Saturday, April 19, 2008

Not Dead Yet

Game 5 - Capitals 3, Flyers 2 - PHI Leads 3-2
Scoresheet - Wash Post - Wash Times - - Game Quotes

Due to an earlier planned engagement, I was not able to see the game live. Afterwards I ran home, ears plugged, refusing to answer my phone, and sat in front of my Tivo to watch the Capitals try to stave off elimination and stay alive in their first round playoff series with the Flyers. Let's hope it didn't go to overtime, stupid Tivo timer!

To be honest, I had prepared myself for the worse (often what most Caps' fans seem so good at). What I got in return was finally a game where the Capitals played their game. It's about time to see the Caps finally get into the intensity of the NHL playoffs. The power play finally makes the Flyers pay.

Nicklas Backstrom scored on the first 5 on 3 powerplay with a nice feed from Alex Semin. Semin scored on the power play for the game winner, but I thought Sergei Fedorov's goal, a back hander early in the second was the back breaker. The Caps had forced the play to linger in the Flyers zone for a while and it paid off, with Viktor Kozlov getting the primary assist and finally getting on the scoresheet. Mike Green also had a pair of assists as well.

Alex Ovechkin's name may not be anywhere on the scoresheet, but he presence was felt on the ice. Ovie drew the hooking call early to give the Caps a 5 on 3 for Backstrom's goal, and he laid some pretty heavy hits through out the game. The Caps physical play has picked up from game 4, where in the first minute both Semin and John Erskine were called for roughing minors.

But unlike in game 4, the calls finally came against the Flyers. Hooks were finally called and the Flyers found themselves in the box a bit more that they wanted to be. Thankfully, the Caps powerplay was able to take advantage.

The Caps' defense is finally getting into some playoff intensity, with big hits by Shaone Morrisonn, Mike Green and John Erskine. The blueliners also kept their turnovers down, which is key playing against a team defense like the Flyers. The physical play took the Flyers off their game, even if they did have chances, Cris Huet seemed to have the answer.

Huet rebounded from a couple of rough starts, but the team in front of him were completely different than in the first three games. Shots for the Flyers were down to a minimum and Huet was able to gobble up any that did get through. The only concern I have is the Caps' nonchalant play after they score a goal. It seemed the Flyers were able to get some golden opportunities following goals.

Mike Knuble took a tumble in the second and now has a hamstring injury. He is most likely out for the rest of the series for the Flyers. The Capitals have one less weapon to worry about, but Danielle Briere and Vinny Prospal have to be held in check a bit better. The Caps did a good job of getting under Prospal's skin. It's the best way to knock him off his game since Prospal is such an emotional player. Matt Bradley played the pest role to a tee in game 5.

My only advice to this point is don't stop. The Caps have the pressure on the Flyers right now. The series shifts back to Wachovia Center, where the Flyers aren't an easy bunch to beat there lately. But that has been the mantra of the Capitals this season; with their backs against the wall, they have played their best hockey.

No comments: