Saturday, November 25, 2006

Caps vs. Leafs 11-24-2006 Post-Mortem

I hate it when I am right about certain things... Tonight was a game that we lost in the closing minutes of Wednesday night when Donald Brashear took the instigator penalty and got suspended for tonight's game (along with two others). Why do I say that, well because as the Battle Damage Assessment will show, the Leafs are still the same bunch of thugs that they have been in recent years despite the departure of Pat Quinn and Tie Domi.

THE GOOD:
  • Go ahead, call me crazy, (it wouldn't be the first nor the last time) but with the exception of the first few minutes of tonight's game, a small stretch in the second, and the last half of third period tonight, I thought that the Caps played a good hockey game. Yes, ugly glaring mistakes were made and they should be duly noted and fixed, however tonight was a game where the Caps didn't get very many bounces going their way.

THE BAD:

  • The stats for Brent Johnson tonight are not for the faint of heart or for any fanboys and puckbunnies he might have. 7 goals allowed on 28 shots for just 21 saves which works out to a .750 save percentage. OUCH! I actually felt sorry for Johnny out there tonight as the, yes, last five goals he gave up really were not his fault. Yes, Johnny didn't pull off any big saves that I can remember tonight but there was just nothing he could do on some of those goals tonight. Pulling him in favor of Olie Kolzig would have only been fair in the sense that Johnson just wasn't having any luck tonight.
  • In the past month the Caps have shown a glaring inability to breakout of their own zone and when they occasionally accomplish that feat, they have major issues gaining the offensive zone under control. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the Power Play which went 1 for 6. I think this is now the sixth straight game with a Power Play and in all fairness, the Leafs are in top ten in penalty killing (which they better be) but the Power Play just was not clicking at all tonight. Again, I don't think it was a lack of effort, just a lack of luck tonight with pucks bouncing the wrong way at the wrong time.
  • I find it disconcerting that the Caps have a hard time dealing with adversity during a game. After getting out of their early game funk, the Caps were battling back as they usually do when they became the victim of two horrific penalty calls in the second period. The call on Richard Zednik was nothing more than a make-up call because at that point, the Caps had already been on the Power Play four times and the Leafs hadn't had one yet. But the call on Captain Chris Clark was a flat-out joke. Kyle Wellwood dove and got away with it and the Penalty Killers were faced with a 5 on 3 for over a minute and a half. After the Leafs scored, there was a bad bounce and the Leafs extended their lead to 4-1. The Caps seemed to give up until Glen Hanlon used his timeout which was too little, too late. I don't know why the Caps react like that to adversity, but they need to fix it pronto.

THE UGLY:

  • Could somebody please explain to me why teams with two goal leads feel the need to act like a bunch of thugs? I credit the officials tonight for not allowing Toronto to get away with their goonery after watching Atlanta and Boston have their way with the Caps in the past two games. But if there ever was a need for Brashear, tonight was the night. Alexi Ponikarovsky should have at some point been called into account for his continual dirty pool tonight and wasn't.
  • While I don't blame the Penalty Killers for two of the three goals that they allowed tonight, the third goal was a complete and total undressing of the Power Play unit. Officially they were credited as going a dismal 2 for 5 in the Penalty Killing department. But one of those two kills was only 31 seconds long.
  • John Erskine Bowles made a mockery of himself again tonight. It is easy now to see why the Stars and the Islanders had no use for him. Hopefully the Caps will be making him a healthy scratch again soon.

On November 9th the Caps were 6-8 and flying high after erasing a 3 goal first period deficit against the Senators and winning in overtime. The Caps lost that night to Carolina 5-0 in Raleigh. Since that Ottawa comeback, the Caps are just 2-6. I said after their last win that the next big test for this team is how they handle the inevitable losing streak. Well, the losing streak is at 5 now. Tomorrow night on Long Island against a hot Islanders team is going to tell us a lot as to how far this team still has to go.

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