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Friday Roundup/Rangers 2, Capitals 0Gamenight: Flyers @ Caps

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[AP Recap - Game Summary - Super Stats - AP Preview - Pregame]

The Caps were without two 30-goal scorers and their top offensive defenseman. What was the Rangers' excuse this time? Still gellin'? Bad ice at MSG? My money's on "we don't need an excuse, we won the game." Touché.

The defensive battle that seemed destined to happen did, in fact, materialize and the Rangers were able to eke out a 2-0 victory, despite being outplayed for the most part by the visiting Capitals. Some thoughts on the game:
  • Stupid Rule Alert: when two players from the same team commit infractions on the same play, the result is a 5-on-3 power play for the opposing team, but should one player commit two wholly separate fouls on the same play, the result is a double-minor. That makes no sense - the result should be the same, regardless of whether one or multiple players are in the wrong. Don't get me wrong here - I'm not debating the legitimacy of any of the penalties that were called (I'll let you guys do that), just the rule itself.
  • The Caps did indeed come out strong, firing 32 shots towards Henrik Lundqvist in the first period. Unfortunately, 16 were blocked and six missed the net entirely (the Rangers only attempted 11 shots on Olie Kolzig in the first, with seven getting through to him). For the game, the Caps attempted 70 shots (a whopping 30 of which were blocked by Blueshirt skaters) to the Rangers' 45. But it's not necessarily quantity as much as quality of shots that matter. If a shot is going to be blocked, often that's not a shot worth taking - take a step to one side or the other or dish the biscuit. And for the love of Pete(r Bondra), lift the puck every now and again.
  • Nicklas Backstrom's touch pass to spring Matt Pettinger on a mini-breakaway early in the first was gorgeous, and Lundqvist's save on fellow countryman Backstrom in the second period was breathtaking.
  • Also as predicted, it was a hard-hitting affair, with 71 credited hits. By contrast, last night's Sabres/Bruins game had 23 hits through regulation.
  • The first line had great puck possession down low for most of the game. I'm still not sold on Boyd Gordon as a fit on that line (though I do believe that Viktor Kozlov belongs on the wing) because without a playmaker, Alex Ovechkin tries to carry the puck too much rather than working to get open for a pass. But the possession game generated some decent scoring chances, so I guess it'll work in a pinch.
  • Milan Jurcina's hit on Scott Gomez on an offside play in the first was nice. Matt Bradley's hit late in the same period was thunderous.
  • I'd be a lot more comfortable with Kozlov's "float like a butterfly" style of play if he would "sting like a bee" a bit more often.
  • Caps skaters on the ice for the Rangers' first goal: John Erskine, Mike Green, Matt Bradley, Brian Sutherby and Tomas Fleischmann. If the team is healthy, are any of those guys other than Greenie and possibly Flash even in the lineup?
  • Who, exactly, were Ranger fans chanting "A..-hole" at when the puck rolled up Dan Girardi's stick and into his face?
  • I wish the Caps had Nick and not Jeff Schultz.
Next up, the Flyers, who come into town after having also played Thursday night for a battle of two of last year's four worst teams. A season ago, the Caps took all four games from the Flyers, outscoring Philly 20-9. But the Flyers have gotten much better, and fast, and come into the game sitting atop the Atlantic Division. They're scoring goals, preventing 'em, and, of course, bring old friend Daniel Briere (as well as a certain familiar-to-Philly reputation) to town with them.

Unfortunately for the Caps, the schedule doesn't get any easier after Friday night, as they hit the road for Southeast Division bouts at Carolina and Atlanta and then take a quick trip up to Ottawa on Thursday night. In other words, the team needs this one. Bad.

Why The Flyers Will Win:
I would never predict a Flyers win, because that's just asking for trouble. The only way we get a win tonight is if Marty smacks some sense into the guys and we get more than 8 shots on goal in any one period. Also, we have gone one whole game without any suspensions, so look for Rory Fitzpatrick to take out a Cap (I'm thinking Nylander). Watch your backs, Caps! - eager to go psycho
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks (and Beyond):

Joe Motzko is skating on the fourth line in Hershey, yet was on the first power play unit in D.C. From the penthouse to the outhouse, I suppose.... Really? Don Waddell might be the best head coach the Thrashers can find? Really?... This has nothing to do with hockey, but it's so awesome in its marriage of nostalgia and online originality, that I had to pass it along.... When Brendan Shanahan registered his 1,300th NHL point, not a single fan cheered, despite the game being played at Madison Square Garden.... Chicago rookie Patrick Kane's 16 points (five goals) in twelve October games were the most for a rookie in that month since Teemu Selanne had 20 in 1992 (en route to one of the best rookie years ever). In case you were wondering, AO had 13 points (eight goals) in eleven games in October of '05 and Sidney Crosby had 14 points (2 goals) in eleven games in October of '06.... Finally, cheers go out to ubiquitous FOTR (Friend Of The Rink) Eric McErlain, who has scored himself yet another blogging gig, this time as an expert at The Sporting News.

Daily Awards
  • Hart: Daniel Alfredsson (2G, including the game-winner, 2A, +3)
  • Ross: Daniel Alfredsson (4 points)
  • Norris: Nicklas Lidstrom (2A, +1)
  • Vezina: Henrik Lundqvist (31-save shutout win)
  • Richard: Ilya Kovalchuk (3G)
  • Calder:Dan Ellis (29-save shutout win... and yeah, I know he's too old to win the Calder, but he gets the shoutout here)
  • Aiken: Johan Hedberg (4 goals allowed on 19 shots against in just 32:03 of work... and if NHL scoring rules made any sense, he'd have had the loss, too)