Now THERE's a much better overall effort. Well, a much better result anyway.
Michal Neuvirth's 31 save performance backstopped the Caps to victory last night as he earned his second shutout of the season. His goal support was more than adequate, despite a paltry output of only 16 shots by his teammates. Matthieu Perreault, as is seemingly his custom, shined in front of his hometown crowd scoring the game winner less than five minutes into the game. But surely his goal and perfect night at the faceoff dot merited more than six minutes of ice time? Il fait bon, Monsieur Perreault!
Let me get this out of the way--I'm still not 100% convinced that less than 20 shots, which is the trend the Caps have been on lately, is going to cut it. But at least they made the most of the chances they did get. This is a good sign considering the fact that a large part of their offensive engine is on the injured list. At the same time, more shots equals more goals in the long run. They can't keep this up forever.
Marcus Johansson got the second goal from his "office"--right in front of the goalie. He's in double digits now and has goals in two of his last few games. To top it off, he even had a pretty good night taking faceoffs.
Alex Ovechkin came up with the third goal--a rocket from the right power play point. This prompted my favorite all-time Lockerism: Blew By You.
Some would say the game got kick-started with Matt Hendricks' predictable yet still pleasurable to watch scrap with headhunter Rene Bourque. Maybe the end result--an Olympic style takedown--wasn't the desired one, but the effort sure was. The team played inspired hockey from then on.
Unsung hero: Brooks Laich. Yeoman-like work in killing all the ridiculous (oops, did I say that out loud?) penalties, and was once again the one-man-shot-blocking machine. He was officially credited with four, but it was really more like six or seven from what I saw. Maybe they were using the metric system for shot blocking since they were in Canada, I don't know.
Poor Cody Eakin still looks like he's in over his head. He's still very weak on his skates and he didn't look very good whenever he handled the puck. He's still a boy playing among men and it shows. We would do better with Keith Aucoin or Chris Bourque. Give him 1-2 more years and things will be different, though.
As good as a 31-save shutout is--and it was good, I can't remember Neuvy having to make too many difficult saves except for during that stupid extended penalty kill. Well, maybe one or two others. But make no mistake, wherever the shots went, he was there. He made it all look so eas, like the 10-game layoff was nothing. Nice to know we have a goalie that can come off the bench and pull that out of the air. This is the kind of "goalie problem" teams love to have--when the two of them play a season-long version of "Can You Top This?"
The referees were ridiculous in this game. If I didn't know any better I would swear that they were trying to sway the outcome in favor of the Canadiens. Forget the six-minute minor on John Erskine, which was questionable at best. That looked like two cops trying to figure out who had the right to give out a ticket. No, the worst call of the night was Alex Ovechkin's delay of game penalty. I don't know about anyone else, but the replay I saw CLEARLY shows the glass partition wobbling as if something impacted it. Something being a puck, and not a body. I don't care what the Commish says, the officiating is getting worse, not better.
But hey, a win is a win is a win is a win. Except for one thing....couldn't they have scored just ONE more goal so Bryan and I could have had our pizza?