Dancing the Rag

My kids were probably more excited than I was about the Caps/Leafs game last night. My wife had put my son's Caps sweatsuit on him yesterday (he's two), and I asked him if he was excited about the game (he said, "Go Caps!", so he's learning something right :).

And at dinner, my daughter wanted to sit next to me, so she could see the TV. I told her that if she ate quickly (for her), she had fifteen minutes so she'd be able to watch the game from the couch (one room closer to the TV in question). She ate pretty quickly (actually, very quickly for her), and was just about done when the game started.

Well, because of dinner (mostly, helping the kids eat), I wasn't able to concentrate too closely on (much of) the first period. It seemed like the Caps were doing a good job of keeping the puck in the Leafs end, mostly through strong forechecking.

That pressure finally paid off after fourteen and a half minutes, when Chimmer dumped the puck back to Hillen at the point whose weak slapshot took a knuckling deflection off a defender's stick, and found the upper half of the net.

Chimmer might have also been a bit helpful later, as McClement put a dirty hit on Backstrom that resulted in Nick's face hitting the boards along the Toronto bench. OV took mild exception right away (somehow resulting in a Toronto power play), but Chimmer got McClement to drop the gloves a few minutes later and handled himself respectably (unlike the last time he got into a fight).

The Caps did a good job handling that OV power play, with Erat and Beagle even managing to get a (weak; Beags took the shot) shorthanded scoring chance and a O-zone faceoff. And Washington's excellent positional play continued into the second period.

Getting the kids into bed, I missed the first five minutes of the second period, so I missed Washington's second power play. But I got back just after Erat's nice tip-in ended that power play only a couple of seconds early (backhand tip-in, even. Much higher level of difficulty).

The Caps scored again a couple minutes later when a center-ice turnover led to a 3-on-1. Carlson slipped it past the lone defender to Brouwer, who went hard to the net and across. As Scrivner went from post-to-post, Brouwer saw a huge gap in the middle (with the stick off the ice), and slid it between the wickets and into the back of the net.

The Caps then handled Toronto's second power play with aplomb (not quite as well as the first, but effectively), and got their own power play a few minutes later. Ribeiro did a good job getting the puck into the zone, and carried down the half-wall where two defenders met him. He managed to get it back to the point (the play was still looking quite innocuous at this point), where Greenie immediately fed OV's one-touch slapshot. Scrivner had not managed to get all the way across the net yet, so he was not in position to stop the rocket of a shot.

After seeing the prior collapses from 4-0 margins, I stuck around until the end of the period, with the nice play continuing that far. But I wanted to get some other things done, so I checked out at that point. I missed Grabovski's breaking of Holtby's shutout and MarJo's power play goal, but the shots being even implies the Caps did a pretty good job of maintaining pressure. Well, actually, just looked at the power plays; as in, the Caps got several. So maybe they were easing up a bit; not sure. Regardless, they only allowed the one goal, and that's the most important bit.

In the end, it'd be hard to find anything to complain about in this game. They didn't give ground to Winnipeg (who also won), and played a dominant game. Ottawa's win over Carolina increases the odds of a Washington/Ottawa first-round playoff matchup. And in a possible preview, that's the next game, as the Caps head up to Ontario on Thursday. We'll see how that goes.

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