Thursday, January 24, 2008

Erskine Decides to Do His Stevens Impersonation; Capitals 2, Leafs 3

When did Johnny Erskine discover the ability to throw open ice hits like Scott Stevens?! The man was an absolute beast last night, clobbering Leafs forwards and putting the fear of God into them. Is it that Johnny has discovered something, or do the Leafs skate like Mites with their heads down? Either way, he was sure fun to watch last night. That hit on Darcy Tucker was priceless, then the check where he sent another Leafs forward flying into the boards had me out of my seat.

The best part is, his angry play seems to have rubbed off on the younger Capitals defensemen, with Mike Green flooring Blake and Steve Eminger throwing his body around as if his career depended on it (which, of course, it does). I must say that at this point I much prefer Eminger's desperate play to Schultz's "simple" (read: weak) plays. Yes, Schultz is 6'6", and yes, he has a ten foot wingspan, but what good is size if you don't use it. I think some more seasoning in Hershey is just the ticket for young Jeff. Either that, or a few workouts with this guy:

Anyway, the Caps were lulled into playing the Leafs' style of boring, boring, boring, slow hockey last night, and payed the price. The Caps totally dominated the first seven and a half minutes of the first period, but Toskala and the Leafs survived the onslaught, and, of course, scored the game's first goal. Somehow, both Caps defensemen decided that after wrapping the puck around the boards, there was no need to go back in front of the net and cover an absolutely naked Chad Kilger. Oops. That one was a little embarassing, and seemed to deflate the Caps. The rest of the game, the old, slow Leafs defensemen did a decent job against The Russian Maching, keeping him to the outside and forcing shots from wide. Of course, OV still fired a bullet past Toskala.

The rest of the game was -- unremarkable (read: practically unwatchable), with the exception of another brilliant move by Semin. Give credit to Dave Steckel for recognizing the fact that he was breaking in on net with Semin. I can just imagine his thought process: I should shoot, wait, that's Semin, I'll just give him the puck and take the assist.

One sweet move by Semin later, and the Caps tied the game at 2. Unfortunately, in a move that could only have been brought on by his being starstruck coaching in Toronto, with less than a minute remaining Bruce Boudreau decided to go all in and put Alexander "Knucklehead" Semin out for the final shift of regulation. Out broke the Leafs 3-on-3. Unfortunately, the 3rd Leafs forward was Mats "I don't want to be traded" Sundin, and the 3rd Capitals forward, the guy responsible for picking up Sundin, the most dangerous Leaf player for the last 10 years, was Knucklehead, who promptly did what he always does and skated straight towards the puck -- like a moth drawn to a flame.

Of course, the puck went right to Sundin, who promptly deposited it under Kolzig (we really could've used that save Olie), who was in position to make a fantastic save, but somehow didn't (seriously Olie). The puck slowly, slowly, slowly crept UNDER Olie's stomach, and that was that. Dammit. Other items of note:
1) Did I mention Erskine was a BEAST. Never sit him again. Ever.
2) I'll take Eminger's boarding penalty any day. Good, aggressive, hard-nosed hockey. Just try not to do it from behind.
3) Typical night for The Russian Machine: 20 shifts, 8 shots, 1 goal, +1
4) Typical night for Knucklehead Semin: 3 shots, 1 beautiful goal, 1 boneheaded, lazy backcheck with the game on the line.
5) One all-too typical lately game for Kolzig: 21 saves on 24 shots: .875 save percentage. Does anyone remember the days in the last two years when his line looked like this: 42 saves on 45 shots .933 save percentage, 4 or 5 all-world saves? Me neither.

Let's see if the Caps can continue their trend of not losing consecutive games. They need to. At least, and I can't believe I'm saying this, we'll have Brent Johnson in net tonight.

No comments: