Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Hurricanes Downgraded To A Stiff Wind

Capitals 4, Hurricanes 1
Scoresheet - Wash Post - Wash Times - News Ob (Raleigh)

What a night indeed! The Washington Capitals could not compromise on this night, no three point game here. They needed the win. More than just winning, they needed to send a message: "We are not out of this yet!" The Hurricanes couldn't match the intensity and they started to crack. And the Capitals capitalized.

Matt Cooke opened the scoring with a rebound sweep that just crept inside the post. Then powerplay goals by Brooks Laich and Alex Semin. On a broken play, Alex Ovechkin scored his 63rd goal matching Luc Robitaille for most goals by a left winger in a season. And Cris Huet shut the door only allowing a single goal (and even that was a bit flukey). Huet ends up with the first star and his seventh straight win. Mike Green and Sergei Fedorov both had a pair of assists.

But the win came at a cost. Shaone Morrisonn made a quick exit with an "upper body" injury. With his head down he was checked hard by a 'Cane player toward the end of the first period. The Caps had to finish the game with only 5 defensemen, and that was stretched when both Milan Jurcina and John Erskine were in the box. But the remaining players stepped up and Huet stopped whatever came his way.

Semin played one of his best games in a Caps sweater. He set the tone early by catching Eric Staal with his head down and put the big forward down on his butt. He added a powerplay goal and seemed to dominate play whenever he was on the ice. It was by far the most physical game I have seen him play ever. His play mimic the Caps' attack that was relentless often pressing the 'Canes deep in their zone for minutes at a time.

The 'Canes also took some bad penalties since they couldn't match the Caps intensity and aggressiveness. Peter Laviolette even lost his cool a little bit after the Caps crept up to 3-1 lead on a Semin powerplay goal. But Carolina was just outworked in this one. And the Red Out had a lot to do with that as well.

The Verizon Center crowd were loud and crazy. Imposing indeed. After Cooke scored the first goal, you would have thought the roof was going to cave in. They gave their home team a standing ovation at the end of the first period, and shouted "M-V-P" when Ovie picked up his 63rd and giving Bruce Boudreau his due with a standing ovation for him too when his image flashed on the big jumbotron.

While this win is HUGE, with a capital H-U-G-E, the Caps work is not done. Two more games, and hoping, praying, wishing that someone falters in the waning days of the season. The next two will be no walking the park either. Tampa on Thursday and Florida on Saturday. And these won't be easy games. The Caps have to continue their little run to make no doubt that they have done everything they could do to clinch a playoff berth.

11 comments:

Bryan said...

w00t, what a game! wonder where most of these "fans" were throughout the season. GO CAPS!

dmg said...

I agree....I mean I hate to be pretentious but it does irritate me a little that suddenly everyone loves hockey now that the Capitals are good.

Except for my mom, because I think the fact that she's now watching hockey is adorable.

Anonymous said...

Well, the Caps weren't exactly the most exciting team to watch early on this year...as a dedicated hockey fan, I don't miss a game on TV or in person as much as possible. But I'll admit to making even more effort now because we're playing exciting, hard-hitting intense hockey. So much fun to watch...

Bryan said...

Anonymous-

No matter if the Caps were or weren't exciting in the beginning of the season, as a rule of thumb for being a supporter, you have to stick with your club through thick and thin and in good times and bad. The fact is, DC is aching for any sports team to be a winner lately, except maybe DC United since we take that team for granted. Heck, I was at the Nats-Os exhibition game on Sat. night, while wearing my Caps hat and Nats jersey and saw 2 out of 34,000 + in attendance who had Caps gear on (even though the Caps were playing a critical game against the lowly Panthers, instead of a frivolous exhibition game). It is these sheepish fans that come out of the woodwork to support the Nationals b/c of a new stadium (and hope) and also when the Capitals start making noise and marching towards the playoffs.

Garrett said...

I think there is some truth in what Anonymous said. I would be more disappointed in the fans if they didn't turn out for this all important game. Unfortunately that is just how this city is, I mean look at the Wizards, no one showed up until Arenas started dropping game winning threes, suddenly there are a lot more so called "lifetime" fans showing up at the games. Its frustrating I know.

Bryan said...

We have an NBA team?

Bryan said...

Also, kudos for linking the Carolina newspaper article. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Imagine, 10yrs ago, Carolinians didn't know what hockey was.

Anonymous said...

Bryan,

I should clarify - I don't disagree with the previous statements. I just wanted to point out that you can be a fan and step up the intensity when it gets really interesting. I'm willing to bet there are a lot of supporters (talking just Caps here) that have renewed interest in the team. Great players, steller coaching, and, as pointed out, good marketing. And now playoff hopes and one of the league's most exciting players.

That said, I don't care much for baseball, or football, and I have heard rumors of basketball here as well. Even if any of those teams were doing fantastic, I might cheer for them and hope they do well, but wouldn't count myself as a fan. Likewise with the region's NCAA hopes - fun to root for the home team, but not exactly sporting the gear.

Now DC United - that's another story. Best fans of any sporting event, ever. I love going to games to feed off of the energy. It was great to see the phone booth like that this week.

ken (anon above)

Anonymous said...

By the way, great blog. It's been my top choice all season. Long time reader, first time commentor...(guess it's those playoff hopes!)

kb

Bryan said...

ken,

i'm a sports fanatic and try to follow the caps, nats and a little bit of united (not too much though). the sporting interest has carried over when i spent most of my life in NY and moved down here and I find this is the easiest way to be immersed in DC culture, so I guess you can see where my interest differs than yours but all in all, am glad that you and a lot of casual fans are following the caps closely in the latter stages of the season. GO CAPS!

Bryan said...

there is no excuse for the Caps to come out flat tonight against the Bolts. Especially after Philly losing in regulation and Boston losing in the shootout, playoffs are still possible. The blood is in the water! Don't let up! GO CAPS!