Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Caps vs. Thrashers 11-22-2006 Post-Mortem

Welcome to the "new NHL" folks. Where minor stick fouls like hooking, holding, slashing, and tripping are generally called every time they occur and physical cheapshots are a-ok. This is going to be an ugly Battle Damage Assessment...

THE GOOD:
  • Jakub "and sons" Klepis had a goal and an assist tonight, keying the second Power Play unit (which totally outclassed our first Power Play Unit) and helping the Caps go 1 for 3 on the Power Play tonight. Yep, just three Power Plays. Oh, we'll talk more about that later...
  • The Caps were able to build a 2-0 lead on Atlanta despite being outplayed and not having much in the way of jump in their skates. They turned things on in the third period, but were unable to come up with any goals.

THE BAD:

  • Once again, the second period was the undoing of the Caps. Gone was the 2-0 lead built up and a 3-2 hole was dug. What turned out to be the game winning goal is something that Olie Kolzig certainly wants back.
  • Shaone Morrisonn's giveaway to Ilya Kovalchuk for the final goal of the game. Not only did it put the game away, but it led directly to the ugliness that ended tonight's game.
  • Referees Dave Jackson and Tom Kowal had no control over tonight's game and did precious little at the end to try to re-establish control. This folks is the same Dave Jackson that in Game 5 vs. the Ning in the 2003 playoffs that called a double minor on Kolzig for high-sticking Vincent Lecavlier on a follow-through of a clear. That happened to be the last playoff game Dave Jackson worked that year as he was yanked from Game 6 of that series and didn't work anymore. It is safe to say that he is one of the worst referees in the NHL.

THE UGLY:

  • You knew this rant was coming didn't ya? The nonsense at the end of the game tonight was entirely avoidable. It was avoided this past Saturday night in Boston because it remained a one goal game. But once it was clear that tonight's game was over, Glen Hanlon clearly decided that he was going to extract a pound of flesh for the liberties that the Thrashers were taking all night. Now again, even if this hadn't been a one-goal game, the referees could have prevented this ugly ending had they bothered to call the obvious penalties on the Thrashers. Twice tonight I saw Atlanta players stick out their legs to trip up a Cap when the Cap beat them. Bobby Holik was running around cheapshotting just about anybody he could. My personal favorite was his planting of an elbow in the ear hole of Ben "What A" Clymer right after exiting the penalty box in the second period. What made that non-call so mysterious was that Clymer had the puck when he took the shot to the head. There was no reason on earth why two referees who are supposed to be watching the puck could have missed that one. Holik later delivered a punch to the back of A.O.'s when A.O. was in the corner digging for the puck in the third period. I'll give these referees credit; they called just about every stick foul that there was (except of course two obvious stick tripping calls on Atlanta). But headshots at Caps players were allowed all night and the Caps only drew three freaking Power Plays. The ending is what you get when that nonsense is not policed better by the on-ice officials.

When Glen Halon sends out Donald Brashear, Matt "Omar" Bradley, and John Erskine Bowles at the end of a game that has been filled with cheapshots, you know that Hanlon isn't trying to run out the clock. It is a shame that Hanlon had to do that but he needs to send a message that cheapshots against the Caps are not ok just because the refs don't bother to make the calls. The lack of control by the referees tonight was a disgrace to the NHL. If anybody wants to wonder why the NHL does not appeal to the casual fan, this game tonight is a prime example of why. Name me another major-league professional sport other than boxing where the fans are chanting "FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT" at the end of the game. That's what I thought.

The sad part about all of this is that Brashear and Brian Sutherby are now suspended for Friday night's game against Toronto. Again, welcome to the "new NHL" where instigator penalties in the last five minutes of the game draw a one game suspension, doubling every time the offense occurs. And let's be honest here, Toronto has not had a reputation for gentlemanly play in recent years. Tonight is the type of game that could have very well cost us the next one. We now await to see what additional "justice" the "new NHL" decides to hand down in light of tonight's festivities.

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