Greased Lightnin'

This was a really frustrating game to watch. The Caps were absolutely dominating this game, from start to finish. They were keeping the play in the offensive zone, the checking line was bottling up Stamkos and St Louis (and scoring), MarJo was flying, and yet the score kept being tied.

The first goal allowed was a total fluke, as the puck was thrown to the front of the net from the corner, it bounced off the back of Green's leg, and into the top of the net. Definitely getting things off on the wrong foot for Vokoun, making his team debut. The second was a bad play by Vokoun on a shot from about the same spot that went in off of him. Then the defense forgot to mark someone right between the circles. Then there was a pretty nice deflection where Vokoun was utterly screened. Finally, Tampa got another one with around seven minutes left from about the same spot in the corner (same end of the ice, too, for what that's worth).

Really, the Caps should have won this game by at least three; it was that lopsided. But the complete fluke, along with the bad (regulation) game by Vokoun, sent the game into overtime at five apiece.

To review the Caps, the Chimmer-Laich-Ward line was freakin' awesome again. They kept the Stamkos/St Louis line off the scoreboard and mostly in their own end, and even tossed in a pair of goals (both by Chimmer. What are the odds?). I'm definitely loving that line, and hope Boudreau doesn't start feeling the need to toy with it. They don't try to do anything fancy (one goal was off a deflection from Laich's power move to the net, the other off a strong forecheck led to a juicy turnover), but they're working hard and just dominating play.

MarJo had a great game, getting a very nice goal (on his second shift, I think) and an assist, as well as drawing two penalties. He keeps playing like that, and he ain't never getting sent down again. And, with him driving, the second line looked very good. And Brouwer got a goal deflecting a shot from Sarge, so that was good to see.

With MarJo back in, Perreault was dropped down to the fourth line, along with Hendricks and Halpern (hmm... Haliceault line?), and they mostly looked good as well. They assisted on Wideman's goal, and I believe they weren't on for any against, and that's what you're looking to get out of a fourth line. Matty P looked a bit out of his element (that is, he looked like he was having to think about where he was supposed to go more than usual), but actually did a good job. Was glad to see it, because I wasn't sure how good a fit that was for him.

Overall, the top line was actually the weakest one for the team. I hope that doesn't happen too often, because they shouldn't ever be the drag on the team. I wonder if they were just trying to hard to throw their bodies around, because they did have some very nice hits, but...

And I forgot to call out Backstrom for his excellent game the other night. He still looked pretty good tonight, but the line just wasn't getting it done. Some of that was bad luck; they did have some very nice chances that they couldn't quite convert. But they just weren't driving play like I'm used to them doing. Or maybe I'm just getting hung up on their lack of finishing tonight; I certainly hope so. But they definitely weren't at the top of their game.

Anyway, overtime was a bit of a mess, with MarJo doing a nice job drawing his second penalty (which, incidentally, should have been his third; a high stick he took was missed). The power play didn't look great, as it allowed a chance the other way, and a possible second one was called on account of a hooking penalty. The penalty kill was decent, although Vokoun was excellent on the ensuing penalty (and the penalty after, as they got called for too many men right as the first penalty was expiring).

So we ended up with a shootout. Hendricks started, and I figured his trick was about at the end of it's life, but it worked again as he left Roloson undressed. OV followed, doing the wide left move that is, I think, his strongest approach. But he couldn't quite keep the puck from rolling when he went backhand, and put it into the side of the net. Semin went last, after Vokoun stopped both intervening Tampa shots (a bit contemptuously on the second, I thought). And he just screamed straight down at the net, only veering a little bit after he got Roli to half-heartedly try a poke check (he was going fast enough that the poke never actually came, but Roli had changed his grip for the attempt, which left almost the entire side of the net empty).

So the Caps take the second game on the gimmick. I'm liking their four points, so far, but wishing they weren't giving the opposition points, especially with both game inside the division.

So, once again, we see a lot (actually, a LOT) of potential, but some really uneven play as well. I gotta think, with the way Boudreau usually treats his goalies, that we're now going to be seeing Neuvy against Pittsburgh on Thursday.

And I really hope the top line can put it together. While the rest of the team bailed them out tonight, the team just ain't going to go far without eighty or ninety goals out of that top line.

Oh, and special teams... I actually thought the power play looked better tonight, even though they didn't convert at all. They were doing a much better job moving around, and pulling the defense out of shape (except for that last power play, in overtime), and that's what's going to lead to goals.

The PK was excellent. They allowed a bit more zone time on the first penalty, than I would prefer, but were killing it in the second. And they did a good job hanging in against a tough power play in the overtime. So I'm pretty pleased with that.

So, two down, eighty to go. And Pittsburgh is on tap.

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