Knee-jerks & Notes: @ Carolina, 11/05

Knee-Jerk ReactionsSomewhat ferocious and foul fall weather descended upon Washington late Monday evening. A propos given the dark clouds clinging to HockeyWashington these days. †

  • It would have been easy — knee-jerkish, even — to absorb†a 3-0 first-period dark well dwelling and react with “Another flat effort from the Caps,” or “Olie stunk it up,” but that’s not quite what happened. The Caps blasted 18 shots at Cam Ward in the opening stanza, and a†reasonable number of them were of the quality variety. Well,† Ovechkin’s were anyway. As the game worn on, the Caps†had shots from all angles and proximity, and none came close to besting Ward. He was the Cam Ward of the ’05-’06 postseason: positionally solid at every turn, Cool Glove Hand Luke.
  • 5-0 actually could and should have been 8-0 had not both Capitals’ goalies made OMFG stops in tight.
  • So what did happen? The Canes’ forwards sliced and diced their way through a cement-in-their-skates looking blueline corps of Caps in period one. Often, it wasn’t instances of Caps’ defenders getting caught up ice out of position; Washington defenders often were perfectly positioned in front of Canes’ forwards only to be juked and darted around in silly fashion.†Kolzig was†hung out to get his goals-against battered. Again.
  • The Hurricanes have a corps of forwards that for about three years now has ranked among the best collective set of passing forwards†in all of hockey, and it was on vivid display in tonight’s opening period. They aren’t blindingly fast, they do not play a†bruising game†of dump and dig†down low; instead,†they distribute the puck magnificently, in all areas of the ice, placing one another in consistently excellent scoring chance slots. It’s really rather magnificent to watch.
  • The Comcast broadcast Monday night illustrated the balanced minutes Carolina’s blueline nightly achieves. This also highlights the absence of a true no. 1 blueliner there (he departed for Los Angeles last season in one of the worst trades in NHL history). Interesting that Carolina also lacked such a shutdown stud the year they won the Cup. This team is beginning to look an awful lot like that one.†The addition of Tom Poti certainly addressed the Caps’ meager offensive firepower on the blueline, but it did not address the absence of a legit no. 1 guy. The Carolina goals tonight were all scored in tight — the Caps’ greatest area of vulnerability in their own end.†I think the ‘Canes prove that a team can win a lot of games — and even a Cup — without a Pronger-like stud on the back end, but if it’s blueline defense by mid-sized committee, you need savvy vets to carry it off shift after shift. The Canes have those in spades. The Caps are trying to develop them. ††
  • The second period kill of the Canes’ third power play of the game was the most impressive I’ve seen†from the Caps’ PKers this season. In fact, in generated better scoring chances than many of the team’s man-up chances this season. †
  • Donald Brashear’s defenders have their work cut out for them this season. He played limited but accountable†minutes for the Caps last season. Not this one.†Last Friday night he took a needless and stupid penalty early in the third period that ultimately led to the Flyers’ winning goal.†Monday night,†with his team valiantly taking the play to Carolina in the first half of period two, he†earned a well-deserved boot for head-ramming, and the major penalty and resulting†Hurricanes’ goal ended any little remaining doubt as to the game’s outcome. Often in NHL hockey the difference between winning and losing hinges on the†slightest of mistakes at crucial times, and the Caps these days can’t afford the mental errors Brash has regularly made this season. †

Monday delivered a brief bit of good news: The Caps inked 2007 second-round pick Josh Godfrey. He of the Sault†Ste. Marie Greyhounds†of the Ontario Hockey League and a 99 mph slapper. Problem is, he won’t be bringing it from the point in our red, white, and blue soakers this season. †
The Ilya Kovalchuk slump is over (in resounding fashion). Tonight’s game in Atlanta isn’t televised. Sound like mercy to you?†

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11 Responses to Knee-jerks & Notes: @ Carolina, 11/05

  1. sidehillman says:

    MERCY, MERCY, SOMETHING TO FINALLY TO CHEER ABOUT. NO TV TONIGHT.

  2. Dean says:

    I saw the game pretty much the same way you did. Unfortuantly many people are going to want Olie traded, Hanlon fired and a fire sale of the defense corp that GMGM has taken 3 years to build. To bad that the Caps looked so good after their first 3 games, because our expectations were sent that much higher. We jumped on the Band Wagon heading to the cellar not on the Band Wagon heading to the top of the mountain. I’m still willing to say that the Caps will be a .500 team by Christmas.

  3. VT Caps Fan says:

    Dean, if the caps are .500 by Xmas, I owe you a beer.
    I’m becoming extremely pessimistic as each game goes by.

  4. B.ORR4 says:

    It’s becoming increasingly clear that Hanlon is not going to be the guy to lead this team out of its funk. Glen is at his best dealing with a team of grinders, but when it comes to young players and/or skill players he seems to be lacking. If they get blown out in Atlanta, a coaching change may be the next step.

  5. Hockeiyfan says:

    All around bad game. Hate to this become another win one, lose 2 or 3 kind of season.

  6. pepper says:

    Hanlon’s spent his whole tenure here acting like he’s still an AHL head coach developing talent for the NHL. Its becoming clear that he can’t adapt to a role of leader of a legitimate NHL playoff team. Obviously Clark’s leadership is missed, but its not the whole story.
    He needs to be replaced with someone who’s more of motivator and less of a teacher. I’m far from the only one to say this. We need a new attitude and a new “system” behind the bench, plain and simple. Preferably a coach who has some history of NHL success. Unfortunately I can’t think of anyone out there available. It would certainly be bizarre to hire Hartley, but who knows.
    Honestly, we need a full leadership overall of coach and GM, Poile / B. Murray style. Why can’t it happen in-season?

  7. VT Caps Fan says:

    Pepper – I hate to admit it because I’m a fan of Hanlon, but yeah… we need new leadership. I give him until the end of the month, if there is no improvement its time for new blood.

  8. MulletMan says:

    Can anyone tell me why the heck we are not setting AO up in the mid-high slot? Having him on the point is making him nervious. Did you see the expression on his face after he hit Petty in the head.
    The problem that I have seen is that he practices his one-timers in warmups from the faceoff dots and mid-high slot, and he is hitting top shelf. Now, back him up another 5 to 8 feet and his shot will rise that much more, and start hitting his teammates in the head. Just get AO off the point on the PP.

  9. JR says:

    Come on, let’s not have a bunch of rah rah about getting quality shots on goal and it should have been 8-0. Talk about loser mentality. When you are getting blown out the coach must go, particularly since he hasn’t ever really shown us anything to have faith in. And if this doesn’t get righted by the end of the year, McPhee needs to go also. Barely November and I’m already depressed about another long, unfruitful hockey season. We’re completely wasting Ovechkin.

  10. JoeD says:

    the game was depressing in so many ways. Brashear’s head ram showed me he needs some bench time to get his priorities a little more in order.
    Worst of all was seeing Olie’s reaction to the tripping penalty called on him in the 2nd. It was this dismissive hand wave, like “whatever… we’re already toast.”
    Ward WAS great last night, but did anyone else get the feeling like the Caps gave him a few easy shots early that got his confidence up and got him really into the game. By contrast, Olie let the first shot against him in. Again.

  11. Scott says:

    I have no allegiance to Hanlon. I’ve seen 3+ years of mediocrity and in the last 2 seasons I’ve seen the “Hardworking, can beat you any night” Caps. I’ve always thought he was a fill-in coach.

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