Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Still No Back To Back Losses Under Boudreau - Capitals 4 | 3 Blue Jackets


Sometimes small tweaks can shake things up just enough. Tonight, Bruce Boudreau and the Washington Capitals with thier newly re-tooled 1st line, visited the Columbus Blue Jackets for the first time since 2003. Of note, Washington Capitals superstar, Alexander Ovechkin opened his NHL Scoring career back then against this very same club, scoring his first NHL Goal, (he scored 2 that night) in a 3-2 Capitals victory.

The Caps and Boudreau were hoping that inserting Eric Fehr into the 1st line with Ovechkin and Backstrom, and moving Kozlov down to center the second line, would generate more offence from parts of the linup other than Ovechkin and the 1st line. While Fehr did not factor into the scoring, the Caps did recive help from 2 different players tonight. Ovechkin had 2 goals, including the game winning overtime tally. Tom Poti, and Alexander Semin both had the other Caps scores. So alittle more production from places other than the first line. Progress, not perfection.

The Caps also showed some heart and character in overcoming some adversity tonight. The Caps were scored on short handed, when they had a two man advantage. The Caps have not given up a tow man advantage short handed goal since 1991 in a game VS the Philadelphia Flyers, which the Caps ended up winning 6-3. As luck would have it tonight, the Caps overcame that. The Caps also had to overcome a gift of a goal, with the assist going to referee Bill McCreary. McCreary failed to get out of the way when the Columbus rush turned up ice, and slammed into Capitals defender Shaone Morrisonn, leaving Rick Nash to skate in all alone on Brent Johnson for the easy score.

That took the air out of the Caps sails, but the Caps were not done just yet. They showed heart and character tonight, and tied the score back up on a hard shot from Tom Poti, which had to be reviewed because it went in and out of the net so fast, that play just continued as as if there was no score. The red light was never turned on, but upon the next stoppage in play the Caps called for the play to be reviewed. Sure enough, the puck went deep into the net and ringed around the metal back bar along the top so fast, it was barely visible with the naked eye. The score would remain tied through the rest of regulation.

Once again, in overtime our hero Alexander Ovechkin netted the game winner at 2:28 of the sudden death overtime period. Tom Poti also picked up an assist on that goal. These are the types of games that show just what a team is made of. Both teams faced some adversity tonight. Columbus lost thier starting netminder Pascal LeClaire late in the 2nd period after a collision in his crease. He suffered a neck injury and did not return, leaving back up goaltender Frederik Norrena to man the pipes the rest of the game. LeClaire's injury was not considered to be serious, however he will not travel with the Blue Jackets Wednesday when they leave for Phoneix and San Jose. Tonight it was the Caps who were the club that showed the character and heart in overcoming thier adversities, to pull out an important win with just 28 games remaining in the season.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Ovechkin Honoured as NHL's #1 Star for January, Caps And The Goose Egg Sandwich.

Washington Capitals superstar, Alexander Ovechkin was named the NHL's #1 star for the month of January. For the month, Ovechkin posted a league leading 22 points ( 13 goals, 9 assist) in 13 games played, and recorded a +9 rating. Rounding out the 3 stars for January were J.P. Dumont of the Nashville Predators as the #2 star, and Cristobal Huet of the Montreal Canadiens as the #3 star. Congratulations Alexander Ovechkin!

So what do goose eggs have to do with the Capitals you ask? Well, lets start back once again at last thanksgiving. Before tonights game VS the Columbus Blue Jackets, at Nation Wide Arena in Columbus, OH, the Caps have not lost back to back games since that time, which was when head coach Bruce Boudreau took over as bench boss. The numbers that Caps have put up since that time are in this blog's previous post, and they are fairly impressive. However, lately it seems the Caps have had a penchant for not showing up, and laying a big fat goose egg on the ice. In other words, they have been shut out, and it has been twice in thier last 3 games. They were shut out 1 week ago today in Montreal during the first game of a home and home series with the Canadiens, 4-0. Washington, and largely Ovechkin took care of business on the return leg at Verizon Center, winning that 2nd match up in 3 days, 5-4 in overtime, to finish out the month of January in fine fashion. Once again however, the Capitals decided not to show up, and laid yet another goose egg, this time at home, against division rival, and the Kovalchuk-less, Atlanta Thrashers, 2-0. The Thrashers are now tied for 1st place in the southeast division with that victory. A potential 4 point night for the Capitals in the SE division standings, wasted. At least the fans decided to show up for a change, with an announced crowd of 17,205. Not the kind of performance you want to put on with one of your larger crowds in attendance for the season.

Disturbing to the coach, and the fans, has been the Caps lack of scoring from anyone not named Alexander Ovechkin, or the 1st line. (Ovechkin, Kozlov, Backstrom) The Caps have been by and large a 1 dimensional, one line team, and that isn't going to get you too far. Just when the "P" word (playoffs) was just starting to maybe have some real signifigance in Washington once again, the Caps are forced to regroup, and take a long hard look at getting more of thier players involved in the offencive production. This prompted the Caps to recall Eric Fehr from thier AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears. Fehr will be placed on the top line with Ovechkin and Backstrom, while Kozlov will be moved to center the 2nd line. As I settle in to watch the Caps play the Blue Jackets tonight, if this change will help or hurt, remains to be seen. More after the game...

Which team is the Capitals biggest threat in the Southeast division this season?