Knee-jerks: vs. New Jersey Devils, 2/24/08

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.

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11 Responses to Knee-jerks: vs. New Jersey Devils, 2/24/08

  1. Damned good “Vezina” observation — you’re right, many of the Caps’ goal-struggling games are against undeserving rooks. If they had to strain to hit the twine tonight, at least it’s against the best active goaltender in the league.

  2. Gustafsson says:

    I have a blank authentic that the wife and kids bought me for my birthday. When the season ends, that puppy will be off to River City Sports with a request for #19.
    Fine observation on avoiding the hits on the boards. I would add that he’s doing well avoiding them in open ice, too.
    Good to have you back on the knee-jerks, even if it ends up being a guest host performance. We’ve already proved that we are far worse at the knee-jerks than the originator.
    Many thanks, it was a refreshing read.

  3. Capsaholic says:

    Mo needs longer sticks. How many times did he wave it over the puck?
    Dainius who?

  4. Meza says:

    I know GMGM wants to stand pat at the trade deadline, but I think we need some help on the 2nd and 3rd line scoring. Ovie, Green, and
    Semin can’t carry this whole team into the playoffs. As much as this following statement hurts, Olie is not helping either.

  5. NS2NOVA says:

    E-M, I’ve got to agree with your review of Nick’s performance. I’ve been on the Backstrom bandwagon since seeing him at the rookie camp in July.
    Also, having been at the game in the RBC Center yesterday afternoon, the temperature was much cooler than I’ve ever experienced in the Phone Booth. And the ice seemed much better than we seem to experience. The water froze up much quicker, with little or no wet spots by the time the teams returned to the ice.
    One thing BB has been trying to change is the mindset of every goal needs to be a pretty one worthy of top ten highlights. A dirty goal between the posts is worth more that the great play that never dents the mesh.

  6. Jordan says:

    Brodeur was definitely the difference. He was pulling saves out of his ass big time through the whole game. That poke check on Green in overtime made everyone in my section go from standing up yelling to “AWWWWWW CRAP!”

  7. TJ says:

    I disagree about the temperature in the phone booth – I, and at least 3 others in my section all commented that it seemed hot yesterday. I do agree with Gustafsson, though – nice to see a kneejerks again. They were one of my favorite things about this site.

  8. Thunderweenie says:

    Gee, thanks a lot from the Ottawa camp–now Jersey’s in first place!!!!!
    Of course, that could be have something to do with the fact that the Sens have only won 4 games in February, but never mind…its the Caps’ fault! Yeah! That’s it!!!! 🙂

  9. hockeygrl76 says:

    The phone booth was chilly where I was sitting….guess it all depends on where the seat is…

  10. HotDog88GT says:

    Trade to make the team better. Don’t trade to make the playoffs…that makes no sense whatsoever. I hope GMGM does not give away anything.

  11. Oh yes, NFL hockey at its best!
    Brodeur is for sure a very good defensive player. Uses both his speed and stick to the best of his ability. Not to mention he has excellent hands when making saves to help his team win.

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