Sunday, March 14, 2010

Caps Win Without Ovechkin

Capitals 4, Blackhawks 3
Game Summary

Since everyone has their recaps up and most of you have read them, I am just going to give my 5 thoughts on the games.
  • Chicago never had an answer for Nick Backstrom. He had a spectacular game. I think if Alex Ovechkin had not hit Brian Campbell and been ejected (my thoughts on that in a bit) he could have easily scored at least two goals off of Backstrom feeds. His goal in overtime was astonishing. He even knew the hit was coming as he cut in the slot and he still put a perfect shot through Antti Niemi's 5 hole.
  • Eric Belanger was the only Capital with over 50% on his face off draws (he had 59%). The Caps were terrible in the face off circle and were 39% for the game. Dave Steckel was one who did not do well in draws, but his play right after Brooks Laich scored the power play goal was 100% pure hustle. He beat out the icing then found Eric Fehr wide open in front.
  • The Capitals do not have an exceptional defense. They just have an average one which is prone to make mistakes. It looked as if the Caps were playing a rover to cover Patrick Kane. Early in the game when both teams were down a man, Joe Corvo continued to shadow Kane, while Steckel came off the face off he went high to cover the point instead of low to cover Jonathan Toews who didn't move from the face off dot. 5 on 5, that strategy would have (and did) worked, but instead it leads to the first goal of the game for Chicago.
  • Jose Theodore played outstanding as in both games, you could not really fault the goaltending of either Theo or Semyon Varlamov. The difference between this game and the one before is the Caps work ethic in the third period. The Caps seemed to gain momentum off of hard work that finished off the second period and continued on into the third. When the Caps put on their hard hats, they are a tough team to beat.
  • The hit by Alex Ovechkin was unfortunate. It happened in a bad area of the ice and it caught Campbell off guard. Campbell passed the puck across his body to reverse the flow. Ovechkin was on the other side of the Hawk player and gave him a push at the wrong time. Campbell, who was already vulnerable having passed behind him had very little time to protect himself as he went into the boards. Ovi clearly knew the hit was bad, maybe even wrong once he looked back at an injured Campbell. He would be ejected from the game. Should have Ovi been kicked out of the game? It is a tough call, but I think the NHL crew got it right. Keeping Ovechkin in may create the game to get out of hand. At times, it was about to with Blackhawks looking to land that revenge blow.
All in all, I think the Caps had played well all game, despite a few mistakes that the Blackhawks took full advantage of. It is a good character win, and they can learn and grow from it I believe.

The Capitals next three games will be against divisional foes all on the road. The Caps have opened a 5 point lead in the overall league standings. They keep their 14 point lead over the Penguins in the Eastern Conference.

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