Monday, February 11, 2008

2/10, 9:00 PM - Capitals regain division lead with win over Rangers

Capitals 3, Rangers 2 (OT)

The Capitals recent woes on the powerplay had been well documented leading into this game, with the recent power outage being touched on both in this blog and in the Caps telecast and being explored more in depth at Japers' Rink and the Washington Post, the consensus being that if the Capitals wanted to play well enough to get themselves into the playoffs their powerplay needed to step up their play significantly. The Capitals of course were well aware of this and it seems that the extra time Bruce Boudreau spent in practice was well spent as the Capitals topped the Rangers 3-2, getting powerplay goals from Alexander Ovechkin and Mike Green as the powerplay was 2-for-3 on the afternoon.

Aside of the powerplay, the Capitals were primarily inconsistent, getting outshot 33-24, winning only 41% of the game's faceoffs and taking seven minor penalties. But although the Capitals weren't playing particularly well they did play smart, getting dirty on the powerplay and taking advantage of the Rangers' schedule, which had them playing Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia. Knowing the Rangers had played a very physical rivalry game only 24 hours earlier the Capitals took the physical game to the Rangers, outhitting them 22-12 and skating very short, high-tempo shifts in the third period and grinding out the win in overtime.

One final thought: The referees in this game simply embarrassed themselves in the first period. They looked, simply put, like amateurs, missing an obvious holding call committed on Matt Pettinger where the Rangers player had this arm wrapped around Pettinger's waist for several second and then fell down (while still holding on to Pettinger) and let Paul Mara board/cross check Eric Fehr into the boards three times without a call and yet were indignant enough to call Stephan Valiquette for delay of game and Sean Avery for unsportsmanlike conduct because the players had to gall to question the officiating or not follow referees instructions to a 'T' (speaking of which, if the refs are going to call that why don't they call Avery for getting in the face and holding up the progress of Alex Ovechkin after Ovechkin hit Marc Staal? Oh right, because they weren't personally offended). This kind of officiating is exactly what you expect out of a bad amateur referee - missing calls, even obvious ones, yet drunk on their own power and more concerned with showing how (in this venue at least) they can exert control over other grown men. The NHL should be better than his.

DMG's 3 Stars
(1) Olaf Kolzig - saved 31 of 33 shots (.939 save percentage) Ovechkin and Green were great, but without Kolzig's effort the Capitals probably don't win this game.
(2) Alexander Ovechkin - 1 goal, 2 assists, +1, 3 hits
(3) Mike Green - 1 goal (game winner), 5 shots

Quick Hits

  • The bad luck continues for Matt Pettinger, who had a perfect shot early in the first and beat Valiquette, but hit the crossbar.

  • Good music selections by Comcast on their segment on Mike Green's apartment, especially the Bloc Party.

  • How great was the Capitals coaching staff's reaction when Green's slap shot hit the back of the net?

  • No Capitals forward that took more than one faceoff had a faceoff winning percentage of 50% or higher.

  • Jeff Schultz had a very good game, with 3 blocked shots, 2 hits, and a +1 plus/minus rating.

  • Credit to Boyd Gordon to being in front of the net, like the forward should be on the play, and picking up the goal.

  • The Capitals hits were spread out very well: 12 Caps had hits; three had three or more hits and seven had at least two.

  • 36 games and counting without back-to-back regulation losses under Boudreau.

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