It is good to see a win up on the board. Here are some of the things I noticed at the game. 1st an off the ice issue. I have seen a lot of complaining about the white netting, it didn’t bother me at all and I think part of why people are against it is that they are just used to the old black nets. I remember when the nets first came it people said they would never buy seats behind the net again, after a while we got used to it and it was fine.
Now on to the one ice stuff. It was nice to see Troy Brouwer out for his first game with the Caps. You could tell he was still just a little off with his timing but you have to like how he plays. Even with coming back from a shoulder injury he was out hitting and going to the net. Him and Ovie could use a little work with timing but he could very easily work as a first line right wing to take the Mike Knuble position next year or this year if Knuble is even slower then last year. He didn’t look slow tonight and made the defensive play of the game when after missing on a diving attempt to poke the puck out of the zone stuck with the play and even with still being on his stomach was able to take the puck away and get the clear anyway.
There are some things I like about the new Caps PP and some things I don’t. I, like most, like not having Ovechkin on the point and like him on the half wall. However, once he got the puck on the half wall tonight there were 5 Caps standing still like they were frozen into the ice. If the Caps don’t get some movement their PP will not get better. One thing they were doing better was getting into the zone. Chris Bourque did a great job getting it into the zone on the second PP getting the puck to Brouwer who tried to get it to Ovie but was just off for him but it went back to Wideman who put it on net and got a good bounce off it looked like Tyutin. On the second PP goal we had the munchkin line out (Eakin, Perreault, and Bourque) and there was lots of movement with a great feed from the Hammer to Perreault for the goal. The final thing I noticed on the PP was that in the entire game Green was not once out on a Power Play. Not sure if that was because he will play with Carlson who wasn’t playing or if it means something else.
On the other side the PK looked solid and had three forward sets rolling with two D pairs rolling. The forward sets were Halpern and Beagle, MJ90 and Knuble, and Hendricks and Brouwer. The Caps also kept their idea of sending out Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Semin after the PK was done. It didn’t lead to anything tonight but is an interesting idea and it didn’t seem to hurt the PK even with trying to get a shorty as Knuble and Johansson had a two on one on the last PK of the game. The D pairs on the D were just the normal 2 Caps pairings for the game with McNeil taking Schultz’s spot when he was in the box.
That makes me think that right now McNeill has a slight edge over Orlov when it comes to first call up. McNeill also had a Chara like turnbuckle hit on Andrew Joudrey which got the small crowd to make some noise. Orlov looked solid in the game and had a few good shots and didn’t make any bad pinches or get beat by anyone. Orlov seems to be good at playing D when he is back playing D it is his decision making that needs work. He still will be a great player very soon for the Caps.
It was hard to distinguish who of the munchkin line did the most to help them win a roster spot. The second goal was a great example off all of them going their job extremely well to get the goal. Perreault tied up the guy along the wall allowing for Bourque to get the puck and put it in front for Eakin who had snuck away from the D and was all alone in front. The one downside I saw from the line was as expected they were knocked down many times. Bourque seemed to have the most issue with staying up on hits. Perreault was in front of the net several times getting beat up and refusing to go down but was able to be moved. However he is more offensive minded then someone like Eakin who had several great backchecks to break up plays. If I had to pick one right now I would take Perreault, he had NHL experience that Eakin doesn’t and isn’t as easy to knock down which Bourque is however with Sjogren still the dark horse I feel like he has the best chance to make the team because of his size though he has not impressed me personally.
The one Jackets goal was a over commit on the first shooter by McNeill who skated past his guy allowing the first shot and Backstrom was beaten by his man on the rebound so both take some blame and I also feel like it was one Neuvy would want back but he had several huge saves early in the game and it very well could have been tied at the end of one if it wasn’t for him.
Wideman and Hamrlik looked very good out there together and with Green and Schultz having played together for so long I sort of like the idea of having the new guy together. However, there were two times that Green and Schultz were both next to each other on the same side of the ice. The first time was coming down into the zone where Green was on Schultz’s side and the puck came down Green’s playing side and Schultz and to switch sides, slowly, to cover. The other time was both of them going into the corner for the puck and luckily won the puck because they left a Jacket in front wide open.
Now for Mr. Alex Semin. While his first penalty was exactly as called the second call on him was a dive and a reputation call. He just barely got the stick of the Jacket player and yet it somehow caused the player to fall back like he had been hooked from behind at the waist which he wasn’t. While he is the center of blame by many it seems some of the stuff he gets called for is because of the name on his back not what he actually did and that is a bigger issue then when he gets called for stuff he does because if this gets worse even when he makes a good play and steals the puck he will get called for a clean play. He has to reduce the offensive zone penalties if for no other reason then to reduce the reputation calls he gets.
It looks like wearing the number 15 means you are the defensive zone faceoff specialist as Halpern took both late game faceoffs in the defensive zone.
For more pictures and a short video of Orlov shoing his hands go here http://s365.photobucket.com/albums/oo98/icehammer97/Caps%20Vs%20Jackets/