Sunday, February 14, 2010

Caps @ Blues 2-13-2010 Post-Mortem

Glad we didn't travel to see this one... Onto the Battle Damage Assessment...

THE GOOD:
  • Mike Knuble gets two knoals tonight from his office.  Camped out right in front of the crease.  He's up to 23 knoals on the season but will be a bigger factor come playoff time.
  • In their last game, the Caps blocked only 5 shots on goal.  Tonight the Caps blocked 15 as even Mike "BEAM ME UP" Green was getting down on the ice to take shots away.  To us, that's the biggest sign of an improved defensive effort.
  • Jose "Alvin, Simon," Theodore has reason to be confident in his play as he heads into the Olympic Break.  33 saves tonight and some big saves to keep the Caps in the game tonight.
THE BAD:
  • We mentioned this morning that the team with the better focus would likely come out on top and it was clearly St. Louis who had the better focus and intensity tonight.  For many stretches of the game, the Caps seemed like a team that was going through the motions to get to the break.
  • Reason #1 we don't put much stock in faceoff stas, the Caps won 61% of the draws tonight, 43-28.  Yet what good did it do us as we didn't get any goals off of the faceoff wins?
THE UGLY:
  • The game was decided by a gimmick.
  • Very, very inconsistent officiating in the game tonight that had even Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin up in arms.  If there was a crackdown on against interference penalties, there were plenty of those calls missed and some other obvious infractions that weren't called either.  But sadly, the ineffective crackdown wasn't even the worst call of the night.
  • Once again and for the sixth time in 18 fights for the Caps this season, a Caps player was slapped with an instigator penalty.  This time it was Quinton "The Human Bruise" Laing attacking an innocent and defenseless Cam Janssen after Janssen took a cheapshot on Matt "Omar" Bradley.  Janssen, who has almost as many fighting majors (16) by himself as the entire Washington Capitals team (18) clearly wasn't looking for a fight when he took the five minute interference call.  Add in the insult of Laing's visor warranting an automatic unsportsmanlike conduct penalty because of the instigator and the Caps were left with a 1 minute major Power Play after four minutes of 4-on-4 hockey.  This was once again an improper application of the instigator penalty which was created to protect players who were forced into fights that they clearly did not want to take part in.  Janssen is no stranger to the Ultimate Fighting on Ice and after partaking in two fights last night, he drew and instigator penalty for the second evening in a row.  This ridiculous application of the instigator penalty is quickly turning anti-fighting advocates such as ourselves against the penalty because what is the use of the penalty if it is going to be improperly assessed?
Bruce Boudreau was right to point out that at the end of a winning streak a team's play is breaking down but because they're winning, the corrections are hard to make.  Now that the Caps winning streak has turned into a losing streak, the Caps tonight showed that they are taking steps in the right direction.  Yes, the Caps were outshot once again.  Yes they gave up the first goal of the game and never led.  Yes, they gave up too many breakaways and odd-man rushes.  However, tonight wasn't the wide open, end-to-end, fire-wagon hockey the Caps had been playing of late.  Most of the breakdowns were in transition and a result of the forwards not backchecking aggressively enough.  There were only two big breakdowns in the defensive zone outside of transition plays.  The first one led to St. Louis' first goal at 4-on-4 and the second one was thwarted by a fantastic save by Theodore.  So now Boudreau gets a chance to reiterate the defensive coverage as the Caps have 17 days until their next game.  There's no need to panic folks, the Caps will be fine.

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