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Capital Observations 12/8/08

The Washington Capitals had an up and down week, going 2-2 in their four games. Even though the Caps only came away with four of the possible eight points from last week, they still managed to improve their lead in the Southeast by one point.

 

The Caps also increased their already impressive injury list from eight players to ten; adding Eric Fehr and Tyler Sloan to the ranks of the walking wounded. Considering that the Caps injured list contains Alex Semin, Mike Green and Chris Clark most (rational) people find it easy to forgive the Caps if they drop a few games here or there; as long as they continue to win more than they lose.

 

Vs. Florida vs. Versus 12/2/08 – The Caps were blacked out on Tuesday night thanks to the Versus channel’s exclusivity agreement with the NHL. The Caps started off their December with their first regulation-loss of the season at home.

 

In a game that was very reminiscent of their loss to the Minnesota Wild, the Caps spent most of the game losing only to get two quick goals in the third period to bring the game to within a goal of overtime by a score of 3-4. The Caps pulled Jose Theodore to gain the extra attacker with 1:19 left, only to see their hopes dashed when the Panthers scored on the empty net.

 

The Caps almost seemed cursed as two of Florida’s initial four goals came off Caps players; one of which was scored when David Steckel made an unwise cross-ice pass only to hit Karl Alzner in the skate and watch the puck rebound to beat Theodore, five-hole.

 

The Best of What’s Left – As if to prove my point that most (rational) people are ready to forgive the Caps the occasional bad game, the media tried to supply Coach Boudreau with all the excuses he needed for their loss. Their questions were about the “bad luck” of having two goals scored off Caps players, and the impact of so many injuries.

 

To their credit, Coach Boudreau and the team would have none of it. The players took responsibility for not stepping up for the injured players and Coach Boudreau refused to take the bait on the offered excuses and instead seemed angry at the loss.

 

Is there any question why Coach Boudreau wins so many games and why he’s so loved by the fan base?

 

Vs. New York Islanders and vs. Hot Dogs Everywhere 12/4/08 – The Caps came into Thursday’s game hungry for a win; the fans came to “Dollar Dog Night” just plain hungry; both came away satisfied. The Caps pasted the Islanders by a score of 5-3 and the fans devoured a record 13,700 hot dogs.

 

The Caps jumped out to a two goal lead, and ended the first period with a score of 2-1. New York scored the lone goal in the second period to tie the game at two all, but the Caps unleashed the fury scoring three goals in the third and sending the Verizon faithful home fat and happy.

 

Heeeeeere’s Johnny – Brent Johnson broke his four-game losing streak by having a solid performance against the Isles. Johnny stopped 27 of the 29 shots he faced. The Caps helped Johnny’s cause by playing sound defense and peppering Islanders Goaltender Joey MacDonald with 47 shots on goal.

 

And another one bites the dust – The New York Islanders were the only team in the Eastern Conference not to have been beaten by Coach Boudreau prior to Thursday’s game. The Caps had not beaten the Islanders in Verizon since March 6th, 2006.

 

Sharing is caring – The Caps final goal came on the empty net. Alex Ovechkin took off with a rebound and skated through center ice two-on-one against Mark Streit with Nicklas Backstrom as his wingman. While most players might try and take the risky shot around the defenseman, Alex simply passed the puck over to Nick and let the young Swede get the goal.

 

@ Toronto vs. the Past 12/6/08 – The Caps came into Air Canada center and found their former Coach Ron Wilson and his Maple Leafs. These two teams showed how evenly they were matched as the game came right down to the wire with the go ahead goal of a 2-1 game being scored in the third period.

 

Way to go, Rook – Karl Alzner scored the game’s first goal, and the first of his career, on a shot from the blue-line that would’ve made Mike Green proud.

 

Canadian for BS, eh? – Brooks Laich scored a goal shortly after Alzner and looked to have the two-goal lead, only to have it waved off after review. The Refs claimed Laich “kicked” the puck into the net. Now, I have a copy of the Official Rules, and it does say that kicking the puck is a no-goal, but it also says “a distinct kicking motion.” In the Laich’s case he was on top of the goalie, and swiveled toward the net trying to address the puck on the rebound. The puck bounced off his skate as he was moving towards the net, but his foot never left the ice, which I feel, would be an essential part of a “distinct kicking motion.”

 

Heeeeeere’s Johnny; part two – Brent Johnson had a relatively quiet night stopping 19 of 20 shots and getting his second consecutive win. Johnny was obviously having fun Saturday night and even registered a shot on goal!

 

First Star, with no goals and no assists – Alex Ovechkin. If that doesn’t give you an idea how big a star he is in Canada, nothing will.

 

@ Carolina vs. Jet Lag 12/7/08 – By the time the final horn sounded on the Caps and Maple Leafs the Caps had 19.5 hours before their next game in Carolina; Less than that if you count all of the other post game stuff they do. To add insult to injury, the Caps added more injuries to their list with Tyler Sloan (who took a nasty shot to the skate boot) and Eric Fehr (who jammed his shoulder while finishing a check).

 

The Caps came into Carolina with a six point lead in the division, unfortunately they left with only a four-point lead as the ‘Canes dropped the Caps 3-1.

 

Carolina held a 1-0 lead throughout most of the game until the third period when the caps really turned up the heat. Washington came out of the dressing room fired up and launched a salvo of shots at Carolina goaltender Michael Leighton. The Caps persistence paid off when Nicklas Backstrom finally scored just shy of the midway mark of the third period to make the game 1-1.

 

The Caps looked like they were on the power-play for the first 15-minutes of period three; unfortunately they looked exhausted for the final five and allowed Carolina to score the go-ahead goal, and the game ending goal in those five.

 

It doesn’t get any easier – The Caps have only three games this week, with their first being at home versus Eastern-Conference-leading Boston (18-4-4) on Wednesday, then a home and away Friday and Saturday which will feature Ottawa (10-10-4) at Verizon and 2nd-place-in-the-Northeast Montreal (15-6-5) on the road.

 

It’s amazing the Caps are doing as well as they are with as much talent as they have injured, but they will need to get healthy soon as they get ready to face the toughest team in the Eastern Conference in the Boston Bruins.

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