Knee-jerks: vs. Montreal, 12/27/06

Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images
No rest for the weary last night, as the Caps played their second consecutive game against a good Northeast division opponent. After losing in Buffalo last night, the Caps hosted a strong Montreal club.

  • Buffalo beat Washington with offense on Tuesday night; Montreal beat the Caps with solid defense. Huet played well, and his defensive corps did a good job of keeping most shots to the perimiter, even with the Caps’ PP time advantage.
  • The Ovechkin-Zubrus-Semin line was again present last night, with a some-time second line of Pettinger-Gordon-Clark. There has been some concern that having another puck-carrier on Zubrus’ wing takes away from his offensive game. He again wasn’t a stand-out last night, so there may be some legitimacy to that thought. As far as the second unit, it would make a great checking group, but I’m not sure a line configured in that way can be counted on to put up even strength points.
  • Midway through the second and through most of the third, the Caps looked tired. Not much to be done about it, sadly, and the schedule isn’t helping – the Caps play at New Jersey tomorrow, and are at the Rangers on Saturday. Some rest would obviously help guys like Morrisonn heal up, but the daily drag of the schedule right now resembles something from an AHL road-trip.
  • Lawrence Nycholat is beginning to find his legs at the NHL level, it seems, which is good news for the Caps. Assuming that Schultz will be sent back to Hershey upon Morrisonn’s return to health, Nycholat should get some further minutes to prove his case at the NHL level. To a certain level, it seems he already has, receiving six more minutes of ice time than Heward, including eight more minutes at even strength.
  • Steve Eminger’s play continues to slowly and quietly progress. I scratched my head at the sight of a blast from the slot that Huet gloved, and wondered who had taken the shot. To my surprise it was Eminger, who also logged a lot of ice-time.
  • Brashear certainly made his presence known.

It was good to get back to hockey after the bad taste and controversy of the night before, but the result wasn’t a complete surprise. It’s a tough stretch for the Caps, but the playoff-contending pack in the Eastern conference hasn’t really had anybody who has taken advantage of other clubs’ misfortunes. If the Caps can ride out the storm, squirreling away a point here or there, then they may be poised for a move when the shcedule provides more breathing room and they get healthy. Getting a point here or there is proving to be as difficult as originally thought, however.

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6 Responses to Knee-jerks: vs. Montreal, 12/27/06

  1. CapsChick says:

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who thought Eminger had a good game last night and has been playing better lately. After a very slow start, it’s nice to see Steve beginning to play like we need him to. Still a little ways to go before he’s a genuine top 4 d-man, but improvement is always good.

  2. pepper says:

    I agree on the potential, or lack thereof, of a line 2 sans Semin as a scoring threat. Pettinger-Gordon/Beech-Clark doesn’t get it done. I understand the desire to punch in a goal with a top line of the two Alexs when behind, but long-term this is no way to throw out lines.
    We got schooled big-time on faceoffs lastnight. No easy fix for that.
    And while Montreal is formidable on defense, and while the Caps are an overworked and understaffed bunch right now, we’re back to our anemic power play ways. So frustrating to watch. I’m not going to take solace in a 6 on 3 goal.
    Les Habs were a defensive juggernaut last night. It was amazing how well they were positioned, to a man, around the net. No amount of effort on our part could get any good angle for a shot on Huet.
    Finally, I was surprised at how little of an effect Brash’s pummeling of Downey had on the team. That was his best fight all year, I thought, and it didn’t seem to provide any spark at all.

  3. pepper says:

    Now I recall that was actually a 5 on 3 goal. Anyway, too little too late.

  4. usiel says:

    Take away that Downey flukish goal and the screw up the ref did with uber fast whistle and it could have been a different game. Habs had been off for a few days and came to play. It was going to be a really tough one for the caps to pull off. Kolzig had a very strong game.

  5. Capsaholic says:

    More on Eminger:
    Hopefully, one day we’ll be able to put him with a good “stay at home” partner because I believe he has some decent offensive potential. I would like to see him sneak up in the offensive zone again.

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