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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Game ReCap---Surviving a Hurricane, or Three

So naturally we're all excited to see the new look Caps start their 38th NHL season.  So many expectations, so much buildup, so much to live up to....

So why was the first period so disappointing?  I mean it was nice to get the win, but I guess it wouldn't be the Caps if they didn't make us sit on edge for all 60+ minutes, eh?

It's not that they came out flat at least, they played inspired hockey and had a lot of good looks at the beginning.  Joel Ward in particular got off a good chance.  But overall the play could have been a lot less sloppy.  A for effort, C- for execution.  Michal Neuvirth looked a bit shaky in his first couple of tests, but soon calmed down. He sure did come up big when he had to.  More on this later.

Some other notables during the game:

I expected more out of the first line.  I didn't get much, at least not until much later into the game.  Can't really remember them even getting a quality chance until about five minutes into the third.  In fact, as a unit that's pretty much all they would muster.  It wasn't until they were broken up into their Power play units that the individual parts would begin to contribute.  Time to go juggling again, Gabster?

Speaking of special teams, not a bad overall effort from the Power Play--same story as the top line, slow start, but big finish.  And another Mike Green OT winner to top it all off.  However.....

the Penalty Kill MUST improve on their awful 2 for 4 effort tonight.  To be sure, not every night will be like this.  But when you were ranked among the league leaders last season, this isn't a good way to begin.  I didn't like what they were doing they were either running around too much or just standing still.  On both ends, special teams will be key to a long postseason, so we have to see more from the PK, and I don't mean Subban.

By the way--put a body on Staal next time!

If Alex Ovechkin is to get back to his 100+ point form, he'll obviously be doing it without the help of the on-ice officials.  He was tossed around like a rag doll at times, yet the refs may as well have broccoli in their hands instead of whistles.  Or it could have been a bit of jet lag.  As long as there's no lag when he plays the Jets.

OK, I admit it, Brooks Laich is a fine player.  But let's see him keep that spot on the #1 PP unit for the whole season.  If he can, we just might have something here.

Jason Chimera has taken a bit of heat for his inability to finish.  And he may not have last night, had it not been for his speed.  His momentum literally carried the puck over Brian Boucher's shoulder and into the net.

Good Sasha...damn good Sasha. (and a damn fine stretch pass from John Carlson)

Your Ice time leader?  Roman Hamrlik.  It only sounds weird until you consider the fact that he was Mike Green's partner for the night.  The question is will he be able to continue to keep on munching the minutes at his age?  I for one sure hope so--those guys looked pretty good out there.  Not to take anything away from the Alzner/Carlson pair who had a decent night themselves.

Matthieu Perreault got the nod over Marcus Johansson this night.  Look for the reverse Monday night against Tampa.  Matty P had the jump in his legs, but didn't quite make the impact he wanted.

Six hits from newcomer Troy Brouwer, which was to be expected...but I would have like to have seen more from the rest of the crew.  Later games should show more of this team's willingness to get down and dirty, at least they better.

You've got the like the fact that this is yet another character win--they fell behind, blew the lead not once but twice, then win it in OT.   A team building exercise you don't see in corporate training rooms.

Finally, for my money, the best player was Michal Neuvirth.  Sure he looked a bit shaky in the beginning, but quickly shook off the rust to turn away 28 of 31.  And two of those you can't really fault him for as the Penalty Kill failed to keep up with Carolina's attack.  Did anybody else see those two scary chances he flipped aside in the OT session?  Moneypuck.  Sick stops in the third when Carolina closed in.  And he's only the 1A goalie!

Game one is in the books...it wasn't pretty, but it was a win.  Eighty-two to go until the playoffs.

We'll take it.

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