What, did the Thrashers not get the memo? How dare they show up on Friday night and try to stand in the way of the Mighty Capitals of Washington?
Some thoughts on the game:
Alex Semin was the best player on the ice all night, but did misplay a puck in the neutral zone that led to Atlanta's sixth goal (the Armstrong blast over Brent Johnson's left shoulder). His dangles around Garnet Exelby and Eric Boulton (a pair of traffic cones, to be sure), were among his more dazzling highlights, and while it's easy to say now, I thought at the time that he should have taken that penalty shot.
- The power play looked good (and finished 2-for-7 thanks to Mike Green's penchant for pinching) and fired 12 shots on in 8:45 of extra man time. But wouldn't you expect the $4 million second-line center/seventh defenseman to be higher than ninth on the team in PP time?
- The penalty kill, on the other hand, was atrocious (6-for-9). Tomas Fleischmann (who had a good game in the offensive zone, but finished a team-worst minus-two) had more PK time than Matt Bradley and Chris Clark combined. Brooks Laich led the entire team (including defensemen) in shorthanded ice time. Think Boyd Gordon might dress tonight?
- The Swedes got slaughtered in the faceoff circle, combining to go 10-for-29 (34%). In fact, the entire team was bad, winning only 40% of their draws on the night (the exception to the poor performance was Brooks Laich's 7-for-10). Even Sergei Fedorov (6-for-17) and David Steckel (6-for-15) failed to take command of the dot, and the Caps were 8-for-21 (38%) in faceoffs when shorthanded and 7-for-23 (30%) in the defensive zone. Not good.
- Where was Nicklas Backstrom?
- Forty-three shots on goal for is a crapload. Thirty-one against is a few too many, especially given the location of most of those shots:That's 19 shots - and all seven goals - against from between and below (give or take a foot or two) the faceoff dots. The Caps blueliners have to do a better job of keeping that real estate clear.
- Jose Theodore can "only" be blamed for two, maybe three of the goals he allowed (the first wasn't his fault and the third deflected off the defenseman's stick), but he looked shaky (is "reboundy" a word?) all night. Well, until he was yanked, that is - he looked calm and under control on the bench.
- What was Donald Brashear doing throwing with a kid who only had four fights in his entire junior career (I didn't see how that one started)?
- GMGM must be counting down the minutes (and dollars) until he can replace either Milan Jurcina or John Erskine with Karl Alzner. It's probably time to go back to pairing the two of them together and try to sneak them out for some shifts while riding a good top-four.
- I'd like to see more of The Captain.
There are plenty of subplots here - recall the last time Huet tried to stop Alex Ovechkin and the last time the Caps faced the 'Hawks (a.k.a. Olie Kolzig's last game as a Cap); tonight's game will also showcase all three of 2007-08's Calder Trophy finalists as well as the summer's top two free agent defensemen (Green and Brian Campbell) - but the big story is two teams trying to avoid falling to 0-2 on the season.
A loss like last night's definitely takes away from tonight's banner raising a bit, but hopefully the ceremony will serve as a reminder of what this team needs to - and can - do to be successful in this League, because last night's effort was light years away from that standard.