Thursday, December 27, 2007

Caps/Lightning Recap: Caps Win 3-2

Capitals 3, Lightning 2

It took overcoming a hot goaltender on a video-reviewed goal in the final minutes of the third, but when the final horn sounded Capitals fan were able to breathe a sigh of relief as their team came out on top in a game that at times looked like it could become yet another game in which the Capitals outplayed the opposition but were unable to pull out a win.

On the day Bruce Boudreau was rewarded with the removal of the "interim" tag from his title he proved his coaching mettle by juggling the lines to start the third period, which the Capitals in turn dominated. I don't mean to pick on Glen Hanlon but that really is the kind of adjustment that the Capitals didn't seem to be making when he was behind the bench this season.

While we're on the subject of coaches I thought I'd share a thought I had during the game: John Tortorella is sort of the NHL's version of Ozzie Guillen - he got lucky and won the championship one year because he was in the right place at the right time, not because he has any managerial talent and right now his most distinguishing characteristic is that he's a world-class blowhard.

The first period of this game was an example of what having a good goaltender versus an average goaltender can do for a team. In that period the Caps had twelve shots and three or four excellent scoring chances chances while the Lightning had nine shots and a one decent scoring chance, yet each team picked up one goal and they went into the intermission tied. That's what's great about having a guy play like Karri Ramo did that period - it takes a perfect play to beat and sometimes even that isn't enough (remember Ovechkin's chance on the powerplay?) That's why having a great goalie is such an advantage. As long as you score a decent number of goals and don't leave them out to dry six times a game, your team will win more than they'll lose.

In the Capitals net Olaf Kolzig had his first solid game in a while and while he wasn't spectacular, and I'm sure would have like to have the first goal back, his performance was a key part of the Capitals win. Even without making highlight-reel saves Kolzig gave his team enough confidence that they could play their game without having to be overly focused on their own end by correcting some of the mistakes he's made recently, specifically holding the post well and doing a better job with rebound control.

Final thought: this game wasn't nearly as close as the score and if Ramo hadn't made so many great saves the Capitals could have easily had six goals.

DMG's 3 Stars
(1) David Steckel - 2 goals, 1 assist, +2
(2) Matt Bradley - 1 goal, 1 assist, +3
(3) Olaf Kolzig - 18 saves on 20 shots

Quick Hits

  • Kolzig didn't look very good on Vincent Lecavalier's goal, but that one is on Viktor Kozlov for first turning the puck over at the opponent's blue line and then failing to clear the puck out of the front of the net.
  • Pet peeve alert: people who yell "Shoot!" on the powerplay irritate me for oh so many reasons, the biggest being: the team has a much better chance of scoring by setting something up that by just shooting and when you're at the blue line and there's a 6'2'', 215 pound player bearing down on you and at least two of your teammates are open, what's the better play: to pass it off and to knock it into the opposition's skates and give them a shorthanded breakaway? It's especially bad when the team's powerplay is clicking (like the Caps was early last night) and generating shots (five in four minutes).
  • Alex Ovechkin is not playing his best game right now, registering no points against the Lightning while taking the Capitals only penalty and leading the team in giveaways with three and taking more than 59 minutes to register a shot against the Islanders on the 23rd.
  • Memo to last night's refs: it's still cross-checking even if it happens after the whistle. I'm all for letting players clear out the other team in front of the net with your hands, but cross-checking is a penalty because it's dangerous. It happening after the play doesn't make it any less so.
  • For most of the first two periods I kept thinking 'Geez, Pothier sure is shooting a lot for a guy coming off a broken thumb. I don't think that's such a good idea, if I were the coach I'd tell him to look for a pass'. This is why I am not a coach.
  • If the Capitals schedule consisted of playing the Lightning 82 times would Dave Steckel lead the league in goals?
  • If Steckel didn't, would Pothier?
  • Brooks Laich won 9 of 11 on faceoffs.
  • Tamp Bay had four minor penalties; the Capitals had one.

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