A welcome win in the swamp, against a top-notch goaltender on a team that is leading its division. What I thought was going to be the first game in the most boring home-and-home series in recent memory turned out to have some scoring, some hitting, a few diving defensive plays, and we even got a tilt, though not much of one. It’s amazing what a win against a solid opponent will do in regards to enjoying the game.
- Brent Johnson turned in a strong goaltending performance, marred only by giving up Cam Janssen’s first career goal — the Pandalfo goal wasn’t stoppable.
- Milan Jurcina continues his solid play in all zones, and it’s hard to believe that the Caps got him for a 4th round pick. It seems the coaching staff is giving him more power play time, and it’s paying off. I like him on the second power play unit — he can just blast away from the point, and not have to worry about getting Ovechkin and Semin the puck so they can create. It’s just bombs away.
- Speaking of Alexander Semin, nifty move to score, but it seems at other times he ignored some open teammates in scoring position today. His puck-handling skills are beyond critique, but he’s been spending more time lately holding the puck himself, and typically veering back towards the boards or center ice. I like how hard he worked in puck pursuit, but I wonder if he still doesn’t have a lot of faith in his linemates.
- The Caps’ offense seems to live or die with their passing on the breakout. If they can put together a good head-man pass (like Beech’s on Semin’s goal and Gordon’s on Pettinger’s shorty) their transition game is pretty darn good. If not, they are in trouble, as the Caps seem to be better at transition offense than they are at scoring off of prolonged puck possession in the offensive zone.
- Alex Ovechkin didn’t figure in, goal-wise, but I liked his hustle, especially in his fore- and back-checking. In one instance his closing on a Devils’ forward from behind spoiled a Jersey scoring chance, and that’s all effort. He’s still on the schneid, but I have the feeling that once he gets one goal, he’ll get a bunch.
- While New Jersey’s power play numbers aren’t daunting (17.9%), the Caps did a good job of keeping the Devils’ man-up unit back on their heels, and the shortie was a nice cherry on top.
- Shaone Morrisonn looked out of sorts today, with poor puckhandling and an unusual display of poor positioning. While the Morrisonn-Jurcina pairing is certainly working for big Milan, is it working as well for Morrisonn… or was this just a hiccup?
- Brian Pothier didn’t have a good game playing the power-play point, making several bad decisions and missing a keep that seemed to be an easy play.
- Jeff Schultz had a solid game, his only glaring mistake being caught flat-footed on a Devils’ outlet pass. Luckily, John Erskine made a nice diving sweep check from behind to save the day. Schultz seems to be the target of some dissent, but he’s been playing remarkably well for a twenty year old in his first full season of professional hockey.
- Calling the Erskine-Janssen fight a draw, though it looked like Erskine landed the one punch that truly connected in the scrap. It was pretty much just wrestling and tugging.
- Not much can be said about Brodeur that hasn’t already been said, but if not for Marty the Caps score at least three more goals. Can’t be many who have been better.
- The Caps still are lazy on their clears out of the defensive zone. I’m not sure how it can be fixed, but cutting down on the three or four extra scoring chances they give away through lackadaisical own zone attempts would help. A lot.
Well, a pleasant result, and the Senators/Sabres rematch later tonight on Center Ice. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.