Thursday, December 20, 2007

Caps/Habs Recap

Canadiens 5, Capitals 2

How do you outshoot a team 37-21, have more than a 50% advantage over them in scoring chances and still lose? The answer: difference in the quality of netminding. If not for Cristobal Huet's performance last night the Canadiens, in all likelihood, don't win that game.

The Canadiens didn't have a high number of good scoring chances and when the Capitals defense was good it was very good. But when it was bad it was very bad. The Capitals held the Canadiens to only one shot in the first half of the first period (six for the period) and only three for the first nineteen minutes of the second (five in all in the period), but they also conceded the first two goals because they left men wide open in front of their own net.

As for Kolzig: it's hard to fault a goaltender when their defense leave men wide open in front of the net or let screened shots get through, but it's also hard to totally absolve a goalie who's stopped only eight of eleven shots through two periods. The Canadiens first and third goals were stoppable - the first wasn't a great shot, even though it was in close and the third was through a screen but also wasn't a great shot. You certainly can't blame Kolzig on either of those, but it would have been nice if he'd stopped one of them. The Canadiens second goal was one where Olie couldn't have done much - if your defense is going to let the other team have that opportunity you don't have much of a chance as a netminder. That said, Kozlig should have done something. He literally didn't have any of the net covered. Not one. Single. Inch. In fact, Tomas Plekanec had to miss the net to hit Kolzig with the puck (by the way, Merry Christmas, Tomas. If you can't even hit the net from four feet out with no one one you, you'd better believe it's a gift when you score.)

The score might give the impression that this way the type of game the team was accustomed to playing under Hanlon. It wasn't. The Capitals played well for the vast majority of the game, created chances for themselves in the offensive zone and held the Canadiens to 21 shots. This, along with Boudreau's attitude, gives me faith the Capitals will come out strong next time.

Quick Hits

  • Al Koken reported during the third period that Brian Pothier had broken his thumb and is week-to-week. Now's your chance, Steve. Show us you shouldn't have been sitting all this time.
  • Interesting decision to Boudreau to play Ovechkin on the point with Pothier out and the team in need of goals. I like it.
  • Ovechkin needs a new stickhandling move. He does the one he does, where he tries to put the puck through the opponent's legs and go through them, very well. But he tries it every time he's one-on-one with a defender. NHL advance scouts are going to pick up on that and NHL defenders are going to stop it when they know it's coming. Ovie either needs to get a new move or start getting rid of the puck, because all he's doing now is turning it over.
  • Nicklas Backstrom's goal was a very nice play. Taking a bouncing puck at putting in the net from that angle, with the backhand takes a lot of skill.
  • If I were Coach Boudreau I would consider calling Viktor Kozlov into my office and ask him why he thinks it's so funny that he can't score goals.
  • Did anyone else raise any eyebrow when Craig Lauglin said "this period's just about over" when there was 8:30 remaining in the second? At that point (8:30) the period was 57.5% over. Does this mean the Capitals had "just about" as many points (70) as the Senators (112) and Red Wings (124) last year?
  • While we're on the subject of Laughlin, he apparently thought his comment that the "teams must think the ice time over over at nine o'clock" was the funniest thing he's ever heard because he was giggling uncontrollably for a good ten seconds afterwards. What I thought was amusing was that Beninati's comment that "we'd better get them some orange wedges" that came right after was much better than Laughlin's.

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