Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Birthday, Nicklas Backstrom - Caps Win 4-3

Capitals 4, Flyers 3 (OT)

Well. That was encouraging.

Before anything else, let me say this: the Caps, as a whole, played well enough to deserve better than a one-goal overtime win. The first Flyers goal shouldn't have happened - it should have been blown dead by the officials. The second Flyers goal shouldn't have happened because Olie shouldn't let that shot in.

The Capitals controlled the play most of the game, outshooting their opponents in every period and 35-25 for the game. But the most impressive stretch came early in the first. With
Shaone Morrisonn already in the box, Jeff Schultz inadvertently sent a rolling puck over the glass in his own end, giving the Flyers a 5-on-3 for 1:45. The Capitals were able to kill off the entirety of the penalty and maintain their one goal lead, keeping their slim margin early in the game in the face of adversity and giving a significant boost to a team lacking in confidence.

But the story of the game for the Capitals really was aggressiveness. Boudreau had mentioned that several times leading into the game and it made all the difference. Rather than sitting back and play tentative the Caps forechecked hard, worked to beat the Flyers to the puck and outhit Philly 15-14 (that's not as close as it looks - Scott Hartnell had six), and showed that they are indeed a good NHL team. The Caps have a lot of good skaters and they're the biggest team in the NHL - if they are allowed to play aggressively and pressure their opponents they should generally expect good things to happen.

So what's next? A home matchup this Saturday against Carolina where the Caps will try win two in a row for the fist time this season after their 3-0, and start a winning streak that will get them back into the playoff picture (they're currently seven points out, pending today's results). Is it just me, or do other people have more confidence that they'll be able to do that than at any other point this season?

DMG's 3 Stars

(1) Nicklas Backstrom (1 goal (the game winner), 2 assists, +2)
(2) Tom Poti (2 assists, 27:02 of ice time)
(3)Alexander Ovechkin (1 assist (a nice one on the game winner), +2, 4 shots, 23:06 of ice time)

*
Note/Edit: Final T.O.I. differs slightly from what was posted here b/c I put this up shortly after the game's conclusion.

Quotable

"It's subtle changes, not like you're revamping the whole thing. I just think the mind-set sometimes has got to change, and the culture's got to change. They've got to believe that they're really good players."
-Bruce Boudreau


Quick Hits

  • I have no analytic data but I would venture to guess a good 30% of the goals against Olaf Kolzig this year have come through the five-hole.
  • Thank you, Kimmo Timonen. Just as your team was really starting to get momentum, you took a stupid, obvious and unnecessary penalty to put the Caps on the powerplay.
  • Even though his team lost, I'm sure Daniel Briere had fun today. Not only did he get to jam his stick between a Capitals player's legs - he got a goal when he did!
  • Seriously though, there were quick whistles all day - where were they on Briere's goal?
  • Horrible, horrible slashing call on Tom Poti with 2:18 left in the game.
  • Either Nicklas Backstrom is really comfortable on the fourth line or he had something to prove, notching the game winner and two assists on his 20th birthday.

1 comment:

usually frustrated caps fan said...

DMG: Right on - well said even though I didn't think about it when I put up my blog the Poti call was bogus IMHO - just glad the Caps stayed focused and took it to OT where our future Ovie and Backstrom looked sweet. More of my thoughts at:

http://markb2260.blogspot.com/2007/11/period-3-ot-and-bbs-first-game.html

Mark