I watched the Caps game last night with a definite sense of satisfaction. There were many good things to go around: the top line produced like one, the power play scored, MarJo only lost one faceoff, Varly saved 92% (although he'd definitely like to have that first goal back), there was effort from start to finish, and they even showed Tampa-specific strategy. Oh, and Hendricks and Bradley both had long fights where they acquitted themselves well. Plus, Hendricks managed to draw a roughing penalty on Roloson, of all people; I felt like I was watching Ron Hextall on the replay of that sequence.
More specifically, everyone on the top line scored a goal (Backstrom had an extra, as well, and almost made it a hat trick when Tampa's net was empty), plus they had six assists between them (Green and Carlson had the other two secondary assists on those four goals). OV, unsurprisingly (well, outside of this season, unsurprisingly), had the power play goal with a wicked wrister from the side boards that deposited itself in the net over Rolo's shoulder.
MarJo had kind of a weird game, from my perspective. The faceoffs were definitely the highlight of the game for him; this being his fourth consecutive game winning over 50% of his faceoffs, I'm definitely wondering if he's turned a corner. In any event, it's great to see. But, getting back to what made it weird, I didn't even notice him until almost the end of the first period. I was just watching, and suddenly realized that I hadn't noticed him up to that point (maybe 15 minutes in), and was wondering if he'd been scratched for some odd reason. Finally saw him shortly thereafter.
Matty P had a pretty good game. I thought he'd done ok on the faceoffs, but looking at the stat sheet, it was a disaster (I must have only noticed one of his losses to go with his three wins). He did, however, do a nice job overall; his assist on Laich's goal was very pretty (if a bit lucky he didn't end up high-sticking someone while pulling the puck between his feet). And thank goodness Boudreau didn't put him between Laich and Knuble again; those two should never be on the same line.
I mentioned the team showing some Tampa-specific strategy. Tampa, I guess, has just been clogging the zone really badly. In response, the Caps defenders were taking shots on Roloson from their own blue line to get the puck into the zone. Plus, after they had a lead, the defenders would just pass it back and forth between themselves to get Tampa to commit to pressuring them. Meanwhile, it seemed like the forwards (two of them, at least), would just skate big circles that occasionally brought them back all the way to the defenders.
The playing catch was really irking the crowd, but I was very amused. One of those sequences lasted over thirty seconds. Not exactly exciting, but a good way of saying, "Your strategy will not work". As I said, I liked it. Not only because it was a good move to throw Tampa off, but it also showed coaching to the opponent. I'm not a big fan of playing reaction to the opponent, but it was a good example of disrupting the other team's strategy.
Oh, and the long, long shots also seemed to torque Rolo. One of those shots, in particular, seemed to really piss him off. Throwing the goalie out of his comfort zone is always a good idea, especially facing one who shut you out the last two times you faced him.
Oh, and the Carlznerson line again shut down the top opposition. And this time, they were even +2 each. Nice.
Anyway, good job all around, guys. The score, combined with noticing each team's goal differential this morning, has me feeling a lot better about the Caps chances to catch the Lightning in the standings. Try to do it again tomorrow against the Pens; definitely looking forward to that game.
(Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, I didn't watch the Habs game on Tuesday, as I was busy taking my car in for service. Plus, I accidentally caught the score from the paper in the morning. *sigh*)