Now THAT was definitely more like it!
Four goals on the power play? Unbelievable. And a tour de chapeau by Dennis Wideman. Never have I been prouder to call my blog the Power Play Point as that's exactly where he scored all three goals from.
Yes I understand it's still possible that Wideman's third goal could still be credited to Brooks Laich, but let me enjoy the moment, OK? OK.
Speaking of Brooks, he was this game's unsung hero. Anyone else see the punishment he took as the the traffic man in front of the Toronto net? Especially on Nicklas Backstrom's game winner? That's more of that classic Dale Hunter-style of play working there--get traffic in front, then get it to the net. As just about every hockey announcer who has ever parked his or her rear end behind a microphone has said: "Get it on net and good things will happen." So if you want goals.......
If there was any doubt about whether or not Jeff Schultz was in Coach Hunter's doghouse, there isn't now. Less than five minutes on the ice against Ottawa and a healthy scratch tonight. This is more than the new coach assessing what he's got--he's clearly made his choice. Unfortunately, we're stuck with him and his $2.7 million cap hit for another two years. I have to say I'm not the least bit surprised by any of this. Schultz's style of play doesn't exactly instill fear in the opposition for such a big man. It was thought that he could be a newer version of Hal Gill, but he's just never learned to use his body to shut down opposing forwards the way Gill does. Can anyone say "buyout"? Or "bad contract"?
In our "Man Bites Dog" department, Alexander Semin got yet another hooking penalty...I'm yawning already. To his credit, he did draw the high-sticking penalty against Colby Armstrong that led to the game winning goal. Conveniently enough, the secondary assist went to Semin. Take the Bad Sasha with the Good Sasha.
Both Jeff Halpern and Marcus Johansson had subpar performances in the faceoff circle. But we're not going to make a big deal about that. Because, well...it isn't.
Haven't had much to say lately about Tomas Vokoun. That's because I was taught that when you don't have anything nice to say, you say nothing at all. He was shaky again on the first goal, something about those sharp angle shots seem to be stumping him. I'm sure Messers Prior and Kolzig are working with him on that one. Otherwise, while he may not be spectacular, he been solid at least for the last few games. And as long as you have the goal support, solid is all you need.
How about Alex Ovechkin giving up the body? No he only had one hit--I'm talking about the three blocked shots including the stinger in the leg he caught in the second period. That may have been the turning point in the game because Toronto was looking strong as they had the Caps pinned in their own zone for a while. That's what a good captain does--leads by example. More of that to come I'd bet. Make it a permanent habit. Um, the effort that is, not the getting stung in the leg. And the eight shots--love it! Dusha, Alex, dusha.
It certainly looked like it was rubbing off as the Caps made a whole game out of winning each race and battle along the boards. That's what leads to penalties being drawn against other teams, which leads to power plays, which leads to scoring chances and.....you get the idea.
Dmitry Orlov had yet another solid game tonight. He still needs a bit more seasoning, but looks to be ready for the big time if not this season then certain next year. Meanwhile the Cody Eakin experiment has probably run its course. Not even six minutes of ice time and he still looks small out there. And that would be because he is. He's still a boy playing against men and some more time as a Chocolatier would serve him well.
Taking a look at the box score you pretty much have to disregard the plus minus numbers since all the offsetting goals were scored on the power play. Besides, no one on the team finished worse than a minus one.
Gotta get it in while I can: DENNIS WIDEMAN DENNIS WIDEMAN DENNIS WIDEMAN!!!!!!
I'm loving the overall effort of the team. There are a few things that could be done better, but the Caps are definitely headed in the right direction if the last seven periods of hockey are any indication. Believe me I also love it that the power play had an awesome game tonight, but let's not go crazy and declare that it's back to the old days where we could count on a goal every four chances. We're still a ways from that. But it's nice to know that there's still life in the PP units and they can be called upon to produce.
Next up is an extended weekend break. Time to heal some bumps and bruises (perhaps several), and then it's Jaromir Jagr and the Flyers. Jagr, there's a classic voleh for you.
Keep it up, Capitals.