A Night of Surprises

Tonight's Caps game started out similarly to expectations, with the Bruins pretty solidly outplaying the Caps.  When the Caps got the first power play, I was feeling a little more optimistic, but then Carlson misplayed the puck at the point, slightly, then lost an edge, leaving OV trailing Marchand on the back-check as the only defender.  It went about as well as it could, until the shot was released.  Then OV got called for hooking (a perfectly reasonable call), which became a penalty shot (not quite so reasonable in my mind, as the penalty was after the shot was released).

On the ensuing shot, Holtby committed to going all the way across a hair early, and Marchand was able to tuck it under him for an early 1-0 lead.

Things did not improve for the Caps, after that, as the Bruins continued to tilt the ice with Holtby at the bottom of the slope.  Ten minutes after their first goal, Chara took a wrister from the point that hit Krejci (screening Holtby), and bounced back to Chara, who had followed his shot towards the net.  He was able to slide the short rebound under Holtby to double their lead.

On the subsequent face-off, Erskine decided to dance with Thornton for no apparent reason.  It didn't seem to give any real advantage to either team, nor was it even a decisive fight.  Total waste of time.  Maybe Ersk just needed to get to the bathroom early.

OV took another penalty a minute later (on a really suspect call, as he hit Kelly just after Kelly lost possession of the puck), giving Boston their first chance with the man advantage.  The Caps did well at first, clearing the zone (I think twice) until Boston got it in to stay.  Once they did, they worked it around a little until Hamilton took a slapper (their first shot on goal in the power play) from the point that beat Holtby up high.

At that point, it was time to put the kids to bed, so I turned it off for a while.  Normally, when that happens, I change the channel so it won't go right back to the game (and I can resume play with the recording).  This time, however, I didn't bother.

It took quite a while to get them to bed, and by the time I made it back, it was right in the middle of the statistical summary of the game.  I was shocked to see that shots were almost tied, and the score nearly was, as well (3-2), but it gave me hope, so I kept it on to see the third period.

It's interesting, looking at the shot totals (15-8); it looks like the Caps were utterly dominated territorially (and maybe they were), but it didn't feel like it at the time.  I kept thinking they'd find a way to tie things up.

And, about 3/4s of the way through the period, they did.  Fehr carried into the zone, and shoveled ahead to Wolski, who was charging down the wing.  Hamilton (the defender) tried to stop the puck with his leg, but it slipped through, leaving Wolski alone with Rask.  One quick, back-handed shot to the upper corner, and the score was tied.

For the rest of the period, it was nail-biting time as the Caps tried to hold on into overtime.  Perhaps that was where the shot totals got so distorted, because the Caps definitely didn't manage much for the rest of the period, offensively.

But Holtby was fantastic, and carried them into the extra period.

As it was starting, I was thinking, "well, we've got two shootout wizards (Wolski and Hendricks), so we should be in good shape, if it goes that long".  And, frankly, that's how hopeful I was, as that seemed best case.

But the Caps surprised me, and on their second break-out of the extra period, Backstrom lofted a beautiful saucer pass to Fehr, who was, essentially, in the middle of the four Bruins.  Fehr bulled his way between Seidenberg and Hamilton (don't think it would have worked so well if Chara had been there), and got off a top-shelf shot that caught Rask off-guard for the win.

So there was quite a bit to like, on the game, and a few things to be frustrated by.  The power play, especially on that first one (where Marchand ended up scoring on the short-handed penalty shot), did not look very good (in fact, they gave up twice as many shots as they took).  The penalty kill did not look that good, allowing a goal on only two chances.  On the plus side, they did a better job of staying out of the penalty box than usual.

OV had an uneven game, taking two minors and committing the foul that led to the penalty shot (as noted above, not entirely his fault).  But he also made some great drives to the net that led to some good opportunities.  They probably would have worked a lot better if it hadn't been Chara defending, though.

Brouwer was sick, and was missed.

Holtby was only decent in the first period, but was awesome in the third.

Perreault and Beagle swapped lines, and that definitely didn't help the team.  I hope that was a one-game message to Perreault about his shortcomings in the game before.  If not, it does not bode well for the future.  Related, I don't think the fourth line played at all in the third period (and only the second line played in overtime).

Fehr continued his excellent play.  He's almost looking like the guy who got drafted one slot ahead of Getzlaf (almost).

Wolski has been possessionally very good of late, and it was good to see him finally convert.  I will be very disappointed if he and Brouwer don't play, leaving Crabb in the press box.

Backstrom had a very good game, with three assists.  He's still short of where we'd like him to be at this point in the season, but maybe there's been too much worrying about him.

Hamr got waived before the game started.  Given that his start went to an AHL'er (Oleksy, #61) who was signed earlier in the day, you've got to think, even if he doesn't get claimed, that his time on the team is done.

Anyway, winning the game was a huge boost for the team, as it was quite a big surprise.  Plus, if they had lost, they'd be ten points behind the Canes, and you'd have to stick a fork in them.  Actually, I haven't been watching the standings closely enough; I hadn't realized they were eight points behind, as is.  Even worse, they've gained two points in the last ten games.

Ok, I now completely agree with the people who've been saying the Caps need to trade Ribeiro now (I was previously on the fence about it, but leaning towards yes).

Wow, seeing they're that far behind completely takes the wind out of my sails.  The only (slight) amelioration is that they have a game in hand.  Bleh.

Well, next chance:  Florida, in DC, tomorrow evening.

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