Sunday, March 14, 2010

Caps @ Blackhawks 3-14-2010 Post-Mortem

We told you there wouldn't be a shutout today...  Onto the Battle Damage Assessment...

THE GOOD:
  • Facing a team that tends to out-shoot its opponents 34-25 per game, the Caps actually out-shot the Blackhawks 30-23 despite some moments of bad over-passing in the third period.
  • The Power Play was officially 1 for 5 and officially blew a 2 minute 5-on-3 but the Caps scored three seconds after the 5 on 3 ended and the Caps second goal was a direct result of the pressure applied by that Power Play.  And to give credit where credit is due, Chicago goaltender Antti Niemi did an outstanding job to keep the Caps at bay as long as he did.
  • Nicklas Backstrom with two goals and one assist though you might be able to credit him with an assist on his game winning goal as he recovered his bad turnover to start the rush going the other way.
  • And a shout out to Jose "Alvin, Simon," Theodore who couldn't be faulted on any of the three goals he allowed (on two of them a forward blew his coverage) and made some big saves with the game tied that allowed the Caps the chance to win this game in overtime.
THE BAD:
  • We knew we're beating an empty glue bottle here but Bruce Boudreau's love of Tomas Fleischmann continues to confound us.  Fleischmann was promoted to the first line and it was his blown coverage that led to the 3rd Chicago goal.  Otherwise, he was as invisible as usual.
  • And as infuriating as it was to see Fleischmann on the first line, Alexander "Slappy" Semin had one of his "enigmatic" games today.  Two totally and completely unnecessary penalties in the offensive zone in the first period and then floating around and not really trying for much of the rest of the game though he did draw the double minor that got the Caps going in the third period.  However he didn't earn time on the first line today with the way he was playing. Though we did find NBC's line combinations and defensive pairings funny as they listed Slappy as a second line winger and third pairing defenseman.
  • The Caps got pwned in the faceoff circle today.  Eric Belanger was the only Caps above 50% going 10-7.  The rest of the Caps were a combined 9-23 for the entire game and not a single Blackhawk had a losing record on draws today.
THE UGLY:
  • Look folks, there's no denying it, Captain A.O.'s hit on Brian Campbell was worthy of a five minute major for boarding and a game misconduct penalty.  No the hit was not vicious, it wasn't cheap or dirty, but it was totally and completely unnecessary.  To make matters worse, it was at a place on the ice where a serious injury could take place.  But what we already know is going to get us and everybody us riled up is the lengthy suspension Collin Campbell is going to hand down to the "Repeat Offender" at some point tomorrow.  The fact that "Repeat Offenders" Matt Cooke and Dan Caricllo got away with what they did last week will be immaterial and we're interested to see how Campbell attempts to justify it.
  • And for good measure, last night the Oracle of the Ultimate Fighting on Ice Fans, Don Cherry, said it was outrageous that Matt Cooke wasn't suspended and called for a ban on shots to the head from the side and back but NBC's Mike Milbury refuses to back down and even gave a slight nudge to Cherry for selling out.  Both men have a point that the players need a clearly defined standard of what is and is not permissible ASAP.  But Milbury is just wrong to continue to beat the drum of a "sissfied" NHL where no hitting is allowed.  Nobody is talking about ending the hits like the one Captain A.O. landed on Jaromir Jagr in Vancouver, but at the same time, nobody wants to see players carted off the ice stretchers and their careers placed in jeopardy.  And we'd really like it if this stupid red herring of "softer" equipment were ignored.
Well folks, we have to admit, we didn't have much hope of winning today's game heading into the third period.  We thought that the Caps played well for the most part in the first period despite spending most of the period trying to kill off penalties.   The Caps understandably had a hard time getting back into their groove in the second period and weren't trying to get to the front of the net to score some goals.  The Caps finally got in front of the Chicago net in the third period and look at what happened.  3 goals scored on 11 shots in the period and Chicago only took one.  The Blackhawks have suffered some horrible collapses lately and that the Caps were willing and able to give them another one today shows the character that this team needs to become very tough to beat come playoff time.  But in the interim, the Caps have to keep their edge as they play out the last 13 games of the regular season.  The Cup was not won today and should the Caps and Blackhawks meet in the Stanley Cup Finals, we doubt that this game will play much of a role in the series.

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

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