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Friday, November 11, 2011

Recap 11/11 vs New Jersey: Garden State Gamesmanship

While you may not like the convoluted way they got there, you have to love the Caps' return to the winning track.  I could be brief and take only one sentence to describe it all:  Subpar first period, so-so second period (featuring Alex Ovechkin's goal), fantastic finish (Jason Chimera's winner plus Marcus Johansson's follow up).  But I think you all know me better than that as I put my powers of observation to the test.  So with that, here's my take on the win:

Might as well get it all out of the way since it's on all our minds--I'm sure we all gave a collective pucker when Mike Green got hurt in the first period after a collision with the Devils' Ryan Carter. Japers' Rink calls the hit questionable.  I call it downright reckless--the guy had his knee out. Whatever the case, Green's status is once again the same as it was a few days ago--not going to play, so we'll give it a few days.

By the way, in the rematch in our house the Caps need to come out hitting--hard.  Especially by putting a body on both Carter and David Clarkson.  Those two hooligans took too far many liberties without an answer for my liking.

Much is being made of Alex Semin and Cody Eakin becoming the newest members of Boudreau's Benchwarmer Brigade.  I must admit I didn't quite see what Eakin did (or didn't do) to earn the trip, but another Bad Sasha penalty certainly took away the Bruce's smile for a while.  Being a minus one on the first goal probably didn't help his case either.  Most of the other Caps went hard to the net.  Not Sasha.  The Bruce's rule #1--play it my way or you sit.  Tough love indeed, but you cannot argue with the result.

Speaking of results and going hard to the net, it's no coincidence all three goals came as a result of crashing the net.  Ovechkin's opener was a rebound that saw him go with his gut--literally.  Chimera was part power move, part blazing speed, all hard work.  And Johansson's insurance marker was yet another example of his wonderful touch--within ten feet of the net.  All in all, the Caps only put 20 shots on net. I'm thinking that perhaps Semin's benching was perhaps something of a tactical decision as well as a message-sender.  Semin's skills may well have been wasted against the Devils' stifling defense.

The true turning point of the game--when the Caps' penalty kill dug deep and fended off those back-to-back chances at the start of the third period.  Of course that included Chimera's eventual game winner.  But even if it is against one of the worst power play units in the league, you have to be able to rely on your penalty killers in a situation like that.

Maybe we shouldn't be so quick to praise the Caps' reinvigorated third period play.  According to the box score, they gave up 16 shots.  It's a damn good thing Evil Kounevil turned away every single one of them. Then again, the Caps' shooters were far more efficient, netting two goals on only four shots.  We should all be so lucky.  Odds are that kind of result won't happen all that often.  Keep the shot totals down, gents, or suffer the consequences.  Like what happened against Dallas.

Whether it was John Walton's call on the drive home or Joe B when I got in, I was hearing far too much of this kid Adam Larsson's name in the play-by-play.  Thank God Captain Ovi finally nailed him at his own blue line and essentially shut him up for the rest of the game.  Need more hard hits like that.

Mentioned the radio call and I sure was surprised to hear a mistake...but not from John Walton. Ben Raby momentarily forgot all about Jeff Halpern being on the fourth line in the intermission recap.  But he recovered nicely when he called it his own "Rick Perry moment."  The only way THAT guy will ever see the White House is if he pays to go on the tour.

Another reason I'm bummed about Mike Green's injury:  I was anticipating the debut of the Shrek pairing.  What's the Shrek pairing you ask?  Why it's a Green Wideman, of course.  Yes I've been saving that one for a bit.

Every serious hockey observer has their "pet peeve" statistic, a stat they think is convoluted (there I go again!) and doesn't have the meaning that others attach to it.  With me, it's faceoff statistics.  Japers Rink likes to point it out for just about every game and that's fine.  While I do understand it has its place, I just don't think it's all that important because in hockey, possession changes hands so quickly, especially when all it takes is a shot.  So to me that pretty much negates the so-called importance of winning a faceoff, at least in the offensive zone.  Sorry if that oversimplifies it for some of you, but that's how I see it.  That said, if there's anything to dislike about Marcus Johansson's game (and that list is dwindling with each game I have to say) it was his 28.6% faceoff percentage.  If this were Kindergarten, that would earn you a Mr. Yuk sticker.

Just have to toss one more in here--Brooks Laich was one of the few players who posted a minus mark.  Guess the ol' Swiss Army Knife could use a bit of sharpening.  But at least he wasn't benched.  Maybe he ought to ask Matt Hendricks if he was seeing double.

The rematch comes home in less than 24 hours.  Everybody get a good night's sleep and come hard at it tomorrow.  And let's all thank our Veterans for all they've done this 11th.

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