Monday night at Verizon Center the Caps started strong and held on to win against a tired Devils team that seemed to catch its second wind in the third period. Some thoughts on the game:
- The Caps did have a confidence carry-over from Saturday night's win, and it showed itself most notably in the hit totals, where they held a 31-22 edge. Milan Jurcina led the way with six hits, and every skater in the lineup other than Alex Semin, Tomas Fleischmann and Joe Motzko registered at least one hit.
- The Donald Brashear - Viktor Kozlov - Semin line doesn't do much for me. Kozlov had a particularly rough night (though he led the team with four shots on goal) and Semin a particularly bad penalty early, but the trio has no chemistry and even less defensive conscience - they got caught out against the Devils top line in the first and it quickly resulted in a 1-0 deficit.
- Speaking of that goal, entering the game, the Devils were 11-2-1 when scoring first and the Caps were 1-12-2 when giving up the game's first goal, so you'll forgive me for turning off the game at that point and watching The Hills. Just kidding.
- If Nicklas Backstrom is so patient and poised with the puck now, imagine what he'll be like down the road (insert "wearing a Wings jersey" joke here).
- The second period was about as good a period as the Caps have played all year.
- Jeff Schultz broke the season goals-scored tie between himself and Semin with his third of the year, but something tells me Sasha will catch and pass him real soon - he's finally starting to look very close to 100% healthy.
- As for Schultz, these past two games were the first in which he registered shots on goal in consecutive games. It's also the first time in his career he's had shots in goal in back-to-back affairs.
- Congrats to Quintin Laing, whose first NHL goal gives him more goals than front teeth.
Olie Kolzig looked shaky in the third period. His rebound control was poor, most notably on the Mike Mottau no-goal (which was a huge break for the Caps) and his coverage on the David Clarkson wrap-around goal was obviously not good enough. Olie's been decent enough this year so far, but he's going to need to steal some games if this team is going to make a run at the playoffs.
- Alexander Ovechkin is such an absolute joy to watch. Some nights he's on a mission to score goals. Other nights, it looks like he'd rather run over anyone wearing the opposition's colors. Tonight was more the latter (he only had one shot on goal, in fact), and AO ended the night with five hits. But let's not forget his brilliant play at the blueline on the Schultz goal. Or his backchecking.
Shaone Morrisonn had four giveaways on the night after only 15 in the first 29 games of the season. The Caps as a team had 20 giveaways - way too high a total.
- Every Cap who took a faceoff won better than 50% of his draws or was one win under 50%. Not bad.
- Memo to Mike Green: play the whistle, don't let up because you think there's an icing call coming your way.
- Here's your Game Pic O' The Night.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
Check out a nice story about former Cap Trent Whitfield.... On this date in 1981, Dennis Maruk racked up a pair of goals and four helpers in an 11-2 romp over the Leafs for his second six point game of the week. Damn.... Finally, this isn't hockey-related, but there certainly are some friggin' weird people out there.
- Hart: Sergei Zubov (G, 3A, +2, 6 SOG, 2 blocked shots)
Ross: Sergei Zubov (4 points)
Norris: Sergei Zubov (G, 3A, +2, 6 SOG, 2 blocked shots)
Vezina: Alex Auld (W, 43 saves on 44 shots against)
Richard: Chad Kilger, Corey Perry (2G each)
Calder: Milan Lucic (2A, +2, 4 SOG, 3 hits)
Aiken: Johan Holmqvist (L, 4 goals allowed on 22 shots against in 34:41 of work)