(I wrote this a couple of days ago, but didn't post it until tonight. I'll write about the Sabres game separately after this.)
I seem to have skipped writing about a few Caps games in a row, again. Hmm... need to work on that.
Since that last post, we've played Philadelphia, Ottawa, Montreal, Carolina, and now Columbus.
The Philly game was one of the more frustrating ones I've ever watched. The Caps were decent through the first period, but after the early second-period goal, they just seemed to fall back into a shell, hoping to outlast the Flyers. Surprise, surprise, that didn't work. The Flyers got a couple of really nice goals (Briere's tip-in was particularly nice), and suddenly it was tied. The good thing is that the game getting tied got the team back into trying, but they still ended up behind shortly thereafter. Then they really started trying, and managed to tie it up again on a MarJo goal. That was enough to get it into overtime, where not much happened. The Caps won it on the shootout, with all three shooters scoring. Now, to be clear, the reason I was so frustrated with this game was that I had very low expectations of the team, especially given their injury situation. But to sit back after getting several gift goals just had me really torqued. Enough so that I almost turned it off once they fell behind (the penalty calling did not help here, either).
The next two, as back-to-back games, were kind of linked in my mind. Before the first, I was thinking about a final score, and was thinking 2-0, but in the opposite direction. I don't remember being really upset as I was in the Philly game. I think I was annoyed about the second goal allowed, but that's about the extent of what I remember. As you'd expect, I was pretty happy with the Montreal game. I didn't really agree with Holtby being the star of the game, despite the shutout. Not that he wasn't good, but he just wasn't challenged all that much (which is to say that I think he was good, not great). I think I would have gone with Backstrom or Semin.
Weirdly, I'm remembering less about the Carolina game, I think. I thought the team played quite well, and was a bit unlucky. I really kept expecting them to score again and win cleanly. I was also very surprised by that Skinner goal in the third; that was quite fluky (similarly to Semin's goal in Montreal, if taken from an even worse position). Oh, and that penalty shot? That was probably the weakest penalty shot call I've ever seen. It was just sad. If LaRose had scored on the shot, I'd have been really peeved. And that was the game with the astounding non-call with half a minute left when OV was sent flying just after crossing into the zone. That sort of thing being a penalty at one point in the game, and not in another, is why I don't watch the NBA. Oh, and the biggest thing to come out of the game was the injury to Wideman. Ugh. Hope he comes back soon, although it doesn't sound like he will.
Last night's game against Columbus was, again, pretty good. The pressure was consistent, and they were definitely playing to win. Mason did a good job of stopping first shots by the Caps, but left three rebounds that turned into three tap-in, empty net goals. And the fourth one was a beautiful center-from-behind to one-touch shot, from Sturm to Arnott. Unfortunately, Neuwirth did not have a good game (not horrible, but this definitely should not have gone to overtime). Kudos to Chimmer for the OT goal, especially since I was shocked he was even on the ice in that situation. And kudos to Carlson and Knuble, who both had fabulous games in ways both obvious and subtle.
The big downer was that Erskine got into a fight at the end of the first (never did see why, either), and seems to have gotten hurt, as he only played one more shift the rest of the game. Sloan was already in the game; if this means we have Sloan and Fahey both playing the next game or three, that does not bode well at all. It'd be nice if we could hear that Poti is able to return, finally.
In any event, this isn't looking good, at all. Next up is Buffalo, tomorrow. We'll keep our fingers crossed that we can finish out the season with three more wins. That would pretty well guarantee keeping second place, with an outside shot at first. As I said, fingers crossed.