Thursday, November 20, 2008

A TWO-point night: Caps 6 - Ducks 4

“Thanks, Coach.”

It’s one thing to shutout the Los Angeles Kings, a team that is 27th in the league in goals-per-game, but when Randy Carlyle rewarded goalie Jonas Hiller with another start after such an effort, he might not have been doing the youngster any favors. Hiller moved up in weight class and promptly wilted, giving up three goals on seven shots in less than six minutes as the Caps made it eight in a row without a loss in regulation with a 6-4 win over Anaheim last night.

What we saw (with one eye open as the game went past midnight)…

Alex Ovechkin went 1-3-4 last night to add another game to his blazing streak (6-11-17, +15 in his last seven games). He is now 8-14-22, +18 after 16 games. In his first 16 games last year, he was 10-8-18, +4.

Brian Sutherby played 4:35 last night. His score sheet line?...
...yup, that’s it.

The win came at a price. Mike Green flew awkwardly into the boards after being hit by Chris Pronger, injuring his shoulder. He did not return after that first period hit.

Getting the Young Guns on the score sheet is one thing (Ovechkin, Green, and Nicklas Backstrom were a combined 3-4-7, +2), but the Caps had goals from Tomas Fleischmann, David Steckel, and Matt Bradley, and had points from a total of 12 players.

The three power play goals was a first this year and the most the Caps have had in a game since netting four in a 10-2 win against Boston on March 3rd last season.

The watchword was “simple”…as in, “"We just tried to play simple. This is our key. We sometimes try to be too fancy. Tonight, we just shoot the puck, control the puck and get some traffic to the net. You see the result." So said Alex Ovechkin, anyway. The Caps had eight power plays, of which they converted three into goals. Just as important, they had 11 shots on those power plays coming from eight different players.

John Erskine…19 minutes, plus-1, a hit, a takeaway, and he was not on the ice for any Ducks’ goals. No, he’s not facing the top scoring lines (Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan, and Ryan Getzlaf combined to go 3-5-8), but he’s not making bad mistakes out there that lead to other players getting on the scoreboard and making things even more difficult for the Caps and their goaltenders.

Matt Bradley…a goal (the game winner), three hits, a couple of takeaways. He made us look pretty good out there.

After Ovechkin’s goal, you knew it was coming…Brashear…Parros. The Caps withstood that bit of mischief to score the next two goals. Good teams do that.

Good teams don’t let the other guys get a whiff of comeback when getting out to a 6-2 lead, though.

It’s going to be hard to sit, let alone send down, Tyler Sloan once Shaone Morrisonn is healthy. 20 minutes, a hit, three blocked shots. He was on the ice only for Anaheim’s last goal, on a power play (and that wasn’t the brightest interference penalty taken by Ovechkin that led to it). Only Tom Poti had more penalty killing time among defensemen (6:11) than Sloan’s 4:51.

That was a career high five shots on goal for David Steckel. Add in a goal, an assist, a takeaway, and winning three of five draws, and it was a pretty good night.

“One gets the feeling he’s going to be very, very good, or very, very bad.” So we said of Jean-Sebastien Giguere before the game...he resembled more the latter than the former. Too many rebounds. He got off lucky giving up only three goals.

All in all, a very good game for the offense and the power play in particular, a somewhat indifferent game on defense and in goal. The Caps needed to do a better job of standing on the Duck’s throats and not letting them up with those two goals in less than 90 seconds in the third period to give them a breath of life. But they held on against a difficult team that had been playing pretty well of late. A nice start to the western trip. Well done, boys.


Anonymous said...

Not in the past decade or so has there been a Caps team that excels in job of standing on their opponents' throats in games like that and not letting them up. They have tended to lose their concentration a tad. On the other hand there haven't been many opportunities for that in the last decade or so. So, um, never mind.

Anonymous said...

Sutherby left with an injured leg, I believe, contributing to his low ice time.

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