Shootouts: can't live with 'em, can't live without the extra point they yield.
On a night with subplots ranging from a match-up of the League's two leading goal-scorers to the likelihood for carnage and mayhem on ice, the game ultimately told us what we already knew - that the Caps and Flyers are a hell of a lot more evenly matched than their last meeting would indicate.
In the good ol' days, this game would have been a hard fought tie. Nowadays, we get to watch the ice resurfacing machines do their laps (twice, in fact) followed by a mini-skills competition. The result last night was a Caps win and two fantastic points (especially given Boston's regulation loss in Minny), but it wasn't, as HeartbreakRidge put it in the Open Thread, "the cathartic ass kicking" we were all hoping for - I guess we'll circle February 24 on our calendars for the next opportunity.
Some thoughts on the game:
- Jose Theodore is now 6-0-0/1.39/.949 since getting the hook in Manhattan on December 23. He's starting to remind me of another Francophone who rocked the red not too long ago.
- Last night Shaone Morrisonn was the guy we hoped he'd be this season - physical, smart, and flat-out good.
- Also good - Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn's job on Alex Ovechkin. Frankly, Coburn might have been the best player on the ice not wearing a catching glove and blocker pad.
- To say that Michael Nylander did nothing would be to ignore his giveaways, horrible offensive zone penalty (that led to the Flyer goal), ridiculous stick tapping to alert teammates to his availability to receive a pass on the power play, and inability to lift the puck over a sprawling defenseman (nice play, though) and into an open net. But hey, he won eight of 15 faceoffs.
- Playing without Danny Briere, Joffrey Lupul and others and leaving with a point on the road against the best home team in the Conference probably feels good to the Flyers, and anything that makes them happy (other than Penguin and Ranger losses), makes me more than a little ill.
Nicklas Backstrom has such good hands (see his goal), and yet continues to stink the building out in the faceoff circle, going 4-for-16 last night (Mike Richards was a fabulous 15-for-18, despite the apparent tears in his eyes). If he can get his faceoff percentage up to even 50%, my bet is he'd add 5-10 points over the course of the season.
- Riley Cote and Josh Gratton combined to play one minute less than Donald Brashear. Clowns.
- Alex Semin had a night full of "way too cute."
- Mike Green had six blocked shots, but he and Viktor Kozlov looked a step or two slower than usual (and for Kozlov, that's particularly problematic - he was terrible - though his shootout goal... wow). Perhaps they've got a bug or something.
- Eric Fehr was buzzing with linemates David Steckel and Chris Clark (the trio had great Corsi Ratings), but his failure to finish (goal-less since December 4) is getting old, fast - if the Caps wanted a good forechecker who rarely converts, they'd call up Chris Bourque.
- We joked in the Open Thread about AO's hit on Clark being an example of Ovie doing what's best for the team - taking someone out so Karl Alzner can stay in Washington. It's not as funny now that Clark is actually hurt.
So the Caps have a couple of days off before Columbus comes to town Friday (trap game with a visit to Montreal on Saturday?), and Friday could find them as healthy as they've been in ages, with the possible returns of Sergei Fedorov and Tomas Fleischmann (and exit(s) of others to make room). Of course, that's a topic for another day (say, tomorrow). For now, let's savor that sweet, sweet... shootout win.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
Get ready for Capitals Red Line (which we'd given you the heads up about back in November).... Joel Broda is the WHL's Player of the Week.... Pierre LeBrun and Nicklas Backstrom chatted before the Flyers game.... Happy Birthday to Donald Brashear (37 today) and former Caps Randy Burridge (43) and Mike Liut (53).... Finally, on this day back in 1989, Mike Ridley assisted on all six of the Caps goals in their 6-3 win over Chicago.