Leavin', on a jet plane...

[Again, I wrote this a couple of days ago.]

I was able to watch last night's Caps/Jets game in toto, happily. Unfortunately, it looked much like the previous game.

One early change was that Erskine was back from injury, and pushed Urbom back into the press box. Otherwise, offensive lines and defensive pairs were the same.

The first period was fairly quiet, with a lot of back and forth. The Jets started pulling ahead halfway through, in possession, but were unable to break through. And the Caps caught back up close to the end. But they were unable to solve Pavelec, as well.

In the second period, all hell broke loose. The second line mounted a strong charge a couple minutes in, culminating in Grabo slotting home a rebound from an Erskine shot three minutes in. Things were looking fairly good from that, especially when, a few minutes later, the Caps got a power play. Things looked pretty good through the first three-quarters of a minute of that, but then a good defensive play led to a short-handed breakaway and a short-handed goal by Little. Washington got a little pressure, but no score, on the rest of the power play. And then things went south, with Clitsome scoring to give Winnipeg the lead.

Things went back and forth, with Winnipeg getting a number of breakaway opportunities, but no goals. Then MarJo sprung OV for a breakaway, and he backhanded it past Pavelec to tie things up. Things were really looking good when OV scored again, a couple minutes later, three seconds after a faceoff caused by his own near-miss shot. But Wheeler deflected in a fairly soft point shot by Kane in the final minute to knot things up again.

The third period was much like the second, with Washington getting more zone time (I think; that's certainly what it felt like) but Winnipeg getting a number of breakaways and odd-man rushes. But Brouwer and Little were the only ones to find the back of the net, and regulation ended in a tie.

Overtime started well for the Caps, with them getting quite a bit of zone time (although I certainly wondered about Backstrom and Brouwer being out together). But they didn't get any shots during that minute or so, and it was all Jets from there on out. But Holtby, happily, was up to the task.

Both coaches started the shootout with a pair of the goal scorers, but all of them were stopped. Then Ladd and Backstrom both score. Then the teams started digging a bit deeper, and Jokinen, Laich, Setoguchi, and Brouwer all scored. Finally, Kane was stopped by Holtby (in a play that looked remarkably similar to the attempts of Wheeler and Little), and Erat got a chance. They didn't even give his career shootout record, but he managed to go 5-hole on Pavelec to seal the win.

Several things struck me about all this. One, the Caps aren't very good, offensively, in the shootout. The two best Caps had career marks of 35%. Three of the Jets were better than that, and a fourth, I believe, was very close.

More generally, in the game, it was similar to the game before, with lots of defensemen pushing the play leading to a boatload of odd-man rushes the other way. This is not working; it needs to be abandoned, or the wings need to get a lot better at covering. It looked close enough for them to be able to learn against Columbus; it did not, against Winnipeg.

Perhaps related (or maybe not, I'm not sure), but the power play looked only ok. Part of that was not doing as well on the faceoffs. But they gave up several breakaways the other direction that led to Winnipeg having only one fewer short-handed shot (seven) than Washington did on the power play. And the same number of goals. Ugly.

Green was held out of the entire overtime, and the shootout. I suspect that either he was hurt by a hit late in the game (goodness, I hope not) or Oates decided he was a culprit in too many of those breakaways (I only tracked the cause of a couple of them. One by Oleksy trying to duplicate his success last game; that led to a 3-on-1 with Erskine defending. Somehow, Big John got the stop, but Wilson immediately got called for crosschecking, in trying to prevent rebound attempts. And the power play problems were definitely Green or Carlson (Green is more likely)). We'll have to see.

In terms of possession, it was not a good game. The Caps did well with the score tied (razor-thin edge), but poorly otherwise.

Kane's line was particularly good, showing a lot of speed and power (Byfuglien, backing them up, contributed to the latter). Little was also causing a lot of havok around Washington's back line.

Holtby, despite allowing four goals (on 47 shots), actually had a fantastic night. He stopped an amazing number of in-close shots, and looked good in the shootout. I'm actually surprised he didn't get one of the stars of the night.

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