Saturday, October 10, 2015

A TWO-Point Night -- Game 1: Capitals 5 - Devils 3

The Caps made it 1-0-0 to start the 2015-2016 season, and we have a recap of the night over at Japers’ Rink.  We did have some other thoughts on the game, though...

  • Two things that need to be retired, the “red carpet” gala (this isn’t Hollywood) and the “sky-cam.”  The former seemed like a distraction (knowing full well that the fans in attendance seemed to love it), a number of players making reference to it in the post-game Q-and-A.  Then there is the sky-cam.  Once upon a time I thought this might be a good idea, but unless they can use one that is the size of a deck of cards (and transparent), not to mention better imaging from the camera (it looked a bit distorted), this doesn’t seem like all that great an idea.
  • Why does it seem that teams work their power play differently at 5-on-3 than on a 5-on-4 man advantage?  The Caps had the best power play in the league last year, and they still have formidable personnel on that unit.  But it looked so much different at 5-on-3 than at 5-on-4, and not in a good way.  It always seems to be a case of holding the puck for the perfect pass. 
  • I will never cease to be amazed at the pure athletic skill of hockey players.  How soft do your hands have to be to skate down the wing at speed, thread the puck through a defenseman’s legs, and chip the puck over the shoulder of the goalie with a fine touch? 
  • The Caps certainly started slowly, despite the two first period goals.  They had eight shots on goal in the first 29 minutes, six of them by defensemen.  Brooks Orpik and John Carlson were the only Caps with more than one shot.  That was probably not part of the game plan.  Still, they wrapped things up with 19 shots on goal in the last 31 minutes and out-attempted the Devils for the game overall, 54-51.
  • Even this early in the season, back-to-back games have their price.  The Devils played last night, and on this night in Washington they took four third period penalties.  Two were of the obstruction kind – holding to David Schlemko and hooking to Adam Henrique.
  • Five Caps had multi-point games: Matt Niskanen (1-1-2), Alex Ovechkin (1-1-2), Justin Williams (0-2-2), Jason Chimera (1-1-2), and John Carlson (0-2-2).
  • The Caps were awful in the faceoff circle early.  They lost five of the first six draws and 12 of 22 in the first period (45.5 percent).  However, like much of their game, they did much better after the first intermission, going 28-for-46 in the last two periods (60.9 percent).
  • Tom Wilson shook off the tweak he suffered in the second period to finish the game with 13:41 in ice time, a number he topped only 12 times last season.  However, he was the only forward that did not record a shot attempt for the game.
  • For a game with eight goals scored, the goaltending wasn’t bad.  Keith Kinkaid made a number of big saves, including a point blank denial of a T.J. Oshie backhand when the Caps broke in with a two-on-none break.  Braden Holtby’s stop of an Adam Henrique break was arguably the turning point for the Caps.
  • Giving up three goals should not be a surprise as far as Braden Holtby is concerned. This is the third time in his last four season first games that he has allowed three or more.  He allowed six in a 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay to open the abbreviated 2013 season, five in a 6-4 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks to open the 2013-2014 season.  In his last four season first games he is 1-2-1, 3.70, .866.

In the end…

It certainly was not pretty, but there are no style points here.  Two points is two points.  And all in all, you have to like that the Captain scored a goal and had a multi-point night, and that one of the new guys – Justin Williams – had a multi-point night.  Even T.J. Oshie had his chances.  Then there was Brooks Orpik doing something he had never done in a Caps uniform – score a goal.  There was almost something for everyone.  But with the Caps falling victim to the twin scourges of allowing a goal on the next shift after scoring one themselves, as well as coughing up a two-goal lead, there will be things for the coaches to work on before the Caps face San Jose on Tuesday.