Well that sure was nice, wasn't it? Any time you can go into the defending Division Champ's building on opening night with your number two goalie in net and your number two offensive weapon back home and leave with two points, it's a truly beautiful thing. A few thoughts on the game:
- It wasn't surprising to see the Thrashers come out flat - it happens almost like clockwork after a lengthy pre-game ceremony has the home team's players standing around for 15 minutes or so. Good on the Caps for taking advantage of the opportunity.
- After a possible momentum-shifting penalty kill by Atlanta at the end of the second, it was good to see the Caps bounce back in the third and fire 14 shots on goal. Last year, this team would have taken four or five and crumbled.
- Nice debuts for Michael Nylander (goal), Nicklas Backstrom (assist), Viktor Kozlov (game-winning goal) and Tom Poti (team-high 27:59 of ice time).
- Not such a nice game for Brian Pothier, who made two awful plays (one at the offensive blueline and a whiff on Marian Hossa at the top of the defensive zone), took two penalties and ended up playing only 12:18 - more than five minutes less than the next least-utilized blueliner, John Erskine.
- The Alex Ovechkin-Kozlov duo was fantastic, firing 13 shots between them. And Ovechkin's backcheck on Bobby Holik late should not go unmentioned.
David Steckel's reach is incredible. So is Boyd Gordon's ability to get tossed around like a rag doll - and keep getting up to do his job.
- Brent Johnson was very solid, with the exception of the goal he allowed, but it's hard to complain after a 28-of-29 save performance... so I won't.
- The Caps were the better-disciplined team, taking only five penalties (Atlanta took eight), and outshot the Thrash 40-29. That's a recipe for continued success.
- That said, the powerplay (1-for-7) needs to be better, especially in five-on-three situations (granted, it might have been with Alex Semin in the lineup). Five-on-four, I'm not sure I wouldn't have Nylander out on the first unit, but that's just me.
Mike Green played 20:35 and most of it was very good and confidently-played.
- Good to see Ken Klee still takes too many penalties.
- Matt Pettinger took seven shots on goal and the third line was a combined plus-three.
- The team was very good in the faceoff circle, winning 53% of their draws (led, surprisingly enough, by Kozlov at 56%).
Hart: Mike Comrie (2G, including the game-winner, 2A, +2)
Ross: Mike Comrie, Rick Nash (4 points each)
Norris: Sergei Zubov (G, A, +1)
Vezina: Pascal Leclaire (28-save shutout win)
Richard: Mike Comrie, Eric Staal, Rick Nash, Jeremy Roenick (2G each)
Calder: Bryan Little (G, +1, 3 SOG)
Aiken: Ryan Miller (L, 6 goals allowed on 34 shots against)