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The Afternoon Narrative: Game 3 Starter Named, Shatty Defense and Head Shots

Three things we’re talking about this afternoon when we’re talking about the Caps

Pittsburgh Penguins v Washington Capitals - Game Two Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

1. With a night to sleep on it, Barry Trotz has made his decision regarding the Caps’ Game 3 starter in net:

Yeah, why would you think otherwise?

Oh yeah. That.

Well, he kinda has been so far, so...

2. Speaking of not-so-great, Kevin Shattenkirk’s disappointing play has finally drawn the (public) attention of the coach:

Is that minus-seven really any harder to recover from than his partner’s (Brooks Orpik’s) minus-five, when the last two minuses on Shattenkirk’s ledger came with the goalie pulled and on a shorthanded goal-against? Of course not. But that’s not the point... and that shorthanded goal-against sorta is. Here’s another look at it:

Shattenkirk a) decides not to pass to a pretty wide-open Alex Ovechkin for a possible one-timer from an area on the ice from which he’s scored a goal or two, b) fails to get his own shot through the defending forward, c) fumbles the puck after it’s blocked back at him, and d) loses the footrace with 40-year-old Matt Cullen, allowing Cullen to continue on his way to breaking the game’s scoreless tie.

And that was the second-straight goal-against for which Shattenkirk was on the ice and failing to distinguish himself defensively. Recall Game 1’s game-winner:

Shattenkirk’s defense on Scott Wilson, to the extent there was any, was ineffective. And the story in the first round was, at times, similar. And again, unless Trotz is talking about that Cullen shorty, it’s hard to see why Shattenkirk would be singled out over Orpik. Dare we say... Mike Milbury is correct in his analysis here?

We’ve been over this already - the underlying numbers for the third pair have been good, but the mistakes have outweighed that generally positive play, and there hasn’t been nearly enough in the way of goals-for to mitigate that. At this point, it might be worth trying Shattenkirk with Nate Schmidt and John Carlson with Orpik, but given how they’d likely be deployed (which is to say more of the latter duo, less of the former), it’s uncertain if not unlikely that the change would be a net positive. Like so much of this series so far, the best course of action is probably to stay the course and hope to eliminate or minimize the big mistakes. The Caps have tilted the ice when Shattenkirk’s been on it, but if some regression doesn’t happen real soon, that won’t matter a bit.

3. We now go live to the land of the insane and irresponsible for thoughts on the Alex Ovechkin wrister that unfortunately caught Ron Hainsey in the head...

That’s exactly what they’re implying.

This isn’t the first time that an Alex Ovechkin misfire has caught another skater up high. Ask then-teammate Chris Clark, for example. Or future-teammate Jack Hillen, for another. Or never-teammate Alex Tanguay, for a third. You get the point.

Alex Ovechkin shoots pucks. It’s what he does. A lot of them miss the net, high, wide and otherwise (he has missed the net with 1,966 shot attempts since entering the League, more than 700 more than the second highest total on the list, and that doesn’t include blocked shots... like this unfortunate one). If this shot was “careless,” so too have been hundreds if not thousands of Ovechkin attempts. Is that what’s being asserted? And to suggest that Ovechkin was trying to take Hainsey out isn’t analagous to saying a pitcher was throwing at a batter when he drilled him, but more like a batter was aiming for the pitcher when a line-drive back up the middle hits the hurler. That’s nuts. But if any Penguins actually said as much, it’d be nice to put a name to the suggestion.

Put another way: