Thursday Roundup/Caps 5, 'Canes 1

[AP Recap - Game Summary - Event Summary - WashingtonCaps.com Postgame]

On a night when the Caps faced off against the Hurricanes in Raleigh with first place in the Southeast Division on the line and utterly trounced their gracious hosts, one was left with a singular and somewhat frightening impression: this Caps team can be better.

In fact, outside of the top line and d-pairing, nary a Cap had a point, or even a plus. The third defensive pairing took four minor penalties. The power play took only seven shots in 7:49 of time with the extra man. And so on.

As thorough a beating as the Caps handed the 'Canes, it wasn't a sharp, 60-minute effort, and it wasn't this team at its best. Granted, the score (and Carolina's desire to roll over and play dead rather than put up any sort of fight) allowed the visitors to ease up a bit, but what we saw last night was still just a (rather large) handful of glimpses of what the Caps can be - and what we're all waiting on.

A few quick thoughts on the game:
  • As good as the top line was on the scoresheet, they were again guilty of being overly cute at times and guilty of poor defensive coverage often (and throw in a couple of "vintage" Alex Semin hooking penalties for good measure). For as dominant as the line appeared to be (and, as far as finishing goes, was), would you believe the line had the second-worse Corsi Rating of any of the Caps' threesomes? I would. And while I'd take that on any night if they're going to finish with a combined plus-12 rating and a dozen points, that's not going to happen every night. A bit of a curious night, statistically, to say the least.
  • Alright, that last point came off a bit negative. Here's the positive - three Semins and a Malkin. Don Cherry just crapped his Depends. By the way, check out the League's top five in plus/minus, but make sure you didn't just take a sip of coffee.
  • Back to the negative, Semin's "tribute to Richard Simmons" goal celebration was awkwardly wonderful.
  • I don't think I've ever seen a "superstar" have a worse period than Eric Staal did in the first. He botched tap-ins on an extended 5-on-3, lost a key defensive zone draw that led to the Caps' second goal, and just flat out stunk the building up. It's probably a different game if he has a better opening stanza.
  • Sticking with picking on the 'Canes, Niclas Wallin's attempt at defensing Alex Ovechkin on his goal was shameful.
  • "Secondary" Nicklas Backstrom had a trio of other-than-primary assists and a lay-up of a goal. Suddenly he's not off to that bad a start, with 10 points in 15 games.
  • Milan Jurcina's game went from bad to worse, as he had three penalties (though the refs were whistle-happy all night) and little confidence by the time the final buzzer sounded. If Shaone Morrisonn can go Friday, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Juice in the press box.
  • Back to everyone's favorite stat, Chris Clark, at minus-three, had the Caps' worse CR (and only negative rating), and Mike Green's plus-17 was best on the squad. He was stellar.
  • Brent Johnson came up huge late in the first period before exiting with a hip injury, and Jose Theodore did a great job in relief, especially considering he hadn't played in ten days.
  • Memo to Fox Sports Carolina: The Caps haven't used the eagle logo since Rod Brind'Amour was good. If you want to be taken seriously by the rest of the League, you've got to be within a year or so of current on your graphics, mmm'kay?
And so we'll wait. We'll wait for a home-and-home series with a shaky Devils team that commences tomorrow night. We'll wait for Morrisonn and Sergei Fedorov (and perhaps Johnson) to get healthy, and we'll wait for the power play to click. We'll wait for the other number one goalie to get hot and we'll wait for the MVP to be the MVP. We'll wait to see what this team can do when they're firing on all cylinders.

But in the meantime, this ain't so bad, is it?

Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

Go vote for All-Stars if you're into that sort of thing.... Your weekly Power Rankings find the Caps up three spots to 12th at SportingNews.com, up seven to 9th at The Hockey News, up five to 9th at CBSSports.com, up four to 13th at Sportsnet.ca, up 14 to 4th (?!) at CBCSports.ca, up ten to 13th at TSN.ca, and up six to 9th at The Detroit News. Are the still a "bad team," Kelly?... The Caps collected more than a ton of food at their annual canned food drive on Saturday. No word yet on how much of that made it to the intended charity and how much was intercepted and eaten by Nick Backstrom along the way.... Via CapsChick, a hearty welcome to the 21st Century blogosphere to the Caps Media Staff.... Finally, via the Caps Message Board, if you're headed to the VC for Friday night's game, check out Dr. Gridlock for street and Metro closures.

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