Thursday, December 18, 2008

Caps Home Dominance Continues

Capitals 4, Blues 2
Scoresheet - Wash Post

Caps fans may have been more interested in the Carolina/Florida game rather than the dominant Capitals taking on a struggling St. Louis Blues game. Not to say the building was full of rowdy fans looking for some Blues' blood. But the Southeast Division is starting to get a bit more competitive these days. As long as the Caps keep winning, the battle for second is just what those other teams will have to settle for. And the Capitals keep to true form getting their 20th win of the season, their fifth straight victory, and their 13th win at home.

Viktor Kozlov had a pretty good game, netting two goals and had an assist. I think the Capitals would like to see more offensive production out of him this year and tonight he had a big turn in that direction. Tomas Fleischmann added a nice goal of his own off of a Blues' defensive breakdown that had him wide open in front of the net and Eric Fehr hit him with a beauty pass. Alex Ovechkin got a powerplay tally that sealled the deal a mere 13 seconds into period three.

Unlike the game in Long Island, the Caps didn't let up in the third. It could have been easy too when St. Louis cut the lead to two with a powerplay tally. But the Caps kept their aggresive pressure up and the Blues comeback frittered away in the third.

That comeback was also stymied by rookie goaltender Simeon Varlamov who made some pretty big saves down the stretch in the third. He had some amazing saves to keep the lead at two when the Blues began to pressure him. Varlamov had to be sharp on a couple of defensive break downs by the Caps and when they needed a big save, he gave them one. Two starts, two wins. Not to shabby.

Mike Green might not be at a 100%, but some if his hits look like he is just fine. Against the Islanders he had a huge hit in the overtime period and in this game, midway through the third he drove a forechecker right into the net. To me he looked great, but he left early after re-aggravating his injury. For now he is questionable for Saturday against the Flyers.

Fleischmann had a great game and could have had three goals in this one. He made a couple of sneaky moves on some Blues' defenders but just couldn't finish the play. As he gains more confidence, I can see Flash doing much better than 30 goals this year.

Scary moment in the third when David Backes cross checked Alex Semin from behind. Forcing the winger to leave 9 minutes into the third period. Semin will be re-evaluated tomorrow, and may likely sit out against the Flyers. Semin already has missed 12 games with a back injury, so the hit did the Capitals no favors.

Now we get to the hard stuff. The Caps embark on a little road trip, but the foes they face will not be little. The Caps have a game versus the Philadelphia Flyers (who lost their game tonight to the Canadiens). I expect a wide open game and very, very physical.

The Flyers are not afraid to put the body on Ovechkin. The Caps have to be ready to battle. They also have to be ready to battle for the full 60 minutes. This Flyer team has a few great comebacks this year already, against very good teams. The Caps can not afford to take their foot off the pedal with this team.

Then if the Flyers weren't bad enough, the Caps have to face down the Rangers who find ways to score. While they may not be as physical as the Flyers will be, the Rangers will take advantage of the game following the Caps/Flyers and try to wear down the Caps. With both games on the road, I'd be happy if the Caps were able to sweep up at least 2 points.

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