Thursday, September 16, 2010

Caps Rookie Camp Closes With a Bang! Caps 4 - Flyers 3

It might be September, it might be in Arlington, it might be rookies, but it is never, ever a bad day when the Caps beat the Flyers.  And the rookies did just that to their Flyer counterparts, riding a late Cody Eakin goal to a 4-3 win at Kettler Capitals Iceplex this afternoon before a packed house and many of the Caps vets in attendance.

The Caps, in addition to Eakin’s game-winner with less than 90 seconds left in the third period, got two goals from defenseman Josh Godfrey and a marker from Stanlslav Galiev.  Galiev’s first period goal was a pretty thing, a product of driving the net to take a feed from the side boards, itself a thing of beauty from Marcus Johansson. 

Godfrey’s goals – one in the second period and the other in the third – came as a product of his shot, a thing that had been long advertised since his being drafted, but unseen in these parts.  One was a slap shot that trickled through the wickets of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky after the goalie appeared to smother it in his pads.  The second was a wrister from the top of the slot on the power play that found its way to the back of the net through a maze of players.

Eakin’s goal was a solo effort with the clock ticking down to what was looking like an overtime session.  Carrying the puck down the right wing and behind the Flyers’ net, he came out the other side, stepped out to give himself a shooting angle on goalie Adam Morrison, then sent a backhander far side into the top corner of the net.

The Flyers got goals from Ben Holmstrom (shorthanded), Eric Wellwood, and Marc-Andre Bourdon.  And what’s with the names, anyway?  Is this sort of a poor-mans NHL celebrity roster of names?  Holmstrom, Wellwood, Marc-Andre… shoot, they even had their own “Gustafsson” (Erik).

This was what hockey should be in one respect – NO TV TIMEOUTS!!!  Yeah, we get it; you have to pay the bills, but heavens… the game was played in just over two hours.  It was just non-stop.  Well, sort of.  As one might expect, there wasn’t a lot of “chemistry” out there for either side, and it showed as a lack of really good chances for either side.  The Caps scored their goals as a product of superior talent (and there seemed to be quite a skill gap between these teams in terms of top-end talent).  But hey, who cares?  CAPS WIN!  CAPS WIN!! CAPS WIN!!!

Some other thoughts:

- It would be easy to make the comparison between Marcus Johansson and Nicklas Backstrom, but there were similarities evident.  Johansson is a responsible player.  An example.  On one shift, he fished out a puck behind his own net and started a play up ice.  He hustled the length to get into the play and managed to provide some effective forechecking to keep the Flyers pinned deep.  Might not sound like much, but it shows evidence of not taking shortcuts.  Johansson also seems to bend the play to his pace, similar to Backstrom.  When he had the puck, it was clear that he was, if not the best, than one of the best skaters on the ice.  There wasn’t anything flashy about his play, but he was quite efficient, much like his countryman.

-  Galiev has the face of a 14-year old, but he seems to play a lot older.  His goal was a product of taking advantage of an opening down the middle and the Flyer goaltender playing passively in his own net.  He jumped into it with authority and converted the opportunity that presented itself.  He otherwise had a very strong game in moving the puck and avoiding Flyer hits in doing so.  He might be a sleeper as a center down the road.

-  It’s hard what to make of Godfrey.  His shot certainly is impressive, but he just looked a tick behind much of the play.  It is unfortunate; he doesn’t seem to suffer a “hard work” problem, but the speed of the game seems to be a problem for him.  He doesn’t seem to make decisions quickly enough under pressure.

-  Patrick Cullity is not going to want the film of this game for the archives.  It just wasn’t a very solid game for him.

-  Samuel Carrier did a face plant skating out onto the ice to start the game.  Fortunately, he got the worst of it out of his system early.

-- Trevor Bruess and Zac Rinaldo dropped the gloves behind the Flyer net in the second period.  The dropping of the gloves was the high point of the bout.  The two wrestled to a draw, Bruess getting the extra minor for roughing.

-- Philip Grubauer has talent.  Even considering the level of play in this game, he was very economical with his movement in goal and never had to swim back from overplaying a shot or a pass.  It was a marked contrast to Bobrovsky, who spent a considerable amount of time, especially in the second period, diving to cover a post, or scrambling across his crease.  Speaking of whom, Dmitry Chesnokov tweeted that Bobrovsky thinks he is ready for the NHL… not on the basis of this game.  That he allowed only two goals was a product of the Caps’ inability to finish plays as much as anything.

-  Maybe it was just me, but Joe Finley spent entirely too much time off his feet in this game.  He wasn’t getting knocked down, but he was picking himself up off the ice an awful lot.

-  Anton Gustafsson was almost invisible out there, until he was clocked and had to leave the game for a spell. 

-  Dustin Stevenson had a very quiet, very effective game in a “Schultzian” sort of way.

Our Caps Three Stars:

First Star: Cody Eakin
Second Star: Marcus Johansson
Third Star: Stanislav Galiev
…and a slice o’ pie for Philip Grubauer.

It was a nice end to the week and a nice appetizer for what will begin on Saturday when the vets take the ice for the beginning of training camp.

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