“It’s work hard, or go home, and working hard is a lot more fun.”
-- Eric Fehr, speaking after the game on Caps radio
That’s pretty much today in a nutshell, as the Caps worked from beginning to end (with a few anxious moments in period three in-between) to stave off elimination – that, by the way, is the only time that verb is used – in a 3-2 win at Verizon Center this afternoon.
Let’s just dive into the game – sort of like a Capital taking aim at a Flyer – ok?
-- Sergei Fedorov, Cristobal Huet, and Vaclav Prospal might have been awarded the game’s three stars, but Bruce Boudreau might have nailed it on the head in the post-game press conference when he opined that Donald Brashear might have been the best player on the ice in this game. It says a lot about the kind of game it was…in 6:52 of playing time, Brashear had seven hits and was pursuing Flyers all over the ice. He even had a couple of scoring chances for good measure.
-- And, speaking of the kind of game it was…82 hits were recorded, the Caps credited with 44 of them. Only Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Poti failed to register at least one among the skaters. Matt Bradley, Matt Cooke, David Steckel, and Brashear had 20 of the Caps’ number.
-- In other sports, when the big part of your game isn’t there, you have to make up for it by doing the other things…in baseball, if you’re not hitting, you have to play good defense; in basketball, shooters gone cold have to pass and play defense. Alex Ovechkin is in a goal scoring drought, but he was not lacking for effort in the other aspects of the game…three hits, a blocked shot, and a lot of time pestering Flyers in their zone as they were trying to break out with the puck. Watching Ovechkin, it would be tempting to say he’s holding the stick a little too tight, but such is not the case. He is this close to breaking out with a multi-goal game. In this one he got the puck in better scoring areas for one-timers and wrist shots, but just couldn’t find the back of the net behind goalie Martin Biron. We did like his flipping Jim Dowd into the Flyer bench.
-- Just an observation…does Alexander Semin look more comfortable out there with Nicklas Backstrom as his center, instead of Sergei Fedorov? When the latter was centering the second line, it seemed Semin was skating almost in reverence to who it was on his right, tying his game in knots. Now that he and the rookie are paired, both look rather comfortable with one another (although we’re starting to think Backstrom could be comfortable centering Jason Alexander as much as Semin or Ovechkin).
-- The Flyers had one shot – one – in 25:37 of game time spanning the first and second periods. It was as complete an exhibition of team-defense as the Caps have displayed this year.
-- You might not know it, but the Caps welcomed an NHL player today – Eric Fehr. The youngster launched seven shots at the Flyer net (ok, only one made it to the net), but in ten minutes and change of ice time, he also had a couple of hits, played diligently in forechecking in the Flyers’ end, and wasn’t backing down from anyone. We don’t think Fehr will be sitting any more in this series.
-- 33-17…that’s not a good number, not the first one, anyway. That is the turnover result for the Caps and Flyers (giveaways yielded plus takeaways by the opponent).
-- The Caps seemed to have better awareness of where Daniel Briere was when he was on the ice. Look, Briere is a small guy playing in the NHL…he hasn’t gotten to this level without figuring out how to avoid the bigger trees in the forest. You’re thinking some Cap should plant him? It’s a nice thought, but put it out of your mind. Being aware of where he is and denying him chances is what the Caps need to do, and did a better job of today.
-- The Caps had 26 shots (only six in the third period, to the Flyers’ 21)…Ovechkin, Semin, Fedorov, and Backstrom had 19 of them.
-- Mike Knuble is out for the remainder of the series, suffering a significant hamstring injury when his skate hit a rut while he was killing off a penalty in the second period.
-- “The squeaky wheel gets the grease, there…their coach has been complaining since the start of the series about that stuff.”
...Flyers’ coach John Stevens, commenting on the goaltender interference call on Scottie Upshall in the third period. There seemed to be a lot of “squeakin’” going on by Flyer players on the ice, though.
-- The shot chart was stunning…the shot pattern for the Caps indicated many more shots in scoring areas than was the case for the Flyers…
-- Steve Eminger had another solid game…three hits, two blocked shots. He was on the ice for the Hatcher goal, but that was more of a coverage problem at the top of the zone. And, Eminger is something of a good luck charm…the Caps are now, what, 16-6-1 when he’s in the lineup?
Another quote from Stevens, speaking about what to expect on Monday…
“We’re gonna dictate from the drop of the puck”
It’ll be loud, it’ll be hostile, it’ll be ferocious…
…but we’ll see you, Tuesday night.