Predatory instincts

If I didn't know better, I'd swear that someone on the team read my last missive on the Caps.  The last two games were probably the best two games of the season (certainly the best consecutive pair).

The D kept the puck moving, there was scoring from all over (in fact, a week or two ago, Carlson was the only defenseman currently on the team with more than one goal, and Schmidt was the only other with a goal), and the team has been able to sustain some pressure.

Lines were shuffled a bit more.  The first was untouched, of course.  The second has Fehr (playing his off-wing), Grabovski, and Brouwer.  The third has Chimmer, Erat, and Ward.  And the fourth seems to've settled in with Volpatti, Beagle, and Wilson.

I'm fairly pleased with these lines, although the elephant in the room w/r/t them is what happens with Laich, when he's healthy.  At this point, I'd plug him into Volpatti's spot, contract be damned.  I'd also rather have Latta than Beagle, but that's hardly a big deal either way.

Erat's line got the game against Nashville started off properly, with a strong forechecking effort that kept play in the offensive zone.  And that largely set the tenor of the game; the Caps solidly dominated play, especially while the score was still close.

And it didn't stay close for terribly long; Brouwer opened up the scoring in the seventh minute, pushing a rebound from between a defender's legs, and into the goal.  And the Caps didn't give one away right away; they maintained dominance of possession through getting their first power play chance thirteen minutes in.  That power play only lasted three seconds, as OV put everything he had into a slapshot from the point right off the clean win of the draw.

And, surprise of surprises, the Caps still kept up forceful play, and Alzner got a fluky one from the point three minutes later.  And there was still no immediate drop-off.

Really, the only disappointment from the entire game was the second Nashville goal being allowed twenty-three seconds after Washington's fourth.  But since that still left a two goal lead, it was a fairly minor disappointment.

And the defense was definitely contributing offensively.  I already mentioned Alzner's first of the season, but Schmidt's first career goal was the fourth goal (assisted by strong forechecking from Erat's line).  The Grabovski line also contributed strongly, with two goals and three assists among the three of them.  It should also be noted, beyond helping on Schmidt's goal, that the Erat line had a number of chances that they were unable to convert; they looked strong all game.

And although they didn't show up in the scoresheet, the fourth line also contributed with a number of strong cycling shifts in the offensive zone.

I've mentioned the defense a couple of times.  It's worth adding that they changed a little bit, with Dima back (finally) and Wey (shocker to me; he was replacing Strachan, but I didn't hear why) forming the third pairing.  They were a bit of an adventure, with some good hits and some not-so-good decisions.  Overall, though, not bad.

Wey did not look overmatched in his first career NHL game.  Actually, he was quite a surprise to me.  I've been hearing about him off and on for several years, but I was pretty much ready to write him off when he was sent down to Reading (ECHL) to start the season.  But he's played himself all the way up; kudos to him.

Anyway, that was the game that was on Saturday.  I'll post about Sunday's Rangers game separately.

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