It gives us a challenge. It just keeps us on top of things, so that we're not losing the mindframe that we need going into the playoffs. - Mike Green, to Al Koken on the CSN broadcast just prior to face-off, on what it meant to face the Penguins tonight.
Challenge accepted and met. Well, sort of. It was a playoff-style game. Tight checking, sharp netminding, heavy hits, all in a raucous home building. Unfortunately, not ended in playoff-style. A bit deflating to have to go through the shootout motions after this exhaustive affair. But, nevertheless, the Washington Capitals have now matched their franchise season-best points record of 108 and, further, breaking the records of home wins and total wins (30 and 50, respectively) is still within reach.
Oh yeah, and three up and three down for the Pens against the Caps this season. For what that's worth. Actually, to know that (a now precious few) Pittsburgh supporters have left the D.C. barn despondent again this season is still worth quite a bit.
Ten more notes on the game:
- For all those that maintain that Alexander Semin has no hockey sense, Sasha he don't need much o' that with hands like those, at both ends of the ice on the third period PK. He was the firestarter tonight for the triumphant comeback. But did he get jobbed on the high-stick call for a follow through?
- Speaking of hockey sense, good Canadian prairie native Eric Fehr always seems to be in the right place, take the right angle to the net, and just make the smart hockey play this season, doesn't he?
Jose Theodore excelled from start to finish. Saw rubber through traffic, kept a good number of rebounds to the sides. Unfortunately, it seemed that the trio of forwards on ice for Jordan Staal's GTG -- Eric Belanger, Matt Bradley, and David Steckel -- were more mesmerized by Theo's brilliant efforts a moment ago than were Staal and co.
- The apparent lack of communication between Tom Poti and Joe Corvo in the first frame was unnerving. Chalk it up to Corvo getting adjusted again after a night off.
Jason Chimera brought speed through the neutral zone, and muscle behind the net against the likes of Brooks Orpik and Staal. But he didn't bring any punishment to Orpik, who ran Brendan Morrison without payback. Maybe with both Brooks Laich and Boyd Gordon out, and Quintin Laing getting so few shifts (only 6:40 TOI tonight), it was a tricky proposition to risk losing another checking forward to the box.
John Carlson now has two games versus the Penguins notched in his belt, skating 17:43 and 17:39, respectively, making some key blocks and creating a fair bit of offense. But we'd prefer not to see him rush to the net with Sidney Crosby behind him, ready to break the other way. Is he playoff ready as the 6th D?
- We don't like that a Cap player was the recipient, but the open ice hit by Staal on Semin was good, clean hockey fun.
- You might have expected Matt Cooke to be the #1 pest tonight going in, but Michael Rupp sure made a case for himself.
- Each team won exactly 50% of its draws (28 for 56) but, on this night, Morrison schooled Crosby on the draw (winning 5 of 6 head-to-head). Adding to Mo's case for second line center in the post-season?
- Coach pulled another shootout rabbit out of his hat, giving Mike Knuble the nod to bury the skills competition winner. We knew that Bradley would have been next.
Tonight's was a matchup that lived up to the hype. But importantly, for Caps' fans, it showed again that the team has the ability to play the sound defensive game required for a deep playoff run.