Saturday, October 05, 2013

Tough Loss In The Big "D"

Capitals 1, Stars 2
Game Summary, Event Summary

It was a great start for the Washington Capitals, taking an early 1-0 lead on their power play only to see their woes at even strength continue as they lose in Dallas against the new look Stars.

Alex Ovechkin scored again on the power play, giving him a three game goal streak. Three of his four tallies have been with the extra man. Braden Holtby easily outplayed his counterpart Kari Lehtonen making some spectacular saves down the stretch to keep his team in it.

Nick Backstrom had a goal disallowed after incidental contact as he cross checked Lehtonen in the face as the puck dropped in behind the Dallas goal keeper. The no goal decision by the officials proved costly for the team in red, as a bad turn over led to a Alex Chiasson goal to give the Stars the lead and the eventual game winner.

The Caps had real trouble with the Stars forecheck. Their team speed was tough for the Caps to handle to even clear the puck from their own zone. The physical play of the Stars also kept the Caps off kilter.

Five on five play by the Capitals was dismal and it needs to take advantage of teams not wanting to face their power play. Instead of moving their feet and finding the open guy, the Caps seem dead set on making the same break out plays and allowing the other team to stand them up at the opposing blue line.

What is good about a game like tonight is that all the woes the Capitals faced are fixable. The decisions the defenders in their own end needed to be faster and more confident with moving the puck up. With as good as this team on the power play, it seems to wane at even strength.

Caps get a few days off to re-group and face their first divisional foe on Thursday in Carolina.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Come Back Caps

The Washington Capitals took the long way to get their first win if the season, but they overcame a 3-0 hole the Calgary Flames put them in to win their home opener 5-4 in the shoot out. A roller coaster game, much like their season opener in Chicago except the better out come, the Caps overcame a lethargic, sloppy first where the Flames just out worked the good guys in their barn. 

My 10 thoughts on the home opener:

1. Conner Carrick continues to impress. After a bit of an overwhelming moment in Chicago, the kid scored his first career goal when he jumped from the sin bin and Marcus Johansson fed him a break away pass. He would be the first Capital to score a first career goal in the home opener since Alex Ovechkin scored two in his NHL debut. 

2. I miss Dennis Wideman. 

3. Michal Grabovski is really playing like a born again forward. Let's hope it lasts. He had a great pass in the middle of chaos to Nick Backstrom for the thing goal. That guy is going to get a pay raise. 

4. Jack Hillen just can't catch a break. After an injury that put him out for 25 games last season, Hillen to a hard (legal) hit and it looked as if his knee buckled. He left the game and did not return. It is expected he will miss a substantial number of games. 

5. Alex Ovechkin is not through making noise yet. He scored a pair of goals, one on the power play and one at even strength. He also iced his shoot out attempt. He has three goals through 2 games and looks like he is primed to score a lot under the new Adam Oates system. 

6. Braden Holtby is off to a shaky start. While the third goal was not his fault, Holtby failed to challenge the shooter on the previous two. He wasn't out front, squaring up and challenging the shooter. He was passive and he sat deep in his net. He was replaced by Neuvirth who stepped in and made some key late game saves to get the Caps into the shoot out realm. 

7. Martin Erat's line didn't see much action in the third period. Oates shortened his bench to get his team back into the game. Don't read into it much as that line is used more in a defensive capacity anyway. 

8. The Caps are 12-2-1 in home openers at Verizon Center. 

9. Tom Wilson stood up for his teammate Hillen after the hit. It's a good teammate thing to do, but instead if charging the Capitals up, they were flat for some time after the altercation. Things did get chippy between the two teams that hardly see each other. 

10. Both the Caps' power plays and penalty kills were top notch. The Caps are 5 for 9 with the extra man, while the PK held when it needs to. 

Capitals faced yet another Western Conference foe when they travel to Dallas to take on the Stars. Caps must continue to tighten up their defensive game 5 on 5 as well as limit their turn overs.