I didn't get a chance to watch the Caps game the other night against the Kings until this evening. I watched it until the Kings got their fourth straight goal, breaking my normal rule of waiting until there's a four-goal margin. But the Caps just didn't look good.
When I turned that off, I tried to turn on tonight's tilt against the Penguins, only to find it was on a different network. So I missed much of the first period, but was able to record the rest, so as to watch it after putting the kids to bed.
But, most importantly, I was able to see Chimmer's goal live. Ward made a nice defensive play at the blue line, poking the puck away from Malkin (who got away with two penalties in the game. One was a trip on Laich where he didn't attempt to play the puck, but just took out Laich's skate; and he was able to grab Carlson's stick out of his hands and throw it a ways away). That sent Halpern ahead with the puck, who pulled the defender then hit Chimmer coming up the center of the ice all alone.
From there, the game ended up being a lot of play between the blue lines (but with a lot more in Washington's end than the Penguins').
TVo was awesome, though, and kept the puck out of the net all the way, despite seeing thirty shots (four or five of which he had no business stopping).
The Caps were unable to mount any sustained pressure, with the exception of two shifts by the fourth line in the third period. OV and Semin did have some nice chances in that same period, mostly on the rush (the best chance wasn't on the rush, but the puck was still only in the zone for ten or fifteen seconds).
The two games, combined, have me thinking much more that this just isn't a very good team, though. Even in their wins, I was beginning to wonder if that was the case, and these games are starting to solidify the feeling. They can't really sustain any offensive pressure, they have a lot more trouble exiting their zone than the opposition does. Most of the offense is generated off the rush. I thought they were getting away from that when Hunter arrived, but I think it might be an even bigger percentage now than under Boudreau.
And I think this philosophy of playing defense just by pushing play to the outside isn't really helping. Not that they should allow chances in the middle (those are obviously more dangerous), but that they need to change what they're focusing on. I'm not sure what that should be; maybe focus more on takeaways? Maybe more on winning one-on-one battles in the corners?
Maybe I'm just getting too down after one bad, and a couple of so-so, games, but they aren't going to win a lot of games getting out-shot as badly as they regularly are. And as I mentioned, talking about the Flames game, the large number of blocked shots by skaters is making that look better than it is.
In tonight's game, the team took 27 shots, versus 51 for the Penguins (almost identical to the differential against the Kings). And that Penguins team is one that has just been rocked by injuries. The team regularly getting out-shot by teams playing so many AHL'ers is just disturbing to me.
And, speaking of AHL'ers, Schultz was scratched in favor of Tomas Kundratek. Kundratek, in his NHL debut, was played in relatively safe situations, and did fine in his eleven minutes. But I don't really understand why Schultz was scratched for him. Schultz might not be a great defenseman, but he isn't a bad one, either.
Anyway, the clean win moved the Caps into a points tie with Pittsburgh for the eighth spot in the conference (with the Caps holding several tie-breakers). They'll have another chance to move up (and a chance to reach positive goal differential) on Friday against Tampa.
And, hopefully, Backstrom and/or Green will return for that one (not sure what the odds are).