The Caps started out their four-game road trip in Tampa last night, and in a game that saw each team dominate and look lost for separate stretches at a time, the Caps were unable to beat Bolts goaltender Johan Holmqvist in the third period and left 5-4 losers. Some thoughts on the game:
- Seven third period shots isn't going to get it done when you trail by one on the road.
- Dan Boyle is so good. Jamie Heward is not.
- Obviously this wasn't one of Olie Kolzig's better games. In fact, it was one of his worst, as he let in three goals that I'm sure he'd like to have back (as he put it, "The team played terrific, but the goalie let them down tonight"). Still, I'll take Kolzig over Holmqvist heading into the third period of a tied game any day. That said, I think Saturday night in Miami might be a good time to give Brent Johnson a start.
- The Caps seemed confused every time the Bolts were able to set up behind the net. It didn't help matters that Ben Clymer (or perhaps it was Brooks Laich) threw the puck back there rather than clearing it up the boards on what shortly thereafter became Marty St. Louis' game-winning tally.
- Alex Semin had another two beautiful goals, but it's the same old story for him - he scores on the power play or as the result of a spectacular individual effort. He needs better linemates than Kris Beech and a clearly-less-than-100% Matt Pettinger.
- Which brings me to my final point, and that is the difference between these two teams - $14 million. Without question, the $14m difference in payroll between the squads was the difference tonight. A defenseman (or two), a second-line center or winger - it wouldn't have taken much for this to have been a Caps win rather than a loss. Now that's two straight one-goal losses to Tampa. Three one-goal losses to Atlanta. Eleven one-goal losses on the year. These points get harder and harder to give up knowing that the Caps are simultaneously so close and yet so far away.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
- If you're in Peoria, IL on March 24 for Maui Jim Sunglasses Night at the AHL game between the host Rivermen and visiting Chicago Wolves, be sure to stay afterwards for the post-game Christian concert (offer apparently not valid for Jeff Halpern, Mathieu Schneider, Michael Cammelleri or J.P.).
- Vogs has a cool post on a late (and I mean late) scoring change. Interesting stuff.
3 Grumpy Caps fans doesn't (don't?) like E.J. Hradek much at all.
Hart: Tomas Holmstrom (3G, including the game-winner, A, +2, 7 SOG)
Ross: Pavel Datsyuk (5 points)
Norris: Zdeno Chara (G, A, +2, 5 SOG, 4 hits, 29:43 of ice time)
Vezina: David Aebischer (W, 34 saves on 36 shots against)
Richard: Tomas Holmstrom (3G)
Calder: Anze Kopitar (G, A, +2, 2 SOG in 5-2 loss)
- Aiken: Peter Budaj (L, 5 goals allowed on 17 shots against in 32:01 of work)