For a team with the talent and expectations of the Washington Capitals, there's really no such thing as a moral victory. But it was nice to see the team come out with more effort, more willingness to dig around the corners, to hit and to let themselves be hit and to prove they can play with the NHL's elite. So once again the Capitals have demonstrated they can play with the best teams in the NHL - when they want to.
While it'd be easy for fans to take comfort in the fact that the Caps can hang with the best, it's impossible not to believe that their poor performances against mediocre teams are costing them on nights like tonight. If the Capitals were truly striving to improve each and every game the breakouts would be a little smoother, the passes a little crisper, and the restraining penalties fewer. In short, you can't keep in top form if don't give full effort every time out.
Ten additional thoughts on tonight's game:
- There's no shortage of people ready to let them have it when referees make mistakes, so we'll take this little bit of space to acknowledge them for doing well: the decision to keep play alive after the net was knocked off it's moorings in the moments before Brendan Morrison's goal took some guts and was the right call.
- It's fun to watch Shaone Morrisonn play with a mean streak, isn't it?
- The Caps defensemen have developed a new habit, likely due to Bob Woods' influence: dumping the puck in to the corner from the point, and we love it. After all, there's no rule that says you can't play the puck in deep just because you've already gained the zone.
- Derek Meech is lucky that he wasn't shown the gate for his hit on Quintin Laing.
- Last week (and last spring) it was Mike Green's stick's fault that he wasn't playing well. Now he thinks it's his gloves. The questions we have about that twofold: why didn't he resolve this situation over the summer or training camp, and how does this contribute to the fact that he has now taken six minor penalties in five games, five of which have been restraining fouls and four of which have been HHT penalties?
- When Nicklas Backstrom bears down on an opposing goalie with his hair spilling out of the side of his helmet I imagine the goalie must suddenly get the feeling he knows exactly what Dennis Nedry's final moments were like.
- In a shot- or scoring chance-quality sense, there's no way Matt Bradley deserved his goal. In a karmic sense that takes into account all the other good things Bradley did for the team - relentless forechecking, drawing a penalties, and blocking shots - he couldn't have deserved it more.
- Brian Pothier got pushed around on the play that led to Ville Leino's goal, but good on him for getting more physical after that point.
- When Pavel Datsyuk beat out Mike Richards for the Selke Trophy last season I was adamant that Richards had been robbed. After tonight's game I'm not so sure.
- If the Capitals didn't have Mike Knuble or Brooks Laich, would they set Tom Poti up in front of the net on the powerplay? He's been awfully good at screening goaltenders lately.
On the bright side, the team seems like they're back on track in terms of effort and "compete level". Let's hope it stays that way.