Was out of the house most of the day today, so I wasn't able to watch the Caps/Canes game until night time. It was a fairly frustrating game to watch, but perhaps not as unbalanced as it seemed.
Once again, the Caps were badly outshot (more than doubled, in fact, and that's before you account for blocked shots). The one good thing I saw was that scoring chances actually managed (through each of the first two periods, at least), to be in the Caps favor (3-2 after one, and 9-6 after two). If they can manage to do that with regularity, I'll stop worrying about whether they outshoot the opposition (but I have significant doubts about whether that is even possible, let alone achievable).
But I didn't like them seeming to be content to sit back in a shell when up by one goal. Up by three? Ok, I can deal with that. But just up by a goal? That's just not a way to win a game against a good team.
The cycle game, so far, seems more an end in and of itself to these Caps, rather than a means to an end. That's another thing that has to change. They need to do it more often (they only managed a couple of times, today), and they need to generate offense off of it.
Another tendency I'm seeing, that I'm not liking, is a lack of killer instinct at the end of games. When the other team has pulled their netminder, they aren't looking to see if they can score. It just seems like they're playing really desperate back there, and just looking for wild clears any time they get the puck.
I'm certainly liking the win today, of course, but it really didn't give me good feelings about this team, going forward.
Also, Hamr and WIdeman were together again several times tonight. I'd rather not see those two on the ice at the same time (except, perhaps, on the power play). They were the ones on the ice when the puck went in, though the team was short-handed at the time.
The only other news of note on the blue line was that Dima (Orlov) finally put one in the net. It wasn't on his wicked(ly inaccurate) slap shot, but on a put-in (off the back of Cam Ward, I think) of a bouncing rebound of a shot by Chimmer.
Semin had the other goal, a really beautiful shot from the right circle that hit the bottom of the water bottle. He also put one off the post, earlier in the game.
Laich also had a goal, but it was disallowed due to incidental contact with the goalie (oddly, not called until the zebra herd converged after ruling a goal being scored).
OV had some nice chances, a couple of beautiful hits (he demolished Ruutu, in particular), and generally looked quite good.
TVo also looked very good, but I hope he rests in the next game or two. Nine in a row is five or six too many, in my book.
On the Carolina side, Skinner returned after missing 16 games with a concussion. He looked good, but what surprised me was he took a couple of cheap shots on Caps (including a very dangerous, uncalled trip that sent Wideman into the boards very awkwardly. He was lucky not to be hurt on the play).
The Caps special teams were not great, tonight. The PK, as mentioned, surrendered a goal on four chances (with five shots before the last power play; that's too many). The power play only had one chance, but it had no shots with very little zone time. It seemed like they gave the puck away a few seconds after getting into the zone. Repeatedly.
But they did manage to squeak out another one-goal victory (in regulation, even), so it isn't all bad. The standings points also put the Caps into the division lead (via tiebreakers), and the team's goal differential is finally positive. It's just not looking good, for the future, though.
We'll see if they can do a bit better when the Islanders come to town on Tuesday. Given their relative records, it should be an easy game for the Caps, but the Caps aren't exactly past masters of dominating the games they should win. They usually manage to come out flat, and play down to the opposition.