Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Bolt Killer

Capitals 4, Lightening 3 OT/SO

In their OLN debut, the Washington Capitals made the most of their number one star when they need him the most, Alexander Ovechkin. The Capitals faced another game of hard work with no scoring to show for it, but Ovechkin only needed one goal to change the whole game. And this time it was on national television (or only as national OLN gets).

The Lightening scored twice in the second period and it looked to be a rout. Until Ben Clymer’s seemingly innocent back hand to the net. It took me a couple of looks later on tape to see that it had really gone in. Going into the second break the Caps only trailed by 1 goal.

If the first two periods of this game looked a bit boring, the third period was a completely different story. The Lightening thought they had put the nail in the coffin by Fredrik Modine’s second goal of the night, making in 3-1. I looked over to my wife on the couch and told her we only needed one goal.

It was the first game that special teams actually worked in favor for the Capitals. A power play goal by Byran Muir from a nice feed from Andrew Cassels and the Caps were within one. If the Caps could get the score within one, their hard work would have to pay off sooner or later. In steps the Bolt killer himself, Ovechkin.

He had about 3 or 4 great chances, each time the puck deflected away or was saved by Sean Burke. Each time he attacked the net with reckless abandon, including a scary moment where Ovechkin’s feet were taken from under him by a Tampa Bay defender (not sure who) and he slammed hard into the boards. He laid there, behind the net, for a few seconds. We he jumped up the crowd let out a sigh of relief.

Then, 1 on 3, Ovechkin powers his way toward the net again. This time with great speed and unbelievable control, the Capital forward made a one in a million shot over Burke’s shoulder and tying the game with 1:15 to go. I literally jumped off the couch freaking out my wife. Overtime.

The Caps and the Lightening both had opportunities on the power play in the extra period but failed to capitalize. Ovechkin once again made the most of his national exposure by scoring a laser of shot over Burke’s glove to score the only shoot out goal. Brent Johnson, in the net for injured Olaf Kolzig, made I thought the biggest play of the night. On the last Tampa Bay shooter, Pavel Kubina, Johnson poke checked the puck away, not even allowing a shot.

Overall Grade: B+

An exciting game for sure, but still the Caps defense core is especially weak against hard forechecking. The Capitals did improve their situation by staying out of the penalty box, only committing 4 penalties, 2 of them in the final minutes of overtime. For the most part this was the Ovechkin show, which is alright by me.

How great was it to see Joe Beninati take the reigns for play by play on OLN! Hey, where was Craig Laughlin? At first I thought my eyes deceived me, “No way does Laughlin looks that good on national television! Oh wait, it’s Brian Ingblom.”

Game Operations gets a F--- (yes that is 3 minuses). Instead of playing Gary Glitter after the Caps scored (which is tradition, am I wrong?), they played that god awful tune from the Vonage Commercials (you know the one, with all the woo-hoo, woo-hoo hoo hoos). Bad, bad, bad. Every time they get a good thing going they screw it up. Again, we are trying to attract fans, not turn them away.

Wash Post picks up the details. And you can see clips and the post game wrap up on OLN’s website.

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