Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Caps top Blue Jackets, 4-3

Capitals 4, Blue Jackets 3 (OT)

In the first period the Capitals were alarmingly reminiscent of the pre-Boudreau era version of the team, coming out strong, making and honest effort, forcing chances but failing to convert them and giving up goals off miscues by individual players, in this case a telegraphed pass by Nicklas Backstrom and a half-hearted effort to block a shot by Tomas Fleischmann. In the second period the Capitals looked like the team they've generally been since Boudreau took over, battling from behind and making the most of their chances. In the third period the Capitals looked like a team that had slept with Bill McCreary's wife, as the referee all but gift-wrapped a goal for Rick Nash by colliding with Shaone Morrisonn and then waived off Tom Poti's shot that tied the game at 3-3. But at the end of the night, the Capitals just looked like a team that had pulled off an impressive road win.

The story for the Caps going into this game was the lack of scoring beyond the top line and especially Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin. While Ovechkin again led the team's offensive effort with two goals, the team did spread out the scoring a bit more getting a goal from the second line (Alex Semin) and defense (Tom Poti) and eleven Capitals players had at least one point.

The goals sources were interesting individually as well. Poti's situation is a little more straightforward - brought in to bolster the Capitals offense from the blue line and help run the powerplay, Poti had not registered a goal until last night against Columbus, the 45th game he's played in this season.

Semin's situation is a bit more complex. For much of this season Semin has been more often frustrating than impressive, stickhandling too often, taking bad penalties and not producing as much as the Capitals had hoped and he was finally called out by Boudreau after yet again taking the Capitals off the powerplay with a needless stick foul. No one was quite such how the enigmatic Russian would respond; whether he would become frustrated and allow himself to become invisible or whether he would respond by playing a harder, smarter game. As it turned out it was the latter and Semin played what was probably his best all-around game this season, playing smart when he needed to, not trying to do too much and getting back in the defensive end better than he has been in my memory. Then again, having Viktor Kozlov playing on the line certainly seemed to help.

It was also good to see that the first line look good with Eric Fehr replacing Kozlov on the right wing. Fehr both looked good with Backstrom and Ovechkin on his own, using his big body down low and looking hungry for goals...and man his reach is something else, isn't it?

Oh, and Carolina and Atlanta both lost. One point out of first, two games in hand. This team is going to be hungry tomorrow, Philly.

DMG's 3 Stars
(1) Alexander Ovechkin
- 2 goals (including the overtime game-winner), +1, 10 shots on goal, 3 hits
(2) Tom Poti - 1 goal, 1 assist, +1, 5 blocked shots
(3) Brent Johnson


"This win just shows heart"

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