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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Recap 4/14 Game 2 vs. Bruins

Capitals  2
Bruins     1  (2 OT)

GWG--Nicklas Backstrom   Three Stars:  Marcus Johansson, Karl Alzner, Benoit Pouliot

And after two games (really three if you consider all the OT), we are tied. Back to the sweet confines of Verizon Center we go for the next two. Now I never thought that I would say this, because I've always been a proponent of offensive hockey.  After all, I am a child of the 80's and was weaned on Wayne Gretzky and the we he played the game.  But if you add the element of the nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat mindset that is playoff hockey, a defensive/goalie duel is pretty good hockey to watch. The bottom line being that chances to score are always exciting no matter what the end result is. Of course the game going into Sudden Death OT with no possibility of a ridiculous shootout going back makes it that much more exciting.

Analysis and observations:

The goal--as was discussed, it was scored by doing what you're supposed to come tax, er, playoff time.  Which is get the puck on the net and have traffic in front. Alex Ovechkin put a wrister on net that dipped at just the right time.  Then Troy Brouwer used a bit of finesse and a lot of muscle (not to mention some leg work) to be the first to solve Tim Thomas in this series.  Now that they had the lead, you would think they would hold onto it for dear life.  And they did.  Until..............

Twelve minutes in the Bruins get a rush and of course it's the lightly regarded, but ever-dangerous Chris Kelly line.  With a loose puck barely within reach, Braden Holby, slid out and made for the classic Johnny Bower poke check.  The only problem was that he missed and the beneficiary was Benoit Pouliot, who promptly ran over Holtby and put it in to tie the game.  Oops.  I think they said it best here.  You're making us a bit nervous, Braden.... in a few different ways.

Speaking of nervous, does anyone else besides me get that edgy feeling every time Roman Hamrlik rags the puck back into his own zone?  After all it wasn't too long ago that Hamrlik inspired this tirade after one of his gaffes.

I want referees Dan O'Halloran  and Tom Kowal to never work another playoff game this year.  AT ALL.  Send them to Aca-freaking-pulco if you have to, Commissioner Bettman.  How, please, please, tell me how it is that one penalty committed by one member of a certain team is called and the exact same penalty committed by the opposing team is not a penalty just one game later?  Did the rulebook just magically change?  I'm of course talking about Tim Thomas' mugging of Nicklas Backstrom in front of the crease.  It's got to be as John Walton said, there must be a totally different standard if you've won a Conn Smythe trophy.  And that's bullcrap.

Speaking of Backstrom, yes we all know by now that he scored that beautiful goal to win it.  But the magic of the play was Marcus Johansson scooping up the loose puck in the corner just after the faceoff, fending off two Bruin defenders, setting up shop behind the net, and finding Backstrom in front.  I've given MJ90 grief for his inability to finish, but he is still a gifted playmaker and one of the best skaters on the team.

Of course it was still a beautiful thing watching Backstrom's shot.  He tucked it just under Andrew Ference's stick check and in between Thomas' pads for the win.  And Johnny Boychuk was nice enough to stand there and make sure it was in.

No what you read above is not a typo. Neither Nicklas Backtrom, nor Braden Holtby, nor Tim Thomas made the Three Star list for the game. Which means they had the three stars picked during regulation.  The Conn Smythe trophy voting does that too.  Why is it that?  Do these people have some big dinner to go later or something?  Not that I have a huge problem with any of the three they did select, but you have to wonder if they were even watching the game.

Because with the low score of course the goalies were once again going to be center stage.  Tim Thomas made 35 saves and Holtby stopped 40 shots.  Now, there are some fans masquerading as journalism experts and radio idiots pretending to be hockey fans who will try to convince you that Holtby's performance is nothing to celebrate.  Really now?  That's interesting considering last I looked he's stopped 69 out of 71 shots thrown at him in two games of work.  These folks will try to tell you that the Bruins have "made it easy" for him by not collecting their own rebound, or by poor shot selection.  Don't you believe a word of it. Seriously?  So these people are saying just ANYBODY can step in to an unfamiliar role of playoff starter with all the so-called "experts" counting you out---the loudest being the dunderheads up at Hockey Night in Canada, and not only get the job done, but WIN.  Yes I'm talking at you, Dean Brown.

Fact is, ladies and gentlemen, no matter how the shots come at you, they still have to be stopped.  And not just anybody can do it.  And no, they haven't all been missed rebounds or shots into the chest, as they would have you believe.  So the Bruins and their fans can take their psychobabble and shove it.  Because they're not convincing anyone. Fortunately, there are those willing to recognize that both goalies are doing an incredible job.

But on the flip side of things, one must keep it all in perspective.  Just as Game One was just one game that wasn't won, so too was Game Two except it was won.  Pun partially intended.  All those verbally challenged, please seek speech therapy.

Point being this is still going to be a long, grinding, punishing series. So it's very far from over.  It'll be very interesting to see what happens for the next two games with Dale Hunter being able to get the matchups that he wants.  We as fans must do our part--get loud, get rowdy, turn rabid. ROCK THE RED!

Oh, and a few Obama masks wouldn't hurt. You know, just to make Tim Thomas feel welcome.

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