Wednesday, February 7, 2007

We, like Stephen Colbert, hate bears

The Caps roared out of the gate last night, pouncing on the Bruins and outshooting them to the tune of 10 to 2. Unfortunately, they couldn't slip and of their early shots past Tim Thomas, and ended the frame tied at zero. Not a good sign. The one thing this young team needed was to be rewarded for its hard work.

Instead the Bruins, who were still sitting on a tie game despite being thoroughly outplayed in the first, came out firing in the second and took the lead. Some schlub named Bochenski corralled a Bruins faceoff win in the offensive zone and rifled the puck past Kolzig to put the B's ahead.

After the Bochenski goal, the momentum of the game continued to ebb and flow between teams until Semin caught Phil "It's still to soon to make jokes about you-know-what" Kessel high with his stick, cutting Kessel in the lip and sending Semin to the box for 4 minutes. During the ensuing penalty kill, the Caps bent but didn't break, with Kolzig making a couple strong saves and the post making one for him on Kessel's shot in tight. Alex Ovechkin made a strong sliding block on a shot from Zdeno Chara, giving every fan in the greater Washington area a heart attack as he laid prone on the ice for ten seconds or so before popping up and skating to the bench. He was not injured because, as everyone knows, the Russian Machine doesn't break. While the Bruins seemed to be taking control of the action, the Capitals stood strong, weathered the storm, and continued applying forechecking pressure in the Bruins end.

Immediately in the third, that pressure payed dividends as a strong Caps forecheck forced a turnover inside the blueline, with the puck landing on the stick of Brooks Laich. Usually, this is where folks would start muttering "why couldn't it fall to Ovechkin or Semin right there? Why did it have to fall onto the stick of Brooks frickin Laich!" Well, Laich pulled out his best Semin impression, absolutely ripping a shot high to the glove side past Thomas, knotting the game at one.

After the Laich goal, the teams continued their back and forth play until the Bruins' Andrew Alberts threw a vicious knee to the groin/elbow to the head combo on Zednik, and was punished for his actions by a two minute sitdown. Although the Capitals ONCE AGAIN failed to connect on the power play, Eric "I told you I just scored big goals" Fehr put home the rebound of a Zednik slapper immediately after the penalty expired to put the Caps up 2-1.

The prospect of a two point night was, however, short-lived. With Ovechkin in the box for errantly flipping the puck out of the rink in his own end, the Bruins took advantage. Marc Savard fed Patrice Bergeron, who slammed a one timer past Kolzig to tie the game at two.

Neither team was able to generate much offense for the rest of the third or overtime frames, which led to a shootout tiebreaker. Sasha Semin scored on a move that was for all intensive purposes the exact same one he pulled against the Isles a couple days before. Unfortunately, neither Ovechkin or Fehr were able to follow up, and the Caps fell in the shootout 2-1, with Phil "It's STILL too early" Kessel burying his attempt to seal the loss for the Caps.

Observations from the game:

It's official. Chara is inside Ovie's head. Ovechkin couldn't get anything going offensively, and seemed frustrated throughout the game. Switching up the line combinations did little to help him.

The Laich-Zednik-Fehr line looked dangerous all night, and scored both Caps goals. Didn't see that coming AT ALL.

Tim Thomas looked shaky at best, even though the score doesn't indicate it. He was often out of position and moved too much, never looking settled in the crease. Not exactly a goaltender that inspires confidence.

Unfortunatlely, the Caps are in such a deep hole that one point games like these are worth about the same as regulation losses. Yet another team leapfrogs the Caps in the standings, where they now sit 13th in the conference. Not good.

All in all, not a great game, and not a great result. Next game is Thursday night against the LA Queens. Game time is 7:00 at the V. The snow will all be plowed by then, so getting to the arena for the game should be a cinch.

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