Saturday, September 30, 2006

Caps Squeak Past Flyers

Capitals 1, Flyers 0

Kris Beech wrapped the puck around the net, Robert Esche was out of position, and the Flyers defense collapsed just enough for Beech to squirt the puck through. With 3:14 left in the game, Beech was the hero and the Caps improve their preseason record to 3-1-1. The Caps played a close scoreless game, and come out victors. This is a good sign that the Capitals are finding ways to win.

Compare that to a scoreless game last season, when the Caps were happy just to get the game into overtime. Now, they are putting the pressure on late in close games. Even before Beech’s game winner, the Caps were knocking on the door with good pressure on net, and using their speed for aggressive forechecks.

Brent Johnson grabs the shut out after a couple of spectacular stops. Every one were game saving saves. The defensive core looked faster and were able to use their speed to at the very least got them to the red line for quick dump-ins.

The Caps special teams were also something to watch. The ability to kill off a two minute, 5 on 3 was a turning point in the third period. While the penalty kill was impressive, the power play still looks a bit sloppy. The Caps are keeping the puck to the outside, which is good for puck control, but they have to find more movement to get the puck in to the slot for gold mine power play goals.

They certainly have the talent, now they need to execute. The Capitals do need to capitalize on their opportunities a little better. Even during some great attacks on net, the Caps sometimes will miss an open man with a better shot, or shoot it right into the goaltenders chest stopping play. As the chemistry grows for those on the power play, I expect to see some of those issues to clear up.

Capitals have a final preseason game against Carolina October 1st that will be a dress rehearsal for their home opener on the 7th. Caps will be facing a winless Carolina team in the preseason, so they must stay sharp.

In other news, Steve Konowalchuk’s career has been snubbed short by a disease that can lead to irregular heart rhythms. The former Capital, now Colorado Avalanche retired amid concerns of his health after tests showed positive for Long QT Syndrome. Konowalchuk made the decision in a written statement stating that family came first. I wish him the best, and will miss his seeing him on the ice.

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