Tuesday, March 16, 2010
A TWO-point night: Caps 7 - Panthers 3
That is the combined distance, in feet, from the Panthers’ net from which seven goals were scored for the Caps, according to NHL.com. And 30 of those came on one goal, that off the stick of Eric Fehr. Tonight, the Caps dealt with the absence of captain Alex Ovechkin by going back to basics – crashing the net, picking up loose change, and getting Florida goalies (and both ended up playing) flailing around on the ice waving at pucks batted past them from in close for scores.
Six different Capitals had goals, 13 different skaters had points. Not a bad night, all things considered, given that Ovechkin, Tom Poti, John Erskine, Scott Walker, and Boyd Gordon sat (oops… Gordon skated 1:05 before going out with a balky back), either to injury, suspension, or just taking a seat. At the other end of the ice, Jose Theodore stopped 34 of 37 shots, but it was hard to get a bead on whether he was sharp, or whether the onslaught at the other end had so beaten the Panthers into submission that they couldn’t muster much of a response in the offensive end. In any event, that makes Theodore 16-1-2 in the 2010 portion of the season. Whether that is the product of the luck of St. Patrick or that of channeling Patrick Roy, we don’t care (it’s worth noting that he has allowed more than three goals only three times in those 19 games). It’s all good right now.
-- Shots, shots, shots. By the time the Caps hit the 30 shot mark in this one, the Caps had six goals and the competitive portion of the game was in the rear view mirror. They finished with 39 shots on goal.
-- The flip side of that is that the Panthers’ defense had only six blocked shots and six hits. That was not an especially active group this evening, and the Caps made them pay by inflicting a lot of abuse on goalies Tomas Vokoun and Scott Clemmensen.
-- Welcome back, Brendan Morrison. A goal, two assists, six shots on goal in 16 minutes and change. It was his first multi-point game since January 26th and tied his high-point game for the year (1-2-3 on December 3rd, also against Florida). His six shots on goal was a season high.
-- We had Mike Knuble as the player to ponder for Washington. Well, Brooks Laich did a more-than-passable impression with a couple of goals scored from the doorstep, an assist, eight shots on goal, and the game’s first star.
-- When the big dog is out, everyone has to ramp up their game, but still play within their comfort zone. Jason Chimera was a good example of that. In a little less than 14 minutes, he had a goal, six shot attempts (three on goal). That goal was a product of the simple idea of going hard to the net. Chimera has been very good at playing his game and, when needed, giving just a little more of it without trying to do things outside his comfort zone.
-- Shaone Morrisonn… two assists, two hits, two blocked shots. He’s having quite a 2010 portion to the season.
-- Even when Florida threatened to make a game of it, the Caps responded. Panthers score in the last two minutes of the first period? Ok… the Cap scored in the first minute of the second to restore a two-goal advantage. Florida scores at the 14:28 mark of the second? Fine… the Caps responded 1:30 later to slam the door on the outcome to make it 6-2.
-- Nicky the Pants… 3-2-5 in his last two, including a goal and an assist tonight. He has goals in consecutive games for the first time since February 4-5. Seems he might be back. Well, if he was ever really gone. Even though he had an eight-game goalless streak before getting goals in these last two, Backstrom hasn’t gone consecutive games without a point since the first two games of 2010 (28 games).
-- Folks in the Panthers’ front office must feel a bit shortchanged. Ovechkin played in only one of three games in Sunrise this season.
-- Two for four on the power play, three for three on the penalty kill. Efficient on both sides, and the three PK situations was right in that comfort zone of not taking too many shorthanded situations. But then again, the Panthers were badly outmatched. Still…
-- The centers – Backstrom, Morrison, and Eric Belanger – were a combined 8-for-10 on faceoffs in the offensive end. A way to keep putting pressure on the Panthers’ defense.
-- We’d just as soon the Caps never leave Florida. For the year, they finished 6-0 against the Panthers, outscoring them 32-15 and going 8-for-26 on the power play (30.8 percent). They didn’t score fewer than four goals in any game.
-- Tyler Sloan and Quintin Laing skated tonight. That might be the last time that year you’ll see both in the same game.
-- The Caps average more than a goal a game more without Ovechkin than with him. I don’t know, but that would seem to pretty much eliminate him from Hart consideration, wouldn't it? On the other hand, four of the games he’s missed this year were against the Panthers, who (see above) haven’t exactly been defensive demons against the Caps.
-- Mike Green, with an assist tonight, now has consecutive 70-point seasons. He has 143 points in 135 games over the last two years. He is also a plus-56 over that span.
-- Brooks Laich’s eight shots on goal is a career high. He has 30 shots on goal in his last five games (four goals).
It was an efficient demolition of the Panthers tonight, evidence that the Caps are certainly more than a one-man band. It was the fifth time this year that the Caps scored at least seven goals, the second time against Florida. It was not the stiffest of tests, but it was encouraging in this respect – when getting a lead, the Caps kept their foot on the pedal and stood on the throats of the Panthers (nice mixed metaphor there, prognosto boy). It’s that kind of attitude the Caps need to maintain as they head off to Carolina.
Suspend our captain, will ya. Well, take that!