Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Caps @ Predators 3-18-2008 Post-Mortem

Who says you have to play 60 minutes to win games this time of year??? Onto the Battle Damage Assessment...

THE GOOD:
  • A.O. with a goal and two assists tonight runs his season point total to 102 points with 58 goals. He now has a 5 point lead on Evengi Malkin-Lindros who was held without a point tonight in Madison Square Garden. A.O. is also now tied with Dmitiri Kristich for 18th on the Caps All-Time Scoring list at an even 300 points. Up next at 17 is Steve Konowalchuk who racked up 342 points in 419 games with the Caps. (I think A.O. will wait until next season to catch him...) A.O. is also now two goals away from matching Denis Maruk's single season record of 60 and needs 6 more to catch Kelly Miller for 10th on the Caps All-Time Goal Scoring list.
  • Now that the A.O. accolades are out of the way, that was the exact start to a crucial six game road trip that the Caps needed. A 3-0 lead 15 minutes in and a starting goaltender chased to the bench. The most important thing was the return of the desire and desperation that showed up in the first period. We're going to need that for every game for the rest of the season.
  • We've tracked this season the amazing number of shots that the Caps have blocked yet tonight, only 6 Caps shots were blocked. The Caps turned the tables by blocking 15 Nashville shots. Oh and the guy we talked about in the first point? He was tied with Milan Jurcina and Mike "BEAM ME UP" Green for the team lead with 3 blocked shots.

THE BAD:

  • Alexander Semin somehow was the only Cap to register a -1 tonight.
  • The Caps took way too many penalties in the first and second period tonight. The fact that they were able to end the first period with a 3-0 lead despite spending 4:02 on the Penalty Kill shows just how dominate the Caps were in the first period. But the penalties caught up to them in the second period as Nashville used their Power Play to get on the board and to take over the momentum. Luckily for us, Nashville has been struggling on the Power Play all season long and the other penalties we took didn't hurt us.
  • After scoring 3 goals on the first 8 shots, the Caps only took 12 on rental goalie Chris Mason. It isn't as if the Caps are going to face Nashville again in 5 days; keep attacking and if you score 10 goals again, you score 10 goals again who cares?

THE UGLY:

  • We will concede that Cristobal "WE MUST PROTECT THIS HOUSE" Huet played another good game. We will almost admit our surprise when we saw that UA only faced 26 shots on goal. It certainly seemed like he faced more than that though that may have been an offshoot of the 15 blocks the Caps skaters registered and the 22 misfires on the part of Nashville. But a good overall performance does not make UA's nonchalance on Jason Arnott's third period goal that cut the lead to 3-2 ineligible for the John "Coach's Pet" Erskine Bowles Bonehead Play of the Game Award. We're giving it to UA tonight over Dan Ellis for his turnover to Brooks "and Dunn" Laich that lead to Matt "Omar" Bradley's goal (which turned into the game winner) because Ellis looked off all night and was victimized by a bad bounce where UA only looked off on that play and should have made that save.
  • It was especially painful having to listen to Al Koken do the Play-by-Play tonight for Joe Beninati who was working the Atlanta-Philadelphia game for Versus. Koken just isn't suited to the Play-by-Play role and I stopped counting his stupid mistakes after he said something about Bruce Boudreau being in goal for the Caps. For a guy who's job is to follow the Caps, he was confused all night as to who was who. I thought part of the reason for changing the uniforms was to make it easier to identify the players? Additionally, his effusive praise of A.O. was rather nauseating. Leave that kind of garbage to the Penguin Scum announcers who are all too willing to tell us how everything (and I mean everything, including getting injured) Canadian Diving Team Captain, Secondary Assist Cindy Crosby and Malkin-Lindros does on the ice is the perfect embodiment of an MVP.
  • Bill McCreary and Kelly Sutherland didn't bother putting the Caps on the Power Play after a Too Many Men on the Ice call in the first period. They did call one penalty on the Predators after the first period but that was offset into a coincidental minors with a call on Eric Fehr. We rarely get upset around here about calls made against us and usually highlight the calls missed on the other team. So with that in mind we mention that in the third period there was a pretty blatant hook applied to Tomas Fleischmann that broke up a Caps breakout that was let go and then in the last minutes of the game you had to be blind not to see Omar's stick get slashed out of his hands.

Give both teams credit tonight; they very easily could have signed a non-aggression pact and skated through three periods to get one point before turning things on in overtime for a second point. Instead the Caps showed no willingness at the start to play like that and played like they wanted the two points all to themselves in the first period. While their play did tail off after the first, I didn't think it was as much as the Caps going to sleep as it was Nashville finally showing up to play. Nashville clearly had the momentum for the last two periods and just ten days ago, we were losing games exactly like this because we couldn't run out the clock fast enough. We may not have developed the perfect "killer instinct" to put games like these easily away but we at least bared down and got the win in regulation to keep our playoff dreams alive.

It has been... A TWO POINT NIGHT!!!

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