Sunday, January 28, 2007

Just what the doctor ordered

Ahhh... now that's more like it. After Friday, the Capitals destiny seemed written in stone. The Southeast Division was too strong. Carolina and Atlanta had too much talent, Tampa matched up too well with us with their offensive skills, and the team kept on giving points away to Florida. The Capitals just didn't quite have enough talent to compete.

And then Saturday happened. Like the first beam of dawn after a terrible storm, the Capitals game reappeared. They stormed Carolina from the outset, pressuring in all three zones, forcing turnovers, and absolutely BURYING their scoring opportunities. They scored on the power play, they scored shorthanded, they scored at even strength. They scored and scored and scored some more. And at the end of the day they stood strong, still in the thick of the playoff hunt.

Congrats to Eric "I only score big goals" Fehr for scoring his first NHL goal which, to no surprise, ended up the game winner. If he keeps playing a strong offensive game like he did Saturday, I don't think the folks in Hershey, PA will see him again for a long, long while. Fehr is ready for the big time, and he needs to cut his teeth at the NHL level for him to be ready to assume some serious offensive responsibility, either in the playoffs this year or next season.

The Russian Scoring Spree continued, with Semin netting 2 goals and Ovechkin one. I'm really liking the way these two continue to perform, especially since it seems to have raised the competitiveness in Semin. It seems like he wants to be a part of the Battle for Russian Supremacy, and the Caps can only benefit from a little friendly competition between their two best offensive players.

Lost in all the offensive output was another stellar game from Olie Kolzig, who was a wall when the team needed him most in the second and third periods. It's been said over and over again, but it bears repeating (and repeating again): This team would be absolutely lost without Kolzig. I only hope the team improves enough to get him another deep playoff run before his time playing in the NHL is over. It would be a shame otherwise.

On another note entirely, someone needs to call Dale Hunter and have him come in and work with Sutherby on his faceoff technique. He got positively owned in the circle against Brind'Amour (which isn't surprising) but he also struggles against lesser opposition. And NOBODY in Caps history won more big faceoffs than The Big Game Hunter. Now if someone upstairs can just find his number...

So what did last night show us? That the Capitals are ready to compete. That they CAN take on the best their division (and the league) has to offer. And that it's far too early to know just about anything else.

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