Starting the Real Season

The real hockey season started tonight, with the Caps facing off against the Rangers, who limped into the playoffs when the Hurricanes lost their last game.

One vs eight. Should be a breeze, right? Well, last year certainly showed that that isn't necessarily the case.

I was still feeling pretty good about this one, though, despite the Caps two terrible games against the Rags earlier this year. Callahan being out was certainly part of that.

I must admit to some disagreement about putting Neuvy in net, though. No slam on him, but I'd have felt better with Varly playing. The last several games, especially, did not alleviate that (except for the last one); Neuvy looked a bit shaky for significant parts of those game.

But the game started ok, with the Caps dominating possession and getting good opportunities, but failing to beat Lundqvist. And when things did break down a bit, Neuvy was looking very good.

So the first two periods went by without any scoring. But the Rags got on the board first, with a one-timer in the slot by Gilroy off a pass from behind the net finding the bottom corner. The Rangers seemed to do a good job keeping the Caps out of good scoring opportunities for a while after that, getting me quite annoyed. But with a bit under seven minutes left, Semin and OV both went to one side of the net and managed to cram the puck under Lundqvist just before the whistle blew. OV got credit for putting it in, and the game was tied.

And then, half a minute later, all hell broke loose as my recording ended precipitously (this was largely the fault of the Caps game bumping the scheduled Wiz game). But it ended pretty well, as I flipped over the CSN, and found the game still going on, with two minutes or so remaining in OT. The timing was phenomenal, as Arnott intercepted a weak clearing attempt on the next shift and found Semin between the circles. Semin sent a laser of a one-timer to the top-left corner, beating Lundqvist stick side. That was sweet.

So I'm feeling good about the team's ability to bring this home in five, assuming they avoid complacency (and that Lundqvist doesn't get into a zone similar to what Halak did last year). But the complacency part is very real; the Caps are the more talented team, but not so much so as to be able to breeze by. Hopefully, Arnott's presence and the memory of those two earlier blow-outs will prevent that.

Oh, and I should mention that our hopes were answered by the return of Green to the line-up, finally. And he looked good, so even better. I'm not at all sure I understand him being paired with Erskine, given that he's worked very well with both Hannan and Schultz. I hope the big gaffe they had that led to a very good Rangers scoring chance will be enough to put the kibosh on that experiment, but we'll see. Regardless, very good to see him on the ice. Now if we could just get Poti or Wideman back, we'd have one hell of a top-to-bottom defensive corps.

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