Cutting through opposition
I only watched the first period of tonight's game against the Sabres. It started awfully well, as the Caps won the draw, dumped it in the zone, got the Sabres to ice it, won the resulting face-off, and scored within twenty seconds. The goal was OV's 702nd point, with Backstrom and MarJo both managing assists. The rest of the period continued to go well for the Caps, although that was the only goal scored. The Sabres got a couple of good chances, but most of the play was within the Sabres zone.
Well, that's what it felt like, watching it. Now that I look at the boxscore, shots were even at five (a startlingly low number, frankly) for the period.
And things seem to have broken open in the second. The Caps scored three more (allowing two), despite being outshot 17-10. Weird period, it seems. The Caps got both of the power plays, but only one of the goals was scored then (Brouwer, from Ribeiro and Backstrom). And Chimmer finally got off the schneid, getting help from Brouwer and Ribeiro. The third Caps goal came from MarJo (Perreault and Ward); I like that line, btw. Wonder if we'll see more of it.
The third period did have the Caps with the edge (shots 10-8), although goals were split at one apiece. The Caps goal was a pretty one by Perreault, who took it in the D zone in the middle, did a short give-and-go with Ward getting over the blue line, then had a beautiful deke to lose the defender. Meanwhile, Chimmer came to a stop at the edge of the crease on the far side (from Ward), then got bumped into Miller, giving Matty a lot of net to shoot into. A very nice, whole-line score, even if Chimmer didn't get any credit on the score sheet.
Not too much else to say; Hillen finally returned from the injury he suffered at the beginning of the season and played quite a few minutes. Four blocked shots and a penalty were his main contributions. I suppose it beats having to call up another Hershey defender.
Poti was back from his undisclosed upper body injury, and managed to be -1 despite only playing 8 minutes in the win. OV had four more shots and three hits to go with his goal. MarJo had three more shots, in addition to his goal and assist.
Incidentally, it's been rumored that part of the reason he was playing so poorly in the beginning of the season is that he might have suffered another concussion when he and OV ran into each other in practice at the beginning of the season. Not sure what needs to be done, but something sure does. In any event, if he can stop being a black hole, possession-wise, he might start helping the team. I don't really think there's any longer a chance of him taking over at 2C, but he might still make a decent second-line winger.
Perreault obviously had a good game with the goal and assist. Why was he scratched the last couple of games, again? And why was Wolski still there?
This team is definitely still a work in progress. I still think they need to trade Ribeiro, and hope for a high draft pick to try to pick things up quickly next season (and really look for progress the year after, when Forsberg and Kuznetsov will be on the team). Next game Tuesday in Pittsburgh. Let's hope it doesn't end in embarassment.
Update: It has come to my attention that I missed Hillen being present in the Bruins game the other day, so this was not his first game back. Sorry about that.