Friday, December 03, 2010

A NO-point night -- Game 27: Stars 2 - Caps 1

Last night the Caps lost a 2-1 decision to the Dallas Stars in a game that will be remembered for two sequences lasting a combined 30 seconds more than will the other 59:30 of the game.

The first sequence lasted twenty seconds, the length of time it took for the Caps to tie the game at a goal apiece in the third period, courtesy of a goal from Mike Knuble off a nice feed from Mike Green, to a goal restoring the Dallas lead by Brandon Segal that goalie Michal Neuvirth seemed to lose in the background before he reacted too late to it.

The second sequence came in the last ten seconds of regulation. John Carlson took a shot through traffic, Alex Ovechkin creating the havoc in front of Stars goalie Andrew Raycroft. Ovechkin and defenseman Karlis Skrastins fought for position as Carlson was winding up, and Skrastins ended up piling into his own goaltender. Goal? Well, no. The score was immediately waved off by referee Dan O’Rourke, who whistled Alex Ovechkin for a goaltender interference penalty despite not touching Raycroft. In fact, Raycroft would say later that the only thing he saw was Skrastin’s backside. Did Ovechkin commit a foul despite not being the player to make contact with Raycroft? Well, here is what Rule 69.1 has to say on the subject…

“If a defending player has been pushed, shoved, or fouled by an attacking player so as to cause the defending player to come into contact with his own goalkeeper, such contact shall be deemed contact initiated by the attacking player for purposes of this rule, and if necessary a penalty assessed to the attacking player and if a goal is scored it would be disallowed.”

How you stand on Ovechkin’s situation depends on how you interpret the verbs, “pushed, shoved, or fouled.” Skrastins was not fouled (no penalty was called on Ovechkin for interference or any other contact penalty on Skrastins). As for the matter of “pushed” or “shoved,” this didn’t seem to us a “Hal Gill” instance, when Ovechkin deposited Gill in the lap of the Montreal goaltender in a game against the Canadiens last year. This was two guys fighting for position, and it seems Ovechkin was penalized for being stronger than Skrastins in fighting for that position.

Other stuff…

-- Andrew Raycroft brought a 5-3-1, 2.16, one shutout record in his career against the Caps into this game. Good call by coach Marc Crawford to play him. He stopped 37 of 39 shots in the win…oops, 37 of 38.

-- Another game, another power play goal. The Caps were 1-for-3 last night.

-- Eric Fehr had 13 shot attempts (in only 12 minutes and change of ice time), four of them on goal, those four shots coming from an average of about 20 feet from the net. It was among the more animated games Fehr has played recently.

-- Jeff Schultz led the Caps in hits?! That thud you just heard was the Schultz Haters Society fainting.

-- Sometimes, you know? The shots just don’t go in. The Caps launched 82 shot attempts at the Stars’ net (39 getting to or past Raycroft…oops, 38). They had more misses (22) and shots blocked (22) than Dallas managed to get on goal (21). Only two Caps didn’t have a shot attempt – Matt Bradley (who played only 6:30, none of it in the last 9:22) and Scott Hannan. Only Bradley, Hannan, John Erskine, and David Steckel did not have at least one shot on goal. Fans can’t say the Caps didn’t shoot the puck.

-- Last spring, Alexander Semin took 44 shots on goal in the playoffs without finding the back of the net. Well, Alex Ovechkin is at 41 shots without a goal over nine games and counting.

-- Mike Green had 12 shot attempts last night, four of them on goal. He went without finding the back of the net, too, and his streak without a goal has reached seven games and 19 shots. But he has been on the ice for only six of the 21 goals scored against the Caps in that span – four at even strength – that (given his ice time) is not a large number.

-- Scott Hannan… 19:30 in ice time (4:50 in shorthanded ice time), three hits, four blocked shots (team leader for the night). Not bad, even with the two giveaways.

-- Brandon Segal… a fight and the game-winning goal (on his only shot on what would be his last shift of the game) in only 5:52 of ice time. This ain’t so hard.

In the end, one standings point is not likely to matter in the larger scheme of things for the season. But it is a point the Caps were denied largely because Alex Ovechkin can impose his physical will on most players in this league, including the likes of Karlis Skrastins. It was an iffy call to say the least, although to dismiss it out of hand as clearly a bad call is a little too “home town” a perspective. From our chair, though, it was, because we understand the verbs “push,” “shove,” and “foul” and have yet to see in that sequence how any of them apply.

We’ll take it though, if the Caps can someday get one of these calls on their side. Say, in the Stanley Cup finals.


Justin said...

There were two things that I took away from the game last night and they both appear to be covered by the blogs and papers alike: the washed out goal (which had me really down in the dumps at Spider Kelly's) and the guaranteed slip and fall of somebody on the ice every two minutes. Some of the opinions on the former were much more vocal, but yours seems to be much more sensible. The guys in stripes aren't perfect and calls will be missed, but like you alluded to, that's a very tough call to make in that situation and one that usually seems to go against us.

Steve said...

The goalie was taken out. The referee was concerned with how that came to pass was immaterial, he had already decided no goal. That sort of thing needs to be reviewed/reviewable.