Tuesday Roundup/Wild 4, Caps 3

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

A 4-0 loss would have looked the same in the standings as the 4-3 defeat the Caps suffered in Minny last night - two points lost, a third-straight regulation loss for the first time under Bruce Boudreau, another four goals allowed in a road game (which makes the Caps five-for-five on the trip in that respect), etc.

But considering whom the Caps were playing without by the time this game ended, considering some of the mysterious calls with which they were forced to deal, and, most importantly, considering the team's refusal to roll over and play dead, this game went from "the wheels have completely fallen off the wagon" to a character builder and quite nearly a huge confidence booster in the span of 5:17.

And despite the injuries, the calls, the trade rumors and cap woes, the road trip from hell and so on and so forth, the Caps are still in first place in the Division with a game in hand - the sky ain't fallin' quite yet.

A few thoughts on the game:

  • Blame Peerless for turning Cal Clutterbuck into a latter day Cam Neely - yesterday he noted that "Clutterbuck ... almost certainly won’t score (he has no points this year)." How about prognosticating that "Chris Clark ... almost certainly won’t scor" for Wednesday night?
  • Jose Theodore's save on Pierre-Marc Bouchard was other-worldly.
  • The Caps scored a power play goal for the seventh straight game, and it was only the eighth the Wild have allowed all season, so there's that.
  • Losing Boyd Gordon hurt where you'd expect it to - the Caps were only three-for-five on the penalty kill in his (and Jeff Schultz's) absence, and won only two of ten shorthanded faceoffs.
  • Did Derek Boogaard get a piece of JT60 on a free skate near the crease or was I seeing things?
  • Because of injuries and/or coach's decisions, four players played less than seven-and-a-half minutes and fewer than ten shifts, leaving the rest of the ice time to be divied up amongst the other 14 skaters. Milan Jurcina absorbed a lot of those minutes and ended up with 21:25 of ice time, and finished with an assist, a plus-one rating, and a pair each of shots and hits.
  • The Caps were outshot 33-28, but when you add in shots that were blocked and missed, the Caps sent more rubber towards the Minny goal than vice versa by a 57-50 margin.
  • John Erskine continues to be horrible with the puck, coughing it up whenever pressured, as was the case on the first Wild goal. Erskine had a team-worst minus-9 Corsi Rating (Tyler Sloan had the team's best mark at plus-11).
  • Eric Fehr did a great job out-muscling Kim Johnsson for the puck on the play that ended with Matt Bradley's goal, but Fehr should have shot the puck himself rather than forcing the pass to a well-covered Bradley. Hey, the Caps got a bounce!
  • Shouldn't one have to close his hand on the puck in order to get penalized for closing his hand on the puck?

So the Caps - most of them, at least - return home battered and bruised to face the worst team in the Conference on Wednesday night. A little home cooking has rarely sounded so good.

Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

The Caps are holding steady at seventh for the second straight week in CBSSports.com's power rankings.... Joe Finley can eat 50 buffalo wings, but has played only two games this season due to injury. Hell of a combination (and h/t to sk8 on the first link)....

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