My apologies for not being on in a while...couldn't even get to the computer for a plethora of different reasons. None of those are worth going on about here.
Not that I could figure out what I was going to say anyway. What DO you say after a pair of losses where you can question just about everything your team does? It wouldn't be inaccurate at all to say that, yes, Tim Thomas played two fantastic games in net for the Bruins. He wasn't quite a one-man band but I'm sure quite a few of his stops will make the highlight reel.
Not that it's a legitimate excuse in the eyes of the big boss himself, Ted Leonsis. In one of his recent Ted's Take posts, he took himself and the team to task for not producing a better result. And he explicitly said that the "hot goalie" excuse was no longer valid. Good for him, I say. You can't take away what Thomas did, but the team's overall performance still left a lot to be desired. I'm sure that's what Mr. Leonsis was getting at. Average team indeed. Yes I would say that is an accurate assessment.
Let me mention something else, I'm damn glad the Caps won last night. You always want a win to come with the team playing "their" game, but a win is still a win. Only thing was, it took quite a bit just to get to that win. Last year, this dominated their opponents with an overwhelming offense. This year, well, it's more like they're "gutting it out" for wins--reaching deep down late in games to pull it out. Winning games like this will pay dividends later on in the year. It will also accelerate the learning curve of the rookies and younger guys who will learn form that experience exactly what it takes to win in clutch situations. As great as some Caps teams were over the last three decades, none of them displayed this much in terms of character--something that carries as much value as talent.
I will dispense with my usual recap of last night's game and instead tackle several points I think are important:
Mike Green was a surprise lineup addition to the game, but it soon became apparent that he was going to see very limited duty. When he hopped over the boards for the team's first power play, it was a nice thing to see. Mrs. Blueliner pointed out within a few seconds that Green was obviously not 100%. I asked her how she could tell. She said because he wasn't shooting. Sure enough he never once let go his patented point shot. Maybe once or twice he did the walk-in-and-fling-a-wrister, but no real hard shot.
Don't get me started about that non- goal either. I'm not one to espouse conspiracy theories, but has anyone else notice that anytime there's been a replay situation so far this year, the Toronto office has ruled against the Capitals? We're talking about yet another play that literally could have gone either way depending upon the interpretation of the rule. I for one didn't think there was a "distinct kicking motion" that the rule spells out. It was more like a distinct stopping motion of a skate blade. But I'm not an NHL official.
I'll get this in here while I can, because I'm actually going to dedicate a whole post to the man, but: MATTHIEU PERRAULT MATTHIEU PERRAULT MATTHIEU PERRAULT!!!!!!!
Now, about the other call-up from Chocolate-town....Jay Beagle. I'll start by admitting my bias here--I just plain don't like him. I'm sure he's a great team guy and all that but in the admittedly cup of coffee amount of time he's had with the team, he's yet to impress me even in the slightest. For the life of me I can't think of anything. So his stats from last night: 6:37 TOI, no shots, no points, a minus one, and one really stupid penalty. Like I said, largely forgettable. If this guy is supposed to be Boyd Gordon's fill-in, he's got one hell of an uphill climb before he earns the respect that Gordon has.
Another yuck--the top line laid another egg last night though the overall effort at least made it look better. From what I hear Mike Knuble at least took the reins and tore into the team after the first period. Somebody had to--they just looked lost out there. But once again, lots of shots, no goals to show for it. Ditto for the power play. At least as far as goals that actually made it to the scoreboard, that is. Sooner or later all that effort will pay off. I'm betting on sooner than later. You don't tug on Superman's cape, you don't spit into the wind, and you don't keep Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom off the scoresheet for very long. Doesn't roll off the tongue but you get the idea.
One Jim that did get messed with out there was the Thrashers' Jim Slater. He looked like one of these:
Obviously I'm not talking about the band.
One other member of the Thrashers that was a true dummy Dustin Byfuglien. What as a big bad 260 lb. forward are you doing throwing an elbow at a goalie? Did you even try to get out of the way? Do you feel like a man now? Hope you enjoyed watching the game from the locker room you bucket of crap!
Ok...done...calming down now. But if you saw it you'll agree that Byfuglien's hit on Neuvirth was beyond illegal. The guy didn't even bother trying to get out of the way. But the worst of it was the Caps' response. Much has been made of this over at Japers and for good reason. David Steckel, who, other than his faceoff talents has been a minor disappointment so far this year, just sort of nudged him halfheartedly. Byfuglien just shoved him aside like he was nothing. To the rescue rode John Erskine who charged in from across the ice and laid the smack down on him but good. It capped a nice send off as Byfuglien was kindly asked to exit the game for good having earned a match penalty for charging.
A word about John Erskine...there's been much negativity directed his way for his results. I say, yes, you can complain about his results, but you cannot question his effort. Let no one look upon his as nothing less than a team player. Besides, he's part of that element of toughness that rounds the team out nicely.
So to wind things up, Matty P gets two assists, Semin gets the hat trick and Tomas Fleischmann of all people gets the game winner in OT. How you like him now, folks? What do I keep telling you, eh? RESULT, RESULT, RESULT.
The rest of the story to be written in later games. I know this much, though. Watching the first line is like waiting for a timebomb to explode...with no timer. Matthieu Perreault will keep up his efforts and earn the spot he deserved at the beginning, mark my words. Mike Green will return and pump up the still-anemic power play. Neuvirth will continue to steal games, and this team will continue on its crazy up-and-down ride and into a winning record for the month.
Enjoy the ride, not necessarliy from Acela Express.