For a team like the Caps, who have a history of turning any opposing goaltender into a Vezina candidate for a night, it’s almost a nice change to be done in by the genuine article. All-Everything goaltender Martin Brodeur stood tall for his team, especially in the third period, and got the visitors the two points.
- While John Erskine had a better game than in Carolina, there was considerable room for improvement.
- Tom Poti continued his stretch of solid play. He’s playing as physically as I’ve seen him (which isn’t bruising, admittedly), and he’s clearly a stablizing force for the Caps. He and Lepisto were very communicative on the ice, which is what you like to happen when you are pairing a rookie with a vet.
- Speaking of Sami, I like his game, though the whistled PIMs need to come down. I particularly enjoyed his releasing from his first penalty and diving to try and check the puck away from the unawares Devils point man. The young Finn shows some solid puck-moving skills, though I’d be interested in seeing him more on the power play.
- The Caps caught a break due to the power of advertising. After Lepisto released for his second penalty and iced the puck, play was stopped for a TV timeout, giving the tired Caps a breather before play was resumed. I didn’t see which commercials ran, but I’m going to say thanks to Pulte homes anyway.
- Over heard from an out-of-town media-type: “Semin seems to be more of a hindrance than a help on the power play.” Washington’s sometimes-woeful power play can improve with work on one facet: passing. It’s not a team strength, but it’s even more notable when the Caps go a man-up. Too many low-percentage bump passes, touch passes, slap passes and flat-out missed passes make setting up in the zone a chore, much less creating serious scoring opportunities. Alexander Semin certainly is guilty of occasionally passing up a simple, smart pass in order to hold onto the puck too long, or a teammate will try to deke through three defenders instead of leaving it to the point man. The Caps’ best power play opportunity of the night was put forth by a unit that didn’t feature either Alex — just smart, simple pass creating decent to very good scoring opportunities. When D.C. keeps it basic, good things happen.
- All that said, that was a helluva goal from Alexander Semin. Not a whole lot of guys in the league who can do that.
- Matt Pettinger had a solid game defensively, but seemed to be a half-step from his usual pace. I wonder if he’s one of the fellas who has the flu bug.
- Some good hitting in the game. That’s always nice. And decision Brashear.
- Nick Backstrom has a talent for avoiding full hits against the boards, maintaining possession of the puck, and being able to continue the play. If I buy a new Caps sweater, #19 is very likely to grace the back.
- It’s cooler in the Verizon Center than it was the last time I was there. An ice-oriented adjustment?
- Quintin Laing has proved that he’s one of the 10 best forwards on the team. At least to me.
- I honestly forgot that Dainius Zubrus played for the Devils until someone brought it up about halfway through the game.
- Brent Johnson won’t hear any complaining from me tonight.
- Travis Zajac had a nice defensive game. Parise and he are a couple of nice young players.
The Caps get a point, which isn’t bad when the other team’s superstar is at the top of his game. A few pings of the iron here, a smarter pass there and things are different, but the Caps do what they need to do: turn those games in hand into a point or points, and try to climb the ladder.