While enduring the tedium of the hockey-less summer one topic discussed more than once was how the Capitals should handle their home opener and the raising of their 2008-09 Southeast Division Champions banner. Naturally, the team had to acknowledge their achievement, to put up a banner, and to give the fans a chance to celebrate a little bit. But to make a huge ceremony out of the event would have been a mistake because it would have been, in a sense, saying that winning the Southeast is in and of itself is cause for celebration when, at this point, the team's aspirations should be much higher. Ted Leonsis and the team's staff handled the banner-raising the right way, something that was reflected in the all-out, get-down-to-business manner in which the team started the game.
Of course the team came out and laid an egg in the third period, a fact that's undeniable no matter how well they played and how many things they did right in the first two. After the game Bruce Boudreau said he hoped the team had learned "a cheap lesson" and that in the situation the team was in at the second intermission they needed to clamp down and focus on winning the game 6-1 rather than taking risks and trying to win 9-1. While the point is well taken, it's also worth asking, "shouldn't they already know that?"
Ten additional thoughts on tonight's game:
- Jeff Finger is really, really good at running "legal interference". And not much else.
- One more good game from Shaone Morrisonn and I'll be ready to officially declare him back in 07-08 form.
- Lee Stempniak made Semyon Varlamov look awfully bad on his goal. That, Caps fans, can be the downside of a super-athletic goalie.
- Matt Bradley's new helmet looks like that goofy lid David Wright wore when he came back from concussion.
- Through two games Quintin Laing has been credited with exactly zero shot blocks.
- Nicklas Backstrom's curl to free up space on the play that eventually led to Mike Knuble's goal was downright Nylander-ian. In a good way.
- Two games, two "Alexander Semin hat tricks"...for Alex Ovechkin.
- For all the talk of the Maple Leafs new-found truculence, the Caps outhit them 24-22.
- The Caps have now killed off all eight powerplays against them this season.
- Wait, did John Erskine really just get undressed one-on-one by Jeff Finger? Damn it.
Here's hoping Boudreau's right that the team learned their lesson tonight, because there won't be nearly as much of a margin for error against the Flyers come Tuesday.