The Washington Capitals have a heck of a record this season - no one can dispute that. They've also had some inconsistent efforts, a few lucky bounces and, truth be told, won some games they probably didn't deserve to. It'd be easy to look at last night's game on a superficial level and declare it a failure on the team's part; to say that the team tonight's lost the point they maybe shouldn't have taken out of Long Island. But while there's no doubt the Capitals could have played better the reality is that they were played a hard working team, on a bad ice surface, on the day after a game with travel in between. Certainly they could have won; possibly the should have won. But we can live with the result.
Ten additional thoughts on last night's game:
- No matter the result, the story tonight was Tomas Fleischmann. For one night at least, we all saw what Bruce Boudreau sees on a regular basis: a guy capable of being a major offensive force in the National Hockey League. What's even more impressive is how Flash made his impact. We're accustomed to a guy who spends most of the game on the perimeter and tries to produce by relying on his skill. But tonight we saw a guy who was willing to get to the dirty areas - the corners, the front of the net - to help his team. What's more is that Fleischmann was able to do with without sacrificing the speed and agility that's given him success in the past. In short, just a hell of a night for a guy whose fought his way back to the lineup from a downright frighting injury.
- The game's underway, and the crowd's in to it. The Islanders take a four minute penalty. Blood is in the water. The Caps knows it. The fans know it. The Islanders know it. And out comes Washington's first firstplay unit of Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green, Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom and...Tomas Fleischmann.
Sigh.Good thinking, Coach.
- Ovechkin-to-Semin-to-Backstrom halfway through the first was as bad as the carebear line gets; after the game Boudreau simply said of Semin's pass, "It was a dumb play".
- Nicklas Backstrom looks off. Making bad passes, giving the puck away, and struggling with his skating stride. Something's not quite right with him, and neither injury nor illness would surprise me.
- The ice quality at Verizon Center is bad enough that it's usually not worth mentioning that it's bad on a day to day basis. That said: tonight's ice was bad.
- Brian Pothier has all but disappeared since his assist against the Rangers. There's value in the "I didn't notice him, and that's a good thing" approach when you're talking about defensemen, but at some point a puck-mover like Potsy has got to create something.
- I'm not going to say that Mike Knuble's goal interference penalty shouldn't have been called, but I am going to say that I wouldn't have been surprised if that had been the first time I'd ever seen a goalie called for a dive.
- Look, it's hard to play in your own end as a defenseman in the NHL, and there's an awful lot to keep track of. That said, Tom Poti needs to find a way to stop screening his goalies.
Milan Jurcina had 16:06 of total ice time; 2:32 shorthanded. Shaone Morrisonn had 14:43; 0:40 shorthanded. I guess we know how Boudreau would have voted on Friday's Pick 'Em.
- Say what you want about the pucks that got through, but Jose Theodore had a couple of very nice saves tonight - and at key moments, no less.
Things should get interesting this Sunday - it might not really be possible to have a "grudge match" with a Western Conference opponent, but the Caps have got to feel like they have something to prove to the Blue Jackets after being swept by identical 3-0 scores in their two meetings last season.