Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Good, The Bad, The February

February – the longest month of the year, I swear – is finally over. The Caps had a very good month as it turned out, finishing 9-3-1. What was good, what was bad, and what was ugly?

The Record:

The Good…The Caps were 5-1-1 against teams that tonight are in the top-eight of their respective conferences.

The Bad…The Caps again showed a tendency to play down to the level of their opponent when not playing a top-notch team. Going 4-2-0 against teams not in the playoff mix is not awful, but elite teams usually do better. The Caps did, however, beat up on those teams when they won – three of the four wins were by at least three goals.

The Ugly…Losses to Los Angeles and Colorado, both at home, were tough to swallow. And, giving up nine goals in the process made it harder.

Special Teams:

The Good…The power play was humming along nicely, thank you very much. At 18-for-53 for the month (34.0 percent), it was the most power play goals scored in any month this year (they had 17 in December) and the most efficient month of the year on the power play (they were 17-for-56 in December – 30.4 percent).

The Bad…The Caps allowed power play goals in nine of 13 games for the month.

The Ugly…70 shorthanded situations faced for February (5.4 a game). If you’re looking for a silver lining there, it is that the Caps killed 59 of them – 84.3 percent. Maybe practice makes perfect. Well, if not perfect, then at least better than their season PK number (79.9 percent).

The Record II:

The Good…The Caps did not lose a road game in regulation in February (4-0-1).

The Bad…They lost three home games in regulation in a single month for the first time this year.

The ugly…They lost to the Flyers at home. That will be “ugly” any time until the sun goes dark.

The Players – Goaltender Edition:

The Good…Michal Neuvirth was 2-0-0 in his first two NHL appearances (2.00, .929). What might be most impressive is the way he’s started those games. One might expect a rookie who hadn’t played in the NHL to have some jitters starting games. He saved 23 of 24 shots in the first period of the two games.

The Bad…Jose Theodore. OK, these things are relative. He was 6-3-1 in January (2.18, .919). He was 6-3-1 in February, too. His save percentage was not much changed (.915), but his GAA rose some (2.66). He had four games out of ten appearances where he allowed more than three goals, compared to one in ten appearances in January. His overall performance wasn’t much off that of January, but what he didn’t have in February was consistency.

The Ugly…losing Brent Johnson to a hip injury after he played one game in February.

The Players – Skaters Edition:

The Good…The Young Guns had quite a month. Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom were a combined 32-40-72, +17, with four game-winning goals and 13 power play goals. They spread the goodness around, too. Ovechkin led the group in goals and game-winning goals. Green led in points and power play goals. Backstrom led in assists and had a point in 11 of 13 games in the month.

The Bad…19 goals from the rest of the skaters, combined. And after Eric Fehr’s seven goals are accounted for, that’s a dozen goals for the month from the other 13 sport among the skaters.

The ugly…actually, that last one is pretty ugly, too.

Boyd Gordon Edition…

The Good…Gordon won the majority of his draws in nine of the 13 games he played in and was a reliable penalty killer.

The Bad…In the last nine games of the month, he was an uncharacteristic minus-5.

The Ugly…two points for the month (he’s only had four in the new year).

Tomas Fleischmann Edition…

The Good…Plus-7 for the month to drag his season number into positive territory.

The Bad…Seven points in 13 games. After giving indications he was ready to step up and be an offensive contributor, he took a step back.

The Ugly…Two goals in 13 games for the month. After getting 15 in 41 games before February, that has to be a disappointment.

Some other good, bads, and uglies…

The Good…It’s always good to beat Pittsburgh, especially when it’s by at least a field goal, and goodly good when Sidney Crosby can complain about something in its aftermath.

The Bad…Seeing four on-ice officials miss Ovechkin getting whacked in the chops with a high stick in the Atlanta game.

The Ugly…Losing to the Flyers in the next game after beating the Penguins.

The Good…Eric Fehr’s getting seven goals for the month (7-4-11, +6, with a game winner). He picked up where Fleischmann left off.

The Bad…Karl Alzner played in only three games in February before being sent back to Hershey. He was a minus-4 in those games. That’s OK, he’ll be back.

The Ugly…Delay-of-Game penalties. In the last 11 games of the month, the Caps were whistled for that infraction six times.

The Good…51 goals scored for the month (3.92/game)

The Bad…26 goals allowed in eight home games (3.25/game), this after allowing only 49 in 24 home games before this month.

The Ugly…
Thanks for coming, and don't forget to tip your waitress!


Anonymous said...

the bad, ugly, and ignorant - DON CHERRY

The Hardys said...

That secondary scoring is UGLY. If our young guns go cold in the playoffs we could be in trouble.