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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Recap 3/29 vs Boston: Staying Alive, Staying Hungry

Last night's game, as all the remaining games should be, was about survival.  When you're trying to survive you do anything to prolong your existence.  So it stands to reason why it looked like the Caps were doing nothing but trying to get to the overtime.  Of course it didn't produce any results.  It never does when you sit back and don't dictate the play.

The game finally "woke up" about eight minutes into the third when Dennis Wideman scoring from the high slot.  The play started with an Alex Ovechkin rush into the zone followed by a dish to Wideman from Marcus Johansson.  Not quite two minutes later, Johansson and Ovechkin would hook up again.  In a pattern that has worked wonders in the past, they ran that criss-cross route just above the circles.  And once Johansson lined up his shot, the end result was...well, lets just say a month's worth of frustration was released.  Puck in back of net...beautiful.

Unfortunately, the Caps just had to make things interesting.  All they had to do was play smart hockey for the last twelve minutes.  What they did play was anything but.  With a little over a minute left to play the Bruins had managed to tie it up again.  Cue that sinking feeling, the one that usually accompanies two points floating away into oblivion.  Well somehow they managed to not blow it in regulation, so they managed to get the loser point at least.

The Caps had a couple of golden opportunities in OT, both off the stick of Ovechkin.  I was really hoping that would have ended it.  As much as I like Neuvy, he is stinko in the shootout.

The shootout, for once, really was entertaining and not just due to the end result.  On two separate shots, you had Tim Thomas completely lose it.  First he was faked (almost literally) out of his pads by the Matt Hendricks Experience. Then he nearly castrated himself by backing into the post when he tried to stay with all of Alex Semin's moves.  Finally, Brooks Laich's "can-opener" of a move to the roof of the bakery, er, net finished off the much-needed win.  Appropriately enough, Thomas literally stumbled his way back to the dressing room after storming off the ice.  Guess our nation's capital just isn't his town.

Observaations, great and small:

Tomas Vokoun started the game, but didn't even finish the period.  He did the tear of the groin and got a tenderloin as a result.  And I don't mean flank steak either.  So Michal Neuvirth was pressed into service and skated away with the win and 26 saves on 28 shots plus two of four in the shootout.  Not bad for coming in cold.

A few words about Jason Chimera's hit on Adam McQuaid. Yes it was an obvious penalty.  Unfortunately it was the wrong penalty.  By definition it was boarding, not charging, as was called by referee Steven Walkom..  Despite what Bruins announcer Jack Edwards would have you believe, Chimera did not skate toward McQuaid taking 14 strides with the express purpose of laying him out.  It is important to see it as a "boarding" call as opposed to a charge, because that way, it's more black and white.  This is due to the circumstances of the hit--as you can clearly see no matter how you view it, McQuaid did turn at the last second into the boards.  What is the rule of thumb in this case?  Keep your head up and know where you are on the ice at all times--especially when you've got the puck.  Of course it's regrettable that McQuaid got hurt on the play, nobody wants to see that.  But the players do bear some responsibility for being more aware.  Based on the Office of Player Safety (aka the Shanahammer) and their penchant for punishing the injury, don't be surprised if Chimera is gone at least 2-3 games if not all four remaining games.  This despite the fact that Chimera has a clean record.  Bad break all around, but the league will find a way to make it worse.  At least the Caps killed off the penalty.

Didn't like the beginning or the ending of regulation of the game.  Way too friggin' passive and the Caps can't afford to be that way with the playoffs on the line.

And so it's back home to face Montreal, with perhaps some good news in tow--Nick Backstrom should be starting.  Let's hope a certain Canadiens player doesn't decide to take another liberty again.

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