Flying High

The early battle for first place in the conference ended up as a draw. The Caps win in overtime left the two teams tied overall. Philly's win streak ends at six, while the Caps extend theirs to four.

Holtby picked up his second win, backstopping the Caps for the entire game. The two goals allowed dropped his save percentage all the way down to .931.

The Caps played a very good game from start to finish (well, except for the breakaway that led to the first Philly goal), leading every category except hits. No surprise being behind there, of course; Philly has always been a big-hitting team. I was a little surprised DJ King didn't get a jersey for that reason, but I do agree with the decision. But the Caps kept their collective cool about those hits, and didn't get themselves thrown into the sin bin much (only two penalties).

Fehr had his best game of the season, constantly buzzing around the net and wreaking havok in the Philly defense. He also scored the first goal on a wicked shot to the far, top corner from the outside of the left circle.

Semin also managed to have another very nice game for himself, extending his goal streak to four games. Backstrom didn't manage a single shot, but have two assists, the one on Semin's goal being a very pretty one.

The end of the game, where it was tied at two at the end of regulation, was very interesting. The Caps were on a four minute power play due to Pronger whacking Steckel in the face with his stick, the penalty lasting until five seconds into overtime. Flash then managed to draw a boarding call with 19 seconds left, leaving the Caps with a 5:3 man advantage to close out regulation.

Since the Caps failed to score in regulation, they went into the break still on a 2-man advantage. Since you can't play 4-on-2, they left it 5-on-3 to start overtime, and played 5-on-4 once Pronger returned from the box. They were going to change it back to 4-on-3 once play stopped, but the play didn't stop until Lambo-greenie put one into the back of the net (Knuble providing a nice screen).

All in all, I'd probably rate this as the Caps second-best overall effort of the season. Unfortunate that they couldn't finish it thirty seconds sooner, and deny Philly the point, but two points is two points. So, for now, Philly and Washington are tied in the standings with 20 points.

I will say, though, that OV's play has felt a bit off, to me, for a while, and I think I finally figured out why that is. He doesn't seem to put forth a lot of effort when he doesn't have the puck. He isn't moving very fast, for the most part, and seems to spend quite a bit of time looking for a breakout pass that mostly isn't coming. And when he does get the puck, he's too often trying to go 1-on-2 or 1-on-3 into the offensive zone. He's a good enough player that that isn't a completely hopeless idea, but it's awfully long odds. I also wish he'd go back to, at least sometimes, taking the outside route around defenders. Even if it didn't lead to a significant number of scoring opportunities, it'd help keep them honest and give him more space to make the inside move.

That isn't to say he isn't, still, the best player on the team, I just feel like he isn't playing to his capabilities. I suppose it's probably a bit churlish to say that of someone who has 18 points in 14 games, but he could be doing better. And if his team-mates feel that he's not giving full effort, they might feel like they don't have to, either. That's one thing that does suck about being the captain. Anyway, hopefully I'm reading too much into very little.

I guess we'll get a little better idea on Tuesday, when the Caps head up to MSG to go after the Rangers. Damn, just thinking about that makes me want to start chanting 'Nineteen-Forty'; but 'Ninety-Four' just doesn't sound the same.

Update: I forgot that I wanted to mention that Holtby looked very good handling the puck. And I should probably also point out that I don't think he looked good enough to expect him to maintain that save percentage, but for as young as he is, he looked great.

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