Saturday, January 03, 2009

A TWO-point night: Caps 2 -- Rangers 1

“Best ever.”

With the 2-1 win over the New York Rangers tonight, the Caps now have – with their 26-11-3 record – their best 40-game start in franchise history. It was a hard earned win, to be sure. Let’s get to it…

We’re giving Alexander Semin a new nickname – “Bongo.” If you saw his “fight” against Marc Staal in the third period, you’ll understand. And what was with the pink undershirt, anyway? But that said, at least he threw punches (of a sort), which isn’t something you could say about Mr. Baby Blue in ’87’ earlier in the day.

There are certain Capitals who are thought of only as offensive players. Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green. It is worth noting that all three were on the ice to protect a one-goal lead in the last minute of the game. More to the point, all three of them skated for almost 90 seconds on their last shift – lengthened by an icing call, no doubt – but they got the job done.

Eric Fehr had a whale of a game for a guy who didn’t put a mark on the score sheet. He had eight shot attempts, three takeaways (that led the team), and was very effective pestering Rangers in their end. We think he needs to change stick makers, though, if just to find the mojo.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Green…two penalties before the game was 22 minutes old, then one of his patented weak-side pinches to tie the game after the Rangers scored 79 seconds earlier.

If the best players on the ice for the Rangers are Lauri Korpikoski and Petr Prucha, the Rangers aren’t going to win a lot of games. That’s no knock on those two – they’re a couple of players to watch. But where in heavens were Scott Gomez and Chris Drury?

Some columnists – well one we can think of – will have fun talking about Wade Redden not being able to thwart Alex Ovechkin on the rush that produced the game-winning goal. But Ovechkin played things smart by faking a shot and just changing his skating and shooting angle ever so slightly upon entering the Ranger zone. And does anyone in the league do a better job of using the defenseman as a screen in getting off his shot?

Ovechkin had 21 shot attempts in 24 shifts. He had three hits and a goal (shorthanded), too. Sort of makes that all-star game vote look more and more like a joke, doesn’t it?

Speaking of shorthanded goals, Bruce Boudreau knew what he was doing putting the Alexes out on the penalty kill. He noted in the post-game that the Rangers had allowed the most shorthanded goals in the league – 11. And now, they have 12.

Chris Clark might not have a lot of goals this year (ok, one), but he was making sure the Rangers knew where he was all night, even though he had just a little over nine minutes of ice time. Not only did he mix it up with Redden, but he was driving to the net and creating traffic. That’s a sign he seems to be back. Maybe now he’ll pot a few rebounds (Tuesday would be nice).

The Rangers had 22 shots, but did they really have any good scoring chances other than the Prucha goal? Jose Theodore probably played himself out of a star by being very quiet and efficient in goal – not many rebounds and efficient at directing the puck out of harm’s way.

Speaking of the Prucha goal, if that wasn’t an offside immediately before the goal, then…well, you tell me if Prucha wasn’t offside at the top of the screen.

Of course, you might also want to explain how it is that four Caps let two Rangers get all the way inside them on the play, too…

OK, the Caps lost more faceoffs than they won (they were 25 up and 27 down), but won 11 of 16 in the defensive zone. A valuable outcome in a tight, low-scoring game.

Once more…order has been restored to the universe.

Tonight was the fifth consecutive sellout for the Caps and the ninth in 19 home games this year. Last year after 19 home dates, the Caps had one sellout.

The Caps won in a land rush sort of game against Tampa Bay on Thursday, and they won in a closely fought game tonight. And at 17-1-1 at home this year (23-1-1 in their last 25 home games), Verizon Center has become as difficult a place to visit as just about any arena in the league. Great job, boys.

Oh, and if you're still wondering about why Semin might be called by "Bongo"...


DMG said...

I'm not sure Semin had on a pink undershirt. To me it looked white that gave of a pinkish color when it was wet and became translucent.

The Peerless said...

It was just probably the angle from which we saw it...

Anonymous said...

I initially thought the play where the Rangers scored was offside, but now I am not sure. Prucha is definitely offside in your screenshot, but it's a bit misleading. Zherdev circled back once he initially crossed the blue line and drew the puck back, but not out of the zone. Your screenshot shows the latter part of the play where he pulled the puck back to the blueline. The question is where was Prucha when Zherdev intially entered the offensive zone though. I couldn't tell from the replay at VC because they didn't have Prucha in the frame when Zherdev entered the zone. Did you (or anyone else) see a better view on Comcast?


Reed-CK said...

Semin's fight look like a cross of the UFC and a ky-jelly fight.

this space for rent said...

Hey, at least he stood up for himself. I think he just plain got sick of being run, and I don't ault him for that. No style points, but it worked, and I'll give him that.

But yes, Bongo fits.

Marky Narc said...

By this time next week, Carter and Ovechkin will not be tied for the league lead in goals.

But they won't have to change the face on the graphic.

exwhaler said...

@Anon--If you watch the replay, Zherhev clearly doesn't cross the blueline before Prucha does. Prucha is a full step over the line right as Zherhev pulls up--before he and the puck crosses.