Saturday, January 10, 2009

Oh Merd.

Capitals 4, Canadiens 5
Scoresheet - Wash Post

Lately when a game opens up for the Capitals, they have taken full advantage of their opportunities. Some of the most exciting games the Caps have played they have found a way to come out on top, but not tonight. Montreal seemed to always have an answer for the Capitals and in the end it was a goal that should have been a save that gives the Capitals their second straight loss.

Alex Semin found the scoresheet again netting two goals in this game (although one was off his leg). Micheal Nylander scored his first since scoring his late goal in Montreal (that went off his leg too). Tomas Fleischmann made a steller return scoring a goal for himself and Mike Green had a couple of assists.

The most frustrating part of the night had to be Brent Johnson's netminding. While he did come up with a couple of really big saves, it was two goals he should have had that did the Capitals in. The first one was the Habs shorthanded goal by Tomas Plekanec. Johnny has to make that save. It subsequently killed that offensive push the Caps had on the power play and when the Caps did regain the lead, it should have been 2-0, not 2-1.

The second goal Johnny should have had was the game winner. Milan Jurcina got the puck mixed up in his feet and Sergei Kostitsyn got a shot away as Jurcina was doing the two-step trying to find the puck. The puck never left the ice and slipped right under Johnson's pad. After looking at the replay, it's a tough one to watch. The puck just goes through Johnny's pad, like a bad Chris Angel magic trick. With just 22 seconds left in the game the Caps couldn't mount a comeback and they leave the Bell Centre empty handed.

While the outcome is disappointing, keep in mind that for the Capitals to be an elite team in the Eastern Conference they will have to play many tight games like this with other good teams. Sometimes those games end in a win, sometimes they will end with a foul taste in your mouth. That is part of being the best, you will get the best of every one else too. Overall the game was a pretty darn good one in a playoff-like atmosphere.

The Capitals need some work though if they want to keep on trying to be the best. The Caps power play was only 1 for 4, but every one of their man advantages could have swung momentum the Caps' way if they could have converted. On the PK side, they are still taking dumb penalties and good teams (like the Montreal Canadiens) will make you pay for it. They did by scoring twice out of six chances.

There were also some prime scoring opportunities early in the game that the Capitals should have capitalized on. Sometimes (cha, like all the time) the Caps are too cute for their own good. When a curl and drag should really be a shot on net, they sometimes curl and drag themselves right out of a shot. **News Flash** You can't score if you don't shoot (Wayne Gretzky taught me that).

So where does this leave the Capitals? Well, Bruce Boudreau is now free All-Star weekend and yet another Montreal Canadien will go (although, I really do think Guy Carbonneau is deserving of the honor as much as Gabby is). Florida (with another win) draws closer to the Capitals who are now ten points ahead of Carolina and eleven in front of the Panthers. While the lead looks impressive, if the Caps don't get points it could evaporate.

Photo AP, The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson

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