In a nutshell, the story of tonight's game was pressure. For the game's first thirty minutes (and then some) the Capitals weren't generating much in the way of sustained offense because they weren't making things nearly difficult enough for the Hurricanes. Carolina was allowed time to clear the puck out of their own end, to skate through the neutral zone, and to move the puck deep in Caps territory without too much resistance - and that's simply not going to win you many hockey games. Every team in the NHL has enough skill that they're not going to makes mistakes if you don't pressure them, and it's awfully hard to win when you let the other team do what they want. On one hand you can be frustrated it took the Caps so long to ramp up the pressure they needed to. On the other hand you can be happy they were able to do it - because that's imposing your will in your opponent, and that's what great teams do.
Ten additional notes on tonight's game:
- First things first: if anyone knows the story behind the guy dressed as an astronaut at tonight's game, lay it on us. Please.
- Friday night/Saturday morning Pick 'Em: More Impressive: Alexander Semin's ability to put a puck in a teacup from fifty feet away or his incredible poise in front of the net?
- Speaking of Semin, his first goal was created by a nifty blue line keep-in on the part of Jeff Schultz. Goes to show why discounting the secondary assist can be a mistake. Plus it almost makes up for Schultz doing...whatever it was he was doing on the play that led to Eric Staal's goal.
- The Capitals had 40 shots on goal tonight. The Hurricanes attempted 37.
- We've been pretty vocal about the number of hard hits Mike Green has taken this year and whether or not something needs to be done to try and dissuade opposing players from taking those liberties. Well, if Green is going to respond to getting hit hard like he did tonight, maybe we'll pipe down (though we will note that there's no reason to wait to get hit before you start dishing them out, Greenie).
- I don't care who you are, taking a puck off the mouth and coming back to the game to score a shorthanded, game-trying goal on a wicked slapshot off a nice interception is simply bad ass.
- You can critique Chris Clark's play, be frustrated with his offensive output, wonder if he's worth his cap hit, and even question if he should relinquish the captaincy, but you can't not love the fact that he doesn't take any crap from anybody. Ever.
- If you're trying look for answers as to why Tomas Fleischmann either seems to be invisible or generating high quality scoring chances, look at his play away from the puck. When he's moving, he creates chances. When he isn't, he doesn't.
- Fans in attendance got their money's worth tonight. I mean, it's not too often you see seven goals in a game played under pre-lockout rules.
- It was only forty degrees out today - how could the ice possibly be as bad as it seemed?
Tomorrow the boys will be up in Canada to take on the Leafs in a Hockey Night in Canada show down. Here's hoping they used that energy they saved in the first half of tonight's game to pull out a win.