poti had a pretty quiet score sheet, himself, but he had a fine game in his own end, cleaning up a lot of loose pucks and getting the biscuit out of the zone on the penalty kill. We don’t remember him being this responsible in a lot of his other stops along the way in the NHL.

-- And it seems a contract has done John Erskine a world of good. He has ramped up his game quite a bit since inking the new deal. Tonight, he kept things simple and just kept the puck moving. And five blocked shots? He must be channeling Quintin Laing.

-- Brooks Laich had another one of those games we might call “score sheet buffet.” A goal, an assist, two hits, a takeaway, four blocked shots, and he won six of 11 draws. Fine game.

-- Alexander Semin did not appear in the third period. He is said to have a…no, not even an injury by hemisphere (lower body?...upper body?)…he’s just called “day-to-day.” Let's hope it's just "day" in "available tomorrow night."

-- Tomas Fleischmann is what one might refer to as a “sneaky SOB.” He had several occasions of all-but-undressing a defender with his puck-handling, leaving him with excellent chances (“that he really needs to finish” is the clause to end that thought, but tonight, saying it would be picky).

-- In the Battle of the Defensive Centers, it was John Madden with four shots, one takeaway, one blocked shot, and eight of 12 draws won; versus David Steckel with one shot, one hit, one takeaway, four blocked shots, and nine of 13 draws won. Call that one a draw (although Madden had the tougher assignment).

-- Deuces were wild for Mike Green…two assists, two shots, two shots blocked, two giveaways.

-- And here is the stat that really caught our eye…21:34. That was the ice time for Tyler Sloan, who continues to impress by doing things simply. Only Green had more ice time among the defensemen. If I was Milan Jurcina, I'd be concerned.

Good thing the Caps took the four games at home these past eight days, for now they go on the road against New Jersey to complete the home-and-home, then on to Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose, and Minnesota.

Finally, we give up. This Pittsburgh-Washington thing has finally jumped the shark. Even on a night honoring Bruce Boudreau with his own bobblehead, you can’t escape it (if you read the fine print on the bottom of the box)...


nuftjedi said...

last year's Ovie bobblehead (and presumably this year's as well) were made by the same place in Pittsburgh.

Flying Cloud said...

Peerless, thanks for these excellent observations. I attended with my sister from Ireland, who is also a Caps fan. I didn't see whatever happened to Semin, nor Ovi's equally mystifying helmet-tossing temper tantrum in the 3rd. Caps worked pretty hard but appeared to me to look a little slow on their feet -- probably caused by our mushy ice. Might that also be the cause of injuries to Semin (and possibly Fedorov)? I'd heard a rumor that the owner was going to do something about that, but never any sort of followup. Also heard on radio last night on the way home that Nylander was being traded. Any thoughts?

The Peerless said...

I missed the Ovechkin helmet toss, but Semin appears to have a shoulder injury that he sustained late in the second period. As for Nylander, I'd be shocked if he was traded at this point in the season. The Caps don't have enough consistent offensive depth at the center position without Nylander. He's been in a slump, yes, but all players go through that.

Chris said...

I normally don't worry about the three star selections much, but the fact that Theodore was not the #1 star last night was absurd. He was unconscious in the second period, during which the Caps were outplayed. The save he made with the paddle of his stick was just sick. I have no idea what the sportswriters were thinking.