Friday, October 10, 2008

Not The Best Of Starts

Capitals 4, Thrashers 7
Scoresheet - Wash Post - AJC

The Washington Capitals didn't get the best of starts tonight as they fell early 3-0, fought their way back to a 4-4 tie, only to surrender another 3 goals in the third. In a wild scoring affair the Caps drop their season opener to the Atlanta Thrashers, a team that is not expected to do much, 7-4.

Scoring for the Caps were Alex Semin, David Steckel with a shortie and Mike Green who scored two on the power play including the game tying goal. Jose Theodore continued to look uncomfortable in net and was pulled in the second after giving up 4 goals. Brent Johnson came in and looked much better, but still surrendered three in the third. The Caps out shot their rivals 43 - 31.

This game was all about the Caps' stellar play in the second period sandwiched between absolutely horrible first and third periods. The Caps started their season the same way they ended last year, yielding a powerplay goal. The first Caps' penalty was a tripping call against Tom Poti. Yes, the same Tom Poti that was called for tripping in overtime of game 7 against the Flyers. In both cases, the opponent scored on the ensuing power play. Coincidence?

The Caps start was good. They were working hard for pucks, keeping within their system. Then when an early goal that was disallowed because of a high stick from Brooks Laich off a point shot from Green stopped the Caps momentum as the play went to review. That delay helped the Thrashers get over some opening night nerves. Then at 8:20 in the first period on the power play, the the dizzy birds were given a gift wrapped rebound off of a nice stop by Theodore. From that moment on, the Thrashers picked up some confidence and jumped to a 3-0 lead.

Bruce Boudreau had to call a time-out to settle his own crew down, and Semin scored the first goal of the '08-'09 season off a nice wrister from the top slot soon after. They seemed to gain some momentum back late in the first and in the second, cutting the Thrasher to 3-2. But after Steckel's short handed goal, the boys in blue got it right back on the same power play.

Theodore was pulled after only seeing about 30 minutes of ice time. He mishandled the puck, miscommunicated with his D-men, he couldn't control rebounds and looked shaky in net. Whatever transpired in the Bruins preseason game seemed to carry over. In no way did he look as he did in Colorado.

Johnny didn't expect to replace Theodore. "We can't have third-period shortcomings like that when the game is tied," Johnson told reporters after the game, "You don't want to be in that position. You don't want that to happen to your partner." Theodore was not available for comment after the game.

It looked as if the Caps were back in control after Johnson was put in. Johnny made some spectacular saves and the Caps took advantage of a double minor for Marty Reasoner's high stick. Green scored both power play goals as the Caps special teams finally came through in a pinch. The Caps were only 2 of 7 though, their penalty kill was dismal allowing Atlanta 3 goals in 9 chances.

Start of the third it looked like the Caps were going to take the lead and eclipsing a 3 goal deficit on a Alex Ovechkin penalty shot after Toby Enstrom covered the puck in the Thrasher crease. But Kari Lehtonen deflected the shot. And the Thrashers took advantage of some poor neutral zone miscues.

Things got chippy in the end, as they always seem to do when the Caps play Atlanta. Boudreau did not look like a happy camper throughout the whole game, maybe sensing his guys were not putting forth the effort needed. "There were too many guys not doing their job," Boudreau said. "When you don't do your job, anyone can score seven goals." I think it's going to be a long plane ride back for the Caps.

So it's just one game, right. Maybe this is a wake up call that the Capitals have to do better than before. Some bright spots, Alex Semin played well, although I would like to see him dish it to an open guy once and awhile. Tomas Fleischmann had a couple of good chances, but needs to find a way to finish. Mike Green was good in this game, netting two goals on the power play. Outside of that, there wasn't much good to be found on the Capitals season opener. But hey, the Caps are still tied with Tampa.

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