A Statement Game in a Two-Team Division Race

  • Cup'pa JoeThe Caps and ‘Canes entered Wednesday night tied for first in the Southeast with 18 points. It’s rare that you’d ever identify a November game as a “big” one, but with conventional wisdom suggesting that the Southeast champion likely to emerge between Washington and Carolina (they’ve won six of a possible nine Southeast titles), and with Washington prevailing in the opening mathchup on November 6, and now just six games scheduled between division foes, going up 2-0 home and away well could carry an important swagger for the Caps. Mission seriously accomplished.

  • “Statement” games. If they exist, this qualified. I was particularly impressed with the opening two minutes of the third period, when the Caps were in command of the game, on the road, and with their hot goalie out of the lineup. They might have been expected to go into a shell then, but they came out and applied serious pressure on their hosts and carried the play throughout the third. It was a spectacular 60-minute effort.

  • Color me mystified by Peter Laviolette’s decision to sit Cam Ward — merely one of the planet’s best goaltenders. Ward has enjoyed terrific success against the Caps in his career (10-5-0-1, pretty stellar save percentage and goals-against), and while he laid an egg against Atlanta November 9, that’s all the more reason to come back with him in a showdown game. So sayeth the blogger.

  • The last thing you want to see happen to a hot goalie like BJ is an injury, however minor, but tip your hat to Jose Theodore, who came in cold with the game still very undecided, made a few stellar stops early in period 2 (particularly on Eric Staal on the doorstep) and may well have reversed some bad debut MoJo by keeping the ‘Canes at bay.

  • If you thought Alexander Semin’s Player of the Month October was fluky, think again. Back in the summer, one of the storylines I identified for the Caps in 2008-09 was whether or not Alexander Semin could elevate his game to a level commensurate with his skills — that of an NHL superstar. I’ve seen enough this season to make that determination.  Expect the ‘other’ Alex to be lodged at the very top of the league’s scoring leaders all season long.

  • Semin was a -18 a season ago. This morning he is +17.

  • Ovechkin’s slump = over. Very. Nick Backstrom, too, looks like a different player from October. 

  • Mike Green does have a young, aggressive offensive defenseman’s propensity to cough up the puck, but he’s now a +10 on the young season. He is a joy to watch play. Please, please, let us not Larry Murphy (NHL Hall of Famer) him.

  • The Caps have won four straight, and all foes at the time of playing had winning records. This stretch goes a long way to washing away the concern of a conspicuously mediocre start through November 4. Consider, too, that some key cogs (Sergei Fedorov foremost among them) are out of the lineup. Ahead looms a home and home with New Jersey club that’s never been as vulnerable since Marty Brodeur became the Devils’ no. 1 between the pipes.   
This entry was posted in Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Brent Johnson, Carolina Hurricanes, Jose Theodore, Mike Green, Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to A Statement Game in a Two-Team Division Race

  1. How about a little appreciation for Flash. He looks great on the PK, always hustles and creates shorthanded chances on his own. Not to mention, in the past few games a lucky bounce, or more precision aiming, he’d have a few goals.

  2. Jessie says:

    excellent 60 FULL minutes of play from my favorite hockey team!!!! With the exception of the early season Pens game, I’ve never been so proud to call myself a Caps fan 🙂
    my only disappointment lies in Johnny’s injury…backup goalie for YEARS and FINALLY he’d gotten his chance to really show the hockey world what he’s got!!! Looking at his record for the season, he’d be ranked (with the number of qualifying games) 6th best goalie in the NHL…that’s better than 24 STARTING goalies! i want to keep seeing Johnson play instead of Theodore. The five hole is not nearly as big of a problem for Johnson as it is for Theodore, and he seems a lot less vulnerable to confidence issues (read: if he lets a puck slip past him, it doesn’t mess him up or shake him for the rest of the game). Johnson has also been a lot more consistent. I don’t know how noticeable this was to others, but the Caps played much more defensively with Theodore in net. Of course, there’s no excuse to not be playing so well on defense for all 60 minutes, but I think they did it more with Theodore because they don’t trust him as much as they do Johnny. And why should they? What they know of him so far is inconsistency. I want to see Johnson really get this chance he’s obviously worked so hard for!

  3. Dez says:

    You figure if Theodore doesn’t have to face the first two shots of the game against the Caps, he can’t let them in. After that he’s always been stellar..

  4. Jessie says:

    That’s not fair though! Theodore is good for periods two and three after the team’s been good enough to MAKE him confident. Johnny is confident REGARDLESS. He doesn’t let a goal against affect him. He is consistent. His percentage and GA are STELLAR. Why should someone who is stellar 2/3 of the time beat out someone who is stellar ALL the time? Because of an expensive contract??? Johnny is one of the main reasons, if not THE reason, the Caps have had a 4 game win streak; shouldn’t he be rewarded?

  5. Section 117 says:

    “Mike Green does have a young, aggressive offensive defenseman’s propensity to cough up the puck, but he’s now a +10 on the young season. He is a joy to watch play. Please, please, let us not Larry Murphy (NHL Hall of Famer) him.
    Here here.

  6. TG says:

    I don’t think we have to worry about the fans Larry Murphying him, mainly because this coach (and probably 95% of the coaches out there), wouldn’t insist that the power play consist of four guys passing it around/standing around so Green can shoot from the point. And not only does everyone on the team know that’s the plan, everyone on the OTHER team knows that’s the plan, and everyone in the STADIUM knows that’s the plan.
    I never understood how Murphy got blamed for that.

  7. Eric says:

    Re: Larry Murphy
    Another Flash fan here. As someone said after our beer league game Tuesday night, “He looks like Bondra before Bondra became a star.”

  8. Victor says:

    Amazing what happens when you shoot the puck instead of taking ONE. MORE. PASS.
    And I gotta go with all the Flash-love as well. He’s not playing like the guy who played here last season. If he keeps it up I’m gonna have to put him on my fantasy team.

  9. Flash is undoubtedly, finally, justifying the confidence that GMGM and Coach Boudreau have demonstrated in him. I don’t know if he’s a young Bondra quite yet, but he’s certainly an asset to the team.
    @ Victor, couldn’t have said it better myself regarding the over-passing. Particularly on the ice surface at Verizon, the “pretty” game does not serve the team particularly well.

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