Aaaaand up we go once again on the roller coaster known as the Washington Capitals 2011-12 season. At least you can't complain about the result. This was nearly a carbon copy of the game against Nashville. One wonders whether or not they can make more like these. Observations are nigh......
The lone goal that was given up--Have we or have we not seen this before? Hard shot from the point, which results in a block. This is turn results in a turnover into the neutral zone, which in turn results in an odd-man rush the other way. End result? Puck in the back of the Capitals' net and the sound of 18,000-plus people letting out a frustrated groan. Again. Might want to try faking those shots sometimes, boys.
Otherwise it was a pretty good game between two teams that seem similar on paper. Some speed, a good transition game, star power at the forward position. Although I wonder what the result would have been had Coach Tortorella decided to start Henrik Lundquist instead of Martin Biron.
How about Sasha Semin? Good indeed! Did he look motivated or what? That was no doubt his best all-around game ever. Backcheck and forecheck, he did it all. What more can you ask? Oh yeah goals--in this case two of them! Ably set up by his partner in crime, El Capitano himself, he had his first of what I'm praying will be many multiple-goal games this season.
Another Capital who was on a mission was Tomas Vokoun. Remember him? You won't forget now after his latest effort--31 stops on 32 shots. He stopped just about everything that came his way. All of the easy ones he should have gotten and all of the tough ones he needed to get. Most importantly he was clutch in the third period, stopping all 15 shots that came at him. Does he want his job back? I would say yes. He and Michal Neuvirth may both be Czech, but they're certainly not brothers.
While not the first, second, or third star, he played like he should have been one of the three. I'm talking about Jeff Halpern of course. It was his hard work that led to Marcus Johansson's opener and he also had a hand in the game-winning goal by Troy Brouwer. He's continuing to surge in importance and keeps showing why he deserves his extra ice time. He's a gopher, scooping the puck out from wherever to either kill off a cycle when on defense or create chances when on offense. Here's a thought--you can have him at center, put him with a winger that can move the puck like say a Jason Chimera or a Brooks Laich. Put those two together with Mike Knuble for some extra havoc in front of the net and you just might have something there. No, my last name is not "Hunter."
Speaking of Knuble, I have to join the chorus that is collectively scratching its head over the man's ice time. Last night he got only 9 minutes and 25 seconds of playing time. Only the returning Jay Beagle got less. I like so many others haven't the foggiest why this continues to be. Unless of course the logic is to save him for a late season push. By which time it may be a too-late season push.
Karl Alzner may not have had his best games recently, but the man is still a stud. Case in point--last night he finished a plus three, the highest of all Capitals in the game and added an assist. Forget that first penalty--in my opinion it was suspect to say the least. Add in his four blocked shots and he still had a hell of a game. Makes me feel bad that I tried to trade him recently. No, my last name is not "Milbury."
Dennis Wideman meanwhile had a relatively quiet game for his game-high 25:47 TOI.. This excludes that elbowing call he took, of course. All things considered, I guess that's a good thing.
It's good to know that when Jason Chimera doesn't score, there are others who can. Even if if takes them several chances after missing open nets like Troy Brouwer did. Sorry Troy, had to toss that one in there!
The Penalty Killers got their swagger back. They almost let one in towards the end but got a break when Ryan Callahan momentarily forgot he was playing for the Rangers and not the New York Red Bulls. Five PP chances for the Rangers (some very much deserved, others, not so much) and they killed them all.
Brad Richards of the Rangers had a terrible night, finishing minus three and getting just four shots on goal. Not to mention getting run over by Alex Ovechkin which led to Semin's first goal. This tells me that Dale Hunter was able to take advantage of having the last change to get the matchup he wanted. Now if only we could get a similar result on the road, where the team has a certain, shall we say, phobia about winning. Not easy but they have to find a way to get things turned around.
Spectacular game overall in front of the home crowd. And here I go again: I'm happy with the result of course, but we have seen this before. They get a big win again a club ahead of them in the standings, then a letdown in the next game. Sp pardon my skepticism, but let's see some wins strung together before we get too excited this time.
So here's my final question--do we keep riding up the hill or are we headed for another huge, stomach-turning dip?
PS---I and my co-workers would like to take this time to thank Alexander Semin and Papa John's for the reduced price pizza!